Keir Starmer urged to ‘learn’ from Corbyn by Owen Jones
In remarks which risk deepening the already entrenched civil war taking place within the Labour Party, the Islington North MP accused Sir Keir of trying “to shut down debate”. Tensions between the party leadership and Labour-Left have been running high for months, with Mr Corbyn’s latest intervention only set to heighten frictions.
Mr Corbyn still sits as an independent MP in the Commons after Sir Keir refused to reinstate the whip to the former party leader due to comments over antisemitism.
His supporters have accused Sir Keir of attempting to purge Labour of more radical members.
In a venomous attack, Mr Corbyn said: “The signs are that the party leadership wants to try to shut down debate, sideline the members and trade unions, with the end result that Labour props up rather than challenges our broken political and economic system.”
He claimed trade unions and members have developed the ideas to tackle the Tories head-on but the party leadership was attempting to block the proposals from becoming policy.
Jeremy Corbyn has lashed out at Sir Keir Starmer on the eve of Labour party conference
His comments will overshadow the opening day of the conference in Brighton, when deputy leader Angela Rayner is set to outline the party’s plan to improve wages and crackdown on insecure work practices.
She will pledge a Labour government would: immediately increase the minimum wage to at least £10 an hour, ban zero-hours contacts and end fire and rehire strategies.
“It will be the driving mission of the next Labour government to end the poverty wages and insecure work that blights millions of lives and is holding back our economy. Labour will make Britain work for working people,” she will tell delegates.
“Labour will deliver a New Deal for Working People so they get a fair share of the wealth they create, and within the first 100 days of the next Labour government we will sign this New Deal for Working People into law.”
Sir Keir wants to use the party conference to relaunch his leadership after having been restricted from making his case during the pandemic.
He is hoping to outline his vision for Britain and make his pitch for a Labour government.
The Labour leader is hoping to reboot his leadership this weekend
The Labour leader is planning to set out his vision to the country
But with Mr Corbyn sniping from the sidelines he faces the unenviable task of attempting to unify his party in the face of internal discontent.
The vengeful former leader is set to make a number of interventions at the conference, billed to be speaking at a series of fringe events.
A spokesperson for Mr Corbyn previously told the HuffPost that he would be attending in his capacity as “a prominent campaigner for peace and justice, including on the need to tackle climate change, lessons of 20 years of the War on Terror and in defence of workers’ rights”.
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Jeremy Corbyn’s attendance at conference will be an unwelcome distraction for Sir Keir Starmer
The Labour leadership has confirmed the socialist is allowed to attend under party rules despite having the whip removed.
“At conference, I hope to hear how Labour will bring in a wealth tax to fund a National Care Service like the NHS, will take the radical action needed to decarbonise by 2030, stand against the drumbeat of a new Cold War, and will rein in the runaway wealth and power of a tiny elite,” Mr Corbyn said.
“Conference is the most important event in the Labour Party’s calendar.
“It’s a time for our movement to come together to decide on our goals and priorities and it’s our best chance outside of an election to tell the people of Britain what we stand for and what we will do in government.
Jeremy Corbyn will address a number of fringe events in Brighton
“We meet at a time of great change and crisis, perhaps larger than any other time in my 50-plus years of party membership.
“Our movement has the answers to the big questions of the age – inequality, the climate crisis and the pandemic – but our leaders are failing to listen and put these solutions front and centre.”
Sir Keir is also facing trouble persuading MPs, unions and members to back him in reforming the system which elects Labour’s leader.
He wants to scrap the one member, one vote (OMOV) system introduced by Ed Miliband in 2014 which was responsible for the election of Mr Corbyn.
He favours returning to the previous method use by which unions, MPs and party members make up a third each of voting rights.
The move to reduce the weight of members’ votes has sparked fury on the Labour left.
“Our rules as they are right now focus us inwards to spend too much time talking to and about ourselves, and they weaken the link with our unions,” Sir Keir said.
“These are two things that have got to change if we are serious about winning the next election.”