Keir Starmer really doesn’t want to answer questions about his Labour leadership campaign team

Labour leadership candidate Keir Starmer
Afroze Fatima Zaidi

The Labour leadership contest is underway. One of the candidates, Keir Starmer, launched his campaign on 11 January. However, Starmer has already given people more than enough reasons to mistrust him. Now, serious questions have emerged about how he handled questions concerning the background of a campaign staff member at his launch.

Questions

When asked about his decision to hire Ben Nunn, an ex-lobbyist for private healthcare companies, Starmer said he “won’t tolerate” it:

In an interview with the Mirror, Starmer emphasised his commitment to protecting the NHS. Speaking of the care NHS staff gave his late mother, he said:

 I don’t need much persuading in terms of the importance of the NHS.

However, hiring Nunn raises questions about Starmer’s commitment to defending the NHS from privatisation. And moreover, evading scrutiny over the background of his campaign staff is not a good look. Particularly when their background conflicts with Labour values:

More dodgy choices

In fact, Nunn isn’t even the only questionable choice for Starmer’s campaign team. Only a couple of days prior to Starmer’s campaign launch, it came to light that Matt Pound had joined his campaign. The Morning Star identified Pound as “the leader of anti-Corbyn group Labour First”. He’s an outspoken critic of Jeremy Corbyn and his efforts to reform the Labour Party. His appointment prompted further questions about Starmer’s team:

The role of Labour First in undermining Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, and the Labour left, can’t be denied. It seems the composition of Starmer’s campaign team could be cause for concern for those on the Labour left:

As Labour’s leadership contest unfolds, an anti-left media bias is already becoming evident. Attacks on Rebecca Long-Bailey, in particular, are beginning to resemble what Corbyn had to face. But moreover, from Starmer’s campaign staff, as well as his track record, one thing is clear. Can he be trusted to protect the NHS if he can’t answer basic questions about members of his team?

Featured image via Twitter/BBC Politics

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  • Show Comments
    1. This article posits Starmer being sympathetic to the anti-Corbyn faction of Labour and in thrall of the pro-Israel lobby. Another article published today presents ten demands (pledges) made of Labour by the Board of Deputies of British Jews. Words are not minced and the Board makes plain that Labour leadership candidates must give unequivocal support to the wording in the ‘pledges’, left hanging is threat of consequences for non-conformers.

      Starmer is reported to have given immediate assent to the pledges. Is that a pusillanimous act he will regret? Let it be clearly understood that no reasonable person could infer antisemitism by a leadership candidate refusing to be dictated to (in great detail) by the Board of Deputies. Neither does refusal imply antipathy towards Israel. What is does show is a candidate being his own man/woman.

      Starmer has many characteristics in his favour. I would seriously consider voting for him if reassured he will promote an anti-neoliberalism stance and is not in the pocket of Israel or anywhere else. The best thing he can do now is renounce acceptance of diktat by the Board of Deputies and confirm intent, as was so with Mr Corbyn, to banish genuine racism, which includes dyed in the wool antisemitism, from the party whilst preserving entitlement of members and officials to criticise anyone and anything in open manner whilst not being deterred by knee-jerk reactions of racism from people determined to quell legitimate discussion.

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