A newly-independent MP stole the PMQs limelight from Keir Starmer

Keir Starmer and Jeremy Corbyn
Steve Topple

Neither Boris Johnson nor Keir Starmer took centre stage during Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) on Wednesday 18 November. Because a newly-independent MP unintentionally took the limelight.

Starmer: the backlash intensifies

Talk about a misstep by Starmer. Because he decided to come out and say that he wasn’t giving Jeremy Corbyn the whip back right before PMQs. This came after Corbyn was first suspended, and then reinstated, by the party machinery over comments he made about the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)’s investigation into alleged antisemitism in the Labour Party.

Firstly, Starmer not giving Corbyn the whip back prompted a furious backlash from the latter’s supporters on social media. Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell was not happy:

Andrew Feinstein called the situation “farcical”:

Momentum has launched a petition:

The Canary‘s editor-at-large Kerry-Anne Mendoza made an important point:

But it was Rachael Swindon who hit the nail on the head best:

Making it up as he goes along?

Secondly, there are procedural problems that Starmer may have caused. Momentum founder Jon Lansman pointed out on Twitter that:

The decision not to restore the whip to Corbyn just announced has driven a coach and horses through the party’s disciplinary process, making it subservient to the parliamentary party and embedding ‘political interference’. The whip was only removed because he had been suspended!

In other words, the NEC found that Corbyn had not breached party rules. So, Starmer technically may not have a right not to restore the whip to him. Or if he does, it raises serious questions about how the leader can override official party procedure.

Sowing seeds of division

Thirdly, many people are pointing out that this will create further division in the Labour Party. Red Labour tweeted that (edited for ease of reading):

Starmer’s decision not to restore the whip to Corbyn is vengeful, divisive and provocative. It is designed to put a wedge between socialists in the party and the PLP [Parliamentary Labour Party] and pick us off, one by one. Well, we have one message for Sir Keir: you have a fight on your hands.

Moreover, Starmer’s decision to announce he would not give the whip back to Corbyn raises serious questions about his leadership.

Opportunism or appalling leadership?

Media-wise, it reeks of opportunism and intentional bad timing. Starmer must have known that his decision would dominate social media across the entire day. He also must have known it would make the headlines. The Tory government has been repeatedly exposed as utterly (and maybe intentionally) negligent over the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. So, you’d think the Labour Party would want that as its focus. But instead, Starmer has allowed a subservient Tory media to make the headlines about Corbyn.

Why would he do this? It could be appalling leadership. But Starmer surely isn’t that useless.

Maybe it’s because, as Robert Peston pointed out, Starmer is trying to embed his vision of the party:

Yet in reality, all Starmer has done is to further split the party into its various factions; alienate supporters, and give the media a feeding-frenzy. Meanwhile, the Tory government is presiding over the gradual breakdown of UK society. Starmer’s priorities, and leadership, are wrong in so many ways.

Featured image via Guardian News – YouTube and This Morning – YouTube 

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  • Show Comments
    1. If Lord Make-it-up doesn’t give JC the whip back by the time the next election comes round, can he stand as a Labour candidate?
      If not, and Jeremy stands as an Independent, then that will be another seat Starmer will have thrown away. Just like all those his failed Brexit shift handed to Boris.
      He can court a few thousand London Jews all he wants, but that won’t win back the North.

        1. It’s not an obsession, is it?

          It’s a concern that the UK’s only political party with any pretence at a connection with ordinary working people may be in the process of shutting down any debate over what is happening in Israel.
          Debate or no debate, Israel is involved in an ongoing illegal occupation, operating a system of apartheid.

          Those are facts, whether spoken or silenced. Israel operates through international lobbying, to prevent these issues being discussed.

    2. Not a single point in the article about the communities that the report was commissioned in relation to. Yet again, the AS masked as criticism of Israel in the comments. Good to see the hard left disappearing into the political wilderness of irrelevance. Corbyn is a nasty little millionaire with an army of useful idiots behind him. Society is much better off without him.

      1. DRS you unloveable needle-point injury. (DRS: ” Corbyn is a nasty little millionaire …”) you and steaming Johnny (above) and your ‘hard’ and ‘far’ labels are just that – fatuous labels. This issue is obviously significant to you and your clique of sunlight fearing trolls. Nudge nudge…

    3. It seems as it is not the Left that has a Jewish obsession. It would seem it is Right Wing UK Israrel supporters. I have read the article a few times, and struggled to find any anti-semitism contained therein. But of course, that is because we are told, by some ‘learned people’, it is hidden, and us mere mortals are incapable of seeing it. No mention of ‘the communities the report was commisioned into ?’ . No I agree, there was no mention of The Palestinians.
      And no mention of Israel, apart from in the comments. That is because the article is About The Internal Disciplinary Procedures in The Labour Party. A point obviously lost on some ‘commenters’. And dont think this riles me, I feel pity for the obvious Right Wing ‘supporters’ on here, Usefull idiots for the right, to borrow a phrase. Noticed by their absence were comments on the support by Andrew Feinstein, a name of Germanic / Jewish origin. As said here and elsewhere, there is not ‘just one sort of Jew’. In the same way there is not just one sort of English Welsh or Scottish person. I do hope Diane reads this and finds her other shoe. Must be inconvenient the shops being shut on lockdown getting another pair.

    4. So who is running the party now? Seems its not Starmer but the various lobby groups that hate Corbryn and the left because of its support of Palestine. What a disappointment Starmer has turned out to be. Seems he’s far more concerned with disempowering the left than uniting the party or leading the country.

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