Tag Archives: Jon

#Starmergeddon as panicking Labour leader lashes out in night of swivel-eyed lunacy

Now you see her…: Keir Starmer seems to have been taking notes from the Tories again – he has kept a scapegoat handy to take the blame for his failures. But it isn’t working.

Keir Starmer has thrown the Labour Party into a pit of bitter recriminations after its local election disaster, sacking soft-left MPs from the shadow cabinet rather than taking responsibility for his decisions.

The principle scapegoat appears to be Angela Rayner – who is certainly no angel, but is unlikely to have been responsible for the catastrophe in Hartlepool, which was apparently run from Starmer’s own office by his personal private secretary Jenny Chapman. She is not in the firing-line, it seems, despite having chosen the candidate and the date of the by-election. She was also the person who communicated all decisions about the campaign to other party members and MPs.

Other victims of Starmer’s reshuffle appear to be Annaliese Dodds and Lisa Nandy, prompting questions about the Labour leader’s misogyny against women from northern England.

I spent Saturday (May 8) watching this farce unfold on Twitter as a panicking Labour leader deliberately set his party on self-destruct in order to divert blame from himself.

Let’s start here, with a couple of comments about the broad effect of Starmer’s decisions:

Rayner’s sacking fooled nobody. It was taken as an attempt by Starmer to deflect blame from himself and avoid taking responsibility. Most considered it a desperate attempt to avoid calls for his own resignation and/or a vote of “no confidence” in his leadership.

There is an upside to this, as some were quick to notice. Rayner’s sacking could be an opportunity for long-suppressed information to come out:

But I don’t think it will. Rayner may have backstabbed Jeremy Corbyn as soon as it suited her but he was no longer in a position of power at the time. Starmer is, and she is still an ambitious politician.

Indeed, it is possible that her prior, unscrupulous, behaviour was intended by Starmer to mitigate in his favour; a backstabbing schemer having her comeuppance after failing to deliver an expected election victory.

But that is to assume that Labour members and supporters are stupid, which is (again) not a good look for a leader. Commenters pointed out that it is entirely possible for Rayner to be an opportunist who sold out the Left – and for her sacking to be an act of cowardice and diversion:

The verdict: Rayner deserved to be ditched – but for something she did herself, rather than a defeat that was not her fault.

Bizarrely, after the party leadership realised sacking Rayner had only undermined Starmer further, attempts were made to backtrack. I’ll say more about that later, but what’s remarkable here is that these efforts only made matters worse. Here’s how, in two short tweets:

And what about the woman who’s alleged to have been genuinely responsible for the loss of Hartlepool? Tim Shipman, political editor of The Sunday Times, tweeted a very odd snippet of information and immediately deleted it – but it’s out there and we need to know what to make of it:

If Starmer was having an affair with his secretary then events would have turned really grisly (if cliched). The tweet raises questions about why a Labour apparatchik who is apparently responsible for the failed Hartlepool campaign is avoiding the axe when there is a strong suggestion of animosity against her. What leverage does she have?

In the wider Parliamentary Labour Party, it is being reported that the sacking of Rayner has been met with shock:

The New Statesman was quick to follow up on this with an article featuring comments from some of these MPs, as follows:

“It is wrong on every level,” said one Labour shadow cabinet minister. “Keir Starmer said he would take ‘full responsibility’. I don’t see how sacking Angela does that. You can’t be sacking Angela Rayner, who is a working-class northern woman who’s been working her arse off. It’s madness.”

(She’s not working-class, in fact. She might have been, once, but if you’re deputy leader of the largest political party in the UK, then by definition you cannot be working-class.)

“The PLP is absolutely gobsmacked,” another frontbencher said. “We know Angela had nothing to do with the defeat in Hartlepool.” Rayner was officially the Campaign Coordinator of these elections, but MPs are adamant she was not the decision-maker in relation to the Hartlepool by-election. “Everything has been decided by the leader’s office,” one shadow cabinet member said.

“This is utter madness. Angela Rayner is not the problem. The PLP is up in arms and even my local party is outraged. At the advice of Ben Nunn [director of communications] and Chris Ward [another aide in the leader’s office], Keir is doubling down and making a deliberate shift rightwards,” one MP from the party’s left said.

So now we have a few more names to watch. If Starmer is being influenced by unelected suits, then he is certainly not fit for his job. The leader should form policy, not his flunkies.

Many Labour MPs have yet to provide their opinions. Simon Vessey, below, suggests a reason for that – and Mary-Ellen provides good advice:

But one Labour source, quoted by the ever-reliable (ha ha) Gabriel Pogrund of The Sunday Times, suggested that Rayner’s sacking could split Labour apart:

Many have been saying that this was Starmer’s objective all along.

If so, then his possible choice to replace Rayner – and other colleagues likely to feel the axe – should finish the job. What madness could possibly influence him into thinking Wes Streeting might be a reasonable choice to chair the Labour Party?

Rayner was not the only ShadCab member in line for a sacking – although at the time of writing she is the only one on whom the axe has already fallen.

Other names facing banishment to the backbenches include Lisa Nandy…

Nick Brown (who?)…

Annaliese Dodds and Jon Ashworth…

And others…

Did you spot some of the names touted as replacements?

They are the aforementioned Wes Streeting, along with Rachel Reeves, Jess Phillips, and Steve Reed – all members of what you might call Labour’s hard-right.

Also mooted for a comeback are New Labour hardliners Yvette Cooper and Hilary “my father is spinning in his grave” Benn.

Commenter Simon Maginn described these possibilities as “a right-turn so hard it’d give you whiplash”.

Others have met the suggestions with sarcasm:

None of the above makes Starmer look any better after Thursday’s election shocks. It all makes him look much worse.

So, guess what? It seems he has spotted the backlash on the social media – and is now backpedalling furiously. Announcements about who is to be sacked have stopped being leaked to favoured mainstream media stenographers and it seems he has run away to hide think:

It won’t help him. It is now too late. I’ll let these others explain the reasons:

If Andrew Adonis is right, it is only a matter of time until Starmer has to go. If Andrew Feinstein and Rachel Shabi are right, he’ll delay doing so until the moment that will do the most crippling harm to the party’s future election hopes.

We will judge him – and his advisers – by his decisions.

The clock is ticking.

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Restless public holds up Jon Snow monstering of ‘death minister’ Hancock as example of how media should hold Tories to account

People are getting tired of the BBC and other Tory-supporting media letting Boris Johnson’s government get away with its mistakes.

That’s why this drubbing of Tory “death minister” Matt Hancock by Channel 4’s Jon Snow – carried out while Parliament was deadlocked over Brexit last year – has suddenly become hugely popular on Twitter.

Snow? It’s more like a blizzard:

People haven’t been holding back in their criticisms of certain hacks in the mainstream media:

Will it do any good? Of course not.

As I type this, the BBC’s Politics Live has been discussing Chris Bryant’s nomination of US Presidential candidate Joe Biden for the Nobel Peace Prize rather than any of the disasters that the Tories are bringing to the UK.

Perhaps they’ll get around to the Tory cowards who are abstaining on the Internal Market Bill that plans to break international law and return violence to Northern Ireland later but I doubt it.

Oh look! They’re discussing Boris Johnson’s daft speech about re-skilling people for the post-Covid economy as if he knows what he’s talking about.

Perhaps we should all just adopt the Jon Snow ‘blizzard’ approach whenever we see our own Tory MPs instead.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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