Diane Abbott demands Keir Starmer returns to 'popular' Corbyn policies

Diane Abbott demands Keir Starmer returns to ‘popular’ hard-Left policies from Jeremy Corbyn era – even though they saw Labour suffer worst general election defeat since 1935

  • Keir Starmer struggling to contain Labour civil war over disastrous round of elections on Super Thursday
  • Labour was thrashed in the Hartlepool by-election with Jill Mortimer securing a majority of almost 7,000
  • Tory Ben Houchen won a second term as mayor of Tees Valley with a whopping 73 per cent share of vote
  • Conservatives gained control of councils including Northumberland, Nottinghamshire, Dudley and Harlow
  • Shadow home secretary says pandemic has ‘restricted opportunities’ for Sir Keir Starmer to ‘set out vision’
  • Starmer responded by sacking Angela Rayner with more firings expected as Labour descended into civil war

Diane Abbott today demanded Keir Starmer returns to the ‘popular’ Socialist policies from the Jeremy Corbyn era as Labour plunged further into civil war.

The former shadow home secretary lashed out at Sir Keir as she insisted Mr Corbyn only led the party to its worst general election defeat since 1935 due to an ‘extraordinary media attack’.

Ms Abbott also waded into the spat over the ‘sacking’ of Angela Rayner from the key role as Labour chair, saying the decision was ‘baffling’. 

The intervention came as Sir Keir mounted a desperate bid to save his shattered leadership after the dire Super Thursday results – kicking off a reshuffle and drafting in a New Labour pollster as his strategy chief.

Speaking to Sky News’ Ridge On Sunday, Ms Abbott, who described the Hartlepool by-election loss as ‘distressing’, said: ‘I think we need to be building on the policies in the 2019 manifesto, many of which were forward-thinking and popular.

‘We need to get the strategy right.’

Told that Mr Corbyn’s manifesto had failed, Ms Abbott added: ‘It was a manifesto that, taking the policies individually, was very popular.’

She said: ‘We won Hartlepool twice under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and, importantly, with a bigger proportion of the vote.

‘You can’t say that Jeremy is responsible for the Hartlepool result. The disaffection in post-industrial Britain long predates Jeremy’s leadership and we have to look at the roots of it.’  

Diane Abbott (pictured) said Keir Starmer should go back to ‘popular’ hard-Left policies – insisting Jeremy Corbyn only led the party to its worst general election defeat since 1935 due to an ‘extraordinary media attack’

Sir Keir (right) has been trying to move on from the Jeremy Corbyn (left) era saying Labour is under new management

There was fury among left-wingers and moderates last night after it emerged the Ashton-under-Lyne MP was being made to carry the can for the appalling elections showing.

She was elected as party deputy leader separately to Sir Keir meaning he cannot axe her entirely, with even his normal supporters conceding it was a ‘bad idea’ given he had pledged to take personal responsibility for the campaign.

Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds is also expected to be another victim of a brutal reshuffle this week, with shadow Cabinet Office minister Rachel Reeves tipped to replace her. 

But as alarm bells started ringing over the scale of unrest in the party, shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray insisted this morning that Ms Rayner had not been ‘sacked’ and was instead being given a ‘significant promotion’. He told Sky News she was being moved from the ‘back office to the front office’ as a spokeswoman.  

‘She didn’t take any of the big decisions around Hartlepool and we’ve not heard anywhere in the country people saying they didn’t vote Labour because of Angela Rayner,’ she said. 

New strategy chief Deborah Mattinson worked as a Labour pollster until the party was ejected from power in 2010, and after Jeremy Corbyn’s 2019 general election defeat – the party’s worst performance since 1935 – penned a book analysing the collapse of the Red Wall.

She is due to leave BritainThinks, the research and consultancy company she co-founded, to take up her role as the party’s strategy director next month.

Ms Mattinson said: ‘I am very much looking forward to joining Keir Starmer and his team.

‘The coming months will be challenging but I will be proud to play a part in helping Labour reconnect with the voters it has lost.’

There was a small bright spot for Labour last night as Sadiq Khan retained his job as London Mayor, although Tory candidate Shaun Bailey far exceeded expectations and slashed his majority. 

But the party has seemingly been unable to find anyone to make the case for Sir Keir on the BBC’s flagship Marr Show political programme today. 

In more evidence of the bitter war threatening to tear Labour apart, details of Ms Rayner’s use of first class rail tickets were leaked to the Sunday Times. Her allies insisted she only did so for safety reasons after the murder of Sarah Everard.

Ms Rayner is a survivor from the Corbyn era, and the defenestration of the party’s most senior woman – who represents a Northern seat – from a key role sparked a backlash from all sides.

Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell tweeted pointing out that Sir Keir had promised on Friday to take ‘full responsibility for the election result in Hartlepool & other losses’, but was now ‘scapegoating everyone apart from himself’. ‘This isn’t leadership it’s a cowardly avoidance of responsibility,’ the Corbynite said.

A Labour source said: ‘Keir said he was taking full responsibility for the result of the elections and he said we need to change. That means changing how we run our campaigns in future. Angela will continue to play a senior role in Keir’s team.’ 

It came as former Cabinet minister Andy Burnham piled more pressure on Sir Keir, by blasting the party for being too ‘London-centric’, while adding in a tweet: ‘I can’t support this.’

The former health secretary, who quit as an MP after losing the leadership to Jeremy Corbyn, also hinted that he would be prepared to have another tilt at the top job after being overwhelmingly returned as Greater Manchester mayor.

Keir Starmer dropped a bombshell last night by sacking Angela Rayner (pictured together last week) as Labour Party chairwoman – although because she is the elected deputy leader he does not have powers to axe her altogether 

Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds is also expected to be another victim of a brutal reshuffle this week.

Mr Burnham, who has been dubbed ‘King of the North’ after taking on Boris Johnson over Covid regulations last year, won a second term as mayor with an increased share of the vote, on an increased turnout, from 2017.

It left him the most senior and successful elected Labour Party politician outside the parliamentary leadership of the party.

In an interview with Sky, Mr Burnham suggested he would entertain becoming leader of the Labour Party ‘in the distant future’, adding: ‘If the party were ever to feel it needed me, well I’m here and they should get in touch.’

He added: ‘I have tried twice to be the leader and it has never worked, so I’m not under any illusions that it has never worked for me in the past.

‘I feel I am in the best job in the world and we have a massive job ahead of us but I’m here to help the Labour Party if they need it – but they need to change, let’s be really clear about this.

‘They have lost an emotional connection with parts of the country that is going to take a lot of work to get back, so I think the party has to do a lot of soul-searching about these results and understand why we have done well in Wales, places like Greater Manchester, and it really needs to then buy in to English devolution and build from the bottom up – that’s what these results are telling them.’ 

One usually supportive Labour MP told MailOnline of the axing of Ms Rayner: ‘Not the best idea. She has been useless in the campaigning role, but then so has his own office.’ 

A frustrated moderate MP said: ‘His office is full of political incompetents who act like they are in an edition of the West Wing without any political antenna. They make no attempt to connect with the PLP and think elected politicians are an inconvenience.’ 

Andy Burnham piled more pressure on Sir Keir, saying he ‘can’t support’ Angela Rayner’s firing

As Mayor of Greater Manchester Mr Burnham has built his own successful brand. But his success is widely seen as coming through his high profile, as a former Labour government minister – and his distance from the Labour Party.

Despite first becoming MP for Leigh in 2001 and serving as a government minister during 17 years of New Labour, he has railed against the poor-relation status of the North and taken to regularly bashing the Westminster establishment.

He also served in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, which has led to an often-heard criticism within Labour ranks – that Mr Burnham, having served in Tony Blair’s pro-EU, globalising Labour Party and Mr Corbyn’s socialist, red-in-tooth-and-claw version, he is a weather-vane who goes with the flow to ensure his own electoral success.

Mr Burnham left Westminster to become Mayor of Greater Manchester in 2017 and crucially was removed from his party’s decision to back a second referendum on the Brexit vote, the cause of anger among northern Leave voters.

 Labour has blamed the coronavirus pandemic for hampering its campaigns across Britain after the Tories racked up a string of stunning poll victories in the local elections. 

Labour was thrashed in the Hartlepool by-election, with Jill Mortimer securing a majority of almost 7,000, while Tory Ben Houchen won a second term as mayor of Tees Valley with a whopping 73 per cent share of the vote.

And the Conservatives gained control of a series of councils, including Northumberland, Nottinghamshire, Dudley, Harlow and Nuneaton and Bedworth – reversing the mid-term slump often suffered by governing parties.

With the Tories also winning seats across the West Midlands, senior figures were increasingly confident that the region’s mayor Andy Street will secure a second term in office when returns there are announced today.  

Ministers have predicted that Boris Johnson could rule longer than Margaret Thatcher as results showed the Tories could take 36 more Westminster seats from Labour at the next General Election.

They believe there has been a permanent shift in the UK’s political identity and claimed Mr Johnson – who has been the premier since July 2019 – could outlast Margaret Thatcher’s 11 years in Downing Street, The Times reports.


First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the count for the Scottish Parliamentary Elections at the Glasgow Emirates Arena yesterday

They believe the Tories must establish an advantage by winning the ‘culture wars’ and challenging ‘woke’ views. Meanwhile sources told the Guardian Sir Keir is now considering moving Labour out of London to reconnect with ‘Red Wall’ voters.

However, Mr Johnson is facing a constitutional clash with Nicola Sturgeon as she renews her push for another Scottish independence referendum after winning her own mandate in Scottish elections.

Labour infighting flared with frontbencher Khalid Mahmood announcing he was quitting Labour’s front bench in protest at the ‘woke’ leadership.

The former defence spokesman and West Midlands MP said the party had been ‘effectively captured’ by a ‘London-based bourgeoisie, with the support of brigades of woke social media warriors’. 

The scale of the changes in key areas was laid bare in charts produced by Election Maps UK 

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