Robert Peston

Keir Starmer has shown he’s serious about winning power

Keir Starmer has shown he’s serious about winning power
Keir Starmer (photo: Getty)
Text settings
Comments

It's not as though Jeremy Corbyn wasn't put on warning.

Well he would have been put on warning, if he had bothered to wait even five minutes before putting out his own statement in response to the EHRC verdict that Labour on his watch had made ‘serious’ failures in tackling anti-Semitism. Because his successor Sir Keir Starmer said in a prepared statement at 11.05 am that anyone who thought that verdict was ‘all exaggerated or a factional attack... should be nowhere near the Labour party’. Just a few minutes earlier Jeremy Corbyn had said ‘the scale of the problem was... dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media’. How could Starmer not suspend Corbyn given what they both had said?

And for all that this is momentous, it is also comic that Starmer had dug his enormous bear trap only to find that Corbyn had dived headfirst into it just as he was shouting ‘watch out!’. The significance of Corbyn's suspension cannot be overstated. Corbyn's argument is that for all right-thinking people his principled opposition to anti-Semitism is a truism and that he and his party are victims of class and culture wars. Starmer's response – which is politically unfashionable and very unlike Johnson's and Cummings's remade Tories – is that Labour will only return to power by rejecting the politics of factionalism. Those Labour members and supporters who once saw Corbyn as the messiah are being forced to choose between someone they still adore even though he lost two elections and a successor who is showing in almost his every word and deed that he believes politics is vanity unless it is exclusively about winning elections. One former Corbyn superfan, Angela Rayner, now Starmer's deputy, has made her choice.

On Radio 4 she said: ‘Jeremy is a fully decent man, but he has an absolute blind spot and denial when it comes to some of these issues. That is devastating’. The Corbyn era, that started with so much optimism for Labour members in the summer of 2015, is definitively and irreversibly over.

Written byRobert Peston

Robert Peston is Political Editor of ITV News and host of the weekly political discussion show Peston. This post originally appeared on his ITV News blog

Comments
Topics in this articlePolitics