The Conservative party conference begins tomorrow in Manchester. Coming at a time of fuel shortages, tax rises and post-Covid drift, many disgruntled activists will be hoping to see some sign of dissent from backbenchers uncomfortable at the government's direction of travel. Yet however bad those divides are, they're surely nothing compared to those on show at Labour's conference in Brighton just a few days ago. Nowhere was that better evidenced than at The World Transformed (TWT) festival, the socialist shindig to rival Labour's 'official' event, held just a stone's throw away from the main hall.
It was here that members of the Socialist Campaign Group – the 35 most left-wing MPs in the Labour party – spent three days parading their grievances with the Starmer project. The suspended Jeremy Corbyn was naturally hailed every time he spouted his usual platitudes by an audience which seemed to largely consisted of wavering or recently-departed party members, either via resignation or expulsion. But much more interesting was the way in which a handful of other, much younger, MPs did not even bother to hide their disgust with Keir Starmer's leadership throughout the course of the conference.
— habibi (@habibi_uk) September 30, 2021
Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP personifies the nasty far left loser wing of Labour so well.Starmer "is not a politician for the Labour party", he says, urging the "Keith!" crowd in Brighton to stay.What choice does the party have but to fight these arrogant idiots and thugs? 1/2 pic.twitter.com/KU8GDPw84Q
Lloyd Russell-Moyle told the closing rally that it had 'been a goddamn awful conference with a goddamn awful leadership' and that Starmer 'is not a politician for the Labour party,' smirking as the Brighton crowd chanted the anti-Starmer words 'Keith! Keith! Keith!' He promised to do more to defend those 'purged' from Labour in recent months – such as those individuals who belong to groups which the party leadership insist are not consistent with 'Labour's rules or our aims and values.' Russell-Moyle told the TWT crowd:
“I want to apologise from all of us but me in particular. Because if we have made you feel like you are alone, if we have not reached our arm around you enough in these tough times when you are being purged or set up with false allegations, I not only apologise, I will endeavour to do better because we have to support each other.
Zarah Sultana meanwhile emerged as the darling of the left, with regular chants of her name to the tune of 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' She ran a pub quiz dedicated in part to mocking her leader, while she lambasted Starmer's leadership as 'shameful,' told him to 'do your job' 'instead of purging members' and claimed Labour has being captured by a 'Blairite clique.' Richard Burgon openly mocked Sir Keir by lampooning Neil Kinnock's famous 1985 conference speech, attacking 'the grotesque chaos of a Labour leader – a Labour leader – scurrying around Brighton trying to draft the terms of his own redundancy notice.'
Unlike the 72-year-old Corbyn who might well stand down at the next election, Burgon, Russell-Moyle and Sultana look set to remain in the Parliamentary Labour Party for decades to come, being aged 41, 35 and 27 respectively. Given their open dissent against the leadership, some within the party are asking at what point does Keir Starmer threaten sanction? Mr S understands that Russell-Moyle in particular could be in real trouble for his remarks, partly as a deterrent to others thinking of making such public attacks.
Could he be needing an arm around him soon too?