Local elections: Starmer speaks to supporters in Barnet
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The close friend and former member of Mr Corbyn’s shadow cabinet dismissed evidence of progress in winning over voters, saying there was “much work to do”. Labour won control of three flagship Conservative London boroughs last night and is on course to take the biggest national share of the vote in an election since 2016.
However, in many areas in the midlands and north the party has failed to make significant progress.
In a sign Labour remains at war with itself, allies of Sir Keir’s predecessor have seized on Labour’s failure to secure a bigger breakthrough as proof that the current leadership is failing.
“It’s clear that Keir Starmer and Labour still have much work to do,” Ms Abbott said on social media this morning.
She also shared a message by another Twitter user that claimed the results indicated “there is no electoral rationale” behind the Holborn and St Pancras MP’s policy direction.
Mish Rahman, a member of Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee who also sits on the executive of the pro-Corbyn grassroots organisation Momentum, criticised the leadership for having spent too much time fighting the Left-wing of the party rather than focusing on the issues that matter to the public.
“From Partygate to the Tory cost-of-living crisis, these local elections were a golden opportunity for Labour.
“We’re delighted by gains in London, where Momentum members played a key role on the ground and as candidates. But these first results from the rest of England are distinctly underwhelming,” she said.
“Labour actually went backwards from Corbyn’s 2018 performance, a result which should bury Keir Starmer’s deeply flawed idea that punching Left is a vote-winner.”
Matt Zarb-Cousin, Mr Corbyn’s former spokesman shared a picture of a laughing face on social media in response to an analysis by Professor Sir John Curtice highlighting Labour’s lack of progress outside London.
Meanwhile, Mr Corbyn’s former speech writer, Andrew Fisher, wrote in The i: “At this stage of the political cycle, mid-term after 12 years of Conservative Government, and with the Prime Minister and the economy mired in crisis, Labour should be doing better.
“Keir Starmer was elected as Labour leader promising to maintain the party’s bold and popular policies, to unite the party, and to be a professional and effective leader.
“Generously, he has work to do on all three of those fronts.”
Since Sir Keir was elected Labour leader in the spring of 2020, he has focused on distancing himself from Mr Corbyn’s leadership.
He has sought to move away from his policies and pushed through a number of internal reforms to make it harder for another radical Left-wing MP to be elected leader.
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Sir Keir also suspended Mr Corbyn from the parlaimentary party in a bid to look strong following a row on anti-Semitism.
His strategy has put him on a collision course with factions of his party, and supporters of Mr Corbyn have accused him of shifting to an electoral platform that will fail to inspire voters.
The Islington North MP led Labour to its worst general election result since 1935 when he was in charge of the party.
Sir Keir has hailed the results so far today as a succes, claiming the party is “back on track”.
The Labour leader met supporters in north London on Friday morning where he celebrated the party’s win from the Conservatives.
Sir Keir said: “This is a big turning point for us. From the depths of 2019 in that general election, back on track, winning in the north. Cumberland! Southampton! We’ve changed Labour and now we’re seeing the results of that.”
He added: “What brilliant teams we’ve got, all the fantastic work we’ve put in.
“When it comes to London, you can hardly believe those names come off our lips.
“Wandsworth! They’ve been saying for years ‘You’ll never take Wandsworth from us.’ We’ve just done it! Westminster! It’s an astonishing result.”
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