A Conference of Crisis

A Conference of Crisis

While neither party seems to be wowing the electorate, Labour seems to be doing their best to be self-destructive in multiple ways explored below. At the end of summer, every party is holding party conferences to organise their plans for the next year and rally their supporters.

From the 25th to 29th September, many of the Labour hierarchy were in Brighton to have their say, get their motions passed and see the party in action. However, the kind of action they saw must have had a couple questioning their sanity and the party. 

The start of the conference had little chaos, with the only minor issue was the snubbing of MP Rose Dunfield over her “only women have a cervix” comments which drew the ire of Starmer. But on 27th September, Labour got a shock, Andy McDonald. A surprise resignation was given to the press before Starmer, an apparent snub of authority. His reasoning for resigning comes from 2 sources, Labour’s official opposition to a £15-an-hour minimum wage and the predominant belief within the party that Labour is “more divided than ever” which clearly McDonald felt he could not support. 

This shock to the party highlights that Starmer does not seem to have control of the Labour Party at all with claims it was ‘planned sabotage’ as suggested by Shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray.

Along with this resignation, more strife and division came along with the 90-minute final day speech from Starmer with the message that he was not the leader to unite but to win. His speech at the conference didn’t mention “unity,” replacing it with “winning.” This refusal to win over anyone who does not support him is clearly a message to the ex-Corbyn supporters that Starmer does not care about them and will not attempt to gain their approval. Starmer, in a BBC interview, when asked which is more important, winning or unity, made it clear- “Winning. Winning in a general election”.

Another incident at the crisis was a post-watershed” rant by deputy leader Angela Rayner, surrounded by activists, and she said that she was sick of “shouting from the side-lines” going to say later:

“We cannot get any worse than a bunch of scum, homophobic, misogynistic, absolute vile [inaudible] banana-republic, vile, nasty, Etonian [inaudible] piece of scum.”

Responses to Rayner’s speech have varied. The Conservatives were outraged, with one unnamed cabinet minister accused Rayner of “talking crap,” and even some Labour members were shocked, a Labour shadow cabinet minister told The Independent:

“Being rude about Boris doesn’t work because there are a lot of people who voted for him who we want to vote for us.”

In response, Rayner fired back that she was trying to get “fire in the belly” of activities and was simply pointing out the problems of specifically the current Prime Minister and the Cabinet and not the entire Conservative Party and its voters. Jeremy Corbyn was one of her few supporters believing “saying what needs to be said.” On the other hand Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer. Starmer, in an Andrew Marr BBC interview, refused to publicly condemn his second in commands language, stating:

 “Angela and I take different approaches, and that is not the language that I would use.”

Shortly after the Labour Party Conference on 2nd October, Starmer broke a campaign promise. In January 2020 in Liverpool, he promised to never write in The Sun due to its coverage of the aftermath of Hillsborough in 1989. On 2nd October, however, Starmer’s opinion piece appeared. Clearly, this long-term plan knew the impact it would have in Liverpool. That impact was outrage, with a significant backlash.

Among the many responses that he has “betrayed the people of Liverpool” and him “not fit” to be leader after the betrayal, Anderson, the Labour City Mayor of Liverpool said she is “deeply offended” by Starmer’s decision and Rotheram, Metro Mayor of Liverpool city region stated:

“The piece published today has unsurprisingly upset a lot of people across my region. The S*n is not and never will be welcome here. I have been in touch with Keir to reiterate my position and express the disappointment that I and many others feel.”

This outrage and response follow on from the belief of Starmer in winning and disregarding unity, and through this move, he has made his party more divided. He has undoubtedly caused more Labour to see Starmer as unfit for the job as leader of the party, let alone the country.

The recent events of the Labour Party have not been positive. Not many people are satisfied with the ruling Conservative Party, but with the chaos that Labour seems to be in the choice at the next election seems to be for, incompetent ruling party and disunited chaotic opposition party. 

At a conference where Starmer could have built on a rocky past year and set a strong base for going into 2022, he has made his position as party leader worse, and his party’s reputation has continued to decline. Only time will tell if Labour is a party that can win as Starmer has been so focused upon.

About The Author

Lloyd Watts

I am from Portsmouth in Hampshire and I am currently studying International Relations at the University of Warwick. My main areas of interest in writing are in politics, history and sport. In terms of other hobbies I enjoy playing sports, mainly rugby and I love to game and read.

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