Labour have scraped to victory in the Batley & Spen by-election. The right wing have spun this as a major win. In reality, it is a humiliating result. Under Starmer, the party is heading for disaster. We need a new leadership. Starmer out!
Last night, Labour managed to narrowly scrape home in the Batley & Spen by-election. The party’s majority was slashed to 323 votes, just ahead of the Tories’ 12,973 votes. George Galloway came third with 8,264 votes – a clear protest vote against Labour. The turnout was 47.6%.
Labour staved off another electoral defeat by the skin of their teeth. Yet Sir Keir Starmer hailed the narrow win as a “fantastic result”.
But this is nothing of the kind. It represents a catastrophe for Labour. Not only was Labour’s majority slashed, but the party’s percentage of the vote fell from 42.7% (in 2019) to 35.3% – as bad as the loss in Hartlepool.
This is Labour’s worst result in the constituency since the seat was created in 1983, where the share of the vote was a low of 38%. In other years it was:
2010 – 41.5%
2015 – 43.2%
2017 – 55.5%
2019 – 42.7%
2021 – 35.3%
“Labour is back,” said Starmer. “This is just the start. I want many more days like this! Labour is coming home!”
This was no “fantastic result” or “coming home”, but a massive slump in the Labour vote. Labour is going backwards. It was worse than the 2019 general election, when Corbyn was castigated by the right wing.
This result comes on the back of the humiliating defeat in Hartlepool, a once rock-solid Labour seat; and the ghastly result in the Chesham & Amersham by-election, where Labour lost its deposit, securing only 622 votes – about half the size of its local Labour membership.
This speaks volumes: not about “fantastic results”, but about how bad Labour is performing.
Despite how the right wing tries to spin it, this is a humiliating result for Starmer. To gloss over this fact is to ignore reality. From a safe Labour seat under Corbyn, it is now hanging by a thread. Starmer’s comment is like saying that Dunkirk was a “fantastic” victory.
Given the crisis in the Tory government, with Hancock’s resignation and other ongoing scandals, Labour should be miles ahead in the polls.
The Labour Party is facing an existential crisis. It is clear that, under Starmer’s leadership, the party is heading for disaster. Given the string of by-election results, many Labour members have written off winning the next general election.
At a time when the Tory government is in deep trouble, Starmer has been trying to lay the blame for Labour’s dreadful performance on everyone and everything – but himself and his leadership.
Following the Hartlepool by-election defeat, his “I take full responsibility” message soon turned into an attempt to scapegoat Angela Rayner, the party’s deputy leader.
Starmer then made some changes to his shadow cabinet and promoted new advisors. But no amount of tinkering is going to make any difference. It is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
Keir Starmer’s record is disastrous. His leadership has been pathetic by any standard. He is now holding on by his fingertips. His personal approval rating is a shocking minus 43%.
The Labour leader’s complete failure to attack the Tory government has been plain for all to see. This failed strategy was called “constructive opposition” – that is to say, no opposition at all.
Today, there is hardly any political difference between Starmer and the Tories. All of this serves to confuse and demoralise traditional Labour voters.
Starmer and the right wing have tried to bury Corbyn’s legacy. But despite all the sabotage, Jeremy faced four by-elections by the same point in his leadership – and won them all. What a contrast! In fact, no opposition leader has ever lost two by-elections to the governing party.
Taken for granted
‘Sir’ Starmer and the right wing have repeated the mantra that Labour has lost the confidence of working people. They have pumped out this line in order to justify their abandonment of left-wing policies. But this has come back to haunt them.
The problem is, when you say it often enough, people begin to start believing it. “Labour has abandoned us!”
In Batley, the party has repeatedly been accused of taking certain votes – of workers, minorities, and youth – for granted. But the feeling is not just in Batley.
“I’ve voted Labour my whole life, but I won’t be blindly giving them my vote any more,” said Wajjad Hussain, a resident in the constituency. “And that’s not just about Palestine. It’s everything locally. They’ve been in power here for 25 years but only now they’re under threat do they care about Asians.”
Disillusioned and demoralised
Instead of fighting the by-election on policies that could transform the lives of people, the party’s campaign focussed on meaningless verbiage and soundbites, such as “local candidate for local people” and “working together”.
No wonder there is huge disillusionment with the Labour leadership – inside and outside of the Party.
In a recent YouGov poll for Sky News in the run-up to the West Yorkshire by-election, 7 out of 10 party members stated that they thought Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham would make a better leader than Sir Keir Starmer.
Exclusive polling of Labour members by YouGov for Sky News shows an overwhelming majority (69%) think that former MP & Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham would be a better Labour leader than Keir Starmer 1/8
— Sky News (@SkyNews) June 30, 2021
The same poll found that 35% already want Starmer to stand down. Among members in the north of England, a majority want him to resign.
Meanwhile, two-thirds of party members, some 65%, believe that Labour is not on course to win the next general election. Just 21% believe Labour is likely to win. This view widens among the 18-24 year olds in the party: 90% of whom believe Labour will not win the next election; and 63% believe Starmer is unlikely to make it to the next election as leader.
Out of those polled, 60% want the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn to be lifted. Again, reflecting the left mood in the party, 51% want the party to keep most of Corbyn’s policies from the 2019 manifesto.
Starmer was elected on the basis of party ‘unity’. And he claimed that only he could lead Labour to victory in the next general election. These pledges have turned into a sick joke.
Not only has he lost previously safe seats such as Hartlepool, but suspensions and purges have been stepped up under his leadership, with local parties bureaucratically taken over and members’ rights trampled upon.
No wonder there is disenchantment in Labour’s ranks, with utter disillusionment towards Starmer and the right-wing leadership. There are intense discussions taking place about the need to change the leadership. This will no doubt intensify in the run up to the September national conference.
The whole affair points to a fundamental crisis within Labour. The efforts of Starmer to push the party to the right – away from Corbyn’s policies – has been a complete disaster. Over the last year, some 100,000 members have left the party, disgusted and demoralised.
It is time to call a halt. There have already been votes of no confidence (VONC) in Starmer passed in CLPs across the country. It is therefore time for the left within the party to step up and seize the initiative.
Many CLPs have already recently passed Votes of No Confidence in his leadership. If you haven’t already, use the model motion below and get it on the agenda of your next CLP meeting!?
Get in contact if you need support or want to get involved in the campaign to get Starmer Out! pic.twitter.com/CSSFGvYmli
— Starmer Out! (@starmer_out) June 17, 2021
Grassroots members should begin by moving no-confidence motions for the Labour Party conference. Let the conference decide democratically who should lead the party. This should be part of a campaign to elect a new left leader – one committed to real socialist policies.
This also means supporting the rule change being proposed at conference, which states that if a Labour leader faces a successful VONC, then there is an automatic vacancy. In that case, the threshold for any leadership challenge will be reduced to 20 nominations from MPs, which the left can easily muster.
Starmer and the right wing are determined to return us to the Blair years, even at the risk of destroying the Labour Party. Their aim is to make the party safe for capitalism.
The right-wingers are organising to drive out the left and change the rules in their favour. They want to reintroduce an electoral college system, in order to prevent any future leadership challenge from the left.
That is why they are gerrymandering meetings, shutting down CLPs, and attempting to impose candidates. To top it off, they plan to bar all the left MPs from standing in the future, starting with Corbyn.
The left must act now to prevent such a catastrophe, or go down to defeat. No return to the Blair years! For real socialist policies! For mandatory reselection of all MPs – out with careerism!
If such a struggle was carried out, the ranks of the Labour Party – eager to rid themselves of the right-wing stranglehold – would respond energetically and enthusiastically. It would provide activists with a real reason to stay and fight. And it would inspire those who have left to return.
The left must pick up the gauntlet. There is no time to lose.
We need a new leadership! Starmer out! Let the members decide! For a fighting Labour Party and bold socialist policies!