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Starmer election prompts mixed reactions

SIR KEIR STARMER’S appointment as Labour leader prompted mixed reactions over the weekend, with grassroots groups calling his election “worrying.”

Train-drivers’ union Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan welcomed the news and said that Sir Keir and deputy leader Angela Rayner are “ready to rebuild” Labour.

And Musician’s Union (MU) general secretary Horace Trubridge said that the union was “delighted” by the result.

A Momentum spokesperson congratulated Sir Keir and Ms Rayner and said that the group looked forward to working with them to elect a Labour government.

They added: “We also want to thank Rebecca Long Bailey for running a principled left-wing campaign full of big ideas, building on the programme she has worked on for the last four years.

“In four and a half years, Jeremy Corbyn and the movement around him has changed our party and country for the better, giving a voice to the hopes of millions who felt unrepresented in politics.”

The group said that it will be holding Sir Keir to account and make sure he keeps his promises on supporting public ownership of rail, mail, energy and water, a green new deal, kicking the privatisers out of the NHS, scrapping tuition fees, closing down detention centres and taxing the top 5 per cent. 

But in a joint statement the Labour representation committee, Jewish Voice for Labour and Red Labour said that Sir Keir’s election is “a worrying outcome” for those inspired by Mr Corbyn’s vision. 

The groups said that Sir Keir was “the clear favourite” of the right and centre of the party and the mainstream media, adding that he appealed to the Establishment to return Labour to “the mythical middle ground,” putting an end to a leftward shift.

The statement said: “Much was made of Starmer’s supposed left credentials, his ability to unify the party and rise ‘above factionalism.’ 

“However, while the recent articles in the Times and Mail may reflect the wish-lists of their owners rather than Starmer’s direct statements, they seem to indicate an intention to marginalise, if not drive out, the left. 

“We must unite to resist this and show that the left in the party is a force to be reckoned with.”

The groups said that they supported Ms Long Bailey in the race despite her “regrettable” acceptance of demands from the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and said that deputy candidate Richard Burgon was the only one to stand up to the organisation.

“Those of us who embraced Burgon’s principled stance in the deputy leadership contest now have the responsibility of forming the bedrock for rebuilding the left in the coming months,” the statement added.

Mr Starmer acted to replace many members of Jeremy Corbyn's shadow cabinet today, with party chair Ian Lavery, shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner and shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett among leftwingers asked to stand down. Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott also confirmed that she was leaving her post.

Shadow team members announced today included Anneliese Dodds as shadow chancellor of the Exchequer, Lisa Nandy as shadow foreign secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds as shadow home secretary, Rachel Reeves as shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Jonathan Ashworth, a rare survivor from the Corbyn team, as shadow secretary of state for health and social care.

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