Keir Starmer Keir Starmer. Photo: Rwendland / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0, license linked at bottom of article

Starmer is sidelining the left in the NEC as his purge continues, writes Terina Hine

Today Margaret Beckett was elected chair of Labour’s NEC, Labour’s ruling body.

Yes that’s the Margaret Beckett who described her decision to nominate Corbyn in his leadership bid as the worst political mistake of her life. Who repeatedly called for Corbyn to resign as leader of the party, who played a major role in the “chicken coup” and who has reviled Corbyn, his supporters and the “hard-left” at every opportunity. So much for promoting party unity.

And now this morning she has been granted the honour of holding one of the most important positions within the party – chair of its ruling body, the NEC. The left candidate for the position was blocked and yet again the right of the party showed how ruthlessly it is willing to be to cement its power.

In response the left held a mass zoom “walk-out”. Thirteen members, senior trade union officials, plus constituency reps, including Laura Pidcock, walked out – or rather switched off the meeting.

Previously the NEC was chaired by a system of “rotating” chairs, and now was the turn of left supporting Fire Brigade’s Union President Ian Murray. But Keir Starmer holds a majority on the NEC, and changing how the chair of the ruling body was to be appointed enabled him to ensure a chair of his pleasing.

According to one NEC member Keir Starmer personally lobbied to prevent Ian Murray taking the position -not only a personal insult to Murray but to the FBU and the firefighters his union represents. It is indicative of the new leadership’s complete lack of respect for its trade union tradition.

Unite’s Howard Beckett has accused Starmer of acting in revenge, punishing Murray for voicing criticism of the leadership. Murray was a co-signatory of a letter accusing Starmer of political interference and undermining the NEC in Corbyn’s suspension from the parliamentary party.

Today’s move is critical. It is another attack on Corbyn, another attack on the left, and a direct attack on the Trade Union movement. There is a full scale purge in Labour directed at anyone who dares to criticise Starmer or support Corbyn.

Starmer became Labour leadership promising to unite the party and take the fight to the Tories. Instead he has ripped Labour apart, betrayed many who voted for him, and thousands of members. Under his leadership Labour has supported the most corrupt and dangerous government we have seen for decades.

The left in Labour should not just walk out of an NEC away-day. To see change or to hold the Tories to account they must take more decisive action. Today’s Labour Party is neither democratic nor socialist, the fight is no longer within Labour – it is outside.

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