LONDON — Labor leader Keir Starmer has allowed a “right-wing faction” of the opposition party to become “power drunk”, a key ally of Jeremy Corbyn has claimed.
Backbench MP John McDonnell – who led the Shadow Treasury team for four years under Starmer’s leftist predecessor – said Starmer’s closest allies were trying to ‘destroy’ the Labor left .
Figures on Labor’s left flank are increasingly unhappy with Starmer’s leadership – despite the party’s lead in the polls over the ruling Tories.
They pointed to the lack of selection of non-Starmer Allied candidates into winnable seats in Westminster, as well as the suspension of some prominent left-wing figures.
Corbyn himself was suspended by the party, then barred from standing as a Labor candidate, after claiming that the scale of anti-Semitism within Labor – an issue that has rocked his leadership – was vastly exaggerated for political reasons.
More recently, some on the left have pointed to the launch of an internal investigation into Neal Lawson, director of the Compass campaign group and former adviser to Gordon Brown, over tweets he sent calling for cross-party cooperation. Under Labor rules, members are prohibited from expressing support for other political parties.
“I’ve written to Keir several times saying look, this factionalism is causing us real problems going forward,” McDonnell told the BBC’s Newsnight.
“What [Starmer has] allowed to perform is a right wing faction [has] getting drunk on power and using devices within the party, almost seeking and destroying the left… we have always been a broad church,” he added, pointing to the “tolerance” of the former Prime Minister Tony Blair towards opposing views within the party.
“[Starmer’s team] seem more interested in destroying the left’s presence in the party than getting a Labor government,” McDonnell said.
The current Labor leader has steered the party away from its political platform under left-wing Corbyn and dropped a number of his own more left-leaning promises from his 2020 leadership campaign. Starmer blamed this on developments economic circumstances since the pandemic and war in Ukraine.
A Labor spokesman told the BBC the party has high standards for its potential election candidates.
‘This is about a changed Labor Party back to serving working people so we can build a better Britain,’ they added.