Labour crisis: McDonnell claims Keir Starmer is only leader because of Corbyn’s policies

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The former Shadow Chancellor and major ally of Jeremy Corbyn said Sir Keir Starmer, who has been distancing himself from his predecessor’s far left, was elected after he adopted a party policy which was “drawn from the last two Labour manifestos”. He told Italian paper La Republica: “It’s interesting that the new leadership, Keir Starmer, was elected on the basis of adopting a template policy programme, which was drawn from the last two Labour manifestos.

“I don’t think he would have gained the support without securing that, without that commitment to those policies… that doesn’t mean to say there aren’t others in the Labour Party that wouldn’t want to ship it back to the policies of New Labour.”

Mr McDonnell warned Sir Keir was losing members who had abandoned the Labour Party after Mr Corbyn’s departure.

When quizzed over members abandoning the party following’s Mr Corbyn’s exit, he said: “Yeah, there’s some of the statements that have been made on the individual issues as have not been carefully worded or well chosen.

“And some people have been alienated by that.

“So we’ve had some people leave, but it’s not on any mass scale that I can see.

“Because I think like me, most people think that there’s a prospect now of maintaining not just the policy positions that we were given ourselves that we have to pass on to, but actually maybe recognising that in the current crisis, there are calls for policy-making more radical than they were before.”

His comments come despite Labour leader Sir Keir trying hard to restore the party’s electability, by distancing himself from Mr Corbyn’s far left.

So far, Labour moderates have dealt Corbynites a crushing blow with a wide-ranging Shadow Cabinet reshuffle, which saw a string of Corbynite frontbenchers including Mr McDonnell, Diane Abbott and Richard Burgon replaced.

Sir Keir is also moving to break away definitively from the Corbyn era and reduce Labour’s reliance on left-wing unions.

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And continuing to make his mark on the Labour Party, it has recently emerged Corbyn’s ally and Unite union boss Len McCluskey is thought to be stepping down from the role earlier than planned.

Mr McCluskey, a key ally of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, became general secretary of the UK’s largest trade union in 2010 and was twice re-elected to the position.

The 70-year-old’s term of office finishes in 2022 but The Times reported that a successor will be chosen a year earlier than planned.

Mr McCluskey has been a vocal critic of Sir Keir, savaging his “timid leadership” and warning him he cannot win a general election without the support of the Left.

In a previous shock interview, Mr McCluskey also warned his support for Sir Keir is “very much based on the pledges that he made to get him into leadership”.

This included continuing Labour’s radical values, hiking taxes on the highest earners, improving union rights and nationalising the rail, mail and utility sectors – all key policy pledges under Mr Corbyn.

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