Keir Starmer says ‘the whole house’ will wish England the best
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His warning comes after a poll showed nearly seven in 10 Labour members believe Andy Burnham would make a better Labour leader than Sir Keir. The by-election in West Yorkshire constituency tomorrow will be a key test for his authority following Labour’s dismal performance in May’s “Super Thursday” elections which saw the party’s former heartland town of Hartlepool elect a Tory MP.
Writing in Prospect magazine, Lord Adonis said if Labour doesn’t manage to hold onto the seat it could spell an early end for Sir Keir’s leadership.
He said: “If Labour loses Batley and Spen, on top of Hartlepool last month, Keir Starmer could be the shortest-lived Labour leader since George Barnes in 1910 (remember him?).
“At any rate, he or his successor would be on the defensive—not only against Johnson’s pro-Brexit Tories, but also the resurgent anti-Brexit Lib Dems, who just a fortnight ago won a stunning majority of 8,028 in previously rock-solid Chesham and Amersham in Tory Buckinghamshire.”
Lord Adonis is an outspoken member of Labour’s Blairite wing and served in the governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
Today stunning results from a YouGov poll carried out for Sky News were released as voters in Batley and Spen prepare to head to the ballot box.
The survey of Labour members showed 69 percent believe Mr Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, is more suitable to lead the party than its current leader.
Sky’s deputy political editor Sam Coates described the result as “pretty grim” for Sir Keir, who took over from Jeremy Corbyn in April 2020.
Labour members were also asked how well they thought a string of politicians were doing.
Mr Burnham scored the highest with 94 percent saying he is doing well while London Mayor Sadiq Khan scooped up 87 percent.
Sir Keir trailed the pack, with just over half (55 percent ) of those polled saying he is doing well.
However, more respondents said Sir Keir should hang on in there if Labour loses the constituency, with 48 percent saying he should remain as leader and 41 percent saying he should step down.
Batley and Spen has become a battleground for national politics in recent weeks as locals prepare for the vote.
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The community was thrust into the spotlight in June 2016 in the run-up to the EU referendum when its Labour MP Jo Cox was brutally murdered.
Her sister Kim Leadbeater has been selected to stand as Labour’s candidate this time around.
A spokesman for Sir Keir said he will not resign if Labour loses the seat.
The opposition leader is on a “four-year path” to lead the party back into power and would not be standing down if he oversaw another electoral defeat, the spokesman said.
The West Yorkshire constituency has voted Labour since 1997, but there are real concerns within the party that it could be seized by Boris Johnson’s Conservatives tomorrow.
Sir Keir’s spokesman played down the prospect of a victory by saying it “has always been a marginal seat” and that winning “was always going to be challenging”.
After being questioned by journalists at a Westminster briefing, he responded: “Keir is not going to resign.”
He added: “Keir has been absolutely clear that this is a four-year path to get back into power and he is determined to lead the party into the next general election and to take us back into Government.”
The by-election was triggered after Tracy Brabin was elected as the mayor of West Yorkshire in May.
She won the seat for Labour in 2019 with a 3,525 majority over the Conservatives.
There is a prospect of a backbench revolt if Batley and Spen is lost.
However, it remains unclear if any challenger would be able to secure support of the 40 Labour MPs needed to trigger a leadership contest.
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