Left-wingers urged to fight on in the party

The World Transformed holds 'Starmer Out?, and if so how?' meeting

Friday, 1st October 2021 — By Harry Taylor in Brighton

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Aaron Bastani has left the Labour Party

THE cheer that greeted the introduction of the “Starmer Out, and if so how?” event at The World Transformed (TWT) festival spoke for the anger of the Labour Party’s left wing.

Against a backdrop of rule changes which would have diminished Labour members’ say in who would be the party’s next leader, the rally was always likely to be fractious.

Therefore it was no surprise that the resignation of shadow employment minister Andy McDonald was met with a roar.

TWT was set up by left wingers to run alongside the main conference event each autumn.

In an eviscerating session attended by many members of what would have been the party faithful during Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, Keir Starmer was called a traitor, a compulsive liar, and a sociopath.

Commentator and journalist Aaron Bastani said Mr Starmer was “deeply dishonest and malevolent, he hasn’t got any policy ideas. Keir Starmer is only concerned with the advancement of his career, he isn’t going to do anything about low pay and climate change.”

The session in the TWT tent

And Alex Nunns, the chair of the event and  one of Mr Corbyn’s former speechwriters, said: “Starmer’s leadership is a project of the hard right of the Labour Party. There was some ambiguity early on, but they came to Brighton this week to try to destroy the left.”

He mused whether the left needed to make alliances, or rely on the right wing of the party to jettison Starmer.

“Keir Starmer has put himself in a position where that side of the party thinks there’s no threat from the left any more, so why are they going to stick with him as leader when he’s proved to be ineffective. Has he signed his own death warrant?”

TWT was in its fifth year of in-person meetings and was held in tents in Brighton’s Old Steine Gardens, the tents resembling a big village fete.

Organisers and activists were defiant despite a feeling of fear and pessimism about their future prospects under Mr Starmer.

Calls were made for socialists to stay in the party, despite what has been labelled as “purge”, which had left many considering  whether to remain members.

Jeremy Corbyn speaking at a People’s Assembly gathering on the Hove lawns

On Sunday, Mr Starmer had narrowly won approval for changes which would mean 20 per cent of MPs would need to nominate leadership candidates. Mr Starmer had himself won easily  under the one-man-one-vote (OMOV) system in May last year, but his predecessor Mr Corbyn had too – twice in 2015 and 2016.

The Holborn and St Pancras MP’s pledges when running for the top job were discussed in the TWT tent.

Mr Bastani, who is among those who have left the party, said there had been a refusal to back an income tax increase, and the leadership had dropped plans to renationalise energy companies.

There was frustration over Mr Starmer’s performance, with the party still lagging behind in the polls.

Mr Bastani said: “He has pretty much broken all of [the pledges]. It comes down to: ‘Are you going to believe somebody who is so quick to break their word?’”

Mr Nunns said: “He has no mandate any more. He stood for election on a programme that’s completely different to what he’s carried out.”

Amid discussions about whether unhappy members should stay in the Labour Party, both Mr Bastani and panellist Momentum co-chair Gaya Sriskanthan urged people to carry on and work to promote socialists, and socialism in the party.

“The critical thing is to stay and build,” said Ms Sriskanthan.

“We need to look towards the future and not react in the moment.

“If people hadn’t left the party in the last 12 months, we might have had a bigger majority on the conference floor this time.”

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