< Back to 68k.news UK front page

Corbyn ally quits Sir Keir Starmer's top team amid rising tensions

Original source (on modern site) | Article images: [1]

One of the last remaining Corbynistas on Sir Keir Starmer's frontbench has quit, just weeks before hard-Left MPs are expected to challenge the party's shift to the centre at Labour's annual conference.

Marsha de Cordova, the shadow women and equalities secretary, on Tuesday announced she was resigning to spend more time working on constituency matters.

The Battersea MP, who was elected in 2017, said that she wanted to "focus more of my time and efforts" on her constituency, which she said was a "historically marginal" seat.

Responding to her resignation, Sir Keir praised Ms Cordova for highlighting the impact of Covid-19 on ethnic minority groups and for drawing up Labour's plans for a new Race Equality Act to tackle "the structural inequalities which have existed in our society for too long".

Questions over party unity

However, the timing of her departure has raised fresh questions over the cohesion of Sir Keir's shadow cabinet as the party faithful prepare to gather in Brighton for his first conference as Labour leader.

It also risked overshadowing Sir Keir's address to the Trade Unions Congress on Tuesday morning, in which he sought to rebuild relations with the union movement by setting out a series of pledges to bolster workers' pay.

Ms Cordova is a member of the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs associated with Jeremy Corbyn and is said to have a strained relationship with Sir Keir over the issue of transgender rights, although sources close to her have denied this influenced her decision to quit.

She is also understood to have irritated some senior leadership figures after she signed a letter alongside eight other Black Labour MPs criticising delays to an inquiry tasked with looking into a leaked report over the party's handling of anti-Semitism complaints.

The report also revealed party officials had also used insulting language in private exchanges when referring to black MPs including Diane Abbott, Dawn Butler and Clive Lewis.

Ms Cordova is the latest in a line of prominent Left-wing figures to have quit or been sacked from Sir Keir's frontbench in recent months, despite him making ending the party's factionalism a key priority on his election.

Starmer's 14,000-word vision for Labour

It comes just days after it emerged that Sir Keir is preparing to publish a 14,000-word essay in which he will reportedly seek to end Labour's "navel-gazing" and refocus the party on winning power.

However, he is coming under mounting pressure from MPs to set out a new policy platform, with many frustrated at the lack of urgency 18 months after he was elected.

He is also expected to face criticism from senior Left-wing MPs in Brighton, who believe he is abandoning important elements of Mr Corbyn's policy programme and sidelining key figures in their ranks.

Several will be appearing alongside Mr Corbyn at an alternative festival which is taking place alongside Labour's conference, among them John McDonnell and Richard Burgon.

Sir Keir to boost sick pay for workers

It came as Sir Keir vowed on Tuesday to increase sick pay as part of a package to boost workers' rights, as he urged trade unions to work with Labour to secure power.

Speaking at the TUC annual conference, Sir Keir said that Labour would immediately increase the minimum wage to at least £10 an hour, provide a greater role for unions in boosting pay for workers, and provide basic rights for all workers.

But in order to do so, the Labour leader said that the party and union movement had an "obligation to unite and work together," adding: "If we do, we can take on this right-wing government, win the next general election and deliver the transformational change working people so desperately need."

Leader plays up his working-class roots

During his speech, Sir Keir also highlighted his background as the son of a toolmaker, pointing out that his father worked long hours in order to provide for his family.

Sir Keir has repeatedly drawn on his own upbringing in recent months, which some in the party believe is an attempt to dispel perceptions among some members of the public that he hails from the middle classes.

It follows reports from focus groups earlier this year, in which some participants suggested he hailed from the same social status as Boris Johnson and that his knighthood suggested he was "elitist".

< Back to 68k.news UK front page