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The former Shadow Brexit Secretary took over a party in crisis when he was elected as Labour leader on April 4. Jeremy Corbyn had stepped down after leading the party to its second successive general election defeat in December. The crushing general election loss at the end of last year handed Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party a huge 80-seat majority in the House of Commons and subsequently, handing the Prime Minister the power to finally push his Brexit deal through parliament. Under the leadership of Mr Corbyn, Labour baffled voters with its confusing and unclear position on Brexit, and was continuously dogged by allegations of anti-Semitism.
Millions of voters turned against Labour in the general election, evidently shown by the collapse of its infamous ‘Red Wall’, losing several heartlands in thew north of England the party had held and relied on for several decades.
Sir Keir immediately vowed to reunite Labour and stamp out any anti-Semitism in the party in his quest to return the opposition to power in the next scheduled general election in 2024.
He completely reshuffled his Shadow Cabinet, eliminating many that had remained loyal to Mr Corbyn but appointing Rebecca Long-Bailey – a strong ally of the former leader – as Shadow Education Secretary.
But Sir sacked her from Labour’s frontbench last month for sharing what he deemed to be an antisemitic conspiracy theory on Twitter – a move that infuriated those on the far-left of the party.
Political experts have warned Sir Keir against trying to change Labour too much in such a short space of time.
Alistair Jones, Associate Professor in Politics and a University Teacher Fellow at De Montfort University, told Express.co.uk: “If Starmer tries to radically transform the Labour Party, he will alienate a significant proportion of Labour voters.
“It’s a balancing act. Many of the policy ideas put forward in the Corbyn-era are actually quite popular – nationalising the railways being a clear example.
“If he tries to jettison everything from the Corbyn-era – policies and personnel – he will leave the Labour Party in a state of civil war.
“Corbyn’s mantra has been inclusion. He needs to set out an agenda, with appropriate personnel, that shows how he can unite both wings of the party. That is the agenda upon which he won the leadership.
“So far, so good. His shadow cabinet has brought in the talent from both wings of the party.”
Ben Harris-Quinney, chairman of the Bow Group think tank, believes Sir Keir needs to transform Labour from top to bottom to have any chance of returning the party to power.
But he warned: “I see nothing about Keir Starmer that suggests to me he is willing to go against his own views and values and that of most of his MPs to achieve it.”
Alex De Ruyter, Politics Professor at Birmingham City University and Director of Centre for Brexit Studies, believes it is “uneccessary” for Sir Keir to introduce too much change, too fast into Labour.
He told this website: “Whatever one thinks of Corbyn as a leader and on a personal level, he built the Labour Party membership enormously and this is a crucial asset.
“Starmer will need to try and keep this and motivate them (particularly those on the fringes) to actively canvass on behalf of the party.
“However, he needs to be media-savvy in a way that Corbyn never was and Labour needs to become much more “digitally switched-on”.
“The Conservatives have built a ruthless machine in this regard (very effectively targeting potential key voters via social media) and Labour has a mountain to climb to match this.”
John Macdonald, Head of Government Affairs at the Adam Smith Institute think tank, warned Sir Keir he must quickly “neutralise the toxicity at the heart of Labour”.
He said: “Sir Keir has benefited not only in not being Corbyn, but in demonstrating a degree of competency at the opposition dispatch box not seen in a Labour leader for a long time.
However, no major party has ever increased their number of MPs by over 60% percent, which Starmer would need to accomplish to win in 2024.
“He must neutralise the toxicity at the heart of Labour, create a popular narrative, and build a cohesive electoral coalition.
“To do what no opposition party has done before is no ordinary mountain to climb. Sir Keir is facing a challenge of Everestian proportions.”
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