Boris Johnson warns Starmer of ‘hungry’ Angela Rayner
Ms Rayner this week said people “on the doorstep didn’t know” what Sir Keir stood for following the party’s drubbing in England’s local elections. The party lost a vital seat in the Hartlepool by-election, one of the last parts of the Red Wall that crumbled in the 2019 general election. Many blamed Sir Keir for the poor result, having fielded a staunch Remainer who championed a People’s Vote in a town that voted 70 percent to leave the EU.
Despite this, Ms Rayner said she believed in him “100 percent because I wouldn’t still be working with him if I didn’t”.
Following the election Sir Keir carried out a vast reshuffle of his Shadow Cabinet, sacking Ms Rayner as party chair, and replacing her with Anneliese Dodds.
Ms Dodds was in turn removed as Shadow Chancellor, with Rachel Reeves taking up the job.
While murmurs of Sir Keir’s exit rippled through the radical left-wing element of the party, others have claimed that changes at the top will not be enough to solve Labour’s deep-rooted problems ‒ and this could spark fury from Ms Rayner, as it puts the scale of the Shadow Cabinet’s crisis into perspective.
Angela Rayner: The reshuffle could prove futile as Labour needs a complete overhaul, it was claimed
BBC: Rayner told the BBC that people ‘didn’t know what Keir Starmer stood for’
Paul Embery, a leading trade unionist and Labour member, said the party needs an ideological overhaul if it wants to win back voters, and suggested the reshuffle could be futile.
He told Express.co.uk: “In some respects Starmer has over the last year articulated some of the right ideas, and he was absolutely right to say we’ve got to get over Brexit and that we can’t reopen that wound; he started to talk about family and community and nation, all of the things that go down well in Red Wall communities, so I don’t think the problem is him particularly.
“I think the problem is a party that, even if Starmer was an A leader who had exactly the right idea of where the party needed to go, I don’t think large parts of the party want to go there.
“Anyone who says, ‘All we need to do is change the leader or a few faces at the top’, I think is misunderstanding the scale of the problem.
Keir Starmer: Rayner should she believed in Starmer ‘100 percent’
“It runs much deeper than who the leader is.
“It’s about the whole DNA of the party, the whole culture of the party.
“Until that changes we’re not going to win back the people that we’ve lost.”
In an interview with the BBC, Ms Rayner said Labour now had to “connect with voters we’ve lost”.
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Paul Williams: The staunch Remainer was decisively rejected in Hartlepool
England: Many claim Labour has an identity issue it is struggling to solve
This is a similar message the party has been pushing since former leader Jeremy Corbyn‘s momentous 2019 defeat.
Much of Sir Keir’s efforts to win back Britons has, as Mr Embery hinted at, revolved around transforming Labour into the “patriotic party” a term the leader himself coined.
However, Richard Wyn Jones, a political scientist, told Express.co.uk that while Labour understands it has this issue, “I don’t think they understand the nature of that problem”.
He said: “The nature of that problem is in England, and they have been losing the votes of people who identify as English in successive elections, that’s something they really struggle with.
Brexit: Much of Starmer’s troubles have been attributed to his flip-flopping Brexit stance
“They even struggle to see it let alone look at what to do about it.
“Even if they could actually work it out, I think objectively they have a really difficult problem in working out what to do about it because of the nature of that party’s support, historically speaking.”
Away from Hartlepool, Labour lost significant ground in councils across England and Scotland.
It was defeated in Bristol as a “Green Surge” saw its main rivals more than double their numbers.
Mark Drakeford: The Welsh First Minister took an almost clean sweep in Wales’ elections
Further north, in its Wirral heartlands, Labour lost three seats with Wirral Council slipping further away than in 2019.
The Conservatives also stole Pontefract South in Wakefield for the first time in a decade.
Even the Liberal Democrats managed to steal more than one council seat, achieving a resounding margin in Knottingley.
The only place Labour exceeded electoral expectations was in Wales, where the party held the Senedd with a majority, and took the Rhondda from Plaid Cymru.