Keir Starmer: The One to Watch
Is this Labour's next leader?
by Mure Grant
Sir Keir Starmer received a standing ovation when he told the Labour party conference that a “public vote” must be a resolution if Theresa May fails to call a general election before the UK leaves the European Union, adding: “No one is ruling out remain as an option”. With Jeremy Corbyn reaching the tender age of 73 by the time the ‘next’ general election wanders around in 2022, front bench Labour MPs have already been whispering about a quiet changing of the guard before British voters next go to the polls.
But how will the Shadow Brexit Secretary obtain the required levels of support, from the most polarised Labour membership in history, to become Labour’s next leader?
Born in 1962, Starmer had Labour blood running through his veins from the offset, being named after the founder of the Labour Party: Keir Hardie. After studying Law at the University of Leeds and graduating with a first in 1985, Starmer underwent postgraduate studies at St Edmund Hall; graduating from the University of Oxford in 1986. Rising through the legal profession at a blistering pace, Starmer was appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 2002 and became Director of Public Prosecutions in 2008 - the English equivalent of the Lord Advocate.
Starmer’s steady tenure as DPP would help bolster his support among the more Blairite sections of the Labour membership who believe his former career emphasises his professionalism and dedication to hard work. This, of course, would make him much more appealing to Middle England, which is often a pivotal ingredient to the keys of No.10. The attributes Starmer acquired whilst being DPP would also advance his backing with the moderates of the party, who would see him as a candidate with invaluable levels of top-end leadership required for becoming Labour’s figurehead to the public.
Perhaps Sir Keir’s best chances of winning over the Trotskyists and Blairites of Labour lie in his pedigree at Westminster. Where other moderates have failed (Chuka Ummuna & Owen Smith), Starmer has excelled; he has remained loyal to the Corbynite regime ever since assuming the Shadow Cabinet post of Brexit Secretary in 2016.
He has also cleverly crafted Labour’s Brexit policy to appease both the Brexiteers and Remainers of the party. Starmer’s Brexit strategy played dividends in last summer’s election, which allowed Corbyn to reap the benefits from both the Leave and Remain camps of the nation.
By showing loyalty to Corbyn, Starmer would be the most inclined centrist hopeful to receive the backing of the Left, who would assure their trust in him as the candidate not to betray some of Corbyn’s most pressing reforms.
However, Starmer’s Brexit position on a second referendum did not receive praise from everyone within Labour. Just hours after his conference speech in Liverpool, the MP’s position was challenged by the general secretary of Labour’s most powerful affiliated union - Len McCluskey of Unite - who expressed that any referendum would be on the terms of a deal, meaning Remain would be an absent option from the ballot paper.
This public denouncement of Starmer’s Brexit position may in fact play to the advantage of the Right of the party who would work coherently to (please forgive me) “Unite” around one Blairite candidate with the aims of diminishing the executive powers of the Unions, who have become all too influential in shaping Labour party policy under Corbyn and McDonnell’s guidance.
It is worth noting that even though Starmer has been in Parliament for less than three years, he has established himself as a prolific figure within the party. By making sure he has not ‘dirtied the slate’ with either the Right or Left side of the party, Starmer has set himself up in perfect Santa Clause stature; he is liked and appreciated by all. His intelligence, charisma and articulated vision of saving Britain from the infectious social and economic divisions inflicted upon the country by the Tories has made him the ideal candidate to reassemble the Labour family, which has been so heavily fractured by the Blairite and Corbynite strife.
So, in the near future, once comrade Corbyn stands down, do not be surprised if Sir Keir Starmer rises into the vacancy as Labour leader, restoring some centrist normality to the political chaos that has unfortunately absorbed this nation.