Starmer unites Labour?

Labour has a new party leader, what can he expect?

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Momentum vows to 'hold Keir Starmer to account' after Labour left suffers heavy defeats

Pro-Jeremy Corbyn campaign group Momentum has vowed to "hold Keir Starmer to account" after his comprehensive victory in the Labour leadership election.

Sir Keir comprehensively defeated left-wing standard bearer Rebecca Long-Bailey in the race to succeed Mr Corbyn.

Meanwhile, Richard Burgon was beaten into a distant third place in the deputy leadership race, which was won by Angela Rayner.

And in a further blow for the Labour left, three moderate candidates won election to the party's National Executive Committee - handing Sir Keir a majority on the powerful body.

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Will Sir Keir Starmer be able to unite the Labour party?

By Joe Harker

In a throwback to a time when the coronavirus didn't dominate absolutely everything, Sir Keir Starmer has won the Labour leadership contest and has become leader of the opposition.

Succeeding Jeremy Corbyn after the disastrous defeat of the 2019, Starmer takes the reins of a party facing years out of government and wracked by infighting among the various factions that make up the broad church of Labour.

One of his first tasks as Labour leader will be to reunite a party which is fractured and unsure of what direction it ought to be going in to best challenge Boris Johnson and the Conservatives, so how will Sir Keir do?

The Claim:

Given the scale of his leadership victory, early indications are that Starmer will have the support necessary to reshape the party in his own image and conduct his own brand of reconciliation.

He won more than twice the number of votes as his closest leadership rival Rebecca Long-Bailey, who Starmer has now named as his shadow education secretary.

The Guardian reports that Starmer has a "huge and powerful mandate" to lead Labour as he likes rather than being subject to the various factions in the party.

His shadow cabinet has seen some of his leadership rivals appointed to important positions and is generally seen as one which has been stacked with "soft left" Labour figures who have stayed out of the infighting of Corbyn's time as leader.

It's the sort of shadow cabinet which will attract many on the left, not leaning too far into socialism or centrism to turn off the other side and instead being planted firmly in the social democracy which is the heart of Labour.

Corbyn was able to retool Labour into something closer to what he wanted due to significant support from the party membership, with a similar mandate Starmer can do the same. How he does in these early stages could determine whether the electorate backs Labour to return to government at the next general election.

The Counter Claim:

While Starmer would prefer to spend his time holding the Tories to account he will still have to contend with unhappy elements within Labour who supported Corbyn and are disgruntled that their guy is gone.

While every candidate for leadership disavowed the tag of "Corbyn continuity candidate" it was a label that was never attributed to Starmer, who resigned from the shadow cabinet in 2016 to protest against his predecessor as part of a failed attempt to change the party leadership.

Starmer also butted heads with Corbyn over Labour's Brexit policy, with the new leader spending the majority of his time in Corbyn's team as shadow Brexit secretary.

Momentum, the campaign group which is seen as overwhelmingly pro-Corbyn, has said they will "hold Keir Starmer to account" and reminded the new Labour leader there are elements of the party which will be watching him with interest.

It's a sign that Starmer's election as Labour leader doesn't mean everyone will fall into step behind him. Factions with their own causes will still try to steer the party in their preferred direction and Starmer will have to contend with a disgruntled group which now wields less influence than it used to.

The Facts:

Starmer was voted in as Labour leader with 56.2 per cent of the vote, with Long-Bailey winning 27.6 per cent and Lisa Nandy receiving 16.2 per cent.

He was voted in on the first round of the contest, having received the backing of over half of Labour's party members, registered supporters and affiliated supporters.

Long-Bailey will be the shadow education secretary while Nandy has been made shadow foreign secretary.

Among those who make up the shadow cabinet is former Labour leader Ed Miliband, who contested the 2015 general election and has returned to Labour's front bench as shadow business secretary.

The next general election is scheduled for the end of 2024, by which time Labour will have been out of power for more than 14 years, having lost four general elections and faced at least three Conservative prime ministers in office.

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