X Close

How Keir Starmer betrayed the North East Purging Jamie Driscoll was a sign of weakness

You could have built a Camelot. (Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

You could have built a Camelot. (Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)


July 20, 2023   5 mins

For decades, the North East was home to the right sort of Left. Durham, Tyneside — these are places rich in labour history and heraldry, ancient seedbeds of a working-class trade unionism which predates the Labour Party itself. But, though always radical, these areas were first and foremost loyal. In their battles with the militant miners’ federations in the Eighties, Labour leaders could rely on staunch backing from the powerful anti-communist leaders of the Durham area. In 1983, when local Labour parties were dominated by the Left, Tony Blair found a safe haven in Sedgefield, while a decade later his friend Peter Mandelson was picked for Hartlepool. Regional bosses of the local T&G and GMB unions would regularly secure seats for fellow Blairites such as Stephen Byers and Alan Milburn.

Yet for weeks now, local members of the Labour Party have been in open revolt against their leadership. Jamie Driscoll, the Labour mayor of the North of Tyne, has been blocked from standing as its candidate for a new mayoralty which will cover most of the area, from Durham to Northumbria. Administratively, this may seem like a minor regional snub. But it was Driscoll, a former engineer, who led the negotiations by local council leaders to secure the impressive £1.4 billion devolution settlement to establish the authority in the first place. It was just one victory among many in his current role: he’s created thousands of new jobs, extended rural broadband, and, unlike in the neighbouring Teesside Valley, has seen off the Tory threat.

It seems churlish, then, of the Labour high command to allow the leading architect of this new post stand for it. Starmer’s close ally, Baroness Jenny Chapman — best known for her role in Labour’s defeat in the 2021 Hartlepool by-election — has said Driscoll’s exclusion was “simply guaranteeing the highest quality candidates”. Everyone, however, knows it’s because of Driscoll’s reputation as the “last Corbynista in power”, a provincial leftover from that era of turmoil and defeat which Keir Starmer is desperate to forget. But this time, he seems to have miscalculated; this time, there’s talk that Starmer’s “purges” have finally gone too far.

It is true that Driscoll was backed by Momentum and by Left-wing unions such as Unite. But when Driscoll last stood, these were endorsements for a Labour candidate, not shameful baggage. The Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham supported him too, on the basis of his existing record as mayor, and Burnham is no rabid Marxist, no “enemy within”. It has been said that Driscoll’s proximate crime had been to interview the socialist film director Ken Loach in an event at a local theatre four months ago. (Loach was expelled from the Labour Party in 2021 for refusing to disown Labour members who had been expelled for alleged antisemitism.) But Driscoll’s discussion with Loach was a cultural event, not political, and made sense given that Loach has set two of his most recent films on Tyneside, including I, Daniel Blake, which won the Palme d’Or.

In any case, Keir Starmer himself has even stronger links with Loach. His film on the celebrated McLibel case included substantial footage of the young Starmer who worked on the case, in the days when he was nothing more than a fanciable young barrister who fought for free speech and human rights. And, if it’s the Corbyn era that Driscoll is being shamed for, Starmer himself is far from innocent. Even if he’s made the successful swerve from “Jeremy Corbyn is my friend” to “we were never friends”, some of us couldn’t bear the whiplash. The two statements can’t both be true. And there is a sheen of inconsistency and disingenuousness which now taints Starmer’s leadership — and arguably his entire project in the Party.

Only this week, an Asian member of Labour’s National Executive Committee [NEC], Mish Rahman, was barred from the selection to become a candidate in Wolverhampton South West. Rahman, a Momentum supporter, believes he upset Starmer by voting against the disciplinary structures introduced after the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s report on antisemitism in the party. And yet, just last September, Starmer was pictured presenting Rahman with flowers and a certificate in recognition of his service on the NEC (the photo adorns Rahman’s Twitter site). What’s more, as an NEC member, Rahman has chaired a couple of the party panels that have drawn up selection longlists in other seats — exactly the same type of panel which excluded him. If he was fit to chair such panels, Rahman quite reasonably asks, why is he unfit to be on a longlist himself?

Even people on the Right of the party feel Labour is being far too authoritarian. It was reported this week that when Starmer defended his decision to stick with the government’s two-child benefit cap, nobody in the Shadow Cabinet dared to challenge him, presumably for fear of reprisals. And the relentless ideological moderation has fulfilled every Left-wing stereotype of Starmer as a ruthless politic cynic, “laser-focused” (to use a Starmer cliché) on power but never change.

The case of Driscoll has extended this hostility from Corbynite liabilities to anyone with a strong commitment to trade unionism. Today, even having a working-class background seems to be regarded as suspect, in a party where the leadership has allowed selection processes to become dominated by outside agencies which charge contenders thousands of pounds to advise their campaigns.  And they wholeheartedly believe this is a winning strategy. One of Starmer’s henchmen, Luke Akehurst, happily admitted to me that potential candidates are chosen not on quality, but politics. Anticipating a slim majority after the next election, he argued, Labour cannot afford dissidents who might rebel against official policy.

Strong, self-confident leaders welcome internal debate, while weak leaders who lack confidence are terrified of opposition. When John F. Kennedy won the 1960 presidential election, he sought out the “best and the brightest” to join his Camelot administration. And truly great leaders relish having people around them who will generate fresh ideas and challenge existing thinking. A hundred years before JFK, Abraham Lincoln famously constructed his cabinet as a “team of rivals”. In the UK, Margaret Thatcher loved a good barney in Downing Street, and admired underlings who debated with her. Clement Attlee regarded himself as a primus inter pares, and thrived on having four major figures in his Cabinet — Herbert Morrison, Ernest Bevin, Stafford Cripps and Aneurin Bevan. Attlee skilfully orchestrated their abilities and ambitions to produce the greatest peacetime government of the last century. But, more than even the New Labour era, senior Starmer ministers look set to be side-lined. Power will reside with a small group of individuals whose names mean nothing to the general public.

Jamie Driscoll represents a new breed of regional lieutenant that Starmer should be encouraging. His background as an engineer, and director of a software company, could have been assets to his party. Instead, he is now a martyr, a permanent memory of ruthless mismanagement. Since announcing his independent candidacy, he has already raised more than £100,000 towards his crowd-funding target of £150,000. When he stands, he will badly divide Labour in the once ultra-loyal North East — another heartland which may no longer recognise its historic party. And symbolically he threatens party unity nationwide, even if, as widely expected, Labour wins all three by-elections today.

In popular discourse, Starmer is widely thought to be descended from Blair, while Jamie Driscoll personally compares his situation to Ken Livingstone’s back in 2000. And, when Blair spoke to Starmer this week at his Future of Britain conference, he should have reminded him of how he managed his own rebellious regional mayor. Ahead of the inaugural mayoral election in London, Blair had very publicly denounced Livingstone’s bid to become Labour candidate, dismissing him despite his local loyalties and socialist roots. It was a decision Blair later regretted: Livingstone quit the party and trounced Blair’s stooge candidate, Frank Dobson, into a humiliating third place. Recognising his error, Blair later had to allow the popular Livingstone into the party, and backed him in the following mayoral contest in 2004.

In his quest to sanitise Labour’s brand, Starmer’s diktats have worked like pure alcohol, cleansing only as much as they corrode. He believes that he is operating within Labour’s established traditions: Wilson and, of course, Blair were known as ruthless, determined manoeuvrers. But they both understood that Labour leans on several pillars — including its unions links, its idealism and its localism. Somewhere on the road from London to the North East, there is a pit stop where the Durham Miners’ Gala can break bread with the Islingtonian cadres. At this rate, neither will bother to make the journey. And, come 2024, the worst fate for Starmer will be making his victory speech to an empty hall.


Michael Crick is a broadcaster and writer whose most recent book is One Party After Another: The Disruptive Life of Nigel Farage (Simon & Schuster). His Selections Twitter feed is @Tomorrow’sMPs

MichaelLCrick

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

26 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Andy Iddon
Andy Iddon
10 months ago

It just all seems to be yesterday’s news nowadays. Both Labour and Conservative, and the establishment generally, is rotten and corrupt and they have no intention of addressing their own malignant nature. Isn’t it us against them again, just with different betrayals for the working classes to try and address? Tbh it’s fait accompli -the class war has been won by eliminating the nation and replacing it with “values”. Healthy self-interest has been stigmatised and vilified, resistance has been made futile.

Last edited 10 months ago by Andy Iddon
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Andy Iddon

I completely agree with you, however there is a glimmer of hope!

The other day, after much trouble from that abomination otherwise known as the House of Lords, the Government finally passed the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill.

This should mean the end of vexatious prosecutions being brought against former members of the British Army who had the inestimable joy of serving in Northern Ireland during the ludicrously named “troubles “. (1969-1997.)

However it will be TOO late for Soldier F, who is currently undergoing the ‘Show Trial’ of the century for his alleged participation in an incident in early 1972, that is sometimes referred to as either ‘Bloody Sunday’ or ‘Good Sunday’ depending on one’s point of view.

Niall Cusack
Niall Cusack
10 months ago

I have already suggested to you, Charles, without response on your part (very uncharacteristically), that the only rational explanation for the British Army’s behaviour in Ballymurphy ,and then in Derry, was that they carried out an administrative massacre in both cases.
Administrative massacres are routine in British military history.
Amritsar is perhaps the most disgusting.

The administrative massacres could only have been authorised by Ted Heath.

They did not work! They prolonged the war by nearly thirty years.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Niall Cusack

Niall,

I am so sorry I completely missed your epistle! It must be something to do with old age!

However I’m afraid I must disagree. I wouldn’t describe either Ballymurphy or Londonderry as massacres, the number of rounds fired and actual fatalities inflicted was infinitesimal by usual standards. Also by late 1971 Northern Ireland was in a state of war and over 60 members of the Security Services had already been killed. Retribution was bound to follow, and some would say that when it came it was far too timid! Thus the ‘enemy’ were encouraged and the ‘war’ continued for a further 25 years.*

Even Amritsar has been grossly overhyped, particularly by that arch hypocrite, but consummate politician, one Winston Spencer Churchill.

As to Edward Heath a more worthless ‘waste of rations’ would be hard to imagine. I very much doubt if he authorised any “administrative massacres” as you call them. As I recall Heath’s attitude was:- “Please sort out the Irish, but for God’s sake DONT kill any of them, even if they try to kill you”.

So how should it have gone?
Well that other spineless t**d, otherwise known as Harold Wilson, should have deployed the Army in the autumn of 1968**, a year earlier that he actually did.
Once deployed they should have destroyed the only extant enemy, the Protestant Loyalists hoodlums. The IRA were totally moribund at the time and no threat to man nor beast. Destroying the Protestants would at worst have taken a month and involved killing a maximum of about 500 of them. A quite acceptable level of violence in retrospect.

(* It must be said providing superb ‘live’ training for junior commanders, and a great relief from the boredom of BAOR.)

(** Aden had finished the previous year so there were no other major ‘live’ commitments to distract anyone.)

I hope that answers some of your questions?

Last edited 10 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Niall Cusack

Attempted to reply at 23.03 BST, 21.07. 2023, but the censor has intervened. Let’s hope ‘it’ relents.

As at 18.06 BST. 22.07.2023. it has NOT relented.
Therefore I presume ‘it’ is a Fenian sympathiser!

Last edited 10 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Niall Cusack

Niall,

I am so sorry I completely missed your epistle! It must be something to do with old age!

However I’m afraid I must disagree. I wouldn’t describe either Ballymurphy or Londonderry as massacres, the number of rounds fired and actual fatalities inflicted was infinitesimal by usual standards. Also by late 1971 Northern Ireland was in a state of war and over 60 members of the Security Services had already been killed. Retribution was bound to follow, and some would say that when it came it was far too timid! Thus the ‘enemy’ were encouraged and the ‘war’ continued for a further 25 years.*

Even Amritsar has been grossly overhyped, particularly by that arch hypocrite, but consummate politician, one Winston Spencer Churchill.

As to Edward Heath a more worthless ‘waste of rations’ would be hard to imagine. I very much doubt if he authorised any “administrative massacres” as you call them. As I recall Heath’s attitude was:- “Please sort out the Irish, but for God’s sake DONT kill any of them, even if they try to kill you”.

So how should it have gone?
Well that other spineless t**d, otherwise known as Harold Wilson, should have deployed the Army in the autumn of 1968**, a year earlier that he actually did.
Once deployed they should have destroyed the only extant enemy, the Protestant Loyalists hoodlums. The IRA were totally moribund at the time and no threat to man nor beast. Destroying the Protestants would at worst have taken a month and involved killing a maximum of about 500 of them. A quite acceptable level of violence in retrospect.

(* It must be said providing superb ‘live’ training for junior commanders, and a great relief from the boredom of BAOR.)

(** Aden had finished the previous year so there were no other major ‘live’ commitments to distract anyone.)

I hope that answers some of your questions?

Last edited 10 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Niall Cusack

Attempted to reply at 23.03 BST, 21.07. 2023, but the censor has intervened. Let’s hope ‘it’ relents.

As at 18.06 BST. 22.07.2023. it has NOT relented.
Therefore I presume ‘it’ is a Fenian sympathiser!

Last edited 10 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Niall Cusack
Niall Cusack
10 months ago

I have already suggested to you, Charles, without response on your part (very uncharacteristically), that the only rational explanation for the British Army’s behaviour in Ballymurphy ,and then in Derry, was that they carried out an administrative massacre in both cases.
Administrative massacres are routine in British military history.
Amritsar is perhaps the most disgusting.

The administrative massacres could only have been authorised by Ted Heath.

They did not work! They prolonged the war by nearly thirty years.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Andy Iddon

I completely agree with you, however there is a glimmer of hope!

The other day, after much trouble from that abomination otherwise known as the House of Lords, the Government finally passed the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill.

This should mean the end of vexatious prosecutions being brought against former members of the British Army who had the inestimable joy of serving in Northern Ireland during the ludicrously named “troubles “. (1969-1997.)

However it will be TOO late for Soldier F, who is currently undergoing the ‘Show Trial’ of the century for his alleged participation in an incident in early 1972, that is sometimes referred to as either ‘Bloody Sunday’ or ‘Good Sunday’ depending on one’s point of view.

Andy Iddon
Andy Iddon
10 months ago

It just all seems to be yesterday’s news nowadays. Both Labour and Conservative, and the establishment generally, is rotten and corrupt and they have no intention of addressing their own malignant nature. Isn’t it us against them again, just with different betrayals for the working classes to try and address? Tbh it’s fait accompli -the class war has been won by eliminating the nation and replacing it with “values”. Healthy self-interest has been stigmatised and vilified, resistance has been made futile.

Last edited 10 months ago by Andy Iddon
George Venning
George Venning
10 months ago

Nice to see Michael Crick actually say this.
.
It’s all so tiring this faux hard-headed nonsense from the Labour right.
.
The same strategy every time, “we must tack to the centre to win power” and that means being seen to purge the left.
.
The problem is not only that, in doing so, they demoralise their natural supporters, whom they can only keep on board by saying that they’ll be better in power than the Tories. But they fail to win Tory support anyway because the Tories tell their supporters that all the rightward movement made in opposition will disappear as soon as they win power and that they will immmediately become Stalin.
.
So Labour supporters are being insulted and then asked to vote for a pig in a poke, whilst swing voters are essentially being told, “you can trust me because I have betrayed my own supporters to get here.” It’s a magnificently terrible platform to stand on.
.
Obviously, the Graun is all in on this. Polly Toynbee and Martin Kettle have both written articles about how electoral tactics are the only thing that count and portraying all this as strategic genius when it’s actually the same rope-a-dope that Neil Kinnock fell for in 1992.
.
The media cheered whenever he went after the left and called him statesmanlike. But, when the election came round, they turned on him anyway and squeaked the Tories another five years.

Last edited 10 months ago by George Venning
Peter B
Peter B
10 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

“you can trust me because I have betrayed my own supporters to get here.”
That’s brilliant. Sums up New Labour and its obsession with positioning, triangulation and PR. In this respect, Starmer is no different from Blair.

George Venning
George Venning
10 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

I’m no great fan of Blair but he he had a recognisable set of beliefs. He thought that good people could do good things with the tools currently available. Capitalism could be tamed, and even war could be an engine of the greater good. And, for all that people called him dishonest, he never lied about who or what he was.
What was his first act as Labour leader? To get rid of Clause 4. I thought that was odd then and I feel that subsequent events have not vindicated him. But it was him self-consciously announcing precisely who he was and what he believed. He ran for the leadership on that platform and won. Fair play.
Starmer… not so much

George Venning
George Venning
10 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

I’m no great fan of Blair but he he had a recognisable set of beliefs. He thought that good people could do good things with the tools currently available. Capitalism could be tamed, and even war could be an engine of the greater good. And, for all that people called him dishonest, he never lied about who or what he was.
What was his first act as Labour leader? To get rid of Clause 4. I thought that was odd then and I feel that subsequent events have not vindicated him. But it was him self-consciously announcing precisely who he was and what he believed. He ran for the leadership on that platform and won. Fair play.
Starmer… not so much

Matty D
Matty D
10 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

Labour’s ‘natural supporters’ under Corbyn were the cranks and the communists. Funnily enough, the country rejected them, massively in 2019. They’ve been expelled or left. Good riddance. They are not welcome in Labour.

Luke Piggott
Luke Piggott
10 months ago
Reply to  Matty D

I don’t think the populist movement in to Labour under Corbyn was exclusively “cranks and communists”, I think it was actually much more than that. Ultimately though, it failed for as many reasons as it started, but it proved that there was a platform for an alternative type of politics. It offered people something other than two shades of Neoliberism.

I believe Labour being a “broad church” will always keep it crippled. However, as long as we keep the FPTP system, there isn’t much chance for smaller parties to make the contribution they deserve.

Rosemary Throssell
Rosemary Throssell
10 months ago
Reply to  Matty D

I’m not a crank or a communist!

George Venning
George Venning
10 months ago
Reply to  Matty D

I’m sorry if that was your experience. It certainly wasn’t mine.
.
Do you mind me asking, was that your personal experience, in branch meetings and so on?

Luke Piggott
Luke Piggott
10 months ago
Reply to  Matty D

I don’t think the populist movement in to Labour under Corbyn was exclusively “cranks and communists”, I think it was actually much more than that. Ultimately though, it failed for as many reasons as it started, but it proved that there was a platform for an alternative type of politics. It offered people something other than two shades of Neoliberism.

I believe Labour being a “broad church” will always keep it crippled. However, as long as we keep the FPTP system, there isn’t much chance for smaller parties to make the contribution they deserve.

Rosemary Throssell
Rosemary Throssell
10 months ago
Reply to  Matty D

I’m not a crank or a communist!

George Venning
George Venning
10 months ago
Reply to  Matty D

I’m sorry if that was your experience. It certainly wasn’t mine.
.
Do you mind me asking, was that your personal experience, in branch meetings and so on?

Peter B
Peter B
10 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

“you can trust me because I have betrayed my own supporters to get here.”
That’s brilliant. Sums up New Labour and its obsession with positioning, triangulation and PR. In this respect, Starmer is no different from Blair.

Matty D
Matty D
10 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

Labour’s ‘natural supporters’ under Corbyn were the cranks and the communists. Funnily enough, the country rejected them, massively in 2019. They’ve been expelled or left. Good riddance. They are not welcome in Labour.

George Venning
George Venning
10 months ago

Nice to see Michael Crick actually say this.
.
It’s all so tiring this faux hard-headed nonsense from the Labour right.
.
The same strategy every time, “we must tack to the centre to win power” and that means being seen to purge the left.
.
The problem is not only that, in doing so, they demoralise their natural supporters, whom they can only keep on board by saying that they’ll be better in power than the Tories. But they fail to win Tory support anyway because the Tories tell their supporters that all the rightward movement made in opposition will disappear as soon as they win power and that they will immmediately become Stalin.
.
So Labour supporters are being insulted and then asked to vote for a pig in a poke, whilst swing voters are essentially being told, “you can trust me because I have betrayed my own supporters to get here.” It’s a magnificently terrible platform to stand on.
.
Obviously, the Graun is all in on this. Polly Toynbee and Martin Kettle have both written articles about how electoral tactics are the only thing that count and portraying all this as strategic genius when it’s actually the same rope-a-dope that Neil Kinnock fell for in 1992.
.
The media cheered whenever he went after the left and called him statesmanlike. But, when the election came round, they turned on him anyway and squeaked the Tories another five years.

Last edited 10 months ago by George Venning
Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
10 months ago

Starmer is in favour of every form of diversity, except diversity of thought and opinion.
His victory in 2024 GE looks inevitable, as does his demise before or during the 2029 election. However I fear the damage he will do to us all in those 5 years will be with us for a very longtime to come as there does not seem to be a decent alternative who could credibly win power through the current electoral system.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
10 months ago

Starmer is in favour of every form of diversity, except diversity of thought and opinion.
His victory in 2024 GE looks inevitable, as does his demise before or during the 2029 election. However I fear the damage he will do to us all in those 5 years will be with us for a very longtime to come as there does not seem to be a decent alternative who could credibly win power through the current electoral system.

David McKee
David McKee
10 months ago

Loose ends.

Starmer’s Blair-like modernising of Labour is leaving loose ends, in a way Blair never did.

If, in office, Starmer trips up, no one will want to catch him before he falls.

David McKee
David McKee
10 months ago

Loose ends.

Starmer’s Blair-like modernising of Labour is leaving loose ends, in a way Blair never did.

If, in office, Starmer trips up, no one will want to catch him before he falls.

Caroline Watson
Caroline Watson
10 months ago

Labour in the North East is no longer run by Durham miners and Wallsend shipbuilders. That’s the problem. It’s run by blue haired, identity politics supporting teachers from Heaton and their retired, eco-warrior equivalents in Hexham. Momentum Hexham is a blatantly anti semitic organisation that seceded from mainstream Momentum because Jon Lansman was Jewish.
Labour politics in the North East is factional and corrupt. Northumberland County Council, notionally Tory controlled, is still being investigated because of the corrupt practices of its Labour-supporting senior officers under the previous Labour administration. Jamie Driscoll has never been been forgiven for winning the mayoralty, with Momentum support, against the Blairite former leader of Newcastle City Council, Nick Forbes, who was subsequently de-selected from his council seat. His exclusion from this election will have originated in the North East, not Starmer’s office.
Most people in the North East are profoundly cynical about local government and don’t want a Mayor at all. Many will be very amused when Labour splits its vote and the Tory comes through the middle!

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago

What do you expect?
Didn’t T Dan Smith*aka “Mr Newcastle”, set the standard that has since been slavishly followed?

(* 1915-1993.)

Last edited 10 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago

What do you expect?
Didn’t T Dan Smith*aka “Mr Newcastle”, set the standard that has since been slavishly followed?

(* 1915-1993.)

Last edited 10 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Caroline Watson
Caroline Watson
10 months ago

Labour in the North East is no longer run by Durham miners and Wallsend shipbuilders. That’s the problem. It’s run by blue haired, identity politics supporting teachers from Heaton and their retired, eco-warrior equivalents in Hexham. Momentum Hexham is a blatantly anti semitic organisation that seceded from mainstream Momentum because Jon Lansman was Jewish.
Labour politics in the North East is factional and corrupt. Northumberland County Council, notionally Tory controlled, is still being investigated because of the corrupt practices of its Labour-supporting senior officers under the previous Labour administration. Jamie Driscoll has never been been forgiven for winning the mayoralty, with Momentum support, against the Blairite former leader of Newcastle City Council, Nick Forbes, who was subsequently de-selected from his council seat. His exclusion from this election will have originated in the North East, not Starmer’s office.
Most people in the North East are profoundly cynical about local government and don’t want a Mayor at all. Many will be very amused when Labour splits its vote and the Tory comes through the middle!

Anne Torr
Anne Torr
10 months ago

The Labour candidate is an unknown quantity. She may have been the Police Commissioner but she talks in soundbites for everything. It is full of pieties and promises but nothing substantive. Her working background is never divulged so we know nothing of her experience to do this job – I suspect she has none. Labour in pushing her are really taking the pee.

Anne Torr
Anne Torr
10 months ago

The Labour candidate is an unknown quantity. She may have been the Police Commissioner but she talks in soundbites for everything. It is full of pieties and promises but nothing substantive. Her working background is never divulged so we know nothing of her experience to do this job – I suspect she has none. Labour in pushing her are really taking the pee.

David Lindsay
David Lindsay
10 months ago

In its first two days, Jamie Driscoll’s crowdfunder has raised more than £100,000. Kim who? As Jamie’s supporters, First Past the Post is our dream come true. To put the belt and braces on it, then the Greens and the Left parties should refrain from standing against him. But he has always been highly likely to top what equated to the first round of a preferential election. Kim McGuinness could quite conceivably come third. For Labour. In the North East. A few months before the General Election.

Caroline Watson
Caroline Watson
10 months ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

You will split the Labour vote and the Tory will come through the middle. Most people won’t vote, and those who will are those who are sick of Labour factionalism and corruption going back decades in the North East, and sick of the road closures and identity politics posturing of Newcastle City Council.

David Lindsay
David Lindsay
10 months ago

What do you mean, “split the Labour vote”? A political party does not own votes, and in any case who is going to vote for Jamie Driscoll who might otherwise have voted for adherence to the Conservatives’ tax and spending proposals, for the retention of the two-child benefit cap, for even higher real terms cuts to public sector pay, against any increase in statutory sick pay, and against the renationalisation of the railways or the utilities?

The North East’s large Conservative minority has always known that its candidate was going to come second, but this is the chance to put Labour’s in third place. Months before the General Election, a failure to win the Mayoralty that covered Northumberland, Newcastle, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Sunderland, Gateshead and County Durham would be devastating for the Labour Party. Bring it on.

Last edited 10 months ago by David Lindsay
David Lindsay
David Lindsay
10 months ago

What do you mean, “split the Labour vote”? A political party does not own votes, and in any case who is going to vote for Jamie Driscoll who might otherwise have voted for adherence to the Conservatives’ tax and spending proposals, for the retention of the two-child benefit cap, for even higher real terms cuts to public sector pay, against any increase in statutory sick pay, and against the renationalisation of the railways or the utilities?

The North East’s large Conservative minority has always known that its candidate was going to come second, but this is the chance to put Labour’s in third place. Months before the General Election, a failure to win the Mayoralty that covered Northumberland, Newcastle, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Sunderland, Gateshead and County Durham would be devastating for the Labour Party. Bring it on.

Last edited 10 months ago by David Lindsay
Caroline Watson
Caroline Watson
10 months ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

You will split the Labour vote and the Tory will come through the middle. Most people won’t vote, and those who will are those who are sick of Labour factionalism and corruption going back decades in the North East, and sick of the road closures and identity politics posturing of Newcastle City Council.

David Lindsay
David Lindsay
10 months ago

In its first two days, Jamie Driscoll’s crowdfunder has raised more than £100,000. Kim who? As Jamie’s supporters, First Past the Post is our dream come true. To put the belt and braces on it, then the Greens and the Left parties should refrain from standing against him. But he has always been highly likely to top what equated to the first round of a preferential election. Kim McGuinness could quite conceivably come third. For Labour. In the North East. A few months before the General Election.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
10 months ago

Starmer is already fighting the 2029 election. Few people in the Labour Party understand how difficult the five years after 2024 will be.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
10 months ago

Starmer is already fighting the 2029 election. Few people in the Labour Party understand how difficult the five years after 2024 will be.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
10 months ago

Crick’s devotion to Attlee is misplaced. It may have taken nigh on 70 years but the chickens of his NHS and welfare state have surely come home to roost.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
10 months ago

Crick’s devotion to Attlee is misplaced. It may have taken nigh on 70 years but the chickens of his NHS and welfare state have surely come home to roost.

Matty D
Matty D
10 months ago

I like Michael Crick, but this is take on Starmer is absolute rubbish. A much better comparison is with Neil Kinnock, who had to ruthlessly purge Labour of the far left after the chaos of Michael Foot, and then Militant in Liverpool. Starmer has single handedly rescued Labour and re-established it as prospective Government in waiting. The Corbynistas and their student politics (as so memorably put by Alan Johnson to Jon Lansman in the 2019 ITV results programme) have been expelled. Yes, he has been ruthless. Possibly he has gone too far in places. But it had to be done.

Adam Smith
Adam Smith
10 months ago
Reply to  Matty D

 ‘Starmer has single handedly rescued Labour and re-established it as prospective Government in waiting.’
Sorry, this is most certainly absolute rubbish. Starmer has done no such thing. The Tories have imploded and he has benefited from that massively. He is perhaps the luckiest Opposition leader in British democratic history. He has no charisma, no force of personality, no public recognition, he has received hardly any serious scrutiny, and he leads arguably the worst government-in-waiting that there has ever been. How many Labour policies could a voting member of the public actually name? I would wager none whatsoever.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
10 months ago
Reply to  Adam Smith

Starmer takes a Marxist approach to principles, and I don’t mean Karl.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Adam Smith

“How many Labour policies could a voting member of the public actually name?”.

Promote massive Climate hysteria?

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
10 months ago
Reply to  Adam Smith

Starmer takes a Marxist approach to principles, and I don’t mean Karl.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Adam Smith

“How many Labour policies could a voting member of the public actually name?”.

Promote massive Climate hysteria?

Adam Smith
Adam Smith
10 months ago
Reply to  Matty D

 ‘Starmer has single handedly rescued Labour and re-established it as prospective Government in waiting.’
Sorry, this is most certainly absolute rubbish. Starmer has done no such thing. The Tories have imploded and he has benefited from that massively. He is perhaps the luckiest Opposition leader in British democratic history. He has no charisma, no force of personality, no public recognition, he has received hardly any serious scrutiny, and he leads arguably the worst government-in-waiting that there has ever been. How many Labour policies could a voting member of the public actually name? I would wager none whatsoever.

Matty D
Matty D
10 months ago

I like Michael Crick, but this is take on Starmer is absolute rubbish. A much better comparison is with Neil Kinnock, who had to ruthlessly purge Labour of the far left after the chaos of Michael Foot, and then Militant in Liverpool. Starmer has single handedly rescued Labour and re-established it as prospective Government in waiting. The Corbynistas and their student politics (as so memorably put by Alan Johnson to Jon Lansman in the 2019 ITV results programme) have been expelled. Yes, he has been ruthless. Possibly he has gone too far in places. But it had to be done.