Labour: Ex-adviser grilled in fiery debate over Jeremy Corbyn
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Sir Keir Starmer will discuss his childhood, career in law and leading the Labour Party from his spare bedroom during lockdown in an extraordinary interview with Piers Morgan. The Labour leader will join the broadcaster for a hour-long episode of Piers Morgan’s Life Stories later today. It will be the first interview with a party leader on Life Stories since the former tabloid editor interviewed Gordon Brown when he was Prime Minister in 2010.
Sir Keir is expected to discuss his childhood in Surrey, his family life and move into politics from law, culminating in his appointment as Labour leader last April.
Labour has been in turmoil since the by-election defeat in Hartlepool last month, with setbacks in council elections in England followed by a botched reshuffle.
The results were a major setback for Sir Keir, as the party tries to recover from its general election defeat under his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn, which was its worst since 1935.
As anticipation for Sir Keir’s interview grows, unearthed reports shed light on his relationship with Mr Corbyn.
Despite serving in his Shadow Cabinet, the former barrister did not not initially back him to lead the party, warning a 2015 Labour conference that the MP for Islington North was not the messiah.
Sir Keir argued Mr Corbyn’s sensational Labour leadership victory six years ago had more to do with a “yearning” for something different than his own qualities.
Speaking the day after Mr Corbyn’s first conference speech as leader at a fringe meeting in Brighton, Sir Keir said: “I don’t think it’s about Jeremy.
“Jeremy has got a fantastic mandate, he ran a fantastic campaign.
“He’s not the Messiah, he would be the first to say he doesn’t have all the answers, and if you touch Jeremy you are not healed.
“All that’s happened is that we have opened up a space. Jeremy has opened up a seam, a rich seam of disaffection, disengagement with politics.
“People want to come back now and engage. And that’s a really good thing.”
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As an Arsenal fan, he explained: “I reckon I could go to the home end at the Emirates and get the home fans to sing and shout Arsenal, but that’s not a good test of leadership.
“What we do from now on is much, much more difficult.”
Labour also needed to “think past austerity” because it was a “2015 issue” and focus on issues, such as boosting investment and skills, that would matter in the “2020s and 2030s”.
Over the weekend, allies of Mr Corbyn were accused of preparing for a Labour leadership contest amid warnings that Sir Keir will be “finished” if the party loses a crucial by-election this summer.
Ian Lavery, the party chairman when Mr Corbyn was leader, faced claims of plotting to boost the hard Left’s grip on Labour’s grassroots membership, who will play a vital role in picking a new leader.
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In an email seen by The Mail on Sunday, Mr Lavery told members of the giant Unite union – whose leaders have been fiercely critical of Sir Keir – that they could change the direction of the Labour Party if they became more active.
Mr Lavery urged them to take positions on Labour constituency parties, saying that it would mean doubling the power of Unite members.
The move came just weeks after former Corbyn aide Karie Murphy revealed that a “new Left” was mobilising and raised the prospect that it would take back control of Labour.
It also comes ahead of a parliamentary by-election on July 1 in the Labour-held seat of Batley and Spen in West Yorkshire, with predictions that Sir Keir will be a “dead man walking” if his party fails to hold the seat after losing its former stronghold of Hartlepool to the Tories in May.
Sir Keir will be on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories tonight at 9pm on ITV.
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