Sir Keir’s success at being elected as Mr Corbyn’s replacement signalled to many Labour members that the party’s fortunes had changed. Mr Corbyn was heavily criticised for his hard-left stance throughout his time as leader and he has been blamed for leading Labour to its worst electoral defeat since 1935 last December. The former leader was also blamed for his indecisive stance on Brexit, which many believe led Labour heartlands to vote for the Conservatives instead last December.
Sir Keir has so far stuck to his promise of changing Labour, and is attempting to root out antisemitism within the party.
He made waves last week when he sacked Mr Corbyn’s protégé and his electoral rival Rebecca Long-Bailey from the shadow cabinet for sharing an interview with a supposed anti-Zionist slur in it.
Yet, The Observer’s chief commentator Andrew Rawnsley wrote last month that Labour still has some way to go to recover and became a feasible opponent to the Government, especially after Brexit.
He explained: “The peril is that Labour will be seduced by the idea that being an effective opposition against a Government that is currently flailing is all it has to do.”
A report released last month from Labour Together, a party group which has examined the December election, addressed how the party must be careful not to be complacent at this time as the party needs to change within.
Mr Rawnsley added that “it is a fair assumption that [the report’s] thoughts broadly reflect his own”, as it was written by the “Starmer kind of people” who now occupy most of the shadow cabinet.
The commentator continued: “To win next time, Labour will have to increase its total number of seats by 60 percent, a feat the party has not achieved since 1945.
“A key contention of the report is that it is ‘a mistake’ to think that ‘a different leader, with Brexit no longer the defining issue, would in itself be sufficient to change Labour’s electoral fortunes’.
“I am told that the Labour leader does not demur.”
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Labour’s approach to Brexit was cited as one of the main blunders of the party in the lead-up to the election.
As the Conservatives have so far delivered on all of their Brexit promises, to start the transition period at the end of January and leave completely by the end of the year, Labour will have to compete against that backdrop of success too.
Others have critiqued Sir Keir’s decision to remove Ms Long-Bailey from his cabinet, which has been his most decisive move since becoming leader.
The BBC’s Iain Watson explained last week: “In demonstrating firm leadership, Sir Keir Starmer has inevitably highlighted his party’s divisions.”
He did also point out: “Some don’t believe Maxine Peake’s [the article’s interviewee] assertion — that the American police had learned the technique that killed George Floyd from the Israeli security services – was antisemitic. But in any case Mrs Long-Bailey hadn’t specifically endorsed this and Peake had admitted she’d been wrong.
“So they will question whether Sir Keir was looking for an excuse to marginalise the left.”
However, Sir Keir’s allies claim that the sacking was based on the leader’s promise to remove antisemitism within the party.
Still, the divisions within the party have also been recognised as another of the driving forces which led to Labour’s devastating loss last year.