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John Rentoul: The sacking of Rebecca Long-Bailey was a “Blairite moment”

June 27th, 2020

Interesting angle from the Indy’s John Rentoul on the sacking of Shadow Education Secretary and former unsuccessful leadership challenger, Rebecca Long-Bailey.

Rentoul is a long-standing Blairite and has never apologised for that. The tone of this evening’s column is set out in its opening:

It would be wrong to gloat. Mustn’t do it. And generally I don’t. But just for a moment, let’s celebrate the end of the paranoid, reactionary, self-righteous politics of the people who ran the Labour Party for the past five years. It was all over the moment Jeremy Corbyn announced he was standing down, but this was the week they knew it. I don’t want to rub salt into the wound, because that would sterilise it and help it heal, but the sacking of Rebecca Long-Bailey was one of those rare moments of shocking leadership. For those of us who think a broad-based egalitarian government would be a good idea, it has been a long time since a Labour leader has surprised us with such moral clarity.

I just wonder whether associating Starmer with Blair, probably the most hated man in large parts of the Labour movement is doing the new leader any favours but there is no doubt that this is a major political event which could be looked back on in the same way Blair’s decision to axe Clause 4 was,

What those Labour figures who still revile Blair ignore is that in its entire history the party has only ever won five sustainable working majorities – three of them – GE1997, GE2001 and GE2005 – when the party was led by Blair. Somehow to many winning elections is not a good thing but a bad one.

The huge gap in the polling between the record breaking leadership ratings that Starmer has been enjoying and Labour’s failure to break through on voting intention shows the huge challenge the new man has – far greater than when Blair became leader in 1994.

I just wonder whether this was in fact all planned. Starmer kept Long-Bailey in his Shadow Cabinet for the purpose of a huge public sacking when she stepped over a line.

The harsh fact for Corbynistas is that their man was the reason why the party dropped to its worse General Election result since 1935. All the post election polling found Corbyn as a the main reason why former LAB voters had switched.

Mike Smithson