After four shameful and destructive years in office, Jeremy Corbyn has gone but he leaves a truly toxic legacy for new Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.
The hard-left that surged to Labour under Corbyn’s catastrophic rule has the party in a stranglehold and it will not release its grip willingly.
Under Corbyn the party was poisoned by extremism and racism.
Starmer is obviously in a different league to Corbyn. He is a lawyer who held high office as the Director of Public Prosecutions and he’s clearly not an antisemite.
But Starmer faced criticism for not speaking out more strongly as racism and extremism overwhelmed Labour.
He spent four years in Corbyn’s top team, last year he said he backed Corbyn “100 per-cent” and campaigned to make him Prime Minister just a few months ago.
It took former Labour leader Neil Kinnock years to purge the party of the hard-left and destructive force of Militant which was a much smaller problem in the 1980’s.
The public will want to see immediate and tough action to show he’s got the grit, will and determination to do what needs to be done. Sir Keir’s immediate apology to the Jewish community yesterday and his pledge to root out the racists was a good start but there is a very long road ahead.
The cross-party campaign against extremism, Mainstream UK, has produced detailed tests by which Starmer will be held to account and to ensure change is real and substantial not simply cosmetic.
The first and most obvious challenge will be to tackle the antisemitism that destroyed Labour’s reputation as an anti-racist party.
Senior officials who allowed this poison to fester must be forced out and legal action against Labour’s whistleblowers dropped immediately.
There needs to be a new complaints process and a training programme that has the support of the Jewish community. They must look again at all the complaints that were swept under the carpet and ensure the worst offenders are expelled automatically.
He will need to face down people like Len McCluskey, other hard-left union leaders and members of the ruling body the National Executive Council.
The public will be watching to see whether he will commit to NATO membership and be willing to support military intervention to prevent humanitarian catastrophe if necessary.
They will want to see the new leader understand that fiscal responsibility means showing how your election pledges will be paid for, being able to say no to spending demands instead of simply agreeing to every party member’s and pressure group’s shopping lists, and accepting that the private sector can be a force for good.
We have seen in recent years how quickly a mainstream party can succumb to the dark forces of extremism.
Never in its 120-year history has Labour been more out of touch with the
values of the British public. Rarely has this mattered more.
In the grip of this terrible pandemic, we have seen the true strength of the British people – from the bravery and compassion of our health and care workers, to the quiet heroism of supermarket staff and delivery drivers who have become the vital lifeline for our nation.
Hundreds of thousands have signed up to become a volunteer army. Millions more of us are helping elderly neighbours or the vulnerable and doing what we can to save lives and protect the NHS by staying at home.
We are a nation of decency and compassion and we need politicians who share those values.
Originally from The Sun on Sunday.