New direction or same old story? Keir Starmer's Labour Party conference
- Credit: PA
Keir Starmer says the Labour Party has ended its “dark chapter” with antisemitism.
The opposition leader used Labour’s turbulent conference in Brighton to claim that his party had “closed the door” on antisemitism after members backed new rule changes.
Reforms supported at the party’s conference in Brighton include a fully independent complaints process to tackle antisemitism.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews welcomed the new approach, which followed a damning report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Former MP Dame Louise Ellman, who quit Labour because of antisemitism, rejoined the party – a moment which Mr Starmer called “poignant” .
However the leader’s efforts to position Labour as capable of winning the next general election were blighted by a series of internal conflicts at conference.
Despite facing significant opposition from the left of his party, the Holborn and St Pancras MP squeezed through a package of watered down reforms determining how his successor as leader would be voted in.
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The measures, which are expected to make it harder for the left of the party to have a candidate on a future leadership ballot, were backed by 53.67% to 46.33%.
Shadow cabinet minister Andy McDonald then resigned after accusing Mr Starmer of dividing the party and abandoning his pledges.
Mr McDonald suggested the leader was not honouring “our commitment to socialist policies”, claiming that Mr Starmer’s office instructed him to argue against a national minimum wage of £15 per hour.
The Labour leader was also forced into a “private conversation” with the party’s deputy leader Angela Rayner after she labelled the prime minister Boris Johnson “scum”.
Mr Starmer will today deliver the the most important political speech of his career.
He is expected to present himself as a serious alternative to Boris Johnson and break away from the Jeremy Corbyn-era of Labour. Mr Starmer is also anticipated to say the future of the United Kingdom is in “peril”.
The former director of public prosecutions made a number of pledges as he bids to become prime minister.
They included plans to phase out business rates; private schools being taxed to raise £1.7bn for state education; mental health treatment becoming available within a month – and a vow not to nationalise the UK’s largest energy firms.