17:49 GMT21 June 2021
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    Critics of beleaguered opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer say he lacks policies, a message, politics and even the will to oppose Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government. But his Labour Party is still striving to present a front of unity amid barely-concealed infighting.

    More divisions have been exposed in the Labour party after MPs ignored a colleague's call for them to "shut the f*** up" about internal debates.

    Brent North MP Barry Gardiner publicly warned his comrades ahead of Monday night's Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) meeting with leader Sir Keir Starmer — in the wake of disastrous local, regional and parliamentary by-election results on May 6 — not to leak details to the press.

    “Here’s a message of solidarity to my parliamentary comrades: shut the f*** up!” former shadow cabinet member Gardiner wrote. “No, of course not in the meeting. I mean about the meeting.”

    But his comrades blithely blabbed the details of Starmer's pep-talk to website Labour List.

    Labour must “modernise” to “speak to the Britain of the 2020s and 2030s,” the leader said, adding that “we need to change Labour to change the country”.

    “That doesn’t mean dropping our radicalism, but it does mean looking to the future," he said.

    Nottingham East MP Nadia Whittome, a member of the left-wing Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs and the "Baby of the House" at 24, told Starmer that it would be a mistake to ditch the party's radical December 2019 election manifesto and his own "Ten Pledges" to the electorate in response to the defeat.

    Whittome blamed the election disaster on a “lack of vision” by Labour, echoing widespread criticism that Starmer lacks a clear message or politics. And she warned against trying to "triangulate" the Conservative government — as it has done to Labour — arguing that “we will never out-Tory the Tories and we shouldn’t try”.

    “We need policies we can get behind” Liverpool Riverside MP Kim Johnson chimed in.

    A YouGov poll published on Friday gave the Tories a whopping 15-point lead over Labour.

    ​Gardiner was one of a handful of MPs and shadow cabinet members to show staunch loyalty to former leader Jeremy Corbyn, who Starmer replaced in April 2020. Unlike the new party leader, Gardiner backed Corbyn's 2017 election policy of honouring the 2016 referendum vote to leave the European Union — later reversed at the September 2019 party conference with Starmer leading the charge.

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    Tags:
    UK Labour Party, Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, Brexit, Barry Gardiner, Keir Starmer
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