Keir Starmer Snubs Jeremy Corbyn In List Of Inspirational Labour Leaders

·3-min read
Starmer’s keynote speech in Birmingham saw him offer a new 'contract with the British people' as well as 'straight leadership'. (Photo: Christopher Furlong via Getty Images)
Starmer’s keynote speech in Birmingham saw him offer a new 'contract with the British people' as well as 'straight leadership'. (Photo: Christopher Furlong via Getty Images)

Keir Starmer failed to mention Jeremy Corbyn when paying tribute to previous Labour leaders as he set out his stall for government in a major speech.

Starmer defended not including his predecessor in his speech, in which he instead chose to praise former prime ministers Clement Attlee, Harold Wilson and Tony Blair.

Asked why he had not included Corbyn — who now sits as an independent MP following the the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s report into anti-Semitism within Labour — Starmer replied: “I don’t apologise for mentioning Attlee, Wilson and Blair. The thing that unites those three very different prime ministers is that they all won.

“They introduced Labour governments that changed Britain for the better and I want to be the fourth in that list writing the next chapter of our history.

“Unless the Labour Party is absolutely clear that our whole purpose as a party is to win power to govern to change the lives of millions of people, then we will be talking politics and not doing politics.

“So, no apology about that at all.”

Starmer also threw his weight behind Blair following calls for the former prime minister to be stripped of the knighthood he was awarded in the New Year Honours list.

Blair, now 68, was made a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter in this year’s awards.

However, anti-war campaigners and relatives of soldiers who died in Iraq have called for the honour to be stripped via an online petition which had reached more than 530,000 signatures by Tuesday morning.

Starmer said he understood people had “strong views” on the Iraq war but that did not detract from “the fact that Tony Blair was a very successful prime minister”.

Asked if the knighthood was a thorny issue for him, Starmer told Good Morning Britain: “Well, I don’t think it’s a thorny issue for me at all.

“I think Tony Blair deserves the honour. He won three elections, he was a very successful prime minister.”

During his speech Starmer was also asked whether Boris Johnson would be worthy of a knighthood once he left office, to which he replied: “No, I am sorry, I don’t think that this prime minister has earned the right to have an honour.

“I do think Tony Blair has.”

Starmer’s keynote speech in Birmingham saw him offer a new “contract with the British people” as well as “straight leadership” based on the values of “security, prosperity and respect”.

Addressing the audience in front of a British flag, he stressed that Labour was a “patriotic party” and that his contract would be a “solemn agreement” setting out how a good government should conduct itself.

“I am well aware that just because the Tories lose the public’s trust it doesn’t mean Labour simply inherits it,” he said.

“Trust has to be earned. I am confident but not complacent about the task ahead.”

While the UK remains a “great place to live”, he said it was not unpatriotic to point out that the country has flaws.

“On the contrary, the reason we in this party want to correct those flaws is precisely because we are patriotic.

“I came into politics to make things happen, not just to talk about them. I don’t think politics is a branch of the entertainment industry. I think it’s the serious business of getting things done.

“But I’m afraid at the moment we are going backwards. We have a prime minister who thinks the rules apply to anyone but him.

“Just when trust in government has become a matter of life and death, for the prime minister it has become a matter of what he can get away with.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.