Members who joined Labour under Corbyn were ‘misguided’, Starmer shadow minister says

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Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn is mobbed by supporters as he launched the party’s 2017 election manifesto (Getty Images)
Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn is mobbed by supporters as he launched the party’s 2017 election manifesto (Getty Images)

Labour members who joined the party because they were inspired by Jeremy Corbyn's leadership were "misguided", one of Keir Starmer's shadow ministers has said.

Speaking at the party's conference in Brighton shadow security minister Conor McGinn said members who supported the former leader were not necessarily "irretrievable" but had been "misled" by others.

Labour's membership grew from around 200,000 people during the 2015 leadership election to around 500,000 at its peak – with the vast majority of new joiners supporting the leadership.

Speaking at the same event, another shadow minister Wes Streeting, claimed Labour had been characterised by "self-indulgent politics" during the previous leadership as he called for his allies to take the fight to the party's left wing.

Figures on the party's left reacted angrily to the comments, with campaign group Momentum saying those had really been misled were those who "voted for Starmer on the basis of unity, electability, and the ten pledges - and been repaid with civil war, a polling deficit, and dithering centrism".

Speaking a rally for the centrist Labour First group shadow minister Wes Streeting said Labour's approach from 2015 had been characterised by "self-indulgent politics, that puts the feeling of a conference hall before the interests of a country".

Turning his fire on the party's left, he said: "The reason they're booing, the reason they're jeering, is because they know they've lost the argument, they're going to be losing the vote, and they're not going to let Labour lose the next election. So let's take it to them this week," he added, adding that Labour could then take it to the Conservatives next week.

Mr Streeting, who reportedly seen as a future leader on the party’s right wing, called on members to give their "full throated support" for Sir Keir during the conference.

Shadow minister Conor McGinn told the same gathering: "We have to acknowledge that many of [those who joined to support Corbyn] got involved for the right reasons. They may have been misguided, or misled.

"But ultimately, they are not irretrievable, and we need to find a way to ensure that that energy and enthusiasm, that those particularly young people brought to the party."

A spokesperson for the left-wing campaign group Momentum said: "The members who have really been misled are those who voted for Starmer on the basis of unity, electability, and the ten pledges - and been repaid with civil war, a polling deficit, and dithering centrism.

"Right now thousands of young people at The World Transformed festival discussing socialist ideas and strategy. Until Labour to Win can start to offer actual solutions to the crisis of the 21st century, they will never be able to recreate that energy."

Speaking at the same event Johanna Baxter, a Labour NEC member aligned with Labour First, said the party was now spending £2m a year on legal fees dealing with antisemitism cases. She suggested this expenditure was one reason behind staffing cuts.

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