‘Brilliant result and resounding mandate’: Reactions as Southwark-born Keir Starmer becomes Labour leader

Katherine Johnston (05 April, 2020)

Starmer pledged to 'engage constructively' with the government during the Coronavirus crisis, while challenging mistakes and holding those in power to account.

34297Keir Starmer

Labour politicians from our borough have united behind new Southwark-born Labour leader Keir Starmer and his deputy, Angela Rayner.

After yesterday’s results were announced, Helen Hayes – who had publicly backed Starmer from the early stages of the contest – said: “The Labour leadership contest has been a positive, thoughtful and essential debate on the future of our party.

“Congratulations Keir Starmer on a brilliant result and resounding mandate from our members.

“I look forward to working with you in these difficult times and beyond.”

Hayes also sent her congratulations to Rayner, who is currently recovering from COVID-19.

Born in Southwark on 2 September 1962, Keir is the second of four children to Josephine (nee Baker) a nurse and Rodney Starmer a toolmaker.

They named him Keir after Keir Hardie Labour’s first leader, and he went on to study law at Leeds and Oxford University before becoming a high-flying human rights barrister and head of the Crown Prosecution Service.

In his first statement as leader, Starmer said: “It’s the honour and privilege of my life to be elected as Leader of the Labour Party.

“I will lead this great party into a new era, with confidence and hope, so that when the time comes, we can serve our country again – in government.”

In the video message, Starmer pledged to ‘engage constructively’ with the government during the Coronavirus crisis, while challenging mistakes and holding those in power to account.

“When we do get through this, we cannot go back to business as usual. This virus has exposed the fragility of our society.  It’s lifted a curtain.  Too many will have given too much,” he said.

Starmer also promised to unite the party, saying the future must be faced with honesty: “Anti-Semitism has been a stain on our party.

“I have seen the grief that it’s brought to so many Jewish communities.

“On behalf of the Labour Party, I am sorry, and I will tear out this poison by its roots and judge success by the return of our Jewish members and those who felt that they could no longer support us.”

This morning Rayner said, speaking in a video message recorded from home, that although Labour needed to work with the government in the national interest, the party should also challenge areas where it is ‘failing’.

“It is failing at the moment in particular on testing, and protecting frontline staff, and giving businesses and employees the opportunity to do the right thing,” she said.

 

Neil Coyle, who had campaigned for Jess Phillips as leader, described Starmer and Rayner as a “massive improvement”.

Harriet Harman has also voiced support for their strategy so far, and said she agreed with ‘every word’ of Starmer’s first speech.

How Southwark Labour reacted to the news

 

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