Labour back-benchers joined by Nav Mishra and Alex Sobel – and even leader of Scottish Labour – in supporting striking rail workers. Starmer’s initial spinelessness now means he looks weak whether he acts against them or not
Keir Starmer is in a dilemma of his own making this evening after front bench MPs – and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar – defied his strict order to front-benchers not to appear on picket lines during today’s first day of strikes by RMT rail union members.
A string of back-bench MPs, not all of them particularly on the left, were proudly pictured standing with picketing workers – and were joined by party whip Nav Mishra and shadow minister Alex Sobel. Twisting the knife still further, even Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar did the same, along with at least one other MSP.
Shadow minister Sam Tarry, said to be in a relationship with deputy leader Angela Rayner, rather feebly tried to dance between the raindrops by tweeting an old picture of himself at an earlier picket line, given away by his and others’ hats and coats on one of the warmest days of the year so far.
By his own idiocy and spinelessness in repudiating the strike and ordering his senior MPs not to go anywhere near it, Starmer has now put himself in a position where he looks tiny and weak no matter what he does: if he doesn’t sack the defiant front-benchers, he is a party leader whose MPs don’t fear or respect him and defied him without consequence.
But if he does sack them, then he looks small-minded and vindictive, looks even more like a weasel to union supporters – and still looks like a party leader whose MPs didn’t fear or respect him or even care that he might sack them, compared to being seen to betray the unions who founded the party. So the RMT looks big, while Starmer makes Antman look enormous by comparison.
And all this for the sake of a position that is – yet again – totally out of touch with public opinion and mood. When even the editor of a right-wing northern paper is backing the workers and calling out the cowards in the Tory government, and the public sees, despite a constant propaganda barrage, that the strikers have little choice, Starmer’s decision to stab the striking workers in the back was as pointless as it is self-defeating.
Small wonder that even the party right is now said to despise him and be sharpening the knives for his removal.
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