Sir Keir Starmer’s policy U-turns are revealing his ‘real politics’, a leading ally claimed yesterday.
Jenny Chapman, who served as Sir Keir’s chief of staff, acknowledged he had dumped a string of pledges made during the Labour leadership campaign, but said this ‘shift’ was necessary to make him electable by the public.
In recent months, Sir Keir has flip-flopped on a series of pledges made in 2020 when he was seeking to succeed Jeremy Corbyn, including promises to scrap university tuition fees, abolish Universal Credit and defend EU free movement.
Unveiling his ten pledges at the time, he told Labour activists: ‘My promise to you is that I will maintain our radical values and work tirelessly to get Labour in to power – so that we can advance the interests of the people our party was created to serve.
‘Based on the moral case for socialism, here is where I stand.’
Baroness Chapman said Sir Keir had ‘spent a lot of time talking and listening’ to the public since securing the Labour leadership, adding: ‘That’s why you have seen this shift.’
‘I think what you’re seeing now is his real politics,’ she said. ‘There was an understanding of the best issues to talk about if you want to become leader of the Labour Party.’
The Labour peer told the Politico website: ‘It’s about reality and having to govern for the whole country, not just the Labour movement’.
She went on: ‘Because he’s made that shift… that’s why we have a chance of winning the election.’
Baroness Chapman, who served as Sir Keir’s campaign manager in the leadership election, denied he had always planned to ditch his pledges if he won.
She admitted that she ‘did not believe in all the pledges made’, but added: ‘They were not my pledges… these were things that Keir had thought and felt, but the essay question is very different now, when you [have gone from] asking to be the leader of a movement to being leader of an entire country with much more diverse needs than our half a million members.’
But her comments will fuel Tory claims that the Labour leader is willing to make promises he has no intention of keeping in order to get elected.
In recent weeks, Sir Keir has also watered down or ditched a number of pledges made since he became Labour leader, including a plan to dramatically raise the Digital Tax, and the flagship scheme to spend £28billion a year on green projects.
Rishi Sunak said this week that Sir Keir had changed his mind so often that ‘you can’t trust a word Labour says’.
Sir Keir’s backtracking has also angered the Labour left, which argues activists were duped into voting for him on a false prospectus.
Andrew Fisher, Mr Corbyn’s former policy chief, said Sir Keir had shown ‘complete contempt for the membership’.