Keir Starmer: Labour's Next Leader?

With Jeremy Corbyn announcing his resignation as the leader of the Labour Party after his defeat in the 2019 General Election, the campaign for a new leader of the Labour Party is well underway. One of the front-runners in the race is Sir Keir Starmer, MP for Holborn and St Pancras and previously a defence lawyer, here’s a summary of what you need to know about the next potential labour leader. 

 

Who is Keir Starmer? 

Starmer is from Southwark, London and was educated at a grammar school before going on to study Law at the University of Leeds. After graduating Leeds, Starmer completed a post-grad at the University of Oxford where he studied to become a Bachelor of Civil Law. Prior to becoming a politician, he was a successful human rights lawyer, culminating in him being appointed to the Queen’s Counsel in 2002 and then being named GC of the Year by the UK legal directory in 2007. Starmer was elected as MP for Holborn and St Pancras in 2015, winning by a majority of over 17,000 and in the same year was appointed Shadow Home Office Minister. He resigned from this position in 2016 in protest over Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership on Brexit (Starmer himself had supported Andy Burnham in the leadership election), however he soon returned to the shadow cabinet when he was appointed Shadow Brexit Secretary in the same year.  

 

What are Starmer's policies? 

If he were to become Labour leader, some commentators have suggested that Starmer would move Labour more to the centre of politics but he himself has assured to sceptics that he won’t “over-steer” to the right. He demonstrates how close he wants to stay to left-wing roots through his expressed desire to nationalise water, mail and rail, and on his own website says Labour can’t “retreat from the radicalism of the past few years”.  As Shadow Brexit Secretary he campaigned for Brexit plans to be made available to the public, a campaign which he won and is seen as one of the key victories of his political career. On his campaign website, Starmer makes 10 pledges which are: 

  • Economic justice 

  • Social justice 

  • Climate justice 

  • Promote peace and human rights 

  • Common ownership 

  • Defend migrants’ rights 

  • Strengthen workers’ rights and trade unions 

  • Radical devolution of power, wealth and opportunity 

  • Equality 

  • Effective opposition to the Tories 

 

 

How well is he doing in the Labour leadership campaign? 

Sir Keir was the first to qualify for the member’s ballot, demonstrating his popularity amongst the Labour party membership. His closest rival in the race at the moment is Rebecca Long-Bailey, the Shadow Secretary for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and both candidates were interviewed by Andrew Neil on the 4th March. In the interview Starmer stuck to the united front in which he wishes to present, he refused to say anything critical of previous leader Jeremy Corbyn but assured that his leadership style would be different to that of Corbyn’s. So far Starmer seems to have a fair political backing, most notably for the London Mayor Sadiq Khan.  

One area of contention in his campaign is his refusal to publish a list of his donors. Other candidates in the election have published their ‘full donor lists’ on their websites, however Starmer has not done this and claims he is sticking to the party rules which require donations to be declared through Parliamentary authorities.  

 

What comes next in the leadership election? 

The ballot opened on the 21st February and voting continues until 2nd April with the 4th April until then. Campaigning will continue until the ballot closes and you can find more about Keir Starmer’s campaign here.