LABOUR voters are getting used to their new leader Sir Keir Starmer – but many continue to reflect on where the party went wrong in the 2019 general election, with Unite the Union boss Len McCluskey revealing why he thinks Jeremy Corbyn suffered defeat.
Sir Keir Starmer was elected leader of the Labour Party last month and is slowly fitting into the role. Relatively quiet since his election on April 4, Sir Keir earlier today called for a “national consensus” on tackling coronavirus when the UK begins to move out of lockdown.
It comes ahead of talks with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other opposition leaders this week, as Mr Johnson is expected to reveal a “road map” out of lockdown on Sunday.
Although Sir Keir has been in power for just over a month, and was favourite to win leadership on the turn of 2020, the partys former leader, Jeremy Corbyn, still lingers in the public psyche.
After his devastating defeat to the Tories in December, Mr Corbyn began to step down as leader.
The reason for the resounding loss has been a point of contention among political analysts and critics.
Many draw attention to Mr Corbyn’s surge in popularity in the 2017 election.
Yet, despite running on largely the same manifesto, Mr Corbyn suffered the Labour Partys worst defeat since 1935 two years later.
Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite the Union, during his Oxford Union address last month, was adamant he knew the real reason why Mr Corbyn and his team lost.
Len McCluskey put it down to one decisive factor: Brexit.
He said: “There has been endless insisting it was Jeremy Corbyns leadership and our policies that did it for us and much more than Brexit.
“Its true that Jeremy was unpopular on doorsteps in many of our working class areas.
“He was relentlessly vilified by the media.
“And he was seen as weak.
“But take it in isolation, our policies were popular.
“All the subsequent polling has shown that.
“But what happened is, in an attempt to break through Brexit, Labour produced a manifesto which had far too many promises in the desperate hope that people would push Brexit to one side.
“Our own polling of our members, Unite members, is a microcosm of our nation, and tells us that the policies themselves, particularly nationalisation of the railways and royal mail were popular.
“Also, real investment in the NHS and the abolition of zero-hour contracts, £10 minimum wage.
“Regional investment banks to redistribute wealth – these were all liked.
“But there were too many of them and not enough focus.
“Labours credibility was damaged.
“Many believed they could not deliver.
“Trust was broken.
“So I stick with my conviction that it was Brexit that lost it for us.
“It created a divided party and a fundamental disconnect between Labour and its heartlands.
“It fuelled the perception that Jeremy Corbyn was not a strong leader and caused people to disbelieve the credibility of pledges that only two years previously theyd seen and were prepared to embrace enthusiastically, and which brought us so close to the threshold of power.”
Len McCluskey was a close ally of Mr Corbyn.
His Unite the Union was returned to the spotlight under Mr Corbyns Labour, having previously been shelved since the emergence of New Labour in the late Nineties.
It is unclear whether Sir Keir will continue the favourable relations with the UKs trade unions.
He has, however, been vocal in his support for unions in the UK including Usdaw, the retail union and Labours fourth largest affiliate of which he won the support in his leadership bid.