Sir Keir Starmer has been ridiculed by his own MPs after it was revealed he is writing a 14,000 word essay for a Westminster think tank that would put an end to Labour’s “navel-gazing”.
The Labour leader has reportedly written the treatise for the Fabian Society in an attempt to reshape his own leadership ahead of the party’s conference later this month.
Labour MPs have warned he must use the conference to set out new policies and a new vision for Labour, after an 18-month leadership in which many argue he has done little to reform the party.
A source close to the Labour leader told The Sunday Times that the essay would signal him “turning the page and ending the navel-gazing”.
But MPs said the essay would do little to win back voters who had abandoned the party at the 2019 election, as the “Red Wall” of Labour safe seats in the North of England fell to the Conservatives.
Jon Trickett, the MP for Hemsworth in West Yorkshire, told The Telegraph: “I don’t think the ex-miners at the miners’ welfare club in my area are going to be reading 14,000 words, and I don’t think many people in the country are, to be honest.
“The former Labour voters who went to the Tories or to Brexit won’t be studying a 14,000-word article. They are looking for concrete, punchy opposition to the Government, and they’re looking for a clear policy.”
But others on the Labour Left welcomed the move to set out an intellectual framework for his leadership, which they hope will be followed by a set of policy proposals for the next election.
Lloyd Russell-Moyle, a backbencher, said: “If he is going to lay out his ideological vision and where we’re going and what will underpin that, then I would say: ‘Hallelujah!’
“We have seen none of that whatsoever so far. The navel-gazing in terms of factional warfare and petty politics and bullying has come from his so-called supporters.
“The morale and bullying in the party is the worst that I’ve ever known. But if his essay goes well and he turns it around at the locals, we might have some change,” the MP added.
The call for more policy from Sir Keir’s team came as Emily Thornberry, the shadow international trade secretary, announced that Parliament would be given a veto on negotiating objectives and a final deal for all future trade talks under a Labour government.
The move, announced at the TUC’s annual conference, would effectively remove control of negotiations from the Government and place trade talk policy in the hands of MPs for the first time.