Starmer facing left-wing revolt as Corbyn swipes at Labour leader: ‘This is democracy!’

Diane Abbott says Keir Starmer should adopt Corbyn policies

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The ex-Labour leader was in the city to join a demonstration organised by the University and College Union. Staff from Liverpool University were rallying against the compulsory redundancy of two members of staff.

Addressing the crowd, Mr Corbyn used his speech to also criticise the Government’s Policing Bill, describing it as “a fundamental attack on our rights”.

In comments which appeared to go far further than just attacking the legislation, the Islington North MP said it was important the Government was scrutinised and made to feel “uncomfortable”.

He said: “People in power often find opposition questions, criticism, accountability uncomfortable.

“That’s what democracy is about.

“It’s not about making life comfortable for those in power, it’s about making sure they’re answerable for what they do.”

His remarks were made after repeated criticisms from those on the Left about Sir Keir’s performance as Opposition leader.

After becoming Labour leader last spring the Holborn and St Pancras MP pledged to work with the Government in the “shared purpose” of getting the country through the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: “We will engage constructively with the Government, not opposition for opposition’s sake.

“Not scoring party political points or making impossible demands.”

Sir Keir has regularly backed Boris Johnson in key votes on dealing with the pandemic, even when Conservative backbenchers have voted against the Government.

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He told Labour MPs to vote in favour not the second and third national lockdowns, the four-week delay to so-called “Freedom Day” and also to measures such as the compulsory wearing of face coverings in indoor public settings.

The Labour leader also whipped his MPs to back Mr Johnson’s Brexit trade deal with the EU in a Commons vote last December.

There has been growing frustration among some within the party at Sir Keir’s failure to challenge the Government.

Critics have accused him of propping up the Tory Party in office when he should be attacking them.

One shadow minister told the Observer earlier this year: “We are in a bit of a state.

“They have spent too much time over the last year trying to appease the hard left on one hand and being too cautious trying to look like a government in waiting.

“There is lots of concern in the PLP (Parliamentary Labour Party) about Keir’s office in general.”

Another MP added: “There is deep frustration in the shadow cabinet over a lack of direction.”

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