Labour civil war: Starmer faces huge crisis as Corbynite moves threaten destructive split

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This week, left-wing activists turned up uninvited to Sir Keir’s constituency office in Camden, north London with a warning to the former Shadow Brexit Secretary. They attached an aggressively-worded banner to the building, which read: “65,000 DEAD. DO SOMETHING!” The protesters are enraged by what some supporters of former Labour leader Mr Corbyn have labelled an unnecessarily timid approach to Boris Johnson’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic continuing to sweep throughout the UK.

They sent their frustrations to Skwawkbox, the heavy left-wing blog fiercely critical of Labour’s new management, and have accused Sir Keir of failing to challenge the Prime Minister and Conservative Party enough on the coronavirus crisis and Black Lives Matter protests.

Earlier this month, Corbynites will have taken interest in claims officials from Labour’s right faction intentionally sabotaged the party’s general election campaign in 2017.

The report into factionalism at Labour HQ made allegations of a secret campaign designed to shore up seats held by Mr Corbyn’s rivals.

Mr Corbyn, along with six of his closest aides, submitted a joint submission claiming he could have been Prime Minister had it not been for the actions of those staffers, who deny any wrongdoing.

Sir Keir is also coming under increasing pressure following his decision to pay up to £600,000 in libel damages to Labour staff who turned whistleblowers for a BBC Panorama documentary on anti-Semitism allegations sweeping through the party.

This has led to suggestions unions – which Labour heavily relies on for support – could cut their funding to the party.

Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey has been left furious, and raged Labour had abused its funds and should not take its donation “for granted”.

Sir Keir could also face fierce opposition from Unison, Labour’s largest union ally and the first to support him as leader.

General Secretary Dave Prentis is standing down in 2021 but in a blow to Sir Keir, the favourite to succeed him, Roger McKenzie, is a supporter of Mr Corbyn.

Matt Wrack, the general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, has also been left frustrated at the approach from Sir Keir, which he described as one of “complete caution”.

Dave Ward, the leader of the Communication Workers’ Union, also warned of “consequences” if Sir Keir did not take sufficient action against the officials named in the leaked report.

The Labour leader faces a fresh headache with the release of the report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission investigating Labour’s management of allegations of anti-Semitism that dogged the party under Mr Corbyn.

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However, Corbynites are also thought to be terrified Labour members who may decide to quit in protest at Sir Keir’s leadership could further strengthen his control over the party’s ruling national executive committee.

This is because the leadership currently holds a majority.

But former advisers to Mr Corbyn are urging supporters not to leave.

Steve Howell, who helped run the former leader’s election campaigns, told activists at an event on Thursday evening: “We don’t want a split. We want to build a bigger, more united and stronger movement.”

The left is in such disarray that several of its MPs within parliament have chosen to serve under Sir Keir.

One former Shadow Cabinet minister told The Times: “The left is in a serious mess.”

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