Keir Starmer hit by election nightmare as Labour erupts into civil war

Keir Starmer: Labour on course to win next general election

Sir Keir Starmer’s plan to be ready for government by the end of the year has been thrown into disarray by a growing revolt from party figures ­outside Westminster.

The Labour leader has ordered his troops to draw up detailed proposals for power to ensure they can hit the ground running immediately if they win the next general election.

But the national leadership is locked in a series of bitter rows with local party bosses across the country.

A Shadow Cabinet source said: “He wants us to be ready for government because you lose a lot of goodwill very quickly if you get into government and you aren’t prepared.

“This year we work out exactly what we are going to do, next year we focus on campaigning to win.”

However the Labour leader is facing a crisis in the West Midlands, a key battleground at the election, after Labour politicians in Birming­­ham were accused of “institutional racism” by Britain’s biggest trade union.

Unison, which has 8,000 members working for Labour-run Birmingham City Council, said: “The problems in Birmingham include widespread poor service delivery, institutional racism, blurred boundaries between officers and politicians, abysmal industrial relations, a poor culture in the Labour Group and poor campaigning.”

It made the comments in a paper submitted to a team sent to the city by the national party, known as a Campaign Improvement Board, which has now demanded the resignation of the council leader. But this sparked fury from local Labour MPs and councillors.

Labour MP Steve McCabe, who represents Birmingham Selly Oak, last week met Sir Keir and urged him to put an end to the intervention, which he described as “a total car crash”.

Tory Gary Sambrook, MP for Birmingham Northfield, said: “It gives us a flavour of what Labour would be like in Government – bad services and local devolution being lost to central control.”

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Meanwhile, Andy Burnham, Labour mayor of Greater Manchester, last week accused staff in Sir Keir’s office of launching anonymous attacks on him.

Labour councillors in Sheffield are threatening to stand as independents after the national party sent a Campaign Improvement Board into their city to oversee the selection of a new Labour group leader.

And Labour councillors in Leicester objected to a ruling that candidates would be chosen by the party’s National Executive Committee rather than by local members.

Sir Keir will this week seek to regain the initiative by setting out plans to reform health services and warning that the NHS must accept change rather than just demand more funding.

In a speech on Monday, he will warn: “The NHS is not sustainable unless we make serious, deep long-term changes.”

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