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Keir Starmer may be hoping for a 'Corbyn neutral' Labour conference but it's unlikely

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24.09.2021

Within just half an hour of Labour’s annual conference kicking off on Saturday, unease and anger among leftwingers at Keir Starmer’s leadership will be very much on display. In an unprecedented move, the Unite union and local activists will refuse to approve the appointment of the party’s new general secretary, David Evans.

Normally a formality that doesn’t even need a vote, the endorsement of former Blair staffer Evans is on the line because of his expulsions of members and groups who have been supportive of Jeremy Corbyn. But in many ways, the showdown is a proxy for a wider disillusionment with Starmer, his tactics and the party’s direction of travel – or lack of it.

More than two years since the last in-person Labour conference, when Corbyn was gearing up for the 2019 election, the coming week could show whether the party has changed enough to begin winning back voters it lost in that historic defeat. And the card vote on the general secretary appointment will give the first clue to the balance of power within the grassroots.

Pro-Corbyn movement Momentum and their centrist opponents Labour To Win are each claiming a majority of local party delegates, but they can’t both be right. The week’s votes will confirm just who now has the upper hand. Allies of Starmer........

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