Neither Blairite nor Corbynista, Keir Starmer is the only hope of uniting faction-ridden Labour
The new Labour leader is bang in the middle of the party’s centre of gravity, making him the man to lead it
Confirmed as new Labour leader on Saturday, Keir Starmer won because enough of the party’s members decided they wanted to win after four painful electoral defeats. Most members like Corbynism, but have recognised that ideological purity is not enough.
The 57-year-old, who had been shadow Brexit secretary, is bang in the middle of the party’s centre of gravity. Having a leader on the far left of that spectrum didn’t hold the party together; nor would it work if a Blairite succeeded Jeremy Corbyn.
Starmer benefited from a hesitant campaign by Rebecca Long-Bailey, second-turned-first choice as carrier of the Corbyn flame after Laura Pidcock unexpectedly lost her seat. Lisa Nandy made more impact than Long-Bailey by challenging the party to answer difficult questions, but she started too far behind and relatively unknown. Perhaps Nandy paid the price for her principled decision not to serve in Corbyn’s shadow cabinet after the failed coup against him in 2016. Like Nandy, Starmer resigned to join the rebellion; unlike her, he returned to the front bench.