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Labour flip-flops over Corbyn's shadow

Meanwhile, new poll shows blocked Labour candidate Faiza Shaheen as frontrunner to unseat former Tory leader Iain Duncan-Smith

LABOUR’S campaign floundered in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow today as party leaders disputed whether they should have won the 2019 election or not.

The new lapse into incoherence followed a reluctant admission wrung out of Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer that Mr Corbyn would have been a better prime minister than Boris Johnson.

But that was going too far for some of his acolytes, including shadow science secretary Peter Kyle, who could not bring himself to agree. And before long Sir Keir himself was declining to repeat the preference.

The flip-flopping over the recent past came as polls showed the near future clouding for Labour, with a YouGov survey showing the party’s share of the vote slipping.

It put Labour on 36 per cent, ahead of the Tories on 20 per cent and Reform on 18. 

This is well below the 40 per cent won by Labour under Mr Corbyn’s leadership in 2017, a potential humiliation for Sir Keir.

The Labour leader’s inability to reconcile his praise for Mr Corbyn in 2019 with his subsequent treatment of his predecessor is putting his integrity in doubt, with one questioner on BBC Question Time explicitly comparing him with Mr Johnson as a liar.

Deputy Leader Angela Rayner was the latest to sound shifty on the subject. She had once pronounced herself “gutted” when Mr Corbyn was suspended from the party, but now claimed “Jeremy Corbyn hasn’t really acted in a way that would have been in keeping with the Labour Party” — without supplying details.

And when Sir Keir’s grudging preference for Mr Corbyn over Mr Johnson was put to Mr Kyle, the shadow minister dodged too. 

“Those were difficult days in our politics, and we each had to find our own way through it,” he said, going no further, while shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh “couldn’t remember” what she had said on the Corbyn issue in 2019.

As for the involuntary source of all this chaos, Mr Corbyn is out to break canvassing records this weekend by getting an army of 1,000 volunteers to knock on every door in his Islington North constituency over a 36-hour period.

He said: “There is only one way we can compete with the Labour machine: people power.  

“We know that if we reach every voter in Islington North, we can win.

“This is a monumental challenge, but it’s also an opportunity to make history, and to be part of a campaign that offers something very precious: hope.”

Hope is also getting a hearing in Chingford and Woodford Green, where blocked Labour candidate Faiza Shaheen is now running as an independent to unseat former Tory leader Iain Duncan-Smith.

A poll showed Ms Shaheen on 37 per cent, Mr Duncan-Smith on 32 per cent and the imposed official Labour candidate Shama Tatler trailing on 24 per cent.

“It is Labour that is splitting the vote here,” Ms Shaheen said

“People want a local representative and are appalled by the way a woman with a small baby has been treated by the Labour Party.”

But Labour was attracting new Tory support today with former environment minister Chris Skidmore announcing that he would vote Labour because of “Sunak’s decision instead to side with climate deniers,” which he called “perhaps the greatest tragedy of his premiership” — beating off considerable competition.

“The Labour Party is best placed to achieve economic growth and the green industrial revolution,” Mr Skidmore added.

That was not all the bad news for the Tories. Mr Sunak was heckled with shouts of “shame” when he told the Question Time audience he was prepared to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights.

And the Tory insider betting scandal continued to reverberate.  

Mr Sunak declined to say how many other Conservative candidates may be under investigation for gambling on a July poll, while ex-Tory ministers said those involved should be suspended.

Sir Keir said: “The instincts of these Tories when a general election is called is not ‘how do we make this work for the country?’ but ‘how do I make some money?’”

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