SIR Keir Starmer battled mercilessly heckling by his own disgruntled party members during his major conference speech today.
The Labour leader was even interrupted as he talked movingly about his late mum’s fight with a crippling illness.
It comes after a fraught few days of infighting in Brighton as Sir Keir sought to banish the Corbyinstas to the party’s margins once and for all.
Angry activists yelled “it was your Brexit policy!” as the Labour leader addressed Jeremy Corbyn’s 2019 election thumping.
Someone else shouted “where’s Peter Mandelson?” – the Tony Blair ally loathed by the party’s hardcore left.
Exasperated Sir Keir was forced to stop speaking entirely at one point as the shouting from fired-up members became so relentless.
Visibly frustrated he snapped back: “Shouting slogans or changing lives conference?”
In the keynote speech:
- Sir Keir joked that his dad was a toolmaker – and so was Boris Johnson’s
- He urged the PM to “get a grip or get out of the way”, branding him “trivial”
- Sir Keir pledged to give teenagers two weeks compulsory work experience
- He pledged that mental health services would be made available within a month
- Dame Louise Ellman received a standing ovation for rejoining the party after leaving because of anti-Semitism
Allies view the speech as a major reset moment for Sir Keir’s leadership after a bruising 18 months in charge.
It’s his first time speaking to the party faithful in person after Covid throttled his efforts to make an impression with voters.
He’s also battled bitter infighting that flared again this week when a shadow cabinet minister resigned with an attack on Sir Keir for abandoning socialism.
Moves to change the party’s rulebook to prevent another Jeremy Corbyn becoming leader also left Labour lefties reeling.
Laying out his stall he said: “I see the government lost in the woods with two paths beckoning. One path leads back where we came from.
“None of the lessons of Covid are heeded. The divisions and flaws that were brutally exposed by the pandemic all worsen.
“But there is another path down which we address the chronic problems revealed by Covid with the kindness and the togetherness that got us through.
“That path leads to a future in which a smart government enlists the brilliance of scientific invention to create an economy in which people are healthy and well-educated. A contribution society in which everyone has their role to play.”
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