Starmer rejects claim Labour has never been less united under his leadership.

Keir Starmer has said he prioritises winning elections over uniting his party, as critics accused him of reneging on promises he made to become Labour leader.

Mr Starmer rejected a claim by Andy McDonald, who resigned from the front bench this week, that the party has never been less united than under his leadership but he said his focus was on winning a general election.

“I didn’t come into politics to vote over and over again in parliament and lose and then tweet about it. I came into politics to go into government to change millions of lives for the better. And so that has to be the absolute central focus, it is for me, and it shouldn’t be for every single Labour Party member and supporter,” he told the BBC.

Mr McDonald resigned after he was told to argue against a conference motion calling for the minimum wage to be increased to £15 (€17.40) an hour.

Delegates approved the motion on Tuesday but Mr Starmer said he was sticking to Labour’s current policy of increasing the minimum wage to £10 an hour, 12 per cent more than it is today.

Dismissed complaints

Two years ago, Mr Starmer supported a demand by workers in McDonalds for £15 an hour but he claimed on Tuesday that the restaurant workers’ pay claim could not be compared to the minimum wage.

He also dismissed complaints about his abandonment of a pledge during the leadership contest last year to bring energy companies into public ownership.

“Those commitments I made, those pledges I made are values that I hold dear. The world has changed since they were made but now the question is: how do we apply them in the circumstances we find going into an election?” he said.

“I stand by the principles and the values that are behind the pledges I made to our members. But the most important pledge I made was that I would turn our Labour Party into a party that would be fit for government, capable of winning a general election.”

Mr Starmer will on Wednesday make his leader’s speech to a conference that has been dominated by rows over rule changes he pushed through on Sunday which will make it harder for a left-wing MP to be nominated for the leadership. The changes, which will also make it more difficult for local party members to deselect their MP, have been condemned as an assault on internal democracy but Mr Starmer was unrepentant on Tuesday.

“Two years ago, we were here in Brighton for our Labour Party conference. And within a few short months, we’d crashed to the worst general election results since 1935. I am not prepared to let that happen. And if that means tough decisions, to change our party, which is what I did on Sunday, then I’m going to take those tough decisions.

“There will be some people who don’t agree with those changes. I understand that, we’re a broad church in the Labour Party. But I’m not going to be deflected from my central mission, which is to get a Labour government,” he said.

The Irish Times

The Irish Times online. Latest news including sport, analysis, business, weather and more from the definitive brand of quality news in Ireland.

https://www.irishtimes.com/

Jury selection underway in Ahmaud Arbery murder trial.

Jury selection underway in Ahmaud Arbery murder trial.

Jurors are being questioned about their knowledge of Arbery’s murder.

Crowds Cheer for Released Prisoners in Myanmar

Crowds Cheer for Released Prisoners in Myanmar

Crowds celebrated outside of jails in Myanmar, Tuesday, October 19, as the military government continued to release detained political opponents. ————————— READ MORE: The head of Myanmar’s junta announced Monday that more than 5,000 people who wer...

All Passengers, Crew Safe After Plane Crashes In Texas Field.

All Passengers, Crew Safe After Plane Crashes In Texas Field.

Emergency crews are responding to a plane crash just outside of Houston, Texas. The plane had trouble gaining altitude during takeoff and then crashed in a nearby field. The 21 people on board were able to get off the plane.  » Subscribe to NBC Ne...

Donald Trump testifies under oath on 2015 alleged assault.

Donald Trump testifies under oath on 2015 alleged assault.

Former president Donald Trump has testified under oath for a videotaped deposition at Trump Tower... where protesters who have brought a civil lawsuit against Trump allege they were assaulted by his security team in 2015. Attorney Benjamin Dictor ...

Can the UK reach net zero by 2050 with its green plan?.

Can the UK reach net zero by 2050 with its green plan?.

The government's long-awaited strategy to cut carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 has been released. But can the UK reach this target with the government's green plan? Carbon footprinting expert Mike Berners-Lee says the government's Net Zero Str...

ABC NEWS LIVE: Former President Trump sues Jan. 6 investigative committee

ABC NEWS LIVE: Former President Trump sues Jan. 6 investigative committee

Plus, families and survivors from the 2018 Parkland shooting reach a $25 million-dollar settlement, and gang demands $17M ransom for 17 missionaries abducted in Haiti. #abcnl #trump #january6 #haiti #kidnappedmissionaries #parklandshooting #settle...