Keir Starmer has sent a letter to all members of the Parliamentary Labour Party that calls on them to “pull together” following his election as the party’s new leader.
In the letter sent just hours after he was elected with 56.2% of the vote, Starmer tells MPs to “lead by example” and show “our party, our movement and our country that we are united”.
The new leader describes antisemitism as “a stain on our party” in the message, and says Labour must “face the future with honesty and candour”. He points out that this was raised in his acceptance statement in which he promised to “tear out this poison by its roots”.
Starmer also explains that he has agreed with John Cryer, the chair of the PLP, that the Labour parliamentarians will use video conferencing software Zoom to conduct a meeting during the coronavirus lockdown.
Below is the full text of Keir Starmer’s letter sent to Labour MPs this afternoon.
It is the honour and the privilege of my life to be elected as leader of the Labour Party. It comes at a moment like none other in our lifetime.
Coronavirus has brought normal life to a halt. We’re reminded how precious life is, but also how fragile. It reminds us of what really matters, our family, our friends and the communities we serve.
We need to pull together like never before. Every Labour MP has a vital role to play in gaining the trust of voters throughout the country as we navigate our way through this crisis and beyond. I would like to pay tribute to Rebecca and Lisa for the way that they led their campaigns and for their warm camaraderie throughout.
I am delighted that Angela Rayner has been elected Deputy Leader and am looking forward to working closely with her in the coming years. I would like to congratulate all the candidates for Deputy Leader on their campaigns. Dawn, Ian, Richard and Rosena know it’s tough, relentless work on the campaign trail and they should all be proud of the campaigns they led.
Because we can’t be together in person for a while, I have agreed with John, Chair of the PLP, that we should meet via Zoom as soon as possible.
We have to face the future with honesty and candour. The truth is that antisemitism has been a stain on our party. I have seen the grief that it’s brought to so many Jewish communities. That is why I used my first words as Leader to apologise to the Jewish community. It will take time to rebuild trust but with your support we can do it.
We’ve just lost four elections in a row, so be in no doubt that I understand the scale of the task we face. We’ve got a mountain to climb but if we pull together across our movement we can do it.
As members of Parliament you have a central role to playing that mission. We must lead by example, showing our party, our movement and our country that we are united. We will have disagreements, but we must not let those divide us any longer. It is incumbent upon all of us to ensure we conduct our politics in a cordial, courteous and professional manner. My campaign centred on unity and it’s vital that we sustain that message. As leaders in your local parties and on the national stage you have a crucial role to play in showing our members and supporters that the party can unite in order to win.
I know that you are facing unprecedented demands for help from your constituents in this extremely challenging time. You have stepped up magnificently to support your constituents in a way that often goes unnoticed. I know how hard you’re working and want to thank you for everything you’re doing.
I will lead this great party in a new era, with confidence and hope. So that when the tie comes, we can all serve our country again in government.
Keir Starmer MP
Leader of the Labour Party