IF Keir Starmer is worried that his decision to desert Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow team will play badly with the lefty membership he inherited from the long-serving Frank Dobson last year, he will welcome the news today that his predecessor is willing to put his support for his resignation out there and on the record. Members have a special affection for Dobson and, although impressed by Keir’s start to life in Commons, are still getting used to a rallying behind a different face. Here Dobson, will surely be aware he can play a part trying to reconcile the differences of opinions among Labour card-carriers.
It must be a tough one for Frank, who represented Holborn and St Pancras, and its previous guises, from 1979 to 2015, a period in which he fought many battles alongside Corbyn. But he tells the New Journal today that the shadow cabinet resignations had made the job impossible for his his old colleague. Keir, he says, has done the right thing and he would almost certainly have done the same thing in the same position. Frank’s priority is to repair the party as soon as possible, he adds, rather than let it be hurt by a protracted civil war.
“The rump of Blairite MPs were wrong to try and undermine him from the start but the thing about the resignations we have seen is that they are not from the rump of Blairite MPs. They are people who were prepared to give it a go but now say it is too much for them. He’s lost good people like Heidi Alexander and Lucy Powell, who were not Blairites,” he said.