Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. Labour
26 September 2021updated 27 Sep 2021 5:43pm

Angela Rayner and Keir Starmer have the same problem

Both politicians are finding that the normal way of conducting Labour conference is ill-suited to the modern media age.

By Stephen Bush

Relations between Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner are not good and the working relationship between their offices is worse. “Mutual distrust and resentment”, as one Labour MP put it to me last night, probably best sums up relations between the two at the moment. But the two politicians have more in common than perhaps either of them appreciates: firstly because they are both politicians from the middle of the party, but also because they are both suffering first-hand from the changed media landscape at party conferences.  

Seen one way, Labour’s leader and deputy leader are both having a great conference. Although the margin will be close, and the potential for an embarrassing defeat is real, Starmer’s rule changes (both the procedural changes mandated and approved by the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the changes to the party’s rules on leadership nominations, candidate selections and policymaking processes) are likely to pass.  

As for Rayner, she has been geeing up activists with tub-thumping speeches at the party’s numerous conference receptions, and has been turning heads with a sympathetic and revealing interview in the Times

Yet both are under fire this morning after Rayner described the Conservatives as “scum” in an impassioned speech/unhinged rant (delete according to taste) about the Tory government at Labour’s north-west reception. Starmer struggled to handle questions on the issue on the Andrew Marr Show this morning, saying that they weren’t the words he would use and that he would “speak to” his deputy about the remarks (which of course extends the story further, because now the press will want to know exactly when the two politicians spoke about it and what they concluded). 

In times past, the arm-twisting and last-minute deal-making was largely hidden from public view. But as Jeremy Corbyn discovered in both 2018 and 2019, when fraught negotiations over the party’s Brexit position dominated the early days of conference, those days are gone. And politicians delivering unhinged rants/impassioned speeches about the deficiencies of the other side at the fringes of their party conference is not new either. But, increasingly, remarks made at them are discussed not only on the conference fringe but on the national news.

Select and enter your email address A quick and essential guide to domestic politics from the New Statesman's Westminster team. Your new guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture each weekend - from the New Statesman. A weekly newsletter helping you understand the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email. Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

Content from our partners
The UK needs SMEs to reach net zero
To truly tackle regional disparities, we need a new type of devolution
How smart meters helped a business thrive