Former Momentum boss backs Sir Keir Starmer for Labour leader in bid to 'unify' the party
A former senior aide to Jeremy Corbyn has thrown her weight behind Sir Keir Starmer as the next Labour leader.
Laura Parker, who was also national coordinator of Momentum, said Sir Keir had a vision for “unifying the party”.
Her announcement is a major blow for Rebecca Long-Bailey, who is seen as Mr Corbyn's preferred candidate to succeed him as party boss.
Sir Keir is currently the bookies’ favourite to become the next Labour leader.
Last week he launched a bid to woo left-wing members with ten pledges, including a vow to keep Labour’s policy of axing tuition fees and promises to end “illegal wars, increase trade union power and give full voting rights to EU nationals".
Backing that pitch in a piece for the LabourList website, Ms Parker - who was Mr Corbyn's political secretary before quitting to join Momentum - said Labour “can and must win the next election”.
And she argued the party could only do so by becoming a “unified, strong internal coalition” under the Shadow Brexit Secretary.
“I am backing Keir Starmer because he has placed unifying the party at the heart of his mission and made an unequivocal commitment to preserving our core policies,” she said.
Ms Parker added: “In defending the transformative economic agenda upon which he stood as a Shadow Cabinet member in 2019, I trust that Keir means what he has written in his ten pledges to us. It would be self-defeating for him to say one thing then act otherwise.
“One of the lessons we all – leadership candidates, MPs and members – have just learnt the hardest way is that a perceived lack of authenticity is fatal. I am confident that under his leadership, we can build an enduring coalition.”
The former Momentum campaign chief, who took on a role with the group after two years in Mr Corbyn’s office, said Sir Keir had shown he “understands the imperative for a fundamental redistribution of power as well as wealth”.
And she said: “With a drive to unify our party around a radical programme, the experience to oversee the rebuilding and management of our complex party machine and the skills and determination to take on the Tories, Keir Starmer can become a great party leader.
“If we – over half a million members – accept and rise to the challenge of supporting him in this endeavour, then we will become more than the sum of our individual parts and also a great party.”
Ms Parker’s backing for Sir Keir puts her at odds with Momentum itself, which has thrown its weight behind Ms Long-Bailey.
Momentum founder Jon Lansman is acting as an adviser to Ms Long-Bailey’s campaign.