ormer Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls has warned Sir Keir Starmer he needs to “rip up the script” and talk to the whole of Britain when he makes his critical Labour party conference speech on Wednesday.
But Mr Balls, who served as a minister in Gordon Brown’s last Labour administration between 2007 and 2010, said that so far under Sir Keir the party had not reached out beyond its own supporters and was still “re-fighting” past battles.
Referring to Sir Keir’s essay on the future of the party, which was slammed by critics for its lack of detail, he added: “I accept he decided to write a 14,000 word pamphlet but I am not sure I would use that as my text. He needs a moment where he rips up the script and talks beyond the hall.
Ms Rayner’s verbal attack on the Tories, made at a conference event on Saturday night, has again highlighted tensions between Sir Keir and his deputy.
Although Sir Keir said it “wasn’t the language he would have used” and that he would be talking to Ms Rayner, she told reporters on Sunday she would not apologise for her comments, saying she would only apologise if Prime Minister Boris Johnson retracted past remarks she described as “homophobic, racist and misogynistic”.
Speaking before news of Ms Rayner’s remarks were reported, Mr Balls warned such polarised, partisan views were “dangerous”.
“Politics has become so partisan and so divided, that people talk as if the other side, it’s not that I disagree with them or that they are incompetent but they are evil, ‘I hate them’. I think the polarisation which we saw in the remain/leave debate has actually become more broad based in the way we do our politics.
He added that he thought Ms Rayner was positioning herself as a rival to Sir Keir.
“She is undoubtedly positioning herself as someone who has a set of views, a set of values and wants to be defined in that way and I think that’s good, I may not like every aspect of that but it’s exactly what she should do.”