Should Angela Rayner replace Keir Starmer?
Written by Zara Hussain.
Who Is Angela Rayner?
Angela Rayner is the current deputy Labour leader and has been the MP for Ashton-under-Lyne since 2015. In 2021, she was appointed shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and shadow secretary of state for the Future of Work. Despite the successful career she has earned, Rayner’s political career hasn’t been a linear path; she isn’t your average Oxbridge-educated, product of nepotism. Without a privileged background, she was brought up on a council estate and left education at 16 without qualifications and a baby on the way. She recalls being told she would ‘never amount to anything,’ however became the first woman member of parliament in her constituency.
When beginning her career, she trained in social care, eventually becoming a trade union representative and joined the Labour Party, though she never planned to pursue a career in politics. Recently, Angela has become well-known and whether you agree or disagree with her views, the likelihood is that you recognise her governmental role. She is known for her outspoken personality and claims she’s ‘always been the girl who can’t sit on her hands.’ As her mother suffers with severe mental health problems, Rayner had a challenging upbringing. She would stay for dinner at her friend’s houses, as she knew she wouldn’t be fed at home. Her mother was unable to read or write, which justifies Rayner’s worries about the impact of school lockdowns on vulnerable children. Having developed in a working-class environment and dealing with her fair share of issues, Angela strives to achieve social justice for those living just as she did. She has personal experience with living on the poverty line, making her feel strongly about the way the Conservatives handle the UK.
Who Is Keir Starmer?
Keir Starmer is the current Labour leader, remaining so since 2020, however he also never intended to work in politics. He studied to become a lawyer and qualified in 1987 to work as a barrister. He provided free legal advice to ‘normal’ people against the rich and powerful. Starmer’s solid sense of righteousness led him to become a chief prosecutor. He assisted in the Stephen Lawrence case, a black teenager who was murdered in a racially motivated attack, bringing justice to the family as well as improved support for victims of sexual and domestic violence. Within his political career, Keir became the shadow immigration minister in 2015 until 2016. Keir is driven by his passion to make the world an improved, fairer place for working people and channelled his desires into standing as an MP, before becoming the Labour leader. When growing up, Keir watched his mother battle a rare, severe illness which left him with immense respect for the NHS.
Keir vs Angela.
Both politicians have different approaches to their work. Rayner identifies as a “gobby northern lass”, in comparison to Starmer, a formal lawyer, more centre-left. Behind closed doors, Angela describes her colleague as “very professional”, and “a lovely family man who cares deeply about people.”
- Angela describes herself as a socialist and as being part of Labour’s soft left.
- Keir believes in “moral socialism” and wishes to rid of the inequality in society.
Known for her quick wit, especially when in Westminster, Rayner has gained the support of many left-wing members of public. According to Express.co.uk, one person said: “She’s just so much better at this than Keir.” The deputy Labour leader has dedicated her time to criticising the Tories and writing letters demanding investigations be launched into ministers’ activities. As the prime minister is under fire, she joked about there being a vacancy soon and that she should show some aspiration.
Remembering her upbringing and everything she stands for; Angela Rayner is always one step ahead of the Conservatives. Whether she is ‘calling out’ Boris Johnson for his lies, or speaking up in favour of the working class, she always makes a valid point. While the prime minister’s appearance can be used in a comedic sense, Rayner makes a fair argument, “it’s not about brushing your hair, it’s about brushing up on your act.” Unlike many of her associates, she isn’t afraid to be seen as controversial. She is confident and uses it to intimidate Johnson, when she bombards him with facts.
Previously, Rayner has offended Conservative MPs due to comments made. What she sees as ‘fact’, others may find upsetting and this is where her personality clashes with the British public. They see a powerful woman, speaking her mind and class it as rude; many would agree that a less candid Labour leader will be taken more seriously as they are seen as more professional. Despite these claims, she believes that although she doesn’t speak with a “plum in her mouth” or have a degree, she has a “master’s in real life.”
Keir Starmer takes what some may see as a more tactical approach. He is careful what he says and often disagrees with Rayner’s methods. In the past, Starmer has accepted he and Angela have “different approaches and different styles” when it comes to politics. In fact, when Rayner has been critiqued, he distanced himself from her, showing their morals didn’t align.
- Starmer is unlike the previously leader, Jeremy Corbyn who had a much more hands-on approach – like Angela.
- Many far-left Labour supporters believe Keir is too centre-left to be a successful leader, let alone be in the running for future PM.
How Would Socialism Work.
Socialism’s definitive objective is disrupting capitalism and converting society into a co-operative economy. This places human need, over profit. The Socialist View says, ‘individuals do not live or work in isolation but live in cooperation with one another.’ Furthermore, everything that people produce is a social product, and everyone who contributes to the production of a good is entitled to a share in it. Civilisation should own or at least control property for the benefit of all. Socialism reduces inequality in wealth, societal ranks and classes. An article written by Forbes explains, seven of the happiest countries in the world are socialist. Within politics, the left seeks social justice via redistributing social and economic policies. The right defends private property and the entirety of capitalism. YouGov profiles suggest 28% of Britons label themselves as left-wing, and 25% believe themselves to be right-wing.
Women In Politics.
For a supposedly liberal party, Labour has never had a female leader which many find strange. In fact, women in politics have always been underrepresented. Recently, the percentage of women has increased, however men still make up the majority, especially in senior positions. Currently, there are 220 women MPs in the House of Commons and at 34%, this is the highest so far, but there are still twice as many males to female MPs. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap report, it will take 145.5 years to accomplish gender parity in politics worldwide. This is where Angela Rayner becomes important. When there are little females in the government, seeing someone as outspoken and fearless as Rayner means a lot. She also represents the working class, unlike most MPs who haven’t had to struggle for money. Other female MPs may lack the self-assurance that Rayner shows, therefore never saying what they truly think and being overly careful. Men often feel threatened when they see an assertive woman, speaking her mind and tend to undermine her – just like Boris Johnson has done to Angela prior.
Rayner speaks up on the issues that no one else wants to talk about, the real-life problems that affect everyone. Her fight for the working class alone is incredible but seeing it be a woman, not afraid to say what’s on her mind is even better. Would the government be in the mess it is in right now, if it was led by a female PM?
Women deserve to have equal say in matters of the government. Whether it be the pandemic or climate change, men seem to overrule all decisions. We must be involved in the future of our world. The UN Women executive director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka affirms that women must get more involved, “No country prospers without the engagement of women. We need women’s representation that reflects all women and girls in all their diversity and abilities, and across all cultural, social, economic, and political situations”. So, while Keir Starmer may not be doing an awful job at leading his party, his approach can’t compare to Rayner’s.
Why May Women Be Afraid Of Politics?
Women lobby sees that women’s underrepresentation in politics is down to:
- Confidence: women have more doubts when it comes to putting themselves up for election, as well as speaking up.
- Culture: politics is seen as a man’s world. Sexism is extensive and women – are often not welcome and seen as threats. This may make them subject to being bullied, when using their voice.
- Cash: Female campaigns often receive less funding than their male counterparts.
- Childcare: across Europe, women spend double the amount of time on childcare in comparison to men.
Can You Be Too Opinionated?
Internalised misogyny makes powerful men feel threatened by powerful women. Angela’s candid truth has led to backlash in the past. Whether it was right or wrong of her to speak in such a way, she made some interesting points. In September 2021, she made controversial comments about senior members of the Conservative Party, “We cannot get any worse than a bunch of scum, homophobic, racist, misogynistic, absolute pile… of banana republic… Etonian… piece of scum”.
Now while her point stands, her attitude caused a stir. Many Conservative politicians are known for having homophobic, racist and classist views, yet Rayner’s use of the word ‘scum’ was seen as unprofessional. Starmer distanced himself from her, however he said it was up to Rayner if she wanted to apologise or not. Other Labour MPs, including shadow cabinet ministers, criticised her for her language. People described Angela’s behaviour as ‘street language,’ in reference to her northern working-class roots.
The deputy Labour leader said she would say sorry only if Boris Johnson apologised for the past comments he had made “that are homophobic, that are racist, that are misogynistic.” This refers to the prime minister’s former remarks: comparing burka-wearing Muslim women to “letterboxes” and describing gay men as “tank-topped bum boys”. Rayner ended up apologising for her use of the word ‘scum’ due to the threats she received.
Other times that the PM has made offensive statements include:
- “Working class men are criminal and hopeless” (1995)
- “Lower income families produce unloved children.” (1995)
- Likened same-sex marriage to ‘three men and a dog.’ (2002)
- In his book, ‘Seventy-Two Virgins’ he used multiple slurs towards the Black community, made antisemitic comments and used misogyny to be humorous. (2004)
- Claimed if someone wore a niqab around him, he’d ask for it to be taken off. (2018)
These are only a handful of the worrying comments made by our prime minister. Why were Tories worried about Angela Rayner’s comments when their leader openly says these things?
With Boris Johnson under fire for hosting parties in lockdown, Angela called out the Tories for their poor leadership. “Rather than dealing with the cost-of-living crisis… we’re talking about the scandals in Downing Street again.” She makes a valid point, bring attention towards the true issues we face. The working class are struggling more than ever, yet parliament wishes to focus on Johnson’s performance. As many are aware, Boris has downplayed many serious matters, for a PM, it’s obvious he isn’t any good. Rayner critiqued his approach in parliament when she said, “Boris Johnson needs to get off his backside and lead,” this being what most think but are too afraid to say.
Whilst the economy was collapsing, Dominic Raab, the deputy prime minister, went on holiday, avoiding the crisis that left many families worried. When asked about it, he claimed he didn’t know how much the trip had cost him. As the economy changes drastically, the working-class are left wondering if they can even provide food for their families, yet the rich Tory politician can ship off to another country and enjoy himself. As per usual, no one bat an eyelid except Angela. She told Raab, “a worker would need to work an extra 50 days to pay for a single night” at his favourite resort. Yet again, capitalism is benefiting the very few, and only the very few. The deputy Labour leader also criticised Raab for complaining about having to share his ‘115-room taxpayer-funded mansion’ with the foreign secretary. This then become another instance where Rayner stood up for the working class, “Families across the country are worried about heating their homes” yet this seemed to be the deputy PM’s main concern. Why are we allowing the rich to manipulate their power?
On the other hand, as someone from a minority background, seeing Angela stand up for what she believes in makes me feel represented. I have always been told I am too opinionated and ‘rude’ when I share my views, yet Rayner is proof that self-confidence is key. The deputy Labour leader is as successful as she is, with similar tactics and ways that to me. She works for the working class; she has experienced the issues that many face. Rayner knows what we need. She won’t sit on her hands and let the problems we face continue.
If it wasn’t for Angela, no one would be confronting Boris about his poor leadership and racist past. When speaking to young people about their views, Harry Munson believes that Rayner isn’t afraid to rock the boat – something we need to see more of. He thinks that Angela’s personality, “would be more appealing on campaigns” as she brings a strong left-wing approach into the UK’s political space. Only a handful of the occasions where Angela Rayner defended minorities and stood her ground have been discussed, yet each one makes a world of a difference. It would be an insult to compare Starmer to Rayner when you see the difference in effort that is put in. In politics, staying quiet will not make you successful at your job, especially if you are on the opposing party of leadership. In order to transform our economy and society, we must rely on someone that uses their voice to benefit their people. Someone that questions the mistakes and issues that the government attempts to hide. So ultimately, should Angela Rayner replace Keir Starmer?
-Amar Saleem on Pexels (Parliament)
-CottonBro on Pexels (Girl Power)
-Ece Ak (Social Justice Shirt)