Len McCluskey is shifting the blame for Labour's woes

Photograph: Andy Hall/The Observer

It was saddening to read Len McCluskey’s account (I trusted Keir Starmer – until I saw how he handled Jeremy Corbyn’s suspension, 13 September), but I can appreciate why this episode broke his personal relationship with Keir Starmer. Likewise, I understand why McCluskey formed the view that Starmer “was not a man of his word”.

Since you published a statement about Labour’s approach from one of its frontbenchers that “it’s about bringing a level of brutality” (‘No strategy, programme or project’: Labour divided ahead of conference, 7 August), I have looked in vain for this to be disavowed by the leader’s office. Promoting mistrust, division and brutality may seemingly bring victory in short-term internal party battles, but it is not a strategy for winning longer-term popular support from voters.
Mike Sheaff

• I’ve been hoping that the Labour party would have a clear run at this year’s conference, where it could clarify and establish its policies on the environment, social equality, public services and the ongoing pandemic. But Len McCluskey has decided that this is the perfect time to drag out a dead horse and start flogging it. Mr McCluskey uses his revelations of confidential meetings, to which he was party, to launch an open attack on Keir Starmer: His response to his “party’s poor position has been as wrong-headed as it is dishonourable … he risks becoming fixed in the public’s mind as someone who can’t be trusted,” and so on.

These are not simply unwarranted criticisms of an individual, but an apparent attempt to light the fuse and further divide the party. If he does, what hopes we have will suffer a profoundly damaging blow.
Peter Martindale
Castle Bytham, Lincolnshire

• If the mess we are in now can be laid at anybody’s door, I would say it is that of Len McCluskey. In September 2010, when Labour needed to elect a new leader, instead of placing his block Unite vote behind David Miliband, who had the best chance of winning for Labour as a centre moderate candidate, his union chose his brother, Ed, who had more leftwing credentials. Ed gave it his absolute best shot, but was too easy a target for the rightwing press. Then, when David Cameron was elected back into office with an overall majority, McCluskey’s union doubled down by supporting Jeremy Corbyn.

This hidebound and blinkered thinking will always place far-left purism above electability. Now retired, he should keep out of the Labour party’s internal matters. He’s done enough damage.
Martin McDowell
Fareham, Hampshire

• I would urge all readers to take Len McCluskey’s view of the Corbyn suspension with a pinch of salt.

In regards to his record in the Labour party, he and his acolytes had a great deal of control of the party for over four years, and this led us to our biggest defeat in over 70 years. But according to him, it was somebody’s else fault.

I would urge all Labour members and supporters to get 100% behind Keir Starmer. Given the opportunity, he will lead us back to power.
Neil Willoughby
Surbiton, London

• Surely it is time for Keir Starmer to say to Len McCluskey what Clement Attlee said to Harold Laski, the then chairman of the Labour party, in 1946: “A period of silence on your part would be welcome.”
Dr David Mervin
Ramsbottom, Greater Manchester

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