Election campaign day nine: Starmer gives Abbott green light to stand

Sir Keir Starmer finally gave his verdict on whether Diane Abbott can stand as a Labour candidate on July 4 after his previous refusal to do so led to mounting tensions in the party.

Here are the key moments from day nine of the campaign:

– Starmer seeks to settle Abbott row

The Labour leader said Ms Abbott is “free” to defend her long-held Hackney North and Stoke Newington seat as a Labour candidate, ending speculation she could be barred.

He will be hoping his long-awaited decision – which is expected to be ratified by Labour’s National Executive Committee on Tuesday – puts an end to accusations of an anti-socialist crackdown that has dominated his campaign.

Left-wing campaign group Momentum declared it a “huge victory”, but in a sign the row is far from over demanded “Chingford Corbynista” Faiza Shaheen is reinstated as a Labour candidate.

The Tories claimed Angela Rayner “is pushing” Sir Keir around, after his deputy first threw her weight behind Ms Abbott’s candidacy.

There was more selection drama as Labour’s Beth Winter accused the party leadership of “imposing” think tank boss Torsten Bell as Welsh Labour’s Swansea West candidate, calling it an “affront to democracy”.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

– What Labour actually wanted to talk about

Sir Keir said there was “no Labour without Scotland” as he made his pitch to voters north of the border.

A major plank of the offer to Scottish voters is establishing GB Energy – a state-owned energy company based in Scotland.

The policy gained former chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance’s backing while Prime Minister Rishi Sunak mocked it as being just “a logo”.

General Election campaign 2024
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer flanked by Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and shadow energy security secretary Ed Miliband at the Port of Greenock (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

At a campaign rally alongside Ms Rayner, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and shadow net zero secretary Ed Miliband, Sir Keir urged Scots to “send a government” to Westminster, not “a message”.

First Minister John Swinney claimed Sir Keir is “offering no change at all”.

– Picture of the day

General Election campaign 2024
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak bottle-feeding a lamb during a visit to Rowlinson’s Farm in Gawsworth, Macclesfield (Jonathan Brady/PA)

– Sidestepping Trump

Political leaders carefully sidestepped questions on whether they would work with convicted former US president Donald Trump if he returns to the White House.

Mr Sunak said Mr Trump’s trial is not “my focus” while Sir Keir called it an “unprecedented situation”, but said Labour “will work with whoever is elected president”.

– Quote of the day

– Social media moment of the day

As the parties ramp up their use of social media humour and memes, Labour is claiming the Tories are trying to get its TikToks removed from the site.

A post by the official Labour Party account suggests that “the Tories are actively trying to get our TikToks taken down” because “they have nothing to offer the country”.

It also encourages viewers to “annoy a Tory” by sharing the post with some key Labour policies, suggesting Conservatives should “try and think of some policies that don’t sound like dodgy chat gpt suggestions”.

– What’s happening tomorrow?

Mr Sunak is campaigning in the North East.