Keir Starmer. Photo: public domain (uploaded 31/03/2021)
Keir Starmer. Photo: public domain (uploaded 31/03/2021)

Theo Sharieff Socialist Party executive committee

North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll has left the Labour Party, and announced his intention to stand as an independent candidate in the North East mayoral election in May 2024. This followed a move by Keir Starmer to block Jamie from being longlisted as a Labour candidate for the contest.

Jamie’s removal from the selection contest is just the latest in a string of expulsions and bureaucratic manoeuvres by Starmer’s head office in its campaign to crush the last vestiges of Jeremy Corbyn’s manifesto pledges from the 2017 and 2019 general elections. And now Starmer has promised to keep the Tories’ hated two-child benefit cap.

In less than a day after announcing his independent stand, over £76,000 was raised online for the campaign. This is a clear reflection of the level of enthusiasm which exists for a working-class political alternative to Starmer’s pro-capitalist Labour Party.

The move to block Jamie Driscoll by Labour Party HQ was met with outrage across the workers’ movement. Sharon Graham, general secretary of Unite the Union, said: “What is emerging from Labour is a pattern of behaviour to literally take out any MP or mayor who backs key manifesto demands on the renationalisation of energy, action on rampant profiteering, and investment in UK steel.”

This is the reason why Socialist Party members brought motions to Unite’s recent rules conference to open up Unite’s political fund to back any candidates who fight for Unite’s policies, including outside of Labour


An open letter to Starmer and the Labour National Executive Committee called for the decision to initially exclude Driscoll to be reversed. It was signed by general secretaries and presidents from nine different unions, including Mick Lynch from transport union RMT.

The recent RMT conference voted to support Jeremy Corbyn standing at the next general election. He’s also been barred from Labour.

Jamie Driscoll’s stand is an opportunity for the trade union movement to take the steps now to prepare a workers’ list of candidates for upcoming elections – including mayoral, local and the general election – standing for anti-austerity and socialist policies. This could include unions, like the RMT, using its political fund to help finance Jamie’s stand.

Such financial backing from the trade union movement should be accompanied by demands for him, and other union-backed candidates on a workers’ list, to stand on bold socialist policies:

  • Back striking workers
  • Inflation-proof pay rises
  • Refuse to vote for local government cuts
  • Nationalise key industries under democratic workers’ control and management
  • Refuse to implement Tories’ new anti-strike ‘minimum service levels’ bill

Read what we’ve written about Jamie Driscoll before at – ‘Last Corbynista in power blocked from standing for Labour’