The Labour leader was heckled including by former Big Brother contestant Carole Vincent – and slapped down the delegates for ‘shouting slogans’ rather than ‘changing lives’
Keir Starmer has faced down hecklers who repeatedly shouted out during his 90-minute conference speech – including one straight after he spoke about his dying mum.
The Labour leader received a standing ovation from parts of the hall when he told the small number of antagonists: “Shouting slogans, or changing lives, conference?”
Mr Starmer was interrupted several times during his major Labour conference speech, with the loudest heckles coming just after he talked about his late mother Josephine’s battle with Still’s Disease.
He recalled seeing her in intensive care with her bed “a riot of tubes and temperature devices” – and knowing that nurses were keeping her alive.
Carole Vincent, a Labour member from the Leyton and Wanstead area, was holding up a red piece of paper during the speech and heckled immediately after the story, as the MP went on to speak about recognising nurses.
She said: “Every time he said something that I felt deserved a red card (…) I’m showing him the red card every time.
“Andy McDonald has stepped down and given his resignation letter. Why’s he done that?
“That’s because he was being told to not support a £15 minimum wage. How are people supposed to live?”
She added: “He doesn’t challenge [the end of Universal Credit] and he’s not challenging the fact that it’s because it’s going to leave people in a desperate situation.”
Earlier in the Labour leader’s speech, a single heckler started singing “Oh Jeremy Corbyn” from the balcony, to cries of “oh shut up” from a handful of delegates.
Another shouted, “It was your Brexit policy!” when he said that Labour had lost support in 2019.
Other hecklers then shouted “£15!” – a reference to calls for a £15 minimum wage which the leader rejected – as he spoke about poverty pay.
The leader was also booed when he joked that Sunday – when he pushed through rule changes – was “particularly nerve-wracking”… because of Arsenal’s 3-1 victory over Tottenham.
The loudest heckles in the early part of the speech appeared to come from a handful of delegates directly in front of the leader, a few rows back from his podium in Brighton.
Supporters of the Labour leader suggested the protest may have been organised, after a leaflet encouraged members to “show Starmer the RED CARD” an hour before his speech.
A spokesman for Sir Keir insisted the hecklers were a “small number of people” who “didn’t knock Keir Starmer off his stride”.
Asked why the hecklers were not removed he said: “It was a small number of people so it needs to be kept in proportion.”
The conference was riven by factional warfare after the Labour leader pushed through rule changes giving MPs tighter control on who can run for party leader.
Relations with the left collapsed further after Andy McDonald quit the shadow cabinet to support a motion calling for a £15 legal minimum wage – which passed last night.
Former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell branded the conference a “s***show” and accused Mr Starmer of going back on his promises.
Former leader Jeremy Corbyn accused his successor of wanting to “prop up” the wealthy and powerful.
But Mr Starmer denied his party was more divided than ever.
In a damning attack on his predecessor – who he did not mention by name – he said: “We will never under my leadership go into an election with a manifesto that is not a serious plan for government.”