THE constant heckling of Sir Keir Starmer by Labour members throughout his first speech to the party conference, including when he told of his mother's death, has split opinion. 

The Labour leader's address to the event in Brighton was continually disrupted by dissenters shouting from the audience exposing major splits and unhappiness in the party. 

The heckling began at the start of the speech and continued even while most of the hall fell quiet as he described his mother's harrowing death from Still's Disease, which is a rare form of inflammatory arthritis that causes fevers, rash and joint pain. It eventually left the former nurse unable to walk or eat.

The National:

Ben Kentish, a reporter at LBC, wrote on Twitter: "People are heckling while Keir Starmer talks about his mum’s death. Bleak."

Hannah Al-Othaman, a Sunday Times journalist, said: "Heckling Starmer while he’s talking about his mum dying in hospital is a really, really poor look."

Observer Alex Andreon wrote: "I don't entirely understand the political logic behind choosing to heckle the bit where Starmer is talking about his mother being in intensive care and how grateful he was to the nurses. I mean, who could think that will win them support? #Lab21."

Kira Lewis, a young Labour activist hit out at the hecklers.

She tweeted: "They’ve heckled the NHS, education, climate change and a dying nurse. These people don’t share our Labour values. They only care about their own agenda. We’re coming back next year without them - help us organise in your CLPs and don’t let them ever have an inch again. #Lab21

But some observers objected.

Moya Lothian-McLean, responding to Lewis, tweeted: "Were we watching the same speech? They didn't heckle a dying nurse. The hecklers were also yelling the contradictions between Starmer's rhetoric and his actions – one WAS a nurse protesting his actual support for a 2% pay rise vs what he was saying in the speech."

Also responding to Lewis, Labour activist Tom Harris tweeted: "That's not entirely true is it though? They heckled Starmer not the NHS or education or climate change or a dying nurse."

The heckling appeared to start by supporters of former leader Jeremy Corbyn minutes into Starmer's address.

Sky's political editor Beth Rigby noted: "Starmer kicks off in hall. Some ‘Oh Jeremy Corbyn’ chants but dies out as Starmer ploughs on."

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The BBC reporter Lewis Goodhall wrote: "Starmer heckled from the floor about reason for general election defeat: “it was your Brexit policy!”

Pippa Crear, the Mirror's political editor, noted; "More heckling from the conference floor. Keir Starmer smiles: “At this time on a Wednesday it’s normally the Tories that are heckling me... it doesn’t bother me very much”.

Starmer faced chants of “shame” and calls for Labour’s leadership to support a £15 minimum wage during the speech.

Critics held up red cards in protest as Sir Keir delivered his speech, but the Labour leader hit back and asked whether the detractors were “shouting slogans, or changing lives”.

He said: “At this time on a Wednesday it’s normally the Tories that are heckling me, it doesn’t bother me then, and it doesn’t bother me now.”

And he was greeted with applause when he challenged hecklers.

The National:

Sir Keir was heckled on the £15 minimum wage as he paid tribute to the NHS workers who cared for his mother and those working throughout the pandemic.

Shouts were heard of “throw them out”, and were met with sustained supportive applause for the Labour leader.

A heckle of “it was your Brexit policy” could be heard as Sir Keir spoke of a serious plan for Government.

But after being interrupted again, he replied: “You can chant all day,” before being applauded by the audience.