On Saturday a grassroots campaign to Stop Starmer was launched in London. According to Skwawkbox the event:

saw London’s Conway Hall full of activists outraged by Keir Starmer’s eager betrayal of the false promises he made to con Labour members into selecting him as party leader.

The launch featured an impressive array of supporters, including Crispin Flintoff of “Not the Andrew Marr Show”, Adam Feinstein, George Galloway, Audrey Wise, and video messages from former miner John Dunn, former union leader Tosh McDonald, ex-Labour MP Chris Williamson, Asa Winstanley and Carel Buxton.

The premise for the group is that Starmer’s betrayal of Corbyn and his record as leader is no accident. He is acting to ensure that socialists are permanently excluded from the party’s leadership. Many have been purged by the witch hunt, and thousands of others have responded to this hostile environment by quitting the party.

According to the Stop Starmer website, Keir Starmer is the most untrustworthy political leader this country has seen. His authoritarianism is a threat to democracy. A Starmer government would be worse than the Tories and pave the way for an even more right wing government. Eric Jarvis and Phil Davison of OCISA, the group aiming to fight Starmer in his London seat at the next election, spoke at the Stop Starmer launch. They are seeking a high profile socialist candidate to challenge Starmer at the next general election. The Stop Starmer Campaign has no plans to fight elections. They want a campaign around the country to educate voters to the threat that Starmer poses for democracy which will include:

  • Leaflets for distribution in every city, town and village in the country.
  • Stop Starmer street stalls across the country.
  • T-shirts, badges and other material. Amplifying social media posts and videos that expose Starmer.
  • Confronting Starmer at every opportunity.
  • Stop Starmer rallies across the country.

Many of those involved had high hopes during the Corbyn era, and their feelings of anger and betrayal are summed up in their belief that a Starmer government will be “the end of hope”.

Despite the enthusiasm, there are some important questions to answer. Is Starmer really the most untrustworthy politician we have ever seen? There are quite a few challengers for that title in the current Tory Party. But, even if he is, does that mean he represents an existential threat to democracy and is preparing the way for fascism? If so, how is stopping Starmer going to disarm this incipient fascist threat?

The Stop Starmer Campaign is seeking a hung parliament which would somehow lead to the introduction of proportional representation. Quite apart from the fact that, as recently as 2011, a referendum on PR lost heavily across the UK, how is electoral reform going to stop a fascist regime? It did not prevent Hitler from coming to power in Germany. More recently the far right has advanced in European elections held under PR.

Starmer is a divisive figure, but reactions on the left swing between deriding him as a soulless middle manager with no political nous who is being used by dark elements within the Labour Party, and him being a dangerous mastermind behind the neoliberal project to take over the Labour Party. There is very little analysis of how the original New Labour managed to overthrow the old ideas of social democracy during the Blair years or why, after a brief hiatus under Corbyn, they so easily reasserted their control under Starmer.

Starmer may deserve all the opprobrium heaped upon him by the Stop Starmer Campaign, but we have to be careful that anger and frustration after the dashed hopes of the Corbyn period do not lead us into futile campaigns that have little hope of success and will only deepen the despondency and demoralisation of the participants. In truth Labour is favourite to win the the next election whatever the left does. There are millions of voters who are sick of the Tories, as against thousands of us who are sick of both Labour and the Tories. They will not be moved by abstract demands to defend democracy.
Instead of Stop Starmer, let us Start Socialism. Please join us at Critical Mass.

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