We knew that Critical Mass/Sunday Socialist readers were not massive fans of Keir Starmer. But the strength of their feeling shocked even us. Only two people of the 122 who filled in our poll thought he might make a good leader (and one of those looked as if they had hit the wrong option given what they said).
We should start with our usual caveat. This poll does not claim to be representative of anything but those who filled it in. Only our subscribers (if you don’t subscribe it is free and you can do so here) were given the link. It is anonymous and, although we requested names, few people wanted to give them, so we have decided not to publish any names at all.
Ninety-two percent of those responding had previously voted Labour, only 4% intend to do so at the next election. This, in itself, speaks volumes. Voting is a ‘tribal’ activity, most people tend not to shift allegiances easily. Many of our readers have been members of the Labour Party and enthusiastically campaigned for that party in 2017 and 2019. They now find themselves in something of a political wilderness, unsure where to put their vote. We can see this in the following diagram.
The most popular option is TUSC, chosen by 34%, followed by the Greens on 30%. After this a whole variety of options emerged including the SNP, Plaid Cymru, Sinn Fein, Liberal Democrats and unnamed other parties. Some, a minority, were planning on tactical voting to oust or stop the Tories, others were like this respondent “I am 79 and voted Labour since I could vote. I have no idea who I will vote for, have always said that we must vote or we have no say…. But I am politically homeless now.” Keir Starmer will not be at all worried at losing a couple of hundred or even a couple of thousand former Corbyn supporters, but in some constituencies the loss of a handful of votes could prove crucial.
It is perhaps Starmer’s greatest achievement to alienate those he regards as too close to socialism to be part of any party he leads. In this respect it is worth pointing out that our analysis of the polls indicates that around 13% of Labour voters from 2019 do not plan to vote Labour next time around. That is around 1.5 million votes already lost. Whilst Labour’s strategists have targeted what they regard as working class Tories, the fact is that the polls do not show any great enthusiasm amongst former Tories for the current Labour Party.
Starmer not trusted
As we sat down to edit your comments from our survey on Starmer, he had just made the keynote speech at the Progressive Britain Conference. It confirmed all our worst fears. He doesn’t care if Labour’s priorities sound conservative. He wants to outdo Blair in transforming the Labour Party, calling it ‘Clause IV on steroids’. And he is just as keen to follow Blair in reforming the state. That does not mean electoral reform or abolishing the House of Lords. He means the public sector and the welfare state. But you were already onto him, as your comments show.
The most common complaint was that Starmer was either a Tory, or no better than the Tories.
- He’s a closet Tory
- Tory Lite
- He supports Tory policies. Will not renationalise our assets or change the electoral system.
- Like Blair he is just a paler blue Tory. While he gives the impression this is just to get Tory votes and win the election, his vile choice of current Shadow Chancellor suggests Starmer WILL be another Blair in power
- Too right-wing and will not remove abusive Tory acts of parliament.
- He’s untruthful, devoid of integrity, extreme right wing, his values are those of a Tory.
This lack of integrity struck many of you.
- Dishonest, a liar who broke his pledges, cannot be trusted.
- He can’t be trusted he’s a liar. Will not stand up for the working class,
- He’s a worse liar than Johnson. Totally untrustworthy, duplicitous and hypocritical.
- He’s a liar … The red Boris Johnson. The evidence shows he cannot be trusted
- He is a liar and not a socialist in any shape or form, he is Blair’s child.
By breaking his pledges and turning on former comrades in his witch hunt against the left, Starmer has shown a deeply unpleasant side to his character.
- Keir Starmer rejected socialism …he has expelled every member who condemned Israel, he has expelled JEWISH members on the Left…if THAT is not antisemitic then I don’t know WHAT is and he will be NO different from the Tory debacle.
- He’s a proven liar and is untrustworthy; in purging Labour of socialists, has irrevocably damaged Labour’s left credentials.
- Starmer is authoritarian, a proven liar, who politically could sit comfortably on the Tory govt front bench. He is enmeshed in the neo liberal political establishments
- He took over as leader and said he had 10 pledges for us. As time has gone on he has done a U-turn on all of them. I thought the latest ‘ad’ campaign directed against Sunak was highly personalised and not worthy of the Labour Party at all. All he has done is to follow the Tory lead in a descent into the gutter. I no longer have any idea, what, if anything, Labour stands for
- He’s reversed LP policy without full consultation, has expelled hardworking party members without consultation with members, local groups have had outside candidates imposed on them, has used the accusation of antisemitism to smear lifelong anti-racists, has purged socialists from the party. These are the reason why I, a lifelong Labour voter, withdrew my membership and will never vote for Starmer.
You also see him as an establishment stooge who is really quite mediocre. He has no ideas of his own. He does not care about people and their problems and has no strong beliefs or principles and is better suited to middle management than leading the nation.
- He a manager not a politician. His u turns are a feature, and he has nothing meaningful to say
- He’ll be a technocrat manager; nothing more.
- He is a gutless opportunist with no genuine concern for the working class
- He has no firmly held beliefs, he’ll bend towards whatever he thinks will give him power.
- More of the same establishment nonsense. No policies, no substance and no ideas. The future is not bright it’s beige!
Thank you to those who completed the survey. We are sorry we could only include a fraction of your comments. But we value them all.
There appears to be a total mismatch between what people would like a Labour government to do and what they expect it to do. I’m not sure people on the left have ever had great faith in Labour governments to deliver a left agenda, but it’s not clear that the gap between expectations has ever been this low. The chart below shows the mismatch graphically.
On almost every issue listed, many of them taken from the 2019 manifesto (which, incidentally Momentum is still trying to force on a reluctant leadership) our readers felt it was unlikely that a future Labour government would deliver. This explains, together with the mistrust of Starmer as a leader, why so many are looking to vote elsewhere come 2024 and the General Election. Some of these policies were included in Starmer’s infamous 10 pledges. But he has made it clear that he feels under no obligation to deliver. Other frontbenchers have also been rapidly ditching both the 2019 Manifesto, party conference decisions and Starmer’s pledges.
There is another issue here though. Labour governments are not obliged to deliver the conference policies. This makes you wonder what the point of conference is when, with the wave of a press statement, a new policy can be announced regardless of what the members may think. Jeremy Corbyn was a total anomaly in this respect. His leadership was probably the only time in the history of the Labour Party where conference was regarded as sovereign, yet another reason he was so hated by the cabal of MPs (many now in their pomp as shadow ministers) who worked tirelessly to undermine him.
The irony of the arrogance of MPs and trade union leaders who believe that the conference should be ignored is that the people closest to the electorate are likely to be the activists who do the door knocking. Rather than ignore them it would be in the interests of a party beguiled by public opinion to listen to those who engage directly with those whose opinion they are supposedly mirroring.
For the left what seems clear is that, with the exception of a few for whom Labour is an addiction they cannot break, the infatuation with Labour as a progressive force has painfully proved the myth some always said it was. This is not to rehash the old reform or revolution argument, life was never quite that simple.
As we can see, only a small minority, 16%, believes a revolution is ever likely in the UK, though less than half rule it out completely. Given this it is hardly surprising that for many on the left reforms which mitigate the worst excesses of capitalism are the most important way in which their politics manifests itself. In this sense, a reformist party makes absolute sense. It’s not so much that people do not desire revolution, they simply do not see it on the horizon, a theme we explored in the Sunday Socialist Edge Notes only last week. In such circumstances a party that they feel represents the interests of the oppressed and voiceless is not just wishful thinking but an important part of resisting the onslaught of capital. Such a party must be responsive to the concerns of its members and led by a leader of integrity. Sadly, the truth, as represented by this survey, is that the Labour Party currently fails on both counts.
We promise that if you subscribe we will never take money from your bank account, won’t send you endless emails trying to get you to buy something you never wanted in the first place and we will never share your details with any third party.
What we will do is send you regular newsletters to keep you up to date with what we are doing and give you handy links to the content we create. You can choose which newsletters to receive or unsubscribe at any time.
AND IT’S ALL FREE!!