“My promise to you is that I will maintain our radical values and work tirelessly to get Labour into power – so that we can advance the interests of the people our party was created to serve. Based on the moral case for socialism, here is where I stand.”
This was Sir Keir Starmer’s opening gambit to around half-a-million Labour Party members when he announced his candidacy for the top job.
During the Labour leadership contest, Starmer tries very hard not to distance himself too far from Jeremy Corbyn. The left vote is massive, after all.
He emphasised how closely he worked with Corbyn – he praised his success in pulling the party to the left and vowed to build on his legacy.
One political commentator claimed an “accurate” description of Starmer’s bid would be “Corbynism without Corbyn”.
Some nineteen months later and the “moral case for socialism” is the immoral case for anti-socialism.
And what about “Corbynism without Corbyn”? All you got from that was Starmer without charisma.
Those ‘sacred’ ten pledges – still available on the World Wide Web for all to see – are worth less than ten sprays of Pledge multi-surface polish.
As for working closely with Jeremy Corbyn, of course he did.
Brexit was the issue of the day, Jeremy Corbyn was the Party leader at the time, and Keir Starmer was the Shadow Secretary of State for exiting the European Union.
But “closely” doesn’t necessarily mean “cooperatively”, does it?
After all, Keir Starmer resigned from Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet – his reason being ‘because everyone else is’ – as part of a coordinated attempt to force Jeremy Corbyn’s resignation in 2016, less than one year after Corbyn received an overwhelming mandate from the Labour Party members to bring about the radical changes needed to bring Labour home to the people.
Then we had Starmer’s Labour Party conference speech in 2018.
It had been agreed that Labour would hold their 2017 Brexit position – much to the despair of a heavily Remain-friendly Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP).
This was always a difficult one for me. I was a Remain campaigner and voter, but at the same time, I could see the tactical folly in switching to a Remain-friendly position.
The Labour vote across the North of England was already in a perilous position in 2015.
Margaret Thatcher’s deindustrialisation of the north was supposed to be put right by Tony Blair when he swept to power in 1997. He didn’t put it right, and the Labour Party has never recovered since.
Switching to a Remain-friendly position would give the green light for the Conservatives and the establishment media to sell the Labour Party to the British people as “Brexit traitors”. It would destroy the credible gains made by Jeremy Corbyn in 2017 – particularly in the North of England – and any hopes of a socialist government, so desperately needed after many long years of Tory austerity.
This switch was Keir Starmer’s doing. The original speech script included no mention of backing a public vote.
So, I don’t think it is unreasonable to suggest this closeness that Starmer spoke of was simply so he could stab Jeremy in the back without the need to stretch.
Keir Starmer won the top job with words that have not been equalled by actions.
The demand for governing parties to be held accountable for following through with their manifesto commitments is a perfectly reasonable one. The manifesto should be seen as a legally binding agreement between the British Government and the people they campaign to represent.
I cannot see why Keir Starmer’s infamous Ten Pledges should be viewed any differently, can you?
Look at Boris Johnson’s approach to elections. He will promise you heaven and earth. Do you remember the forty new hospitals? Wasn’t that downgraded to six?
I wouldn’t be shocked if Johnson’s forty new hospitals were further downgraded to zero, because from where I am looking I see closures, record waiting lists and the private sector siphoning billions out of the public purse for a substandard provision of services – with the only real accountability coming from people such as The Good Law Project and independent media such as Byline Times.
But this say-anything-for-votes strategy works for Boris Johnson. People are willing to see past the racism, the philandering, the dishonesty, and everything the Etonian scarecrow has ever done. He could do a number two in the Queen’s favourite handbag and the diehard Royalist Tories would still spin it as ‘Boris being Boris’.
You see, the more we allow politicians to rationalise cheating, the more it becomes a culture of dishonesty. And that can become a vicious, downward cycle. Because suddenly, if everyone else is lying and cheating, you feel a need to lie and cheat, too.
And I believe Starmer has adopted this approach from the word go.
He had no intention of making “the moral case for socialism”, and the ten pledges were simply put in place to win the ‘Corbynista’ vote.
Honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty.
And it worked for him. Enough Labour Party members believed this would be Corbynism without Corbyn, and Starmer has been in place ever since.
You were told how Starmer would be popular with voters. You were told the former director of public prosecutions was electable. Some of Starmer’s media cheerleaders, such as that Rentoul chap, still believe Starmer is the right person to lead the Labour Party to victory in 2024.
But the reality for Starmer is quite simple.
His own personal approval ratings are diabolical, multiple polls have suggested Labour will lose more seats at a general election, and the Hartlepool by-election massacre will never be forgotten.
Jeremy Corbyn held Hartlepool twice.
The biggest problem for Keir Starmer is Keir Starmer. You still need a bit more about you than the ability to tell a few believable lies to win over a Labour-sceptic nationwide audience.
Believe me, I loathe the malevolent Boris Johnson as much as any of you. The man is a hole in the air. But he has something that convinces enough people to go out and vote for him, and that is based around charisma.
It’s a false charisma, but a believable one. Ten grand a term pays for a great deal of drama lessons.
But Starmer is unable to sell himself outside the Labour Party membership, and even they’re not as keen on him as they used to be.
Starmer is charisma free. If a plank of wood could speak it would wear a red rosette, stand opposite Boris Johnson every Wednesday at Noon, form a string quartet, and pretend his name is Keith.
He tried a personality change. A man that spent years telling you to bow to the flag of the European Union suddenly revealed his love for the Union flag and all things British. Barely an interview went by without catching a glimpse of a Union flag in the background, or some old bullshit about patriotism.
I don’t think many people were daft enough to buy into this sudden love for all things British.
Why didn’t he mention it before?
An opportunist like Starmer only ever thinks of me and today. A real leader thinks of us and tomorrow.
Take the recent expulsion of 85-year-old award-winning filmmaker, Ken Loach.
Did Starmer think this would impress the electorate? Or do you think they would rather hear about what Labour stands for on health, housing and education?
The broad church of the Labour Party has been reduced to a pew of worshippers for days-gone-by.
Yes, we know you won three elections, but this isn’t the nineties. This is a different society with different needs, different expectations, and different ambitions.
When Blair came to power a mobile phone was the size of a brick. The nearest I could get to the internet was some keyboard thing that plugged in to the TV. Times really have changed, and different times pose different problems that require different solutions.
Skip forward twenty four years to today. You have a Labour Party with no room for Jeremy Corbyn, or indeed Ken Loach – but they manage to find the room for a disgraced warmonger like Tony Blair.
Starmer has spent the majority of his sixteen months in charge punching inwards. The Tories have had an easy ride thanks to Starmer’s inability to focus on challenging the Government before he challenges the left of the Labour Party.
The expulsions, the policy void, the toadyism, the false prospectus, the complete failure of leadership, the heavy electoral defeats, the appalling polling against the worst government in living memory, the lightweight Shadow Cabinet, the painfully obvious wooden-like charisma of the main man, the promise of unity that turned out to be a purge of Jewish Labour Party members – this Labour Party is finished.
The biggest problem for Keir Starmer is literally Keir Starmer. He can see the Labour Party crashing and burning, but he doesn’t care, as long as the left are kept a million miles away from any form of power.
The electorate tends to buy into the person before they buy into the vision. People aren’t buying into Starmer, and even if they did, where is the vision? Where there is no vision there is no hope, and the best thing for the Labour Party would be no Keir Starmer.