In his first speech of the year, Sir Kier Starmer, the Leader of the Labour Party makes a speech on the Tory Govt’s flawed response to the coronavirus pandemic. Is this a redefinition of ‘responsible opposition’? I am not so sure.

Here’s the speech on youtube,

The speech ends at 32.35 and is followed by journalists questions, which are mostly shit and fishing for a bad headlines but he does use the opportunity to expand on whether nurseries should remain open. The words of the speech are on the LP press site.

It’s Ok, as far it goes. …

The press spin is that he focuses on families and parents which some off the right wing press seem to think is a threat. To which I ask why? Single people, old and young are also suffering furthermore, there is no mention of sick pay or redundancy pay and he merely opposes cuts in universal credit. But why exclude some people from support during a pandemic.

There’s no mention in the speech of the education fuck ups, of closing schools late, of letting students enter their courses for a year obviously to be bighted by lockdown and the Williamson’s exam debacle of last summer, presumably partly because his fingerprints are on these decisions although he calls for, possibly, closing the nurseries which would be a relief to the workers there but why aren’t we calling for Williamson & Jenrick to be sacked?

While he looks at the positives of rebuilding the economy, where he name checks high wages and high skills, and it may be premature, but some signals from our borders suggests that Brexit will increase foreign goods’ prices, and may cause shortages and job losses but he’s closed that door on seeing this as a contributory cause to our awful economic state.

He’s still focusing on competence not on corruption, but I like this quote,

The government says it’s trying to balance the health crisis with the economic crisis. Yet we ended  2020 with one of the worst death tolls in Europe and the deepest recession of any major economy.  That’s not bad luck.  That wasn’t inevitable. It’s the consequence of the PM’s repeated delay and incompetence.

Sir Kier Starmer

On the question of competence, as well as Williamson, I think we need to mention the “eat out to help out” campaign and it’s author, Rishi Sunak and the impact it had on spreading the virus. No stats from me today, but I assure you it did not reduce it. Starmer is silent.

I object to the cardboard cut-out patriotism, British science is global and Oxford research team is multi-ethnic/multi-national and again I ask if it will be possible to put such a team together in the future once the full impact of Brexit on immigration, professional recognition and student access becomes obvious. Also platitudes about the best in the world always remind me of Steve Bell’s cartoon about the “best used kebabs in the world”.

After 9 months of responsible opposition, is this enough? Should this be welcomed or not. In my book, it’s late, it does not rectify the errors on schools and the silence on economic support, the silence on the inadequacy of sick pay and statutory redundancy payments. It’s not really enough for me.

I wanted to behave differently to the right in the Labour Party, to give him a chance to stand by his 10 pledges, to respect those Party comrades that voted for him, but I lost confidence before Xmas and this speech is not enough and when taking account of the policy direction on Brexit, immigration and Human Rights, we are still in the wrong place to represent our core constituency and even a majority of the country.

I may need to write more because Anneliese Dodds will be giving the Mais Lecture, which is previewed in the Financial Times (paywall). They say that she will,

 …  call for a ‘responsible fiscal framework’ based on ‘pragmatism, not dogmatism’  … [and] … signal … that the Labour party is backing away from the hard-left economic policies of former leader Jeremy Corbyn, seeking instead to fight the Conservatives on economic competence and protecting the UK’s recovery from the damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

It’s all very disappointing although not unexpected. I wonder who the visionary that plans this stuff is? While Dodds has the chops to carry this off, Starmer seems lost.

Responsible Opposition
Tagged on:             

2 thoughts on “Responsible Opposition

  • 17th January 2021 at 5:44 pm

    It’s easy to write about the instant and forget the noise surrounding it. The Guardian also reported on the speech, and said this,

    With radical conservative movements now thriving across Europe, it is not enough for Labour to seek to reclaim the term without fleshing out what it means in policy terms. A progressive politics that centres the family is certainly possible, and could be desirable, if this entails a wider recognition of the importance of relationships in all our lives. …

    The burdens placed on families by such poor policymaking are heavy, and have only been added to by the pandemic. After a decade of austerity, the social infrastructure of nurseries, youth clubs and all the other institutions that provide the support structure around family life was already decrepit. When this emergency is over, Labour must make the case for its reinvigoration. Family must be more than a soundbite, or a chapter in the Labour leader’s biography.

    The speech which was followed by a speech at the NEU and the Fabian’s Spring meeting made quite a splash.

  • Pingback:Thinking about macroeconomics with Anneliese Dodds –

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: