Starmer’s radicalism?

Starmer’s radicalism?

Will Hutton, the author of “The State we’re in” (1996), has written in the Observer, and article entitled “Ignore the detractors – Keir Starmer is a radical who can transform the country“.

I find this drastically over-optimistic; the demand expansion of £28bn over 5 years is not a lot and is less than we used to get from the EU’s Horizon. The Labour opposition, are flirting with QMT and have a dreadful view on policing, protest and a whole bunch of civil liberty issues, and that’s before we start on immigration. Even when they come close to innovative decency, such as on pre-crime, someone pulls them back. In terms of building a progressive government, it’s like Dave Allen’s journeys to Dublin, you don’t want to start from here! I look at the promises on constitutional reform, growth & energy, nationalisation and economic planning, demand management, workers’ rights and crime. … …

Sensibleness postponed

Sensibleness postponed

Having let David Lammy, and to some extent Rachel Reeves trial a new Brexit line, Kier Starmer is planning a speech with a five point plan, which has been previewed (£) in the FT.

Trade is down the plughole (£), as is inward investment and our GDP is set to flatline for the next 18 months and we have labour shortages which are crippling various industries but most obviously agriculture and inflation is now running at 11%. The economy is not in a good state (£). All of this is caused by Brexit, When studying macroeconomics in the ’70s, we thought these dimensions of the economy were choices and a trade off, and while popular theory has changed, it’s quite an achievement for them all to be wrong and yet another not to want to fix it.

Meanwhile the FT article (£) states,

Starmer will insist that a Labour government would not seek to rejoin the EU’s single market or customs union or reintroduce freedom of movement — let alone seek to reverse the 2016 Leave vote.

I say “why not?”. All three of these measures are obvious and growingly popular solutions to the macroeconomic problems we face today.

The five point plan is important, but leaves glaring holes, does Labour propose to put import checks on products not included in the new agreement, will it try and ease the Labour shortage by allowing workers from Europe to return, why would the EU agree to freedom of movement for the professionally qualified only?. Does any of this help jobs and the environment in the east coast and southern port cities?

Meanwhile, Redfield Wilton report that a majority of voters would vote to rejoin the EU although just as with the original referendum the terms of entry are not clear. Starmer and kitchen cabinet are going to be left behind and are in danger of driving their own core votes into the hands of other parties. RW show that the majority of working age people (at least those under 55) support rejoining.

Image: the port is from unsplash, the plughole is public domain …

Was there “Remainer Sabotage”?

Launching 2019 General Election campaign

Some in Labour continue to fight over the history of Brexit; the so-called Lexiters seem keen to pin the Tories’ Hard Brexit on Sir Kier Starmer. This latest round was sparked by Eagleton’s “The Starmer Project” with replies by me, Andrew Fisher and now Michael Chessum.

Some are keen to smear Starmer as the architect of “Remainer Sabotage”. He was not! Firstly, the idea of Remainer sabotage is a fantasy and secondly, if such a person exists, it is not Starmer, although I am clear there are some senior Labour parliamentarians who used the issue of Brexit to undermine Corbyn. Fisher, who was there, argues that Corbyn’s shadow cabinet followed Conference 18 policy where Starmer delivered the Shadow Cabinet line from the composite meeting, much to the chagrin of many who wanted an explicit reference to “Remain” in the words of the motion.

The reality is that the saboteurs of Corbyn’s leadership over Brexit were the MPs that like their extra-parliamentary fan club wanted a hard Brexit on any terms, some because of ideological commitment some from careerist motives; they voted against each of the options in the 2nd round of meaningful votes, three of which would have passed if they’d votes yes, including an EEA membership. They wanted a Corbyn led Labour Government which negotiated to leave the EU and rhe single market. Sadly for them neither Corbyn nor the Labour Party wanted to leave on poor terms, which they will not admit, and that is all that was left after they sank the options offered in the meaningful votes.

The Lexiter conspiracists also ignore both the tradition and enduring presence of a right wing labour opposition to Europe, and their Tory and foreign allies, in the seventies Enoch Powell, and in the 21st century Nigel Farage & Vladimir Putin. This attempted distancing of their unpleasant allies and their racism is endemic in the political practice of Lexit.

The fact is, that the Lexiters particularly in Parliament, allied with the European Reform Group and the UKIP entryists and sabotaged the choice of anything between Remain and the Tories’ Hard Brexit; they legitimised the working class vote for Brexit, colluded with the argument that a metropolitan elite were trying to steal it from them rather than ask for confirmation that the Govt had got it right and gave them permission to vote for Johnson. It’s not Remainers who should be apologising. …

Memories are made of this

Shrimsley in the FT reckons (£|θ) Starmer has long way to go to emulate Blair. He argues that if Starmer doesn’t define himself, then his enemies will do it for him. An interesting insight given what his advisors are leaking (£) to the Times. Shrimsley also argues that Blair focused ruthless on voters, not members or activists although I wonder if that trick can off pulled again but the biggest jog to the memory was the pledge card; and Labour cynics just thought it was important to say anything other than “to secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their labour by the public ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange.

This shows how far we’ve come, in 1997, I wished for more radicalism, today, this would be welcome, although as a harbinger of the government’s programme, nothing on housing nor employee protection.  …

Not for 50 years

Not for 50 years

Starmer gave a speech in Newcastle in which he says there is no case for rejoining the EU for 50 years.

This is nonsense, if we want the UK to be more than an offshore money laundering factory, then re-joining the EU is inevitable.  It will only happen when membership becomes a non-partisan issue, or its partisan opponents are once again an irrelevance. The queues and delays at Dover, the developing maritime routes between Eire and continental Europe, and the declining trade balances as our export trade with the EU dies, all require remediation. To these problems we can add the labour shortage-based inflation as the plutocrats’ essential services, i.e. sandwich & fast food shops and restaurants can’t find staff and the people’s essential services are under funded and failing.

The short to medium term task for those who want to rejoin is to show & highlight Brexit’s failings, show how these failings are as a result of the Tories’ deal and that a better deal is possible. I outline my first five steps (my blog, Labour’s policy forum, medium). Other’s have points to add, but by offering a better future, we will win people to the position that we can do better than what we have. We need a better deal and we need to build a stable majority for a better relationship with the EU and see where it goes. Other’s have pointed me at this which is a better way of dealing with the policy issue.

Some argue that the EU’s own developments will strengthen opposition to the EU in this country but more importantly it’s possible that we will have problems meeting the EU’s requirement to have  “stable institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities;”; the House of Lords (and maybe Parliamentary Sovereignty & FPTP) and the “Hostile Environment” are all problems. The most rapid short-term changes in the EU today are its adoption of the Budget Conditionality Regulation, designed to sanction Hungary and Poland; this is because of their attacks on the independence of the judiciary, behaviour being repeated by our Tory government. Progressives should welcome this chance to examine and improve our democracy.

The problem with Labour under new management ‘s slogans, Fix Brexit and “Not in 50 years”, the latter a slogan used by both Starmer and Rachel Reeves is they do not allow Labour to criticise the current deal, and it looks like it’s designed not to. It also inhibits arguments for reform of the Brexit deal; this also looks to be by design. It denies Labour a role in scrutiny in Parliament or in the deal’s scrutiny structures. It’s also is trolling the membership and the majority of Labour’s voters. Their loyalty is not as strong as that of the old trade unionised workers, and New Labour lost 5m of them between 1997 and 2010. It adds to the evidence that they want to disassemble the new class coalition that voted for and is voting Labour. A quick look at’s, poll tracker shows what happens when Labour loses the support of its remainer core vote as it did in the summer of 2019.

 That Starmer’s 10 pledges have been broken is probably priced in but interestingly he was silent on the EU and Brexit, and his Labour under new management is a policy vacuum, merely following the Tories on COVID, much of its authoritarianism and now on Brexit. Someone should explain that triangulation involves minimising the differences not eliminating them because people can tell the difference between the echo and the shout, They’ll trust the Tories to do Tory things before they trust Labour. Triangulation legitimises your opponents politics and policies. It’s not a strategy for principled people.

This comes from a mindset where focus group driven triangulation  remains cute, it is an electoral strategy based on letting down and ignoring those who vote for us. Last time we did that, we lost 5m votes and laid the ground for 2019 when the old steel and pit towns finally voted Tory. …

On May 6th, election day 2021

On May 6th, election day 2021

My take on May 6th's super Thursday. I waited to talk about this as it’s a story that unrolled over three days. Thursday night was dominated by Labour’s loss of Hartlepool and Durham County Council and rumours of an upset in London as the Tory GLA seats were declared and Labour held Harrow & Brent underperformed in delivering votes to Sadiq Kahn. Over Friday, the picture became clearer, there was a great victory in Wales, we took the West of England and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Mayor positions and held councils such as Preston, although we lost the West Midlands Metropolitan Mayor (again). There were some great victories in Oxfordshire and one notable defeat in Oxford City. Labour won the elections in Liverpool and in the evening, it became clear that Sadiq Kahn would win in London, with the result being declared just before midnight. Phil Burton Cartledge comments on the lessons to be learned on strategy. I say, at the centre of the lessons to be learned is how to put together a coalition that can win. This is a question beyond that of geography. Phil BC's writings are full of analysis about the changing nature of work, the ageing and the political criticality of outright home ownership, the alienation of final salary pension recipients from the youth and even their children and the historic loyalty of Britain’s black and asian communities and these issues’ impact on British politics. He also argues that age is the primary bifurcation of politics today as Thatcher’s voters fulfil their home-owning dream and either look to survive and/or pull the ladder up behind them. He also argues that capital needs social liberalism as immaterial work becomes dominant in our economy. For more, and the links, 'Read More' ...

Is he up to it?

Is he up to it?

Reading Polls takes some care which is why I suggest that one reviews polls that illustrate the range of results rather those that at the moment maximise Labour’s support.

Whether the polls suggest Keir is better thought of than Boris seems to depend on the question asked. Straight forward net approvals, Keir’s score is better than Boris although the gap seems to be closing, over the last few weeks, Boris score has improved, Keir’s has fallen. When asked who’d make the best PM Boris often wins although not at yougov, you can inspect their numbers here, or or in chart form on  Starmer vs Johnson, approval ratings, on this blog from last week. Opros, who I have not heard of,  has Boris ahead and also discusses the different questions asked.

I am concerned that neither he nor we are doing well enough, and I am not alone nor isolated with those his supporters might consider the usual culprits and those who expressed disappointment or opposition from day 1, sadly making what was a moment, into a tradition.  Unlike 172 members of the PLP in 2016, I am not calling for a no-confidence in either Starmer or Rayner within a year of their election since that would be an act of contempt for the tens of thousand that voted for them; what I am asking is that those that did, honestly answer the question, “is he up to it?”

He has been good in the Commons, but it only counts if the press report it; he’s been poor on PPE, poor & late on lockdown,  poor on last summer’s exams, poor on COVID-19 safety in schools, the choice of competence and not corruption is questionable, we are poor, virtually silent, on sick pay and redundancy pay, have abstained on human rights law diminutions by not properly opposing the spycops law,  nor supporting the extension of the eviction  ban and his collusion on Brexit, both not arguing to extend transition and agreeing the, what is now obviously seen even in such a short time, terrible future relationship and withdrawal agreements makes dealing with the fallout from Brexit more than tricky and we again collude with the laws that may yet reopen the lethal armed violence in Northern Ireland. He is also backing Boris on Scottish independence, a brave move, given how we got to where we are in Scotland. Are you sure he’s up to it? I am not suggesting that given the choice you were wrong to vote for him, I thought about it, but is he meeting your expectations, if not, perhaps you should tell him. …

Starmer vs Johnson, approval ratings

Starmer vs Johnson, approval ratings

Is Starmer thought of more highly than Johnson? The short answer, it would seem is "Yes". I have looked at yougov and re-presented their results here. But if he is more highly thought of, why are the Tories ahead in the polls when nearly 100,000 people are dead from the coronavirus. The charts showing each leader's score since Starmer's election to the leadership, a comparative score and a look at the Party scores are overleaf. I have used yougov's figures. ...