Responsible Opposition

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. …

On Corbyn’s whip

On Corbyn’s whip

On Jeremy Corbyn’s whip, which Starmer has withdrawn, somehow, certainly in breach of the standing orders of the Parliamentary Labour Party. Momentum have drafted a letter to Starmer, Angela Rayner and the CLP Reps calling for the whip to be restored which you can send too. I have sent it although I amended the letter to make it clear that I believe it, and the original suspension to be in breach of the party’s rules, in breach of the EHRC recommendations and in breach human rights law, and the whip withdrawl is an act of double jeopardy. I also pointed out that in my experience, some of his supporters are now leaving as they consider the act unfair and unreasonable.

I consider it to be at least one of capricious, perverse, irrational and/or arbitrary.  …

10 Point Plans for Labour

10 Point Plans for Labour

In running for election as Leader of the Labour Party, Keir Starmer published a 10 point plan, which I have noted & mirrored on this web site. A couple of months later, Richard Burgon, writing in Tribune produced his own 10 point plan as a focus for left unity within the Labour Party. I produce them below/overleaf in a table of titles. Provided we 'don't try and read the tea leaves in the order, there's not a lot of difference! For those of us who didn't vote for him, this should give us hope that Labour's opposition and manifesto will be worthwhile, but those that voted for him because of his 10 pledges need to be articulate in reminding him of them. ... ...

Down the plug’ole

Down the plug’ole

I had a look at the 2020 Leadership election and the 2016 results. There was a 4% drop, about 20,000 less, in people voting in 2020, from 2016 and yet, Rebecca Long Bailey, the standard bearer of the Left, got just short of 178,000 less votes than Corbyn. In a static electorate, the Left went backwards, by a lot!

This does not auger well for the next set of NEC elections. The rump left, which includes Momentum must begin to talk and listen to those who changed their minds and build unity within the Party around Starmer’s 10 pledges. …

Starmer’s Cabinet and more Brexit failures

Gabriel Pogrund is re-circulating the rumour that Starmer will appoint Rachel Reeves as Shadow Chancellor. My first instinct is that this would be a poor start for a man who claims to want to unify the party, since her record is as a central thinker for those opposing Labour’s turn to the left.

Anyway I have googled her, and she is another ex-Bank of England employee with an impressive education in economics, unless we take the view that it’s academic economist’s lack of heterodoxy that is one of the key causes of the 2008 crash. Obviously this would come lower down the list of causes than the greed of the ultra-rich and the structural contradictions in late twentieth century capitalism. For more see below or oveleaf … …

Labour’s New Brexit

Labour’s New Brexit

Today, Labour Conference debated the International Report of the National Policy Forum and a statement on Brexit from the National Executive Committee. I believe the NEC statement was issued to delegates only, on the morning of the debate, which while not unusual is unacceptable. A campaigning comrade, Sacha Ismail posted the words to his Facebook timeline, and I have posted them below. Kier Starmer summed up the debate, and I have posted a video of his speech, which I then comment on. It was a weak speech, which disguises the weakening of Labour’s policy and moves it towards a pro-Brexit position. …

Parliamentary Sovereignty’s best sell by date

Parliamentary Sovereignty’s best sell by date

I went to the Labour Campaign for Human Rights meeting in the Commons yesterday, the keynote speaker was Kier Starmer, the Labour Brexit spokesman. He opened his speech stating he had voetd “Remain” based on jobs and rights and woke up on 27th June asking what world we live in. He argued that now we needed to accept democracy and that UK’s politics is about the new relationship with the EU. He argues we need to re-root our rights in UK law! (What like the Human Rights Act?) Labour is proposing a new Law to transcribe the EU’s rights and protections into UK law, but under the Tories this will be weak since the Tories are not planning to bring the “Fundamental Charter of Rights” across into UK law. …