By Arun Srivastava
Now there is no ambiguity. The Labour Party under Keir Starmer will outright discard the left ideals and will be “back in business” with the sole mission of winning the Parliamentary elections. The goal set by Starmer makes it explicit that the party is not inching towards split instead it is running with the hurricane speed towards isolation.
The core issues of Labour were missing in keynote address of Starmar made at the end of the party’s five-day conference in Brighton. Labour under him is committed to “the good society” and “a strong economy” as the country recovers from the coronavirus pandemic. Significantly he will use the opportunity to present himself as both a serious alternative to Boris Johnson and vastly different from former party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who led Labour to a heavy election defeat in 2019. He did not mince word in saying that party now has ‘credible programme’ to win next general election
Starmer did not hide his intentions that he wants to move Labour to the centre, but can’t bring himself to say it. Incidentally his supporters are also not willing to encourage him to this path. They fear that his speech may engineer a split in the party.
The stand of Starmer is a matter of worry as the country is expected to face a pandemic of poverty in the coming months: huge increases in fuel prices, an increase on National Insurance that puts the burden on the lowest paid, and at the same time biggest overnight cut in social security since the Second World War. It is said that at times of crisis this past 18 months, the British people responded not with division but with co-operation. They choose to stand together with the hard-working families of this country against this attack on their living standards.
Meanwhile serious allegation has been levelled against Starmer that he was heeding working-class voices on Brexit and labour shortages. The Labour party has been working more with the orientation to promote personal leaders like Starmer and his aides than projecting the ideals and programmes of the party. It is also pointed out how the exodus of EU workers has contributed to the problems being faced in a range of sectors in the UK
The exodus of European workers has created a vacuum in the form of a labour shortage. From that space, a national discussion that foregrounds both the voices and interests of working-class people has emerged. There have been lots of references to this as an unexpected or ironic benefit of Brexit. This is beyond patronising. British HGV drivers were a largely pro-Brexit demographic. This is not an unexpected consequence. This is them getting what they voted for.
Amid the labour shortages in haulage and agriculture, food supply and other sectors, it’s worth noting that Brexiters don’t seem to have realised that by cutting off freedom of movement, they have at a stroke cut off a large and flexible reserve pool of workers in many sectors, not forgetting the NHS and care sector.
This was like an overdraft facility, allowing fluctuations in worker availability to be spread across the EU. We now find our “cheques” for UK haulier and agricultural workers are “bouncing”, with no overdraft reserve to tide us over the peak demand. By boxing ourselves into a corner with the Conservatives’ “red lines”, we now find that we are frequently hitting the limits, and demand cannot be met solely from UK workers.
The workers complain that the proceedings of the Labour does not reflect these concerns of the labour. ‘Starmer’s followers, who relished savaging Corbynism as a delusional cult, blindly cling to a leadership with no redeeming features.’
Dishonesty corrodes democracy. If politicians make promises they renege on, voters conclude that none can be trusted and disengage from the political process. Actually this has been happening in Britain. The committed supporters and members of the labour are distancing.
Surprisingly the Labour leaders who were once highly critical of Boris Johnson have started finding virtues. Starmer began the Labour conference by attempting to rig his party’s leadership rules to freeze out the left rather than hammering the Tories over the national fuel crisis, and ended it with a speech best summarised as Blairism without Blair. The delegates recalled how Starmer who a year and a half ago stood for Labour leader under a banner of Corbynism without Corbyn: of radical politics synthesised with party unity and competence had turned his sworn enemy. He cooed at despondent Corbynites not “to trash” the last four years; the 2017 election manifesto was the “foundational document”, and Labour would remain committed to nationalisation, tax hikes for the well to do, scrapping tuition fees and other leftwing totems.
It is a fact that Starmer has never laid one lasting punch on a government that has presided over one disaster after another. His refusal tells its own story. The pact New Labour has made with a section of party’s grassroots is that they would have to abandon many of their principles in exchange for power; renounce both your principles and any shot at power. The power has now come to acquire the prime focus for Starmer.
The situation has come to such a stage that even his hardcore aides and supporters are turning against him. His own allies describe him as a man without politics, is surrounded by crude factional figures with an obsessive grudge against the left and no vision for the country. Their leader is less popular than a prime minister presiding over a country with fuel shortages, empty supermarket shelves, and an impending cut to universal credit that will drive hundreds of thousands of children into poverty.
It is sad that Starmer lacks any charisma or warmth. The persons who admire or prop Starmer to take action against Jeremy Corbyn are die hard rightist. They are driven by the same factional spite towards the left as Starmer’s own internal team: he isn’t Corbyn, and while he lacks any coherent vision for the country, that’s enough for them.
The supporters of Corbyn have come to realise that they made biggest mistake of believing Starmer as a progressive element which he is not. The left made serious mistakes in its time in charge of Labour that need to be learned from. The Starmer leadership’s only trick is to kick the left.
It is interesting to watch that Starmer can shake hands with his adversaries to continue in the office. Labour leader was forced into a humiliating U-turn on the first day of his party’s annual conference IN Brighton and had to agree for watered-down election reforms. Well before the start of the conference, he had hatched a plan with his supporters to scrap the “one member, one vote” system. But it got exposed. Starmer had schemed to scrap the system as it had propelled Jeremy Corbyn to victory. (IPA Service)