Labour is heading for a cliff edge in May, but it’ll benefit the Blairites.
Starmer’s vacuous political strategy will be put for the test at the polls nationally come May 6th.
Keir Starmer’s political approach will be put to the test nationally come May the 6th, in a mammoth set of local elections that will see voters cast their ballots right across the UK, including in that mission critical Hartlepool byelection. Obviously here on the left we’ve consistently pointed out the massive flaws in Keith’s campaign strategy, and how we see him heading for an electoral cliff edge, but all of that will be proven right or wrong when we see how this really plays.
The 2021 Labour campaign has been bizarre, to say the least. Instead of talking up local Labour achievements or bread and butter issues with local facing councillors, it’s been leaflets with Starmer’s face on them, a really leader-focused campaign, and vacuous lines with no actual meaning such as “vote Labour for the NHS” when that isn’t how local government actually works, and is more a general election line.
Almost all the things the left was attacked and critiqued for (often unfairly) when we were helm, are now being doubled down on by the so called New Leadership. There is absolutely a cult of personality around Starmer, with anyone raising concerns to his left being told to “f**k off and join the Tories” or being called an “antisemetic crank” which is what centrists said the left did to them calling them Blairites or whatever.
Likewise, in a way there never was under the left, there’s a large scale factional crackdown in the party, with the leadership and party apparatus being utilised to wage factional warfare as opposed to looking to the country. The irony when these people preached democracy for five years. Right now, by its own admission, the Labour leadership is prioritising purging the left from any power structures in the party, and consolidating its grip on the Labour machine; these aren’t people serious about winning national power anytime in the next decade.
For all the focus grouping, this leadership is miles out of step with the public, and is serving up some febrile version of Blairism (Peter Mandelson is backing in the f*****g building) without the charisma or the energy; an electoral corpse that’ll make the vote share achieved in 2010 look promising, and see Labour call far below 200 seats at the next general election. These people don’t want to give the public what they want, they want to daydream about 1997 and bully “trots”. People in Keir Starmer’s office allegedly called his 10 pledges the “communist manifesto”, this is how rightwing and deranged these people truly are.
The Hartlepool poll shows that not only are the Tories on course to gain a seat from Labour that Jeremy Corbyn held twice (in 2017 with a massively increased majority and a vote share over 50%), but that voters in the heavily Leave voting Hartlepool want a radical domestic agenda. The SWU and Survation found upwards of 70% support for free full fibre broadband, 70% for a publicly owned Royal Mail, and 70% for an anti-austerity set of priorities. Only 24% thought the deficit should be the priority!
What this tells us is these voters want that radical agenda, but they’re voting for Boris Johnson anyway. Johnson has relatively high approval ratings there, Starmer has surprisingly low ratings (given how his cheerleaders somehow convinced themselves he was Mr win back the Red Wall). So Labour isn’t providing these voters with the right agenda, and they see right through Keith and his bullshit; after spending upwards of a year targeting everything towards winning over voting in these specific type of seats, that is truly dire failure. Starmer is failing at the terms he set himself.
It’s becoming very clear where the new centre ground actually is: it’s anti-EU but economically transformative. It’s what Labour tapped into and managed to bridge in 2017, reassuring Red Wall voters it would honour their vote to Leave, and merge it with radical economic policy, while promising the young progressive base a unashamed defence of their values, and a programme to make Britain actually work for them, actually address their material concerns. This worked in 2017, Brexit divisions killed it in 2019, 2023 it must be the strategy; Keir Starmer was right when he lied through his teeth called the 2017 manifesto a “foundational document”, because that’s what it needs to be.
Labour is failing on both counts right now. Try as it might to contort itself, as we all warned, Keir Starmer is viewed as Mr Remain, and is a metropolitan liberal lawyer; this isn’t how you get back in touch with working class communities, and it’s frankly a betrayal of deeply held sexist and classist attitudes that the Labour membership bought the delusion that this man (as opposed to two working class northern women) was going to be the guy to win back the seats HE HIMSELF LOST FOR LABOUR with his Brexit policy. Identity doesn’t define radicalism (see Jeremy Corbyn), but Starmer is literally the face of every reason why Leave voters left Labour, and they WILL punish him for that at the ballot box, because they aren’t thick, and they can see all this posturing is taking voters for a ride.
At the same time, Labour is completely flopping when it comes to offering a radical domestic vision for the economy. Radical policies have support across the board, particularly coming out of COVID, and if Starmer wants to learn from 2019 he needs to start selling them now so they seem familiar and credible come 2023. Radical policies and a relatable leader saved Labour from its political grave in 2017, and kept it above water in 2019 (of it had been Blairite policies = second ref it would have been much, much worse) since they were the only thing Labour had going for them in 2019, with a disaster Brexit policy and an unpopular leader by that point. Keir Starmer isn’t authentic like Jeremy Corbyn, nor is he radical. The idea that voters don’t want radical change isn’t borne out by the evidence or the facts, ask any pollster.
Meanwhile, Labour is shedding young voters to the Greens by sticking a middle finger up at progressive social values, not winning over anyone (voters that socially conservative ain’t coming back), but loosing their base. Labour is in dire straights, and this car crash will be put to the test come May 6th. Don’t expect a dire result to help the left; the right of the party are going to use it to consolidate and double down on a factional strategy, pivoting further right, replicating the results again.