Starmer turns on the soft left.

Wishy washy Milibandism risks becoming full throated New New Labour; the Labour right is back at the steering wheel.

Now we know Starmer has waged war on the left during his first year as LOTO; to the detriment of his own polling, really showing that Neil Kinnock commitment to purging us “Trots”, and seemingly forgetting Neil Kinnock never waltzed into No 10 for a reason (he was a slime ball more interested in fighting the left than fighting Thatcherism).

The distain of Starmer’s office for anyone to the left of Ed Miliband is palpable, what with Starmer’s closest rival being purged from the cabinet for retweeting an article talking about Israeli war crimes, and the previous leader being humiliated and removed from the party he’s served for many times over the pitiful timespan Starmer has been in politics. But now, it really worsens.

There’s dissatisfaction with Starmer building in the PLP. The left have been raising concerns since policy went out the window, the leader towed the government line on almost everything, and a reactionary factional crackdown on democracy and purging of the left flank of the party from cabinet, from membership, and even from the PLP, began. But now, with the polling really nosediving, the ghouls that to this day inhabit Labour right are sharpening their knives, and preparing an ultimatum for Keir Starmer.~
Once the May elections are out of the way, save a humungous Labour landslide, they’ll ask Starmer to remove the elements of the soft left in his cabinet; and make the shadow cabinet property of purely the Labour right, the Brownites and the Blairites; people totally out of step with 21st century politics, and people totally out of step with public opinion on almost any issue you could name.

Only in the high echelons of the Labour party elite do people still really believe the delusion that because they won a supermajority in 1997, these Blairites somehow have the magic key to winning elections; social democracy has collapsed across Europe, those parties all capitulated to neoliberalism, and initial success or not for a few election cycles, it killed them all stone dead, UK Labour included. From 1997 onwards the Labour vote nationally began to slowly collapse, culminating in 2019.

No traditional centre-left party is seeing great success in Europe, all are in terminal decline; 2017 needs to be looked at in that context; getting 40% was a stunning, trend shattering achievement, and one unashamedly of the Labour left. Don’t expect putting the architects of Labour’s decline in charge of the ship will get you such a result again, that result was achieved by breaking with the tired political consensus; even in 2019 a higher national vote share was achieved than in 2010 and 2015, and in England 34% voted Labour, higher than the share many social democratic parties get these days. Indeed, 2017 was an anomaly; without Corbyn 2017 would have been 2019.

So the knives are out, and Anneliese Dodds is on the way out too. Apparently she’s gone, after the local elections. The intelligent and competent woman is to be sacked thanks to the deficiencies of the man at the top; not a good look. The mediocrity of Dodds’ media appearances is clearly not to blame for Labour’s mega polling slump, and saying they are is just clutching at straws. Dodds is of the soft left, was highly talked up by McDonnell, and she holds some very progressive ideas, but she’s been given zero freedom.
Yes, she’s been underwhelming and mediocre, but this is precisely because she hasn’t been allowed to develop policy or deviate from the agreed line in interviews. Not her fault!

From a left perspective, the positive about Dodds is even though she’s taken some really unprogressive stances as shadow chancellor, she sympathises with the left and bold, radical ideas. She isn’t anti-left, she isn’t a factional warmonger opposed to leftist ideas; she’s a competent technocrat of the soft left with far too much caution but a brilliant mind; it’s not Chris Leslie or Ed Balls, we could do a whole lot worse! So while someone like Ed Miliband or indeed Rebecca Long-Bailey would be much more suited to the role in my view, Dodds is a decent compromise, and an un-factional appointment; both Rachel Reeves and John McDonnell are comfortable working with her.

So the attack on Dodds signifies something much larger, it’s the beginning of an assault on the soft left. The soft left made Starmer, they switched from voting Corbyn in 2015/16, to Starmer in 20. They believe in many of the Corbynite policies, but are absolutely happy to make compromises here or there, as long as their values and core positions are stuck to, they don’t despise the Labour right, and they have no quarrel with the Labour left, in fact they have much in common with them; Starmer promised this approach.

The soft left has a fatal flaw, and it’s the reason every time a leader has belonged to their tradition they’ve crashed and burned; the Labour right wages war to get their way, and if you aren’t willing to stand up to it, you emulate the Labour right, exclude the left, and the whole thing becomes a screaming mess. This is Starmerism; there is no moral backbone, hence those 10 Pledges won’t be fought for, hence they’ll be gone from any future manifesto. Starmer won’t fight to keep his promises to Labour members, he’ll do what Peter Mandelson tells him to.
Keir Starmer is no longer just waging an assault on the true red Labour left, he’s about to wage war on the soft left, and the progressives. Anyone in Labour who isn’t a reactionary needs to stand up and topple this leadership, before it’s too late, and Blairism 2.0 goes to the country.

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Toby Lipatti-Mesme

Insightful and innovative UK journalism and commentary, from Toby Lipatti-Mesme.