Starmer’s leadership is a failed project.

Labour is a democratic socialist party. Not a party for Europhile middle class centrists, not a party for big business. It’s a party for working people, trade unions, and a disparate coalition ranging from class struggle social democrats to revolutionary communists, pledged to play the game of party politics to fight for gains for the working people of Britain.

Jeremy Corbyn revived the noble tradition of a Labour party not just in name. The result? Despite an unprecedented drubbing in the press and full scale assault from all sides, the best popular vote increase since 1945, and taking an ailing party within an inch of government.

People hone in on the dreadful result, brought about by years of smears on Mr Corbyn’s character and Brexit divisions impossible to bridge, that we saw in December 2019. But those who rewrite the rest of the Corbyn years dismiss the only project that’s got Labour within touching distance of No 10, and the immense popularity of the policy prospectus in the hopeful 2017 and radical 2019 manifesto documents.

Keir Starmer came to be leader of the Labour party by pledging to learn from Corbynism; maintaining the main planks of the popular and transformative policies; which no empirical evidence shows had any blame whatsoever for the electoral defeat.

He offered a chiselled face, stronger action on antisemitism, a crisper suit and party unity. He called the 2017 manifesto a “foundational document” and emphatically agreed that Jeremy had been the victim of demonization in the press. The membership crossed factional lines in the hope that Sir Starmer would pull people in across party divides and finally, everyone would be happy.

Fast forward to now, and Keir Starmer is facing inwards when the country needs a leader to face outwards. He’s burning political capital in order to bury his predecessor politically, and he’s purged leftwingers such as his closest rival in the leadership race Rebecca Long-Bailey from shadow cabinet on dubiously inaccurate claims of antisemitism, while turning a blind eye to antisemetic statements on the right of the party.

Starmer is alienating the membership, dragging party approval ratings through the mud, and engaging in a scorched earth anti-socialist campaign, egged on by neoliberals in the party. The Labour left is pushing back and calling this fallacy out.
If this isn’t reversed, and doesn’t stop, then the Labour left should comprehensively withdraw support until an unequivocal commitment to Starmer’s 10 pledges for the 2024 election, and a solid representation block in shadow cabinet. If this isn’t negotiable, there should be a leadership challenge and Starmer can face the membership. This is a civil war, it isn’t the 1980s/90s, and the left is strong, and won’t be going anywhere.

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Toby Lipatti-Mesme

Toby Lipatti-Mesme

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