What Keir Starmer needs to do to win the next election
By TruePublica Editor: I voted for Thatcher in 1979 (I was 19 at the time from a solid Tory voting family) and 1983 and then for John Major in 1992. I personally met both, shook their hands and spoke with them. They seemed to be very decent people. But by the time 1997 came along, I was tired of the sleaze and Tory failure in just about everything. I’d been through the worst unemployment crisis since 1939 and homelessness blighted every town across the land. Then a Tory inspired recession that cratered my carefully nurtured business caused me to lose everything I owned and cherished. It took over twenty years for (ardent Brexiteer mouthpiece) Nigel Lawson to admit this catastrophic mistake (from his Gascony mansion in sunny South-Western France). Lawson forgot to mention in this admission that several million homeowners were either evicted or were left stranded in negative equity for a decade as a direct result of his reckless decision to suddenly withdraw tax relief from the residential housing market (source) that the Tories unflinchingly supported.
Since then, the Conservative party, now looking more and more like the extremes of the political faction of the Tories from the 1700s, has transformed into something akin to a Farage designed English Nationalist party of dissenters and hard-right political thugs. They are tearing down everything the British people used to be proud of and are attempting to remake it in some sort of radical right-wing haven for free-market fundamentalists. It will all end in tears. Extreme Neoliberalism went the same way.
Then a crisis unexpectedly came along – and these people were shown to be inherently unsuitable for the job. They opportunistically grabbed power, lined the pockets of their donors and were saved by a vaccine rollout that was delivered by the efforts of British (and European) scientists and the heroic NHS. It must gall the Tories to know that their ideology failed them in a pandemic but a Labour inspired initiative that they have sought to destroy for decades, saved their political skins.
For centrists, who make up about 50 per cent of the electorate, it has not gone unnoticed that Keir Starmer – and therefore the Labour party, seems to have not noticed any of this. However, our nation has three elements to it where it has not gone unnoticed at all – namely Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. The former is now on fire and the latter will demand an independence vote in a matter of weeks – both down to a fictitious ideology. Somehow, millions were convinced Britain was submerging under the weight of unwanted migrants and that unelected bureaucrats sought domination over the mother of all parliaments, so they voted for Brexit.
Don’t think for one minute the Tories haven’t seriously damaged our country before. In 1956, the Pound Sterling was the world currency. Back then, forty per cent of global trade was transacted in Sterling. The Tories under Anthony Eden were warned by the international community to refrain from its aggressive action in the Suez Canal. Arrogantly, they proceeded. The result – a catastrophic failure to understand the modern world and Britain’s global standing crashed. Today, Sterling accounts for just 5 per cent of global trade – directly attributable to our American ‘ally’ taking full advantage of that crisis. The US dollar now dominates as a payment currency for global trade in replacement of Sterling – and we all the poorer for it.
But it doesn’t end there does it. More recently, this government has attacked press freedom, undermined judicial review, blatantly broken international law, prorogued parliament and lied not just to the Queen but to the Commons and the people. As mentioned, it has undertaken a political power grab that Henry VIII would blush at. To get to where they are, they have divided families, communities and the country with a culture war that stoked up some nasty elements of the far-right and all of the dangerous rhetoric that goes with it. For MI5 and counter-terror police – right-wing extremism is now our biggest enemy (source).
Knowing their (Brexit/levelling-up/Global Britain) agenda will economically fail in the medium-term, they have moved to outlaw peaceful public protests and redefine activists as terrorists. The Johnson team are now also attempting to force through voter suppression tactics such as voter ID that the Electoral Reform Society describes as ‘dangerous’, ‘misguided’ and just ‘plain wrong’ (source). Let’s not forget that Boris Johnson pledged only two years ago to ‘eat’ his ID if he was forced to show it by the government to vote – now something he is legislating to do himself.
It is quite easy to see Britain’s decline in real-time if you care to look. Many news outlets here and further afield now regularly use the word ‘fascism’ in articles describing the state of politics in Britain today (source) – something that would have seemed quite ridiculous twenty years ago. Many more prefer to use the term ‘authoritarian’ – either way, Global Britain is heading in the wrong direction (source). Our once tolerant, polite, calm and outward-looking country has turned in on itself.
As Sarah Murphy says to her 58,000 Twitter followers – “This country is the unhappiest I’ve ever known it. It’s won nothing. It’s lost. And it knows it but it can’t admit it. So it rages. It lies. It waves its flag. It demands loyalty. It craves respect. It gets neither. It turns on itself. It breaks itself apart in its anger.”
And just as Sarah Murphy eloquently says, the mainstream and online media depressingly report our national decline daily. Today, disinformation and corruption from the very top go virtually unchallenged as a Brexit/pandemic shell-shocked nation watches on as if a deer in the headlights of an oncoming juggernaut.
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The prospect of this Tory party winning the next election in 2024 should fill us all with horror. I cannot imagine what Britain might look like in just a few short years, let alone 2030 under this regime.
It doesn’t help that Britain suffers from an archaic, unfit system of electoral democracy with First Past The Post (FPTP) in our modern world. This system, largely abandoned by the democratic West, but used heavily in countries such as Azerbaijan, Belize, Iraq, Yemen and Zambia – to name but a few – are constantly dogged by serious anti-democratic issues.
Right now, Keir Starmer – an upstanding pillar of the political scenery right now has failed to wade through this quagmire and make an impact that could give us all hope. Contrary to political commentary right now, Starmer is unlikely to score much, if anything, at the local elections, dubbed ‘Super-Thursday.’ The same people who voted for Brexit in 2016, will double down and give Johnson another resounding victory. The lack of proportional representation dictates that outcome – and the acolytes of Corbyn will call for Starmer to stand down. It is his failure to promote an ideology of the day that guarantees his loss. Thatcher brought the ideology of neoliberal capitalism to defeat socialism. Blair brought the ‘third way’ – that attempted to reconcile right- and left-wing politics by advocating a synthesis of centre-right economic platforms with some centre-left social policies. Johnson homed in on the ideology of Brexit. Starmer seemingly has no vision.
Take a stand
Being bold is not enough – Keir Starmer needs to be radical to grab the attention of the electorate. He can draw a line in the sand – and declare that enough is enough on these issues. Without any doubt, these are increasingly desperate times. Democracy itself is under an unprecedented attack by the hard-right and someone has to stop the rot before it’s too late.
And make no mistake, this Johnson government will be mired in scandal by next year. The fall of Dominic Cummings was the start. From there, constant leaks will show who is really in power. Johnson is as incompetent as he is dishonest and both of those characteristics will bring him down. It’s what happens to consummate liars. He may well end the Tories as they crash and burn whilst backstabbing each other on the way.
Keir Starmer should first and foremost look to protecting Britain’s democracy and guarantee that everyone’s vote counts, which FPTP does not. But because of the current system, the Labour party may well have to be even more radical and join forces with political opponents to get their foot in the Downing Street door.
If this new political alliance focused on that issue alone, it would win votes because everyone would understand what they were voting for – the right to meaningfully do exactly that in future. And by democracy, we are talking about protecting press freedom, strengthening the judicial system, protecting the right to peaceful protest, free speech, along with depoliticising the police and civil service. No one is saying we should not modernise these things but they must be protected.
Another idea might be to take the health service, education and policing out of the hands of government when it comes to funding. Just like the military and NATO, foreign aid and so on – having a fixed percentage of government spending means building a long-term horizon based on the best outcomes possible – not the meddling of ideologies every five years. This way, if national GDP rises or falls the budgets follow – something that everyone might feel is a much fairer way of managing how equality and mobility is both funded and then delivered.
Keir Starmer must set the agenda and get the right people up front from this coalition of democrats, raise public awareness of the very serious threats this government is now proposing to British democracy and confront them at every possible opportunity. With all arrows pointing in the same direction, with all voices saying the same thing, with policies to back them up – this is the political battlefield that centrists on both left and right can get behind. People might feel that they are voting for a legacy, one that will go down in history – that puts Britain on the right footing once again. This could provide the opportunity to agree on something in an effort to unite and galvanise whilst disarming those at the forefront of dividing us.
There is no point to Brexit, to Global Britain, to the institutions that once protected civil society if all we have are sham elections and demagogues who seek support by appealing to the desires and prejudices of ordinary people rather than by using rational argument. We’ve done that – and look where it got us. Division, despair and hard-won rights being dismantled by the vague battlelines of Johnson’s culture wars.
Can you imagine the public response to such a spectacle with cross-party unity focused on saving democracy from the likes of Johnson, Rees-Mogg, Redwood, Baker, Patel, Raab and all the other little flag-waving dictators-in-waiting? In addition, this new Democracy Alliance, headed up by a former attorney-general in Keir Starmer would shake the very foundations of everything crooked – starting with Johnson’s ‘world-beating’ acts of cronyism and nepotism that is corroding any semblance of good governance.
Philip Randolph argued in 1889 that – ‘The breeding grounds of crime and discontent will be diminished in the same way that draining a swamp cuts down the breeding of mosquitoes, and the causes of discrimination will be considerably reduced.”
Draining The Swamp is not knew and was not invented by Donald Trump. Perhaps ‘Purging the Cesspit,’ or ‘Flush the Tory Toilet’ may catch on.
Whatever happens, Keir Starmer and therefore Labour will lose the next election if there is no vision of unity. Let’s be honest – if politics is not up to the job of saving our democracy – you know it’s already too late.