Sir Keir Starmer’s keynote address at the Labour conference was described as the “last chance” to save his leadership.
Sir Keir Starmer, from autocue:
Comrade delegates. Fellow Knights of the Realm. Common folk. Ladies. Gentlemen. Old, young, happy, sad. People with an important sexual or gender disposition we absolutely need to know about. Everybody in this fantastic, broad, inclusive, tolerant, united, forward-looking, secular church of ours – thanks for another brilliant Conference. Wow. Amazing. No, thank you.
I have a very important announcement to make. But first I ask Conference for your forbearance as I attempt the customary humorous preamble. Ha ha. Yes. Yeah.
Older comrade delegates may remember the American pop songster Roger Miller. And his fantastic hit record, England Swings. Way back in the 1960s, when the internet was still only science fiction. You madam — in the front row there. You remember him, I bet. You look as though you were a bit of a swinger yourself, eh! Oh, it’s Harriet Harman. I rest my case! As I used to say! Fantastic.
“Ingerland swings…” went the refrain. “Like a pendulum do”. Ingerland swings. Like a pendulum do. And in post-war Britain, politics did indeed swing like a pendulum do. The Tories got in for a couple of terms, people got bored with them, voted us in and so on ad infinitum. Well, comrade delegates. Look where we are now. The political pendulum swings still. It do, it does. But entirely within the Labour Party. The Government blunders from strength to strength, stumbling towards their goal of running a one-party state. Meanwhile, Labour’s trapped, padding from left to right and back again like a mangy old tiger in some unremembered cage. I don’t know if you’ve seen that Netflix series about a zookeeper guy called Joe Exotic, fantastic watch, really takes your mind off things.
But seriously, again. Apart from the BBC, no institution does self-loathing quite like the Labour Party Conference does it, comrade delegates? Oh, we all pretended as usual to enjoy a coming-together, a renewal of purpose. Statements were made and listened to solemnly. Consensus was declared, as is customary, on the badness and wrongness of Toryism. Speakers have emphasised Labour’s unique contract with working people. Now everything will be packed up for another year, nothing will have changed, and that’s the bloody problem. Isn’t it? ISN’T IT?
But things have to change. That’s why I have prepared some KEYWORDS to illustrate my speech. They are: SLOGAN, SEIZURE, MILITARY COUP, TWITTER, NET ZERO, UNIONS, ELECTORAL COLLEGE and NEW LEADERSHIP. Hey, guy there in the raspberry beret — you get it! Full disclosure, I’ve had two gins and tonic to stiffen the sinews, come on, it’s showtime!
OK firstly, comrade delegates: SLOGAN. This year’s slogan — A New Leadership — is pretty good. On one level — here I am, not Jeremy Corbyn, fantastic! Sort of winning already. Also, on another level, Labour can offer the leadership the country isn’t getting from Mr Tumble at No 10. It’s also good on a meta-level, we’ll come to that later.
Comrades, I’d like to talk about SEIZURE. I’m not having one, I’m advocating one ha ha, all right now, settle down. I’m proposing a mass seizure of assets that should never have left public ownership in the first bloody place. Now I’m guessing from that noise, like the air being squashed out of 1,000 paddling pools, that you’re shocked. Well tough halloumi because it’s time we embraced SOCIALISM once again. “Oh but why are you abandoning centrist policies, which must be the way forward because they always have been, Sir Keir?” you whine, like abandoned puppies. Yeah, well I’m sorry. That “essay” I wrote for the Fabians about tiptoeing along the middle of the road. I’ve had a major rethink. I have marked that essay “D minus, see self”. I have had a word with self. The new Me begins now.
Fact: young people love socialism. They get it. They can see what Vulture Capitalism’s doing to the world and they know that Disaster Socialism is the only way forward. Why should they be denied a stake in their own future when THE FUTURE IS SOCIALIST my gasping comrade delegates! We watched while buy-to-let landlords bought right-to-buy council houses and turned them into rent-to-frack human juicers. We need rent controls and affordable housing. “Deal”, as we say in Shadow Cabinet.
Here’s a puzzle — what’s the point of having privatised railways and bunging them more than £7 billion a year in subsidies? If the French state, the German state, the bloody Dutch state can own our railways, so can OUR state. Same with all the energy companies and the NHS. Oh dear, shareholders, your luck can go up or down, read the small print, we’re having the LOT back, cost price, sling your hook. “Oh but how are we to achieve this legally, Sir Keir?” I hear you mewl like neurotic kittens. Listen, I worked my way up from conveyancing solicitor to Director of Public Prosecutions, leave the paperwork to ME!
“COUP”. It’s an ugly word, and God knows I hope it doesn’t come to it. But I had some Generals round for a barbecue last month and let me tell you they are HARD for regime change. One of them told me in confidence that they’d cheerfully invade the Cotswolds if it meant the end of “Commander-in-Chief Fuckjumbo and that shower of arriviste shits”. His words, not mine.
Talking of posh, I’m seriously pissed off with the media, who keep unhelpfully calling me “Sir Keir”. Sir Keir doesn’t sound like the sort of guy who’d keep the Red Flag flying anywhere, does he? It’s a bit much when the leader of the Labour Party sounds more aristo than Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. What’s particularly unfair is that I notice more and more journalists, finally tiring of our capricious, dithering arsehole of a prime minister, have started calling him by his surname rather than his clown name. I think I’d be much more appealing as “Starmer”. Imagining an exclamation mark after that. “Starmer!”, sort of like a white “Shaft!” Lady over there to my right, you’d like that too, am I right? Ha ha, no offence love, just banter.
Talking of which, can we stop trying to triangulate policy positions by asking “What Would Twitter Say?” Firstly, who cares what Twitter says? Secondly, we all know what Twitter says, which is “FUCK YOU, BE KIND!” Comrade influencers — social media is not an important forum for the exchange of ideas. It is a mosh pit. It is a primal therapy screaming room. It is a distraction. When I first came into politics, people would stare out of the window or have a cigarette to break up the monotony of their day. Now they scroll through Twitter to find out who’s said hurtful words to whom. Who has “liked” the wrong “tweet”. Can you hear how infantile that sounds? “Hashtag I Stand With…”? NO. Stop “standing”, comrades! You CLAP are CLAP not CLAP in CLAP fucking CLAP HAMILTON! Log off, comrades. Twitter is a bourgeois prison of the mind.
What’s next? Ah yes: ELECTORAL COLLEGE. All that “we’re changing the rules about how we elect a leader”. Soz, just winding up the crypto-Stalinists. As usual. Ha ha Corbyn you peevish, brittle old git. Next…er, NET ZERO. A Green Deal for a Green Britain. Green Jobs for Green Industry. Green Power to a Green People. A Green Future with a Green Economy. Delegate comrades, are we willing to turn Green Platitudes into a Green Reality? Only green time will greenly tell…
Ah yes. THE UNIONS. Protection of workers’ rights has never been more important. OK, maybe it has. But frankly the Starmerist wing of the Party, which has been headed by me, should shut up now and set about strengthening the power of the unions. Closed shops, lightning strikes, bring it on. Oh, and let’s have Clause 4 back, see how Lord Blair of Baghdad likes THAT. If the entire country’s unionised, what could possibly go wrong? In return, unions would be obliged to take their stupid dinosaur heads out of their arses, so fingers crossed. Why do I feel so giddy, comrade delegates? It’s not just the gin.
I’M STANDING DOWN. Oh that paddling pool noise again. Yeah, happy now? I won’t wait until we’re “in power”. I’ll shuffle off this afternoon, so we’ve actually got a shot at being in power. Comrade delegates, I was always only ever a caretaker leader. We just needed a breather after the Corbyn Experiment. Time to hang up my brown coat. Time for a new broom. I don’t want to overstay my welcome, and the earlier I go the more noble I seem. Anyway, I’ve got a LOT of Seizure Paperwork to tackle. So without further ado comrades, I’d like to hand over to Deputy Leader Ange Rayner. Cheers, yes please, ice and a slice love!
Sir Keir Starmer leaves the stage. Ms Angela Rayner addressing Conference:
All right? Yeah, totally endorse what Starmo’s just said there, let’s crack on. You can see what it says on the wall behind, “A NEW LEADERSHIP”, here we go then. Comrade delegates, this is the 21st Century right? Labour has never had a woman leader yeah? Let’s correct that now. Proposal: make the contest for a new leader a women-only shortlist. All those in favour gasp. Motion carried. All are welcome to put themselves forward but don’t get me wrong. One of my best mates ever is Rebecca Long-Bailey, but we’ll never get in if we’re led by that pillock, bless her, with her tiny little face in her mam’s make-up. I, Ange Rayner, am ideal, as I can totally unite the party. Look at my credentials, Conference. Northern, working class, free school meals, pregnant at 16, my life saved by a Sure Start Centre. Remember what administration brought those in? Exactly. I owe a LOT to the Blair years. I speak as I find. Remember how the Tories sneered at my lack of education? Remember? I do. Well now Nadine Dorries — NADINE DORRIES — is Culture Secretary.
Comrade delegates, I commend all this to Conference, here’s to a new beginning, a new leadership, Green Socialism, let me lead us into battle and twat the Tories. Cheers.