X Close

Keir Starmer’s class neurosis The toolmaker's son has a chip on his shoulder

Keir Starmer with his parents (Labour Party)

Keir Starmer with his parents (Labour Party)


June 15, 2024   6 mins

Every morning, at 6.30, Labour’s most senior officials gather at party HQ in Southwark to run through the day ahead. Keir Starmer, who is usually on the road, will dial in if he can. The meeting is chaired by Pat McFadden, the Labour leader’s campaign coordinator, though Morgan McSweeney, Starmer’s most important aide, is ever present. The pair are de facto co-chairs on any matter of importance, often found huddled together away from the pack. This is when all of the most important decisions are taken: where the strategy for the day ahead is debated, the party’s pre-planned messages challenged, rebuttals agreed. The toolmaker’s son is taking no chances.

Afterwards, Starmer and an even smaller coterie speak over the phone to make sure everyone is on the same page. Rachel Reeves, Angela Rayner, Bridget Philipson, David Lammy, Jonathan Reynolds and Wes Streeting are briefed — the core of the most working class cabinet to run Britain since at least the Seventies, and not coincidentally the first to target private schools as its signature policy. Class remains the great, unspoken frame of this election: the knight of the realm with a chip on his shoulder against the second generation child of immigrant doctors fighting a losing battle against the sense that he is simply too rich to understand modern Britain. The UK is not the classless land that Blair prophesised, but that is about as close to British egalitarianism as you can get.

By 9am, all the major decisions at Labour HQ are settled. The rest of the day is implementation. Come 11pm, many of the same figures are still there, preparing to head home for another fitful night’s sleep — only to do it all again the next day. This, then, is the grinding routine of a general election campaign, an unrelenting six-week sprint for power. When I asked one Labour aide how he was feeling this week, he simply replied: “Fucked.” They rarely see their families. McSweeney’s wife is hundreds of miles away, fighting for a seat near Glasgow. Starmer’s children are in school.

But so far, the effort seems to be paying off. Almost all polls put the party on course for a landslide that would make Tony Blair’s majority in 1997 look marginal,  even if Labour is now only on 37%, less than Jeremy Corbyn won in 2017, and neck and neck with the SNP in Scotland. Still, this is the brutal efficiency of first past the post. Such is the projected scale of victory, in fact, that the Conservative Party has even started warning about a potential supermajority, while some analysts have suggested that there is an actual chance that the Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey could become leader of the opposition.

“Class remains the great, unspoken frame of this election.”

Starmer’s critics say the campaign might be hard work, but it doesn’t seem to be doing much — offering voters little, in the hope that hatred of the Tories will be enough. But such a defensive strategy exposes Labour to the charge that it does not have a plan for government, allowing the Conservatives to fill in the blanks over the final few weeks of the campaign — particularly by hyping up the prospect of tax rises to come. This, according to senior Tories, will certainly be their strategy.

Though the manifesto was criticised for saying nothing new, some analysts argued that it gave Starmer a mandate for a “quietly bold” agenda on climate, with more onshore and offshore wind, solar and an end to gas and oil. There is some truth to this, though in reality much of it only builds on what is already under way under the Conservatives. Others tried to argue that the Labour manifesto was potentially as radical as Labour’s in 1945. This is a harder sell. In the depths of post-war austerity and indebtedness, Clement Attlee built the NHS. Today, Starmer is maintaining Tory spending plans.

Yet, to those close to Starmer, the obvious counter is quite simple: look at the polls. The idea at the heart of Labour’s campaign, as it was explained to me, is to establish in the public mind that this six-week period is not something distinct that must be “won”, requiring new tactics and policies and style, but is the culmination of a four-year campaign to persuade the public that they can do better in government than the Tories. A cynic might point out this is not exactly a hard sell. Still, to unveil a whole series of policies — or to even pull one or two “rabbits out of the hat” — would only undermine that overall strategy.

The whole point of Labour’s campaign, as implied by their manifesto, is that the Tories are in a state of constant chaos and so, they believe, their best strategy is to show the exact opposite. “Stability is change”, as Rachel Reeves puts it. Besides, look what happened to Theresa May in 2017 when, as Labour sees it, she took her victory for granted and threw it all away with an ill-thought-through policy designed to be bold: the “dementia tax”. Labour’s unspectacular manifesto launch revealed Starmer’s iron determination to avoid this fate.

Starmer has also displayed an iron determination to manage the revolt on his party’s Left, from politicians such as Diane Abbott and Faiza Shaheen, the rising Corbynista pin-up who hoped to stand for the party in Chingford only to discover at the last minute that she had been blocked for a series of tweets.

There is a visceral hostility felt towards Starmer from this wing of his party. I experienced some of it first-hand at the South Chingford Congregational Church Hall, where I listened as Shaheen’s campaign manager, Mick Moore, whipped up the crowd by raging against the “robots” who have taken over the Labour party and bullied his candidate out of standing for the party. Shaheen, herself, then stood up to fulminate against Labour’s safety-first incrementalism. “For them, politics is about changing the language a little bit and just getting enough to win power,” she declared. “They expect us to blindly tick the red or blue box and it disgusts me.”

Shaheen’s supporters were even angrier. “The Labour party has been hijacked by a gang of liars and crooks,” declared one we met outside. Another, Jeremy Corbyn’s former aide and close ally, Andrew Murray — who now works for the Morning Star — told me Shaheen had been taken out in a “factional drive-by shooting” which would come back to haunt the leadership. “It is an act of gross stupidity.”

With under three weeks to go, however, the Labour campaign could be described as many things, but not stupid. The Tories are continuing to slump after a campaign characterised by some of the most abject prime ministerial blunders imaginable. Meanwhile, the revelation that one of Sunak’s closest parliamentary aides placed a bet on an early election just days before his boss stepped out into the rain in Downing Street has revealed the fatal loss of discipline and seriousness within the party. The Tories simply no longer look like a serious party of government.

Labour MPs, meanwhile, who have grown used to losing elections, can hardly believe it. One told me he remained convinced the Tory vote would rally, but only because he felt that was what should happen. And then came Sunak’s D-Day disaster, provoking “absolute visceral anger”, according to this Labour member of the shadow cabinet. By the end of the week, this same figure told me, almost disbelievingly, there was still no sign of the Tory rally. And yet still he waits, convinced it is coming. It has to — surely?

In contrast, Starmer has shown some new confidence this week. One arch Labour sceptic told me his performance on the Sky News leaders debate on Wednesday, followed by his handling of the manifesto launch, had been a pleasant surprise. The Labour Party’s internal focus groups, conducted by Deborah Mattinson during the debate, were genuinely good, reviving the campaign’s flagging organisers. There is now a genuine belief — perhaps for the first time — that the polls might actually be real; that they might be on the verge of something extraordinary.

While also showing the first signs of confidence, Starmer also showed the first signs of tetchiness during this week’s Sky News “debate” — and once again the issue was class. Starmer’s flash of anger came after the audience groaned when he mentioned — again — that his dad was a tool maker. The Labour leader afterwards explained that he felt protective of his father who had been embarrassed about being a factory worker. Starmer, I’m told, still feels this acutely, and is more animated by questions of class disrespect than anything else. The fact he grew up in a small town in Surrey — Oxted — where the rich and poor lived and studied side by side means that he feels these small class snobberies acutely in a way, perhaps, that those in straightforwardly working-class places did not.

While I do think Starmer overreacted — the audience was not laughing at his dad, but groaning at his repeated mention of him being a tool maker — the important point here is the authenticity of his anger. His reaction revealed a degree of class-consciousness so deeply ingrained in his character, it will necessarily shape the incoming Labour government. It is, as I have written, what shaped his rejection of Blairism. It is why he has persisted with the tax raid on private school fees when he was happy to cast much else aside. And it is what animates him about the green energy revolution: the prize of a re-industrialisation that few experts believe will ever materialise. The toolmaker’s son has his eyes on the prize, driven along by the quiet rage of the slights of his childhood. Class is back in British politics.


Tom McTague is UnHerd’s Political Editor. He is the author of Betting The House: The Inside Story of the 2017 Election.

TomMcTague

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

113 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
David Lindsay
David Lindsay
1 month ago

I have been banned from The Guardian for having posted the following: “Labour is a party of extremely right-wing people who lack the social connections to make it in the Conservative Party, and whose two defining experiences were being brought up to spit on everyone below them, which was everyone else where they grew up, and discovering in their first 36 hours at university that they were nowhere near the top of the class system, a discovery that embittered them for life.”

As in 1997, the frontman does not quite put the lower into lower middle class. Most people would assume the factory and the land to have been in Keir Starmer’s family for 100 years by the time of his birth in 1962, and his Sir to be one of those Victorian or Edwardian industrial baronetcies. After the First World War, those Liberal dynasties went two ways, often within the same family, and the Starmers, it would be supposed, became Fabians. A private school, but not one of those. An Oxbridge degree, if only eventually, although Leeds also has quite a posh side, both as a city and as a university. The Bar, which is always popular with that sort. A constituency named after two Tube stations. It all makes such perfect sense that there is no reason to look too hard.

Howard Clegg
Howard Clegg
1 month ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

I’m saddened to hear that the Guardian is now in the censorship business. But I’m curious about how you draw your conclusions about the right-wingyness of the labour leadership? Do you know them? You sound very certain.

David Lindsay
David Lindsay
1 month ago
Reply to  Howard Clegg

Imagine, just imagine, that a Labour Leader with none of the personal popularity of the early Tony Blair really did deliver a victory beyond Blair’s wildest dreams. I spent most of Blair’s first term at university, constantly being told by the Tory Boys that they had won the argument, and that anyone who disputed that could take it up with the Leader of the Labour Party. They knew a week in advance what was going on in the Government, and that was only at Durham. The ones at Oxbridge must have been writing the legislation. Look over it, and that makes perfect sense. Keir Starmer would be like that, only very much more so.

Later on, when I was still hanging around the place on and off in one capacity or another, they were annoyed about the hunting ban, although not, in policy terms, about anything else. But they always knew that, having been enacted purely in order to buy support for the Iraq War, that ban was never going to be enforced. Even so, in 2005 and 2010, at least one third of Conservative activists were on the campaign trail only because of foxhunting.

What, did you think that they cared about things like hereditary peers? Only the ones who owned nothing but Edwardian clothes and whom you were never quite sure were joking when they said that women should not have the vote. Immediately after the 1997 General Election, the Leadership of their own party had passed to a man who had been advocating the removal of hereditary peers for 20 years. The complete abolition of the House of Lords has been the policy of all main parties ever since. But it will never happen, because the place is too useful for pensioning off MPs in order to replace them with apparatchki.

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
1 month ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

It’s not quite a chip on your shoulder, it’s a potato farm and rapeseed field.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 month ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

I find your comments let’s put it interesting! The idea that labour is full of extremely right-wing people is a somewhat bizarre sui generous definition of right-wing I would say!

The country has the highest levels of tax and spending since the post-war period so scarcely a night watchman state. As for House of Lords reform – the problem is, exactly as with Brexit that you can easily oppose the House of Lords as it’s currently constituted, but you need to get a consensus that will get through Parliament on what will replace it. That’s been the problem for over a hundred years. An upper chamber that in essence just replicates the House of Commons will either be redundant or possibly provoke conflict with it – but without doubt make the political system even more dominated by professional politician than it already is.

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 month ago
Reply to  Howard Clegg

Now? You must be joking.
It was always like this.
New Statement was better till Brexit Derangment kicked in.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

The Grauniad always censors anything that either supports the right or criticised the left.
Usually getting someone like the ghastly Owen Jones to Rottweiler them in his column, or, saying someone’s post breaches their guidelines.
I used to read it for balance a couple of years ago; but it has become so toxically biased, I had to stop.

Reed Howe
Reed Howe
1 month ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

I stopped reading it for balance, decades ago.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 month ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

D—— cheek, if you ask me. If you crawl on your stomach maybe the epicene Guardian lot will take you back. Or find some other use for you in that position.

Fiona Rackstraw
Fiona Rackstraw
1 month ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

I can downvote – which I did not want to do- but not upvote – which I did! The first para is spot on about all the Labour voters I met at university!

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
1 month ago

Unfortunately the tool he is making with green energy will not work.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 month ago
Reply to  Bret Larson

Having learned their lesson, the Germans are back to burning coal.

Benedict Waterson
Benedict Waterson
1 month ago
Reply to  Bret Larson

Unfortunately one of the tools made by his Dad was Keir Starmer

j watson
j watson
1 month ago

Generally someone who has a ‘chip on their shoulder’ tends to be quick to anger. No sense Starmer has that reflex. There is also no sense he personally feels he’s been badly treated, although v clearly he got to top of his profession, and now in politics too, on merit and not via advantage.
One thing I like about him is his dislike of the snobbery his Father felt subjected to. Who isn’t partly formed by what they witness in their parents? Now many UnHerd Regulars argue too much credence is placed on a University education and qualification whilst apprenticeships and ‘trades’ are deemed inferior. Starmer feels that as well because he saw it in his Father’s experience. We’ll have to see how it translates if he takes power but it’s an attitude many of us share.

Jo Jo
Jo Jo
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

Now being reported his father actually owned the toolmaking business. Maybe it’s even true?

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 month ago
Reply to  Jo Jo

He was a political comissar in the Workers Brigade.

j watson
j watson
1 month ago
Reply to  Jo Jo

A business of one person, himself. He never had employees as such. Period of self employment being sent orders for specific tools. He set up a workshop and worked alone. This was after the companies he worked for closed. KS helped him part-time and apparently learnt to use a Lathe. Something one suspects Rishi never done?

glyn harries
glyn harries
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

I’m not a fan of Starmer as an individual, I think he is dishonest, and believe his constant reference to his parents occupations is being used to disguise his place in the establishment, but I would have thought UnHerd commentators would love that his father not only made things – UnHerders always profess to back the makers over the PMC – but that even better, surely, he then became self-employed!

Chris J
Chris J
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

Other indications such as his parents owning their home, would put Starmers background as lower middle class rather than working class as he claims.

Chris J
Chris J
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

Where did you get this information. I have not found anything saying that he worked alone.

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

Starmer is disgraceful creature.
BLM kneeler who served in traitor Corbyn shodow cabinet.
He can not even tell what woman is.
Labour has no real policies (not that Conservatives have any sensible ones) and very soon country will find out.
Apart from allowing 16 years old morons and non citizens to vote.

j watson
j watson
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew F

You’re a fan then?

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 month ago

The author misspelled “de-industrialisation”.

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
1 month ago

I was at school with KS. I don’t remember the slightest trace of class snobbery there, even after the school ceased to be a grammar school in 1976 andthe first intakes of fee paying kids began arriving. If he is chippy – and I don’tthink he is actually – he didn’t get that from being sneered at at school.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nash

I don’t remember the slightest trace of class snobbery there

Class snobbery doesn’t always manifest itself explicitly as such. My background is far poorer than Starmers, but I also went to a grammar school. Snobbery tended not to be directly about class. It was about clothes, whether you could afford the school cruise, the people your parents knew, who they voted for, the newspaper they read, whether you lived in a council house.

One of my early experiences was the glee the headmaster took in announcing the results of a sixth form mock election. Labour got one vote and were roundly mocked. My parents voted Labour. In an English lesson we all had to bring in the newspaper our families read, so we could carry an exercise comparing the actual content to the amount of space that went on pictures and headlines. I brought in the Sun and was roundly mocked for it.

The standard view of many teachers, and certainly the headmaster, as well as many of the pupils was that working class people were simply stupid. The headmaster even made direct comments to me which assumed my clothes would not be regularly washed. While the old fogey running careers described any ambitions my parents might have for me as “wanting me to be something better”.

Some of the pupils changed radically on leaving home and school. But I’m sure plenty of the others would tell you they encountered no class snobbery at the school.

I should add that my experience at University was very different. A difference, in my view, between the lower and upper middle classes.

Nick Faulks
Nick Faulks
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

What is a school cruise?

Mark Phillips
Mark Phillips
1 month ago
Reply to  Nick Faulks

As a lad in the 60s and some of the 70s schools used to offer cruises/trips coupled with lessons during the holidays. SS Uganda was one of, I think, two ships that did this.It was used for bringing troops back from the Falklands after the war. Lovely old fashioned bridge on her. Lots of brass and wood to make poor soldiers very nervous.

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark Phillips

SS Nevasa – a decommissioned navy ship.

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 month ago
Reply to  Nick Faulks

Must be popular activity in public schools.
Unherd should commission Boris Johnson to write about it.

0 0
0 0
1 month ago
Reply to  Nick Faulks

Not restricted to private education. When I was at state school, the offer to go on a school cruise was available every year, as Mark Phillips explains. As David Morley says the inability to take up that opportunity was one of the benchmarks of your parent/parents poverty.

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
1 month ago
Reply to  Nick Faulks

Something Surrey Countil Council provided and my parents paid ÂŁ136 so I could have the most amazing trip, including Egypt and Israel.

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

Statistical reality is, and definitely was long time ago when working class was much greater percentage of the population, that average working class person is stupid (like in having lower IQ).
IQ distribution is what it is in all societies ever tested.
What Grammar Schools did was to provide chance for clever kids from working class background to progress.
Labour killed this tool of social mobility, while sending their kids, like Dianne Abbott, to fee paying or selective schools (like Blairs with London Oratory).
I don’t have kids, but I was always puzzled why left in uk thinks that selection by house prices is better than selection by ability?
There was always selection at schools in communist countries.

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

That never happened at the Grammars I attended, I can assure you.

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nash

Isn’t the irony that when Grammar schools were abolished, Starmer was funded to continue at Reigate Grammar free of charge.
Grammars were one of the most important upwardly mobile vehicles for bright kids without affluent parents. It was pure folly to close off that route. It didn’t improve state schools and neither will taxing private schools today.

Howard Clegg
Howard Clegg
1 month ago

I’m mystified as to why people project so much onto Starmer. In this online age we are convinced that we know someone, really know someone, just based on their public persona. This is nonsense, he’s over fifty and has done lots. He has probably overcome all kinds of problems in ways that were unique to his particular journey. And what a journey. Running our legal system so well he got a knighthood for his trouble. Taming the Labour party enough to win an election in 4+ years for example? An astounding achievement, showing us that he is ruthless and has balls of steel, if nothing else. We know this not because of who we see on the telly and what he’s said on socials but by the simple fact that it happened.

Does he have a chip on his shoulder? Maybe. Who hasn’t? Who cares? You don’t get to fifty-plonk and not accumulate baggage, it’s baked in.

I’m sure he is a nuanced person just by virtue of his journey. But the modern media landscape does not do nuance. Therefore we would be naive to have any illusions about knowing him. Maybe chippy, and a bit boring and a bit conservative is what they want us to see. After the last 8 years of bat-shit crazy i’ll settle for that possibility. Especially since I know he’ll stick the knife in when he needs to, unlike Ms May or Boz or Liz or heaven help us Little Rishi, poor Lamb. Halle-f*****g-lujah

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
1 month ago
Reply to  Howard Clegg

I believe the DPP always gets a knighthood; it is status, not merit, based and is no reflection of performance.
The difficulty I have with Starmer is his reaction to the Referendum result. All parties stated they would abide by the result, then proceeded to try to overturn it.
Corbyn, of course, specifically stated he would not seek a second Referendum in his first general election…and damaged May fatally. In his second general election, he foolishly went along with Starmer’s second Referendum stance…and lost. Of course, Bojo the Clown thought he personally had created his big majority when the reality was that Farage did by standing down his candidates to get Brexit done.
Then there were the totally false accusations of anti-semitism against Corbyn, which Starmer was happy to go along with for his own advantage. Corbyn is anti Israel’s stance to a Palestinian state…not anti Semitic.
In short, Starmer seems a fairly typical politician, whose aim is personal advancement, not advancement and prosperity for the country as a whole.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 month ago

This article misses the point. What’s striking about the Labour leadership is not their class background, but the fact that not one of them has ever been within 100 miles of the coalface. This is a party of apparatchiks with zero grasp of what is needed to revive prosperity in Britain.

God help us.

Howard Clegg
Howard Clegg
1 month ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Nonsense, Angela Rayner was a single mum and a care worker. That is the modern day coalface.

William Edward Henry Appleby
William Edward Henry Appleby
1 month ago
Reply to  Howard Clegg

And Starmer was the head of the CPS. White collar work, to be sure, but not politics.

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
1 month ago

Really? You consider that politics plays no part in prosecution policy and the head of the CPS is immune to it?
I believe there are a number of girls, now women, in Northern towns who likely hold a different view…and of course their class status played no part whatever in prosecution decisions…

William Edward Henry Appleby
William Edward Henry Appleby
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

The police and social services are the ones responsible for investigating and bringing the evidence to the CPS for prosecution, it was they that failed those girls. Misogyny, class prejudice and politically (in)correct sensitivity also played their parts.

William Cameron
William Cameron
1 month ago

Not quite . There is plenty of evidence of the Labour Council and the CPS not pursuing these matters.

William Edward Henry Appleby
William Edward Henry Appleby
1 month ago
Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 month ago

When Anne Cryer MP and Sarah Champion MP this issue up they were villified by tbe Labour Party.
Ann Cryer – Wikipedia

William Edward Henry Appleby
William Edward Henry Appleby
1 month ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Yes, that may be true, but you are now deflecting from the original criticism of Keir Starmer.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 month ago

The events took place over many years in Labour run constituencies where many councillors, MPs, teachers, social workers, doctors, local government employees, etc are member of the Labour Party and nobody knew anything. If Labour knew nothing in their constituencies how are they going to defeat the Russian, Iranian and Chinese intelligence operations in this country ?
A captain of ship is held responsible for any actions taken or not taken by the crew. It would appear that in the UK any manager can use the excuse ” I did not know “.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 month ago

You don’t get much more apparatchik than working at the CPS. We need people who know how to create wealth, not just how to spend it.

William Edward Henry Appleby
William Edward Henry Appleby
1 month ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

We need people to uphold the law and prosecute criminals too, unfortunately.

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
1 month ago

But Starmer didn’t

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 month ago

Starmer had to know about the Muslim grooming gangs when he ran the CPS. Why was he missing in action?

William Edward Henry Appleby
William Edward Henry Appleby
1 month ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll
Nick Faulks
Nick Faulks
1 month ago

Almost entirely politics.

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
1 month ago

He was famous for not prosecuting criminals when in charge of the Department of Public Prosecutions. You’re telling us that wasn’t politically motivated? Of course it was.

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
1 month ago

Who appoints the head of the DPP?

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 month ago
Reply to  Howard Clegg

What!? We need people who know how to create wealth, not just how to spend it.

joseph wilson
joseph wilson
1 month ago
Reply to  Howard Clegg

Are you trying to insult the coalface or are you having a joke. Angela Raynor has no place in this discussion, she belongs to a class of grabbers, she is in it for all she can grab and then she is gone, without a thought for you or me.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 month ago
Reply to  Howard Clegg

I think you should learn more about the deaths and those who were crippled working in the coal mines.
Coalmining Accidents and Deaths – Vanilla Circus – Maps, Poems and Searchable Databases for Mining in the UK (cmhrc.co.uk)

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
1 month ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

So why was Thatcher vilified for shutting down mines That vilification looks stupid now.

General Store
General Store
1 month ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Yeh – frankly who gives a crap. They are pretty much the same as the Tories. We will get global liberalism, open borders, gender-woo woo, baby-buying, race-baiting and a continual attack on Britain, the West and Judeo-Christian values…..YUCK

0 0
0 0
1 month ago
Reply to  General Store

You got it.

Mark M Breza
Mark M Breza
1 month ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Is England ready to hang Holly on the Valance !o!
Gosh they say a Pop star runs the place now
and it ain’t Spice .
Ah gotta love British Comedy

joseph wilson
joseph wilson
1 month ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

I believe the writer has Starmer all wrong. Starmer was the rich kid sitting in that class room. His old man was a factory owner, employed a few of the villagers no doubt. Starmer is upper middle class at least.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 month ago
Reply to  joseph wilson

Starmer is a middle class Trot.
It was described by the left wing magazine Chartist as “the human face of the hard left”.[7] Peter Hitchens described Socialist Alternative’s “preoccupation with sexual politics and green issues” as presaging the politics of all today’s major British politicians.
Middle class Trots are usually despised by tough rugby league playing practical patriotic blue collar workers in heavy industry. If Starmer had wnted to be working class he would have played rugby League while at Leeds University.
Hitchens is an ex Trot.

Rob Britton
Rob Britton
1 month ago

Kier Starmer is a bit of a tool himself, so his dad was a tool maker in more ways than one!

Malcolm Webb
Malcolm Webb
1 month ago

His failure will be centred on his green energy delusion. Nothing much about class warfare in that. In fact it will be working class revolt which will begin to expose the enormity of the folly.

Richard Hopper
Richard Hopper
1 month ago

My father was apprenticed as a machine toolmaker in Birmingham and my mother was a State Registered Nurse. Just like Keir Starmer. Except my dad really made machine tools and never owned a factory.

j watson
j watson
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard Hopper

He owned a workshop staffed by one – himself.
Another one finding it painful that perhaps Starmer’s backstory much more balanced than the mythology the Right wants to paint.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

In Surrey there are many advanced manufacturing companies a result of car and aircraft production. If Starmer’s father was making bespoke parts because of his skills, he would have a good living.

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
1 month ago

Yeah, he does. He and his oft-petit liberal bourgeois clan think that the Tories are haut bourgeois and so harbour a great deal of class-based ressentiment which they transpose to their public sector-voters as a hatred of social conservatism and Euroscepticism.
And in effect, social climbing for them will be aping the Democrats, who are sort of corporate haut bourgeois in that slightly different American sense.

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
1 month ago

As a self employed skilled worker doing rather well presumably Starmer Senior was ideal Thatcher fodder.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

You hit the nail on the head saw through something that is plain obvious. A point that needs hammering home. What else might we find if we drill down and chisel away at his back story?

j watson
j watson
1 month ago

Quite a bit you might benefit from AP. And as regards MCs point – he did go self employed after Thatcher’s neo-liberalism decimated the industry he’d worked in and he never forgot that.
Starmer knows all about hard work. You don’t go from his background to Director of the Crown Prosecution Service without it. Now of course the Right likes to peddle the Lefty Lawyer meme too, but this is the guy who defended Private Clegg and got him acquitted. Much of the Right wing press hates him because he allowed the prosecutions regarding phone tapping that followed the Millie Dowler outrage. This fella got probably got the most rounded backstory of any PM in recent memory.

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

And surely that was the point of “Thatcherism”? Industries which were loss making were closed and individuals could “get on” by hard work and selling their skills, in this, and many cases by self employment.
Indeed I doubt Starmer Senior would be looked down on by Thatcher herself…he was exactly what she admired. Also I have no doubt whatsoever he would be sneered at by the traditional Tory “rulers” as was Thatcher herself.

Mark Phillips
Mark Phillips
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

Where do you get the information that he defended Lee Clegg and got him acquitted?
If you suck up to the right people, say the right things at the right time, and keep your head below the parapet, then you will go far. Merit is very seldom the case among those in charge.

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark Phillips

Your second paragraph is spot on.

j watson
j watson
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark Phillips

You heard of Google MP? Just look it up. He was the defence lawyer for Clegg. He worked also with the Police Service of Northern Ireland post GFA. V respected by them.
Painful isn’t it to suddenly find the picture you’d bought into not quite the case. Moral of the story – be aware of when you are being played.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

Was he not a junior member of the defence team, so more Liz Probert than Horace Rumpole? Interestingly, he was also associated with the Haldane Group of lawyers who supported a united Ireland, but seems keen to play that down these days.

j watson
j watson
1 month ago

Britsh Govt policy via the GFA – if a majority in NI vote for it then unification is ok. And yourself?

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

I would distinguish between accepting the outcome of referenda to resolve a situation, should they be held, and being associated with an organisation that supported a particular outcome in said situation.

William Cameron
William Cameron
1 month ago

Millionaire (tick) Knight of realm (tick) Huge personally arranged pension from the state (tick) North London(Tick) Parents owned a business/ factory (tick) Went to fee paying school (tick)
Seems ideal to represent the workers.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
1 month ago

Please stop using the term ‘supermajority’ which has no meaning in a UK context where a majority of one is sufficient to pass any bill or motion in the House. In the US Senate some business needs a two thirds majority to pass so when a single party has this number it is known as a ‘supermajority’ since it won’t require cross-party support. The term you want is LANDSLIDE, good enough in 1906, 1945, 1983, 1997 and good enough in 2024. Thank you.

Reed Howe
Reed Howe
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin Smith

Word fascism.

Ernesto Candelabra
Ernesto Candelabra
1 month ago

Can anyone explain to me what an “agenda on climate” is?

james elliott
james elliott
1 month ago

” Can anyone explain to me what an “agenda on climate” is? ”

Yes.

An attempt to bankrupt entire nations by extremely rich folk who want to be extremely richer folks.

The scam, in essence, is to persuade people to accept taking trillions of dollars from their tax revenue and giving it to people like Bill Gates and entities like Black Rock who promise to use it to *fight* weather and climactic changes that have been going on since literally the beginning of time.

Politicians, of course, earn kickbacks on this and the majority population sinks deep into dire poverty.

That is the ‘climate agenda’.

It is a scam, as any sensible person can instantly understand.

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
1 month ago

Well, a whole string of comments has disappeared…now isn’t that unusual for comments on Unherd…the value of the site as a forum for discussion diminishes further…

David Graham
David Graham
1 month ago

It’s all the uniclass nowadays. The neo-imperial autocrats telling the diversity what to think and do. The strain on pretending otherwise breaks through under questioning.

kate Dunlop
kate Dunlop
1 month ago

A pearl of wisdom from the mouth of a labour activist – “The Labour party has been hijacked by a gang of liars and crooks.”
ï»żThese are dangerous people who will immiserate the British and lay waste to our heritage – just like their Conservative predecessors…

Alice Devitt
Alice Devitt
1 month ago

Excellent-gets Starmer. NOT New Lab!

Penny Rose
Penny Rose
1 month ago

But he was only a tool maker’s son in the sense that the factory his father owned made tools. That sounds pretty middle class to me.

j watson
j watson
1 month ago
Reply to  Penny Rose

Groan…a workshop in which the sole employee was himself.
Whether one considers that Working or Middle Class separate debate. Clear what his Father thought he was.

Penny Rose
Penny Rose
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

So why is his father quoted as saying that between school and university his son worked in ‘my factory’ rather than my workshop? Implies it was a bit bigger than a one man band.

j watson
j watson
1 month ago
Reply to  Penny Rose

His father has been dead for number of years PR. But why not just go and do a bit of quick research screening out publications that clearly want to distort and you’ll quickly find he worked alone.

Chris J
Chris J
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

You mean he identified as working class so everyone must believe it.

Richard Rolfe
Richard Rolfe
1 month ago

Assuming the expected Labour landslide, I propose that July 4 in future should be a public holiday in celebration: Toolmakers Day.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard Rolfe

Let’s cut to the chase: how about Tools Day?

Reed Howe
Reed Howe
1 month ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

How about “Parasites Paradise Day”?

Richard Hopper
Richard Hopper
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard Rolfe

Toolmaker’s Day! I’m in! Without tools nothing gets made.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 month ago

Mr. Hudson and the Downstairs crowd knew their place as did the Lord Call Me Dave toffs of the time. The occasional housemaid pregnancy changed nothing. And then the wars came, the real ones.

0 0
0 0
1 month ago

Your previous article about McSweeney was good, whereas this is lightweight. As you explained before, Starmer and Labour Together take Britain’s class differences seriously where Blair didn’t. They intend to govern in the interests of all working people and address the problems of those who rightly feel they’ve not been treated fairly fir a while. That’s not anti Business or even anti Toff but it is going to change things to right the balance. Not so much by redistributuon (apart from that implied by good public services) as by changing the rules of the game to curb the unjustified entirlemi accorded those who happen to possess wealth at any time. Society shouldn’t and needn’t be run for their unique benefit. As we’ve seen, that just hasn’t worked.

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 month ago
Reply to  0 0

You are naive beyond belief.
Starmer is not going to represent real working people.
He represent parasites of taxpayers funded jobs, immigrants and benefit scroungers.
Add to that transgender and DEI agenda and green Net Zero nonsense and the country is finished.
It is not to say that so called “Conservatives” did not follow similar policies.
They are both just different side of the same globalisation coin.

Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
1 month ago

I would say that any politician who’s working at 6:30 in the morning ought to be jailed, just on general principle.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
1 month ago

Why oh why are the hapless 75% Windfall Taxing 25% Corp Taxing Savings + Dividend Taxing Fake Tories still making Labour’s tax rises the focus of their campaign?? It cannot EVER cut through!! Starmer is a knee bending human right identitarian progressive zealot, not a class warrior. He is – sotto voce but openly – promising more race hate ‘equality’, a blasphemy clampdown on comments on Islamism and de facto curbs on free speech, more ill considered liberal trans legislation, a Palestinian State while Hamas hold Gaza, Votes for Children, more Birmingham CV style gender equality anarchy and zero defence of our open borders from illegal people smuggling. The undemocratic permanent Progressive State will be reinforced and toxic wokery completely swamp all institutions. Yet we are hearing none of this. The Tories must turn their guns on the impending escalation of the culture war urgently, at least to half awaken the naive disinterested public to their fate.

j watson
j watson
1 month ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

As opposed to a small increase in interest charged by the BoE on overnight commercial bank holdings? Hey presto a large Investment fund. And context – look at many commercial Banks balance sheets at the mo – generally healthy and thus they can absorb it.
Watch and learn.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

Groan. As ever, the first thought of those hostile to free enterprise is to launch punitive tax raids.. .just like the clown Brown did to banks and with his devastating raid on pension funds divi tax relief in 1997. Result?? The nation’s savings habit has been brutalised, with final salary pensions purged from the private sector, and further insane accountings regulations ensured it has never recovered. The idea of Labours intellectually thin ranks of local councillors and charity workers running a new energy company and a national wealth fund is too silly to contemplate. I note Rach also trumpets and salivates over the vast guaranteed windfall profits from our threatened oil and gas industry..and half million workers. Maybe try and look at Shell and BP accounts just a few years ago when they went billions into the red when the oil price collapsed. You Rachel and Keir are being shifty and clueless. Securinomics…its all empty word soup. We will watch and learn for 5 miserable years why this already unloved win be default alliance of cobwebbed socialists, public sector mediocrities and new identitarian zealots should never be handed the levers of power.

j watson
j watson
1 month ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

So against a small interest rate increase to Commercial Banks and Bankers for the security of overnight BoE holdings backed by the taxpayer WM. I’m not entirely surprised. Your missives all about protecting the v Rich.

j watson
j watson
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

And as it transpires 24hrs later guess who’s had the same idea? Yep Reform!
Now it’ll be fun to see the Unherd regulars wriggle away from this howler of an idea.

Benedict Waterson
Benedict Waterson
1 month ago

Was his Dad really a tool maker?

Richard Calhoun
Richard Calhoun
1 month ago

#DisruptLibLabConGrn
#DisruptGE2024
#VoteReform

0 0
0 0
1 month ago

It makes no matter who you vote for. Pity you lot. Except for reform.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago

Another article based on the Starmers father was a working man tool maker. Starmers father owned the factory he worked in

R S Foster
R S Foster
1 month ago

…I was at the University of Leeds a handful of years before the (likely) PM, and briefly involved in student politics as Treasurer of the University Liberal Club (the old pre-SDP version)…and in that context I find Sir Keirs chippiness particularly odd…in that at that time and in that place a tall, dark, handsome toolmakers son with a light regional accent and (very) left-wing politics…
…had vastly more social cachet than any dreary old-fashioned middle-class “Liberal”…much less the few Tories brave enough to own-up (mostly the Rugby Club and Engineers, who could fight…and did, if provoked)…
…on any boozy night in the Union, his chances of getting free beer, being gifted top-notch dope and getting enthusiastically laid by the deeply ashamed posh types (of any “gender” you’d care to name)…whose family chauffeur dropped them off in a Bentley at their own flat, having driven them up from the country pile in the Home Counties, or the town house in Mayfair at the beginning of term.
It perhaps says something about the chap in question that he didn’t leave Leeds with a slight drink problem, a minor cocaine habit and an urgent need for penicillin..! Acquired from the offspring of a Belted Earl at the post-Graduation weekend party in somebody or others shooting lodge in the Pennines…
…but I’m genuinely struggling as to why he did leave with his curious anxiety about his class origins…it all feels much more nineteen-fifties than nineteen-eighties…

James Kirk
James Kirk
1 month ago

I’d be very surprised if anyone here is familiar with tools never mind the skill involved in making them. Also university was free in those days. i have no time for Starmer, I voted heartily for Boris to see the Labour Party wiped off the face of the Earth, little good that did me but I don’t see what a Dad did, or didn’t do is relevant and nor should it influence the voter.

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
1 month ago

The politics of envy tanked Britain ‘the sick man of Europe’ in the late 60s and early 70s. That’s what Labour’s headline policies (and the plans they aren’t announcing before the election) are about. It’s self-defeating of course. Humans need incentives to achieve. Socialism is proven to be levelling down. Starmer is a Socialist and a manipulator of the experienced and the gullible.
Sky News is nowadays only watched by left wing people, so their poll isn’t representative.