How Keir Starmer can beat Boris
His pro-flag, law and order approach is proving popular with the public
It’s become a cliché to say that the sweet spot in British politics is Left on economics and Right on culture. As Labour have become the party of metropolitan middle class professionals and downwardly mobile graduates, and the Conservatives depend on their newly-constructed Red Wall to maintain their decade-long hold on power, it’s only natural that Britain’s political allegiances are in flux, and party leaders are scrabbling to catch up .
So while it doesn’t come as a surprise that the Conservatives are striking out on formerly Leftist economic terrain, with Boris Johnson channelling Roosevelt’s New Deal (after assuring the party faithful that he is not, in fact, a communist) and Michael Gove quoting Gramsci, the other side of the equation shouldn’t be ignored.
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Wading headlong into the latest US-imported culture war, Keir Starmer called Black Lives Matter’s demands for police abolition “nonsense” and underlined that “nobody should be saying anything about defunding the police.”
“I was director of public prosecutions for five years,” Starmer reminded voters via BBC Breakfast, “I’ve worked with police forces across England and Wales bringing thousands of people to court, so my support for the police is very, very strong.” For many voters unsettled by the past few weeks of political disorder on London’s streets, Starmer’s no-nonsense dismissal of the latest American fads will be reassuring, particularly given the government’s seeming inability to maintain order even at the gates of Downing Street itself.
Considering that in his previous life as DPP Starmer actively courted the opprobrium of the liberal Left for his stiff and rapidly accelerated sentencing guidelines for rioters, the government should be perturbed. The Home Secretary may give stern soundbites on law and order issues, but her inability to see the law actually enforced on Britain’s streets is a bad omen for the government. Can Starmer outflank them on the Right?
After all, Starmer’s made some dramatic moves in recent days staking out a position on the deepest plane of conservatism: that of simple, gut-level common sense. Sacking a shadow minister for retweeting an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory and firmly tying Labour’s patriotic colours to the mast through a newfound appreciation of the armed forces, Starmer’s signalling that the Corbyn era’s over, and his rapid climb up the polls shows the public likes it.
On foreign policy too, Starmer’s Labour are emerging as China hawks, reminding voters that, through “naivety and negligence…Cameron and Osborne rolled out the red carpet for Beijing, and they got precious little in return.” After all, it’s through its naive faith in free market liberalism that the Conservative party endangered Britain’s security, Stephen Kinnock wrote recently: “We’ve allowed a state-run Chinese company to build Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, and the government has given Huawei a role in building our 5G infrastructure – to the horror of our ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence partners.”
With Covid too, the government hasn’t covered itself in glory, acting too late to close the borders and playing catch-up ever since. If Starmer can convince the electorate that he’s simply more competent than the Conservatives, can enforce law and order, defend and maintain the police and armed forces and ensure Britain’s security in a newly dangerous world, then he’ll be beating the Tories on what should be their home ground. “The first duty of any government is to keep its people safe,” Starmer pointedly remarked in a video last week. Boris Johnson will do well to remember that before it’s too late.
On top of that, Starmer is reforming the Labour Party, seems to have distanced himself from the Progressive Alliance, to the consternation of rejoiners, and looks to be taking on the unions.
However ðŸ˜Š, Starmer and the Labour Party as a whole are not the same beast, and certainly in my more working class feeds, Starmer will need to be picking off colour identitarian MPs from his front bench and ensure that they will never be there again.
Similarly, he will need to take on institutions like the liberally biased BBC and other commentators who have severed trust in the branding of the ‘Left’ in order to renew confidence in the ‘Left’.
Lastly, he will need manifesto ideas and programmes that can distinguish Blue Labour from Red Toryism which will need to build upon the Tory redevelopment successes or failures within the provinces.
Meanwhile, what of the disenchanted Tory libertarian right ðŸ˜Š
I’m a regular Tory voter (and former party member) but agree very much with the “Left on the economy and Right on culture” view. I’m reasonably happy with current taxation and would pay more for better healthcare as long as that was where the money actually went and reforms were applied to the NHS. I would support nationalisation of infrastructure like the utilities, as long as they were de-unionised.
But any government that lets people riot in the streets is dead to me – simple as that. I want criminals (particularly perpetrators of burglary and violence against the person) to be jailed for years – no ifs, no buts, and no early release. I also want those who commit corporate malfeasance, naughty bankers, asset strippers etc., to be punished with a decade or more of very hard time in jail.
I don’t think I am alone in this view. I’ll pay well, for an orderly and civilized environment. But if a government allows people to intimidate others in the streets, destroy public property, or ruin peoples pension funds, finances, and therefore their lives, then that government is absolutely failing its people and will not get my vote again until it shows it is entirely reformed
I have been horrified and shocked beyond measure at the lax and uncaring response to the recent riots and vandalism of our monuments, and the acquiescence of police and politicians to the mob of Left wing anarchists sailing under the BLM (UK) flag of convenience, particularly as it was always perfectly obvious that this is what they really are.
Boris is skating on very thin ice which is cracking under his weight. And what the hell happened to our “hardliner” home secretary? Sarmer may well look pleased – the Tories are making his case for him with ehrie neglect of our safety and security.
Starmer is trying to emulate Labour from the past so momentum = militant and I am sure he will have some pointless symbolic clause 4 moment.
Boris needs to point out that what new labour did was talk a good game but actually just enriched him and his friends at our expense, did really dodgy PFI deals, ramped banking and then bailed them out with tax payer funds and finally put his people in positions of power.
So “moderate” labour are just as corrupt and disastrous as extreme labour would be its just more two faced and stealthy.
Cameron knew nothing of cronysim, right? Two sides of the same coin, m’dear… :-/
Interesting article. I still think Starmer will have big problems going forward controlling his Shadow Cabinet, the Unions and Momentum. I think in the absence of good leadership from Boris et al he’s jumped into the vacuum, and is saying the right things although, I do think it is easy to say these things when in opposition and when he doesn’t have to make real decisions. I think 4 years plus from the next election there’s a long way to go before people might actually vote for Starmer… one things for certain, Boris needs to get a grip. Whilst much of what he wants to do may be about radical changes as espoused by Dominic Cummings, I do think he’s engaging in Groupthink and, needs to introduce people in Cabinet who disagree or at least present alternative viewpoints….. good leadership doesn’t include promoting a ‘self licking ice cream’ culture.
One could say that the standard of journalism and journalists in print and digital media has contributed to the decline in public standards – but then journalists always see themselves as the solution, not the problem. A typical polemic from someone who worked for two of the worst governments I have had to live under – Cameron’s and May’s. The rot started under Blair (and Campbell) and it has just got worse.
One only has to look at the ‘gotcha’ journalism lately.
The problem with politics is most politicians don’t give their honest views. Thanks got for the likes of Farage and Trump who do.
A problem that I encounter a lot in my online activism, which is predominantly policy orientated rather than tribal, is the shocking lack of empathy that is demonstrated by people who either seem unwilling or too sociopathic to imagine actually being an elected politician and more so, regarding being an appointed Leader of a ruling party.
Consequently, instead of empathy, all I predominantly hear is the tremendous noise of expectations and the inevitable criticisms that follow when those expectations are unfulfilled.
That said, for me, the single most important reason why democratic politics is failing us is because more recent generations don’t actually understand how democracy works when applied for the benefit of a Nation as a whole. This in my opinion is a direct result of EU membership whereby member states have effectively been reduced to predominantly managing the EU Treaties.
Hence, democratically elected politicians are reduced to managers of the EU State apparatus and consequently, the “politics changes nothing, politicians are only in it for themselves and their mates” cynicism is taken to a whole new level of disenfranchisement.
The reality is that we are still within the managerial grip of the EU Treaties so hopefully when we finally leave the EU single market, democratic pluralism can be resumed and rather than narrow liberal minded acquiescence to the EU Treaties, we can begin the journey of widening our democratic minds to a much broader range of possibilities.
The only asset Starmer will have will be the economic mess that is being created.
He is far to wet to be a real leader. He cant even say what his position on reopening schools is, a bit like the LP’s Brexit position when he was the Brexit spokesman.
Add to that he cant control the left and you are not left with much to like
Politics has become way too important. Controlling the political machine has become a matter for full-time specialists, who are mostly unelected anyway. Their allegedly democratically elected “masters” have no real power over the juggernaut.
The sleazy qualities needed to get to the levers of power (and stay there) are highly undesirable in people exercising it. One of the paradoxes of our system.
The only real solution is to pare back government responsibility to defence and the establishment of the rule of law. All power to do favours must be removed. That will remove the incentive for rent-seeking parasites (who now dominate) to go into politics.
People often confuse laws (statutes) with “the rule of law”. The opposite is usually the case. The Soviet Union had no shortage of laws (often contradictory). The only redeeming feature of the system was the possibility of bribing an official to get through the morass. Hardly the rule of law!
With limited government, tinkering with legislation could be rare, and our representatives could safely be part-time legislators. Then you would attract real people of calibre.
The public has repeatedly shown it wants to elect as PM someone who comes over as a sensible grown up. Boris won that easily by comparison to Corbyn but Starmer is coming over quite positively, am I’m not a natural Labour voter.
It’s a bit depressing that him calling our the dangerous policies of the “Black Life Matters” leadership whilst supporting the the impossible-to-deny principle that black lives do indeed matter and some things need to change is seen as statesmanlike. But compared to what we’re seeing from many “leaders” it comes over that way. (Of course in some ways it’s easier for someone on the centre left to make these sensible points without being accused of facism…)
No conviction and cultural Marxism. Those are the issues.
I am not convinced by Starmer at all, and I do not know anyone who is. He has no presence, no gravitas, and he is weak, and hypocritical.
His stance on the schools opening has been to support the Government, or so he says, yet his trade unions still put obstacles in the way of it happening. Of course, had it been that his own children were missing a large part of their education, he might feel differently, but of course, they have not been affected.
Then, there was the BLM issue. That a Leader of the Opposition ‘took the knee’ in a salute to the neo-Marxist organisation was quite shocking, and the fact he is now back-pedalling in an effort to distance himself from them is quite telling.
The immediate sacking of Rebecca Long-Bailey just proved to me that he was looking for a way to get her out, as she was the favourite and most far-Left of the Corbynistas. She gave him the perfect opportunity and, he took it. The saga of the anti-Semitism in the Labour Party is well known and rife, however, I never once heard him complain about it while he was in Corbyn’s shadow Cabinet.
Keir Starmer will do what is right for Keir Starmer, make no mistake.
I agree that “taking the knee” has massively punctuated any idea that Starmer is forensic. He’s a will o’ the wisp dithering, deliberating and “Doh” ing when caught out. He really has no idea at all what he wants to do with and for the Labour party – it’s a squaring the circle problem. Sacking Long Bailey for anti semitism when he himself has taken the knee to destruction of capitalist society and its institutions which impinge most heavily on black people – who – remember – have no agency other than that lent to them by the nice white boys in the red corner – and, defunding the police. Not only that – he still has the legacy grooming gangs situation to deal with – he looks like a rat trapped in multiple headlights.
I agree with you on that… The rush to Take the Knee..just as the Marxist realities of much BLM academic and activist rhetoric was coming out showed that over hasty judgement.
He is miles better than Corbyn..but in the faint praise stakes that counts as inaudible.
Let’s hope Starmer wakes Boris up. Elections are not a 1 heat race. He has won Brexit. Time to finish that race put the Gold cup on the mantle piece and start the next race. Maybe fix immigration. That is an easy one. Rally the country around 1 cause, pin his ears back and go for it. Get another gold cup. Then pick another cause and do it again. In 4 years time with the nation holding 4 gold cups it will be hard to loose. Everyone loves a winner.
Starmer is increasingly looking like the real deal – finally some decent opposition.
Whatever your political persuasion, this is a good thing for our democracy.
Not to undermine him too much – but it really should not be too hard to rise above the confused bluster of the Prime Minister and fill the gaping vacuum in the centre of politics created by the Corbyn-led spasm leftwards.
Like it or not image does have some influence in politics. Keir starmer looks the part and talks the part.. Halfway there compared with Johnsons spluttering waffle.
really – he looks wet and talks wet.
Remember his Brexit position – aghh thats right he had none.
His time at the CPS was the age of Carl Beech…his edicts encouraged and empowered the Police in that *believe the victim* nonsense.
*Respect the victim* for sure…but *beleive* whatever craziness may be spouted, even easily rebutted craziness?
That wasn’t looking the part..it was looking like someone over-tuned to whichever way the wind seems to be blowing but not able to control the sailing boat in a stiff breeze?
hardly – more a whining dullard.
A man with many questions but no answers
Bit harsh on Starmer – but point taken
He is still a marked improvement on most of the others in his field, even if these days that’s merely being the tallest in the pygmy village. It’s getting better rather than worse for once
Thank you for an insightful and well-written piece!
Seems like politicians have sown discord as a way to mobilize their voters. Now, they are reaping the results.
Also, so-called ‘leadership’ these days seems focused on getting more money. Not a very noble cause! Might we find something more worthwhile?
Boris and Tony would seem to have at least one thing in common: they both have an urge to be great reformers in a very conservative age. And that is very dangerous, making major changes in times which have no strong urge for them, ill thought through reforms have consequences unforeseen. Tony’s great lack of foresight related to the Supreme Court, a subtle insertion which has managed to dangerously destabilise the British constitution. Boris’s “new deal” is likely to do the same in wrecking a fairly successful and settled economic management system.
Not that either of them are bad people, just over active at the wrong time
Our problem starts with over important journalism, people that know nothing and often cannot report in clear english. Take the lowest order of life journalist, grave robbers, etc then politicians, ordinary people know how to value the rubbish produced.
I think the whole debate is another one that is a bit *Village*, as in the Westminster media polictical village. It is 4 and a half years to go, and the media/pundits who all now mention how Corbyn was an obvious disaster and Starmer is shaping up so much better, were writing how Corbyn’s giveaways in the 2017 manifesto prevented a majority for May, and last autuman were going on about how this time the remain vote could tactically vote to deliver Corbyn.
That sort of thing went on for weeks to the background of the Bercow Clownshow Parliament with the Conservatives losing *record* defeat after record defeat…and then they won a landside.
Undaunted the same writers who had the last election possibly going to Corbyn are now pedalling more of the *you never know* stuff…and it is just under 54 months out from an election if it goes the whole nine yards.
Barring a massive Covid-19 intervention the key thing will be *settling Brexit* by late 2022…seeing that ‘not’ bring about economic collapse (and the chaos from Covid-19 provides a lot of smokescreen on that as well,) and a *out of the woods* feeling massaged policywise into the final 18 months will probably be enough to see off Labour again…. and that’s if his own identarian left doesn’t start doing it.
Peter Franklin is a most gifted & talented writer. Though he missed the proverbial pachyderm ðŸ˜ in the living room, possibly as he may be on the “rainy and damp” side of the Atlantic. Facts are facts bich. I’m sorry.
Here in the US the entire establishment media agrees or goes along with the notion that if you’re a mainstream Republican today, you’re a white nationalist (absolutely no one had ever heard of white nationalism before they commenced their Republican denunciations.). The left, not just the hard left, adamantly insists Republicans are racist, white supremacist, white nationalists who harbor this great abiding hatred for all black people and people of color. This is bizaarly preposterous, untrue, completely irrational, hysterical, slanderous and prejudicial. It’s reflective of the left’s prejudice, stereotyping and the jettisoning of societal norms, reason, fairness and civility. The left bears this frenzied hateful insistence on dehumanizing the political other. It represents the crowning glory of their criminalization of political differences. Yet the left all insist it sees this as “the truth” writ large, and so powerful a truth its to be reprinted daily. Most people, regardless of politics, would rather be called arsonists today than racists. This very thing explains why Republican white nationalist denunciations have become the single predominant core technique and tactic of the illiberal left in the United States today.
A secure and rationally conducted society is ‘left’.
Right – if you say so.
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