Keir Starmer’s ‘missions’ could lead to his undoing
The Labour leader is refusing to tackle issues that voters care about
Since the removal of Boris Johnson last summer, the Labour Party has enjoyed astronomically high poll ratings. Rishi Sunak has failed to reach even 30% in the polls, while Johnson never fell below that number. Keir Starmer is now leading a Labour Party that is commanding as high as 50% in recent polls, something that no Labour leader has ever achieved in a general election.
With a Conservative loss at the next election now being treated as a foregone conclusion, scrutiny is growing over what a Labour government under Starmer would actually do. When he stood for leader in 2020 he made ten pledges. Several of these have been broken, not least the promise that he would weaken the involvement of the Labour National Executive Committee (NEC) in the selection of Labour candidates. He has instead manoeuvred the rules to strengthen them.
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Today, he has cut his number of pledges down to five, and they are called ‘missions’ instead. A mission is less concrete than a pledge. It’s a goal, not a promise. All of the missions are worthy, and speak to the broad priorities of the British public — a strong economy, a working health service, low crime, and opportunity for children.
In addition, Starmer has expressed the mission of making Britain a ‘clean energy superpower’, placing a Left-of-centre demand for action against climate change alongside a patriotic rallying cry. Britain won’t just rule the waves but the wind and sun, too.
Are these missions really sufficient to meet the challenges of today? For one thing, housing was absent. Given the role of Britain’s broken housing market in limiting opportunity and reproducing intergenerational inequalities, perhaps it falls under ‘Breaking down the barriers to opportunity’, but the scale of the housing crisis surely ought to have been a commitment on its own.
There were other elephants sitting in the room in Manchester. Starmer had little to say on immigration, in spite of recent polling from UnHerd which shows that a plurality of voters in all parties, including Labour, believes immigration levels are too high. Immigration has been the Cyanean Rocks of Labour leaders in recent years, and the party has yet to find its Jason.
Finally, Starmer’s missions contain elements of their own self-destruction. The Labour leader has become preoccupied with devolution, pledging in Manchester to bring people who are ‘affected’ by the issues he mentions into the decision-making process. For anyone with experience of local government in Britain, these words should be a source of horror. Local government attracts some of the worst elements of the NIMBYish anti-growth coalition. Devolving power is likely to make it harder, not easier, to achieve goals of greater opportunity and a growing economy.
Starmer’s love for devolution is also politically unwise. Local and national election voting is thermostatic. That is to say that when one party is in power nationally, it tends to lose seats in local government. Starmer will not be facing councils controlled by the current crop of Labour councillors. After a few years, many Labour councils will fall into the hands of opposition parties. Then, the Leader of the Opposition will be handing these very authorities additional powers, not to achieve his agenda, but to block them.
Starmer is speaking to some real frustrations in Britain after more than a decade of underinvestment, penny-pinching, and misdirection. But there is still work to be done in meeting the scale of the challenge and ensuring the tools are available for him to meet it.
Certainly Keir Starmer will face fewer tough media questions about these Missions, which he says he wants to deliver, than Kate Forbes has about gay marriage, which she has said she will leave untouched.
He can’t talk about housing or immigration, or indeed gender, because his crazy left-flank won’t let him. This is the bruise the Tories will punch if they’ve any sense at the next election. Relentlessly. This isn’t like the Tony Blair ‘demon eyes’ nonsense, these are real vulnerabilities that the other parties can’t touch.
Of course, the problem is half of the Tory party are Lib Dems, so it won’t happen.
Unfortunately too many establishment Tories share the cultural attitudes of the left.
The first of his 5 “missions”: Secure the highest sustained growth in the G7 – shouldn’t be too hard to achieve.
Since the end of the Transition Period, GDP Growth:
S&P Global/SIPS Composite PMI – the best leading indicator for economic health (over 50 indicates growth, under is contraction)
GDP growth is easy – just import lots more cheap labour. GDP per capita? Now that’s a different thing altogether.
I note Starmer didn’t choose that metric. It would have raised uncomfortable questions about unlimited immigration.
This was always going to happen to Starmer, which is why he’s avoided having any actual policies. Once we get the manifesto people will wake up to the reality of voting for him and Labour.
My eye went straight to one of the missions, low crime.
Of course, low crime is demonstrated by the crime figures and these don’t relate to what I call crime. So, all you have to do is to generate more and more crimes which are not real crimes at all – swearing at your neighbour’s dog perhaps – then you reduce them by focussing all of the resources of the police on dog swearing, and, hey presto, you reduce crime.
If Boris were still the PM, he’d have seized on Starmer’s ‘missions’ already, and rebranded them Starmer’s Emissions.
Starmer is hoping to benefit from a massive protest vote against the Conservatives on the basis that no one will actually compare the relative merits of the manifestos. He can only be defeated by the conservatives actually delivering some conservative policies. At present this does not look likely but once the election date looms into view they may decide they have nothing to lose if they want to cling to office.
“He can only be defeated by the conservatives actually delivering some conservative policies.”
The trouble is, will anybody believe them? My response will be “Why is this lying liar lying to me?”
The Tories need to overcome their tendency to cringe in the face of media opposition and provoke the woke establishment into doubling down on their idiocies. By giving Farage a knighthood in the New Year’s honours, for example.
I suspect he didn’t mention housing because you can’t talk about housing without being forced into explaining how you will limit immigration.
Starmer’s greatest advantage is that he is never challenged in the media over the quite staggering inconsistencies in his behaviour both as DPP and as a member of the most hard left shadow cabinet we’ve seen who suddenly morphs into a Tory wet when power is in sight.
Anyone who trusts this man needs their head examined.
“…In addition, Starmer has expressed the mission of making Britain a ‘clean energy superpower’,
Are there really enough people out there who give any credence to this man’s drivel?
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