The ‘Mate, Mate’ State will flourish under Keir Starmer
The Labour leader's authoritarian instinct is already showing
Of Sir Keir Starmer’s various announcements and U-turns over the past few weeks, it was his pledge to bring in “Respect Orders” that was most disconcerting. The policy is essentially a resurrection of the old anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs) of the Blair years, with bells on, or “with teeth” as Starmer likes to put it. And the Leader of the Opposition’s new stance on crime certainly does have bite to it, at least in terms of presentation: he remains unrepentant after his party this weekend put out adverts directly attacking Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for the Conservatives’ poor record on crime.
But this latest attention-grabbing stunt should concern the public less than Labour’s more insidious policy announcements. Inconspicuous as they may seem, “Respect Orders” give the clearest indication yet of the type of government Starmer will run. It will be the apogee of the “Mate, Mate, Mate” state, in which petty bureaucrats and jobsworths are empowered to exercise their (very limited) power over fellow citizens. At first, the main targets of the “Respect Orders” will be poor children, whose youth services have collapsed 70% over the past decade and whose education was torn apart by cuts and lockdowns, for the crimes “loitering” and “polluting”.
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But soon enough it will serve as a pretext for the further expansion of non-criminal indiscretions for which the state can bully people. Despite claiming it wants to crack down on real crime, Labour is very sketchy on the detail. On Monday morning, Starmer’s shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry flailed through a series of questions on the Today programme about whether the party would lock up more serious criminals
Harking from a relatively obscure online meme, “Mate, Mate, Mate” satirises a peculiarly British phenomenon of small men trying to enforce pointless rules with the end result of making life marginally more miserable for everyone. Their compulsive need to overbear and check others is barely concealed behind a mask of grating faux chumminess and an unearned appeal to comradeship.
We became all too familiar with the Mate, Mate State in recent years. Its central refrain echoed through the CCTV hub of the Derbyshire police force during the first Covid-19 lockdown. “Mate, mate, it’s to protect our NHS, yeah mate?” said one policeman to another as they tracked a couple walking their dog with a drone through a local Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Starmer, a proponent of longer and harder lockdowns, was of course four-square behind this busybody nonsense.
It manifests too in the police’s zealous enforcement of an ever-growing roster of state-mandated manners, while serious crime goes through the roof and petty theft is essentially decriminalised in the major cities. It reached new heights several weeks ago in Wakefield, where a contested series of events surrounding the scuffing of a holy book by some schoolboys was leapt on by local police as a “hate incident”. A widely-circulated video of a senior officer ticking off one of the boys’ mothers at a public meeting was a masterclass in the modus operandi of the Mate, Mate State.
A prominent Labour councillor in Wakefield, Usman Ali, led the charge on this, encouraging the police to take “swift and appropriate action” against schoolchildren. Despite questions from journalists, Starmer remained silent on Ali’s actions and has still not said a word about the Wakefield affair.
Elements of the Mate, Mate, Mate State survived the lockdowns. It is still with us now, but its vestiges will reconstitute fully under Starmer, for he is its living embodiment. Both politically — as a prosecutor and politician he has hewed to an authoritarian bent — but also aesthetically, with his Adidas samba trainers and Stone Island polo shirt. He is the leader they have been waiting for. He is on his way. And perhaps, mate, you just need to get used to it.
This “mate, mate, mate” thing is just a rehash of a good old British stereotype, but one which is unfortunately all too familiar.
What’s wrong with saying mate, mate? I say it way too much, my dad called everyone mate, even us, someone has to keep these stereotypes alive you know mate?
Is this some kind of mating ritual?
Only in your dreams mate.
That’s not of material interest.
It’s not just the “mate” bit. It needs to be said with a raised eyebrow. If that doesn’t do the trick, then activate the pointy finger.
This isn’t just about the ‘little Hitlers’. They have sussed out from lockdowns that people are prepared to dob each other in and are hoping to exploit that.
As Officers need to be moved out of counterterrorism in order to try and clean up the Police, remember that Keir Starmer’s reaction to Baroness Casey and to Dame Rachel de Souza was instead to quote favourably from a 1975 speech by Margaret Thatcher, in which she vilified the Shrewsbury 24 and the Clay Cross Councillors, setting the scene for the policing of the Miners’ Strike, for the clubbing of pregnant women at the Battle of the Beanfield, for Hillsborough, and so on. It is scandalously downplaying the role of spycops against trade unions, and the role of the Government in blacklisting trade unionists, but the Undercover Policing Inquiry is making it clear that the likes of Starmer are unfit for public life.
Labour has reverted to type as the party for people who thought that the only problem with the wars, with the austerity programme, and with the authoritarian measures necessary to enforce them, was that they did not go far enough. Such people are not in the Conservative Party, because they dislike country house Tories and the private sector middle class. Labour is their device for harnessing the power of the State to lord it over everyone else.
But when I tell you that there is going to be a hung Parliament, then you can take that to the bank. I spent the 2005 Parliament saying that it was psephologically impossible for the Heir to Blair’s Conservative Party to win an overall majority. I predicted a hung Parliament on the day that the 2017 General Election was called, and I stuck to that, entirely alone, all the way up to the publication of the exit poll eight long weeks later. And on the day that Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister, I predicted that a General Election between him and Starmer would result in a hung Parliament.
To strengthen families and communities by securing economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including national and parliamentary sovereignty, we need to hold the balance of power. Owing nothing to either main party, we must be open to the better offer. There does, however, need to be a better offer. Not a lesser evil, which in any case the Labour Party is not.
O to be on Pawlaw Pike with a brace of Patterdale Terriers!
Labour long ago abandoned it’s historic mission in favour of becoming the party of petty bureaucrats and busybodies.
That is its historic mission.
there are no officers in plod.. they are all other ranks
“setting the scene for the policing of the Miners’ Strike, for the clubbing of pregnant women at the Battle of the Beanfield, for Hillsborough,”. Oh f**k off looper.
I wonder if Sir IKEA has given up on the Perfect State and has decided to promote the Prefect State.
For those who did not benefit from a traditional education a Prefect is an older pupil who is given limited authority over the behaviour of other pupils. It could work well, freeing up teacher time, but could also be mis-used if the Prefect wasn’t chosen well.
Do you remember COVID street wardens? No wonder Labour was even keener than the Conservatives on Lockdowns. There are plenty of people out there who are keen to have authority over others, and they are no better and no worse than the rest of us.
I think they’re worse. People who want power over others are almost always dodgy.
Keir’s namesake must be spinning in his grave watching the party he founded being hijacked by these petit bourgeois curtain twitchers.
And the Leader of the Opposition’s new stance on crime certainly does have bite to it, at least in terms of presentation: he remains unrepentant after his party this weekend put out adverts directly attacking Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for the Conservatives’ poor record on crime.
I’m not so sure – claiming they will halve violent crime sounds hollow and unconvincing. Their new approach of attacking Sunak with vile claims is also already backfiring – it might make Labour feel righteous, yet all but their core supporters really don’t like this kind of gutter politics.
Does anybody believe anything he says any more? Once a year, the whole ‘mood’ changes with some new set of vacuous platitudes, but the policies that matter will all be the same as Sunak’s.
There’s nothing peculiarly British about the ‘Mate, Mate State’. It has been a strong feature of the Australian experience since 1788, when petty officials ran a penal colony. When the colony became self-governing, the petty officials remained.
Who was it who said the trouble with Australians wasn’t that they were descended from convicts, but that they were descended from the guards?
I placed my election bet yesterday: decent odds for the Tories having most seats, and 8/1 on the Tories forming a majority government. I like those odds, given how long we have to go until the poll.
l***a and cuntservatives are the same party!
Labiaour and Cuntservatives are one and the same
Really can’t see how snarky remarks about his wardrobe illuminate the discussion – grow up a bit
It absolutely encapsulates his faux ‘blokey’ shtick. Did you know his dad was a toolmaker ??
There’s going to be lots of each Party parking their Tanks on the others lawn next year or so. A Labour leader pre-empting a Tory attack line on Crime and Disorder by flagging that this Govt has overseen a surge in antisocial behaviour, leaving some people afraid in their own communities just part of that. Is it a bad attack line is the question? I think latest figures show that this year alone police recorded over 2 million incidents of antisocial behaviour – the highest in some years if correct. And of course what Police record will be tip of the iceberg – people using and dealing drugs, getting kids involved in couriering, fly-tipping, vandalism and threatening behaviour. Of course Tories can just bang on about Wokeism if they prefer.
Saying they are going to re-arm our Police with an updated Asbo equivalent and tackle the funding and recruitment crisis in the Force isn’t going to play well with some Guardian readers and you can detect the ripple of unease. The fact some UnHerd Authors and Commentators upset much more intriguing. Those Tanks aren’t welcome.
It’s only intriguing if you’re unaware that many law-abiding people view the police as uniformed thugs.
especially the Metropolitanazi Gestaplod…
Law-abiding people rarely encounter the Police.
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