Keir Starmer the Best Damned Fax Machine Salesman in the Known Universe?

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In a past life I was involved in drawing up a few mission statements and taking the rise out of others.

Despite what some might think, there is value to a well crafted two sentence statement, because, apart from anything else the work involved in coming up with it forces folk to ask what is the point of what we are doing?

And, no, I do not mean by that, the drawing up of the statement, itself.

However, the most vacuous and pointless Mission Statements are those that insist that your aim is to make Stonybridge the best place in the known universe to grow up in and to grow old in.

And that brings us, neatly, to Keir Starmer:

“The United Kingdom is forging a new path in the world,” he said in his New Year message.

“And the Labour Party that I lead will focus on ensuring that path leads to greater prosperity, fairness and opportunity for every nation and region, every village, every town and city that makes up our great United Kingdom.

“I believe this can once again be the best country to grow up in and the best country to grow old in.

“And with that hope and that vision, I believe that our best years are still to come.”

The Mission Statement should have stopped at the end of the second sentence. One of the reasonable complaints about Neil Kinnock’s oratorical style was that it was verbose, in other words why use one word when three would do.

Kinnock had much of the humour of Bevan and Lloyd George, but not so much of the focused hwyl.

Setting aside the silent “downward”, in the first sentence between “pathway” and “in”, the third sentence is risible to say the least. It is a prime example of English exceptionalism.

Personally, I thought modesty and self deprecatory humour were English traits, but clearly not any more on Planets Blue Labour and Gammon.

Is “I believe that our best years are still to come” a variation on Make America Great Again? I recall that Hilary Clinton debating with Donald Trump in 2016, observed that the MAGA slogan was running the USA down.

You will notice, I hope, that I am referring to England not Great Britain or the United Kingdom?

Whatever Starmer says, it is the English for whom this message was primarily written.

Any way, back to my point.

“I believe this can once again be the best country to grow up in and the best country to grow old in.”

That England was once, ever, the best country etc is debatable. It is certainly exclusive, if not perceivable as unwelcoming so I suppose that should give it some appeal to the target audience, the Brexit unicorn that is the Red Wall or Essex voter.

But the most farcical element is “the best country to grow up in and the best country to grow old in.”

How do you measure the achievement of either or both of those aims?

You cannot, because apart from anything else my definition of best in this context may not be your definition of best.

And what of the Gammon, the middle and working class, mostly white men with persecution complexes?

Does best, for them, mean a return to the world of 1950s?

A time when women knew their place; homos stayed firmly in the closet; you could call a disabled person, a cripple or a retard without the PC police interfering; blacks were happy with what they were given, important, but nonetheless menial jobs and the chance to live in the best country etc; lone parents could be named and shamed; domestic violence was not a matter for the police …

The sentence has the potential to mean all things to all people. And may be that is the point?

It is on a par with Boris Johnson; “Soapy” Sunak, the conman hidden in plain sight, and Liz Truss et al waffling on about ‘levelling up’.

For on Planet Green Book, we still await a clear definition of levelling up.

Without that, underpinned by a set of goals and a list of outputs and outcomes against which the policy’s success or failure may be judged, all we have are some vanity capital projects for Johnson to pose before, grinning stupidly, with a large pair of mock scissors on their official opening day.

I have a confession to make, dear Reader, in that past life I was steeped (and still am) in the theory and practice of socio-economic regeneration and related equality matters in the diverse City of Birmingham. It was and remains a passion of mine.

I would opt to replace “best” with “better”, it means one is definitely seeking to improve on what is already there rather than planning to take a wrecking ball to it.

Personally, I have always rather liked Sir Robert Peel’s definition of Conservatism, set out in his address to his Tamworth constituents in 1834, that it is about reforming the bad, but conserving the good, but that invites a debate about what is good and what is bad in our society and our economy.

It is worthy debate to have, a never ending one as our society and economy both evolve, but mission statements are meant to be unambiguous, couched in easy to understand language and not in need of footnotes to clarify their meaning.

If you think I am making a mountain out of a molehill over Starmer’s New Year Message then reflect on this fact, such messages are not drawn up in some down time between meetings.

They are the subject of meetings. A lot of time, effort and thought go into drawing them up.

Starmer free, with one bound from the stifling grip of Brexit, because on Planet Gammon it is an event, not a process, is setting the direction for Labour in the coming years.

Setting the direction with little or no reference to the Parliamentary Labour Party, the party’s membership or its activist base.

It is how he probably behaved as the Director of Public Prosecutions. I stand by my opinion that Starmer, and I did vote for him, is a manager and not a leader.

He was the head of a Non Departmental Public Body, composed of disciplined, salaried staff. It is not the same as leading a political party of volunteers.

Labour under Blair did not revise Clause IV, a mission statement before the term was coined, without widespread discussion. I well recall the subject being the main item on the agenda of a branch meeting that I attended. There was a good representation of the breadth and depth of the party’s membership present.

And we had a good debate on the need or not for a revision of the clause. One member making a good case against change, but with precious little support from those present. At the end of the discussion, she admitted she had been playing Devil’s Advocate.

The meeting concurred that a Clause adopted by the party in 1918 needed bringing up to date in the 1990s. To quote John Prescott, to reword it to set out our traditional values in a modern setting.

Clause IV is a shibboleth. People really only seem to get worked up about it when there are calls to drop it, as Hugh Gaitskell did in 1959, after Labour’s loss in the General Election that year, or to revise it as Blair did in 1995.

To be frank, my branch was not bothered much by the content of the Clause. However, this being the Labour Party, we agreed to the change in principle, but had doubts about the wording.

To return to Starmer’s Clause IV, I note the following.

He talks of “… greater prosperity, fairness and opportunity for every nation and region, every village, every town and city …”

Prosperity is not a value. Although, one might debate at some length whether or not it is a purely material concept that may only be measured in pounds, shillings and pence.

Where one would expect some fine words about equal prosperity, fairness and opportunity for all, regardless of their circumstances or some recognition that greater change for some might mean no change for others or even a diminution in their life chances so others might see some improvement in their own, we get “every nation and region, every village, every town and city”.

Let me get this straight, the rich man in his castle and the poor man at his gate will both share (equally?) in the harvest of the sunlit uplands that are greater prosperity, fairness and opportunity?

That is bloody ridiculous.

Greater fairness and equality of opportunity, in particular, may only be achievable, if the Gammon, willingly or unwillingly accept the need to budge up.

The status quo that favours them from the moment of their birth cannot be maintained, if others are to become more prosperous and tangibly experience greater fairness and equality of opportunity.

Heaven forfend that one might speak of the need for greater social justice in our society lest we be called woke or PC for doing so.

I was born into the white working class in Kingstanding, Birmingham, and I was brought up proper. If being woke or PC means “being polite” or “treating other people with respect” then I am woke, PC or whatever other nonsense the far right and far left are going on about this week to try and hide their inherent nastiness.

In 1999, I spent a good few months sitting across the desk from a woman, who was also disabled, from an ethnic minority and a lone parent. Disadvantaged, effectively, in four different ways.

The stories she told of the discrimination she had to endure on a daily basis were heart breaking.

What is the point of a Labour Party that will not see addressing her travails as requiring greater efforts than those needed of any response to the whines and whinges of an affluent, middle aged, middle class white male with a persecution complex?

Yes, many of them are to be found masquerading as the ‘left behind’ amongst those of that ill defined (see levelling up) group who voted Leave.

I do not see how Starmer will attract and keep the votes of the Gammon, if he does go on to underpin his Mission Statement with a well defined set of goals and a list of outputs and outcomes against which his policy’s success or failure may be judged.

May be Claire Ainsley is, as we speak, crafting a vague set of them to be all things to all people. It will not wash for ever, Claire, sooner or later you will have to step out from behind the arras and enunciate clearly what you mean.

Obfuscation will only get you so far.

And any way, Claire, your back catalogue on the Internet betrays your aim. Your intent to recast Labour as a socially conservative, economically liberal party is hardly disguised.

If you are a Corbynista reading this post, do reflect on the fact that Jeremy Corbyn took Labour into two General Elections under his leadership, pledged to scrap university tuition fees on his first day in office whilst planning, sotto voce, to leave the Tory austerity measure, the benefits freeze in place, indefinitely.

The self styled champion of the poor, sick and needy was planning to put mostly middle class youth well before tackling child poverty amongst the working class.

When Blair was asked about that order of priorities, he said, if he was still leader of the party that he would put addressing child poverty, first.

Corbynistas have nothing about which to be smug or superior.

Deliberately speaking not of people, but of places in Starmer’s New Year message is a dead give away.

If there is anything that defines the Ainsley, Paul Embery, Lord Glasman and Claire Fox axis then it is a low level of empathy. It is a trait not unique to them, they share it with the likes of Len McCluskey, the very gammony Laurence Fox, Isabel Oakeshott and Julia Hartley-Brewer to name, but four.

I confess that I never thought I would see a Labour leader seeking, even in a tenuous way to associate him or her self and our party with such people.

People, whom many rightly see as only motivated by self interest and similar. The Hartley-Brewers will speak of enlightened self interest when commenting on the generous acts of other folk. There is no act of altruism, according to a Hartley-Brewer, that does not result out of an expectation of some future reward and/or the hope of the pleasurable feeling that comes from doing a good deed in the here and now.

We are all motivated by self interest, say these sad, pathetic bastards, even when involved in an act of generosity.

It is all about them as we are seeing with the reactions of the likes of Embery, Fox, both Claire and Laurence and Hartley-Brewer to the measures designed to minimise Covid-19 cases and ease the pressure on the brave men and women of our National Health Service, who include my sister-in-law and niece.

Take it away, Tony …

“The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for each of us the means to realise our true potential and for all of us a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few, where the rights we enjoy reflect the duties we owe, and where we live together, freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect.

Alas for Keir Starmer’s Labour, Brexit is not going away for years …

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The Starmerites treated the Brexit debate on Wednesday 30th December 2020 like their last day at school.

They are moving on and what happens next is not their responsibility, because Keir Starmer and Labour MPs went through the Aye lobby with their fingers crossed.

If only, because they linked arms with Boris Johnson as soon as Keir Starmer was elected Labour leader.

Starmer spent the whole of 2020 not calling on the Government to put in place measures to mitigate at least some of the downsides of Brexit.

Keir Starmer and Labour barely murmured when Boris Johnson declined to extend the Brexit transition period.

They are in it up to their necks and Starmer’s ‘clever’ “yes, but” barrister’s wheeze during the Brexit debate was barely fit for an Old Bailey courtroom and certainly not the court of public opinion.

The Brexit debate did not signal the end of Brexit.

Brexit is a process not an event and a key milestone along that progress is 1st January 2021.

The Brexit debate may have marked the end of the beginning, but it was not the beginning of the end.

Far from it, in fact.

Starmer and his merry band are soon to learn the true meaning of “Marry in haste, repent at leisure!”

And as we know Johnson is a very wayward swain.

He has all the morals of a feral tomcat that has let itself go …

Is Keir Starmer, Aneurin Bevan’s Desiccated Calculating Machine Made Flesh?

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Keir Starmer is a manager not a leader.

It is why he is proving so adept at addressing anti-Semitism within Labour and challenging Johnson over how Covid-19 is being addressed.

He is well within his comfort zone when addressing matters of process and administration. Very much like being Director of Public Prosecutions and Head of the Crown Prosecution Service, in fact.

Back then, he said, “Jump!”

And his staff replied, “How high?”

As DPP, he led a salaried, disciplined team whereas the Parliamentary Labour Party and Labour’s membership are a bunch of volunteers not conscripts, who sometimes require the skills of a cat herder to keep them heading in one direction.

Has Starmer now split the PLP and the party’s activist base from top to bottom with his decision to vote for Boris Johnson’s Hard Brexit deal? Labour might have abstained in the vote in the House of Commons without running the risk of a No Deal Brexit.

Starmer might have rallied the PLP around that position. Instead he saw one MP vote against the deal and a goodly numbers of others abstain.

Outside of Parliament, he risked splitting the activist base and that before folk are fully cognisant of him flirting with the Blue Labour (fascist) philosophy of family, faith and flag, beloved of Paul Embery and Claire Fox.

Labour backing the deal means that any time in the future that a Labour MP rises in the House of Commons to denounce any part of the deal, some downside of Brexit, he or she will be met with jeers from the Tory backbenches and a chorus of, “Why did you vote for it then?”

Back the deal and, forever, hold thy peace on Brexit.

As I say, abstention did not risk a No Deal Brexit. The alternative now threatens the party’s fragile, post Corbyn cohesion.

And Labour still needs boots on the ground throughout the year, in good weather and bad weather, to campaign for it.

For Keir Starmer to ask activists to meekly swallow a Hard Brexit is one thing, but add in the dubious Blue Labour (fascist) mantra of family, faith and flag and it becomes a poisonous brew.

One of Claire Fox’s sponsors when she was ennobled was none other than Lord Glasman of Blue Labour. There is no room in Labour under Starmer for anti-Semites, quite understandably, but kipper fellow travellers?

And what of Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Jewish … values?

Then there’s Keir Starmer’s opposition to a Scottish referendum.

Pulling his punches over Putin’s forays into our waters and air space.

And not even protesting, it seems, Lebedev’s ennoblement.

Starmer has spent a year not calling on the Government to put in place measures to mitigate at least some of the downsides of Brexit.

He barely murmured when Johnson declined to extend the transition period.

He has done nothing to critique levelling up, has he?

On Planet Green Book, we still await a clear definition of levelling up.

Without that, underpinned by a set of goals and a list of outputs and outcomes against which the policy’s success or failure may be judged all we have are some vanity capital projects for Johnson to pose before with a large pair of mock scissors on their official opening day, says well trained, at some cost to the taxpayer, and experienced Green Book appraiser.

What, then is the point of Keir Starmer and Labour under his leadership?

Keir Starmer’s first instinct, on hearing gunfire is to march in the other direction. When does he plan to turn and fight?

As Winston Churchill observed at the time of Dunkirk, “Wars are not won by evacuations.”

“Labour abstains! This Brexit Deal isn’t good enough for the UK!” is how Keir Starmer, might have wound up his speech in the House of Commons’ debate on Boris Johnson’s Brexit Deal.

If Labour had abstained and not turn up for the debate at all, it would have left the Tories hours in which to possibly tear chunks out of each other.

I am reminded of the GOP in Congress in The West Wing debating the thickness of their Presidential candidate as Democrats caucus on issues like education.

The business community has been in play since June 2018, but Keir Starmer has been too gun shy to speak up for them over a Brexit implementation period.

Members of the Conservative Party publicly resigned over Johnson’s two word, industrial strategy.

General Elections turn on around 200,000 votes. There are 2,395,150 micro businesses in the UK, but Keir Starmer would rather hug Boris Johnson than stand up for them.

Was it not farcical for Labour to vote for a Brexit deal that it would not have accepted, if it were in Government?

When you elect as leader a London MP (and barrister), who walked straight into a very safe seat without ever contesting an unwinnable or marginal seat, you get a Corbyn or a Starmer, taking a big chunk of the party’s core vote and activist base for granted.

A couple of years ago, Corbyn urged Labour MPs to campaign like they had never campaigned before. Some of those he was addressing had fought hard to hold on to marginal seats whilst others had taken seats off other parties.

I voted for Starmer and he has proved to be a grave disappointment to me.

Alas, he lacks Aneurin Bevan’s hwyl and sense of humour.

Bevan at the time of Suez on 4th November 1956 deployed both to devastating effect

“Sir Anthony Eden has been pretending that he is now invading Egypt in order to strengthen the United Nations. Every burglar of course could say the same thing, he could argue that he was entering the house in order to train the police. So, if Sir Anthony Eden is sincere in what he is saying, and he may be, then he is too stupid to be a Prime Minister”.

Bevan in an interview with Robin Day on 28th April 1959 observed;

“I know that the right kind of leader for the Labour Party is a desiccated calculating machine who must not in any way permit himself to be swayed by indignation. If he sees suffering, privation or injustice he must not allow it to move him, for that would be evidence of the lack of proper education or of absence of self-control. He must speak in calm and objective accents and talk about a dying child in the same way as he would about the pieces inside an internal combustion engine.”

One final thought, the last time Labour won a General Election with a London MP as its leader was in 1950.

That MP was Clement Attlee.

Jeremy Corbyn’s A Lifetime of Ligging on the Left is the gripping autobiography of a self confessed humble man …

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Jeremy Corbyn’s A Lifetime of Ligging on the Left is the gripping tale of a self confessed humble man, who’s spent 37 years of his life being paid handsomely to simply polish, with his bottom, a seat on the backbenches of the House of Commons.

That’s half his life, not half his adult life.

You will cry as you learn of Jeremy Corbyn’s early years in the slums of Kington St Michael in Wiltshire, you will despair over his family’s enforced move to Yew Tree Manor in Chetwynd Aston & you will marvel at how he has endured for so long the living hell that is Islington.

You will empathise with Jeremy Corbyn’s approach to the important and responsible job he never wanted.

“I find if you’re in an office, the crisis finds you. If you’re not in the office, the crisis finds somebody else.”

He was made Labour leader against his inclinations.

You will share Jeremy Corbyn’s indignation at being forced into the position of Labour leader so that other lesser men might advance their political ambitions at his expense.

“I did not seek, and I said I would not accept, the nomination of my party to become its leader. It was Milne made me do it,” insists Jeremy Corbyn.

Jeremy Corbyn has, throughout his life felt he was at the mercy of malign forces over which he had no control. He asserts that the hand of Israel repeatedly materialised during his A Level exams, forcing him to write poor answers to the questions on the set papers.

And Jeremy Corbyn is adamant that Israel only launched the Six Day War to make it harder for him to revise for his examinations.

Jeremy Corbyn is confident that he could have been a contender. He could have been somebody, if it hadn’t been for these mysterious powers dogging his every step throughout his life.

Jeremy Corbyn says, “I see no reason to apologise for anything that has happened in my life, because nothing that has occurred has been a result of anything, but the actions of others over whom I have no control.”

“I do admit to being wrong once over the issue of fracking.”

A key question posed in Jeremy Corbyn, A Lifetime of Ligging on the Left is whether or not Piers might have done more to help his brother.

“He was my brother, Piers, he should have looked out for me a little bit. He should have taken care of me just a tad to steer me away from the likes of the IRA, Islamic terrorist groups, anti-Semites and John McDonnell.”

Does Jeremy Corbyn spill the beans in A Lifetime of Ligging on the Left as to how he earnt the sobriquet of the Red Hot Trot?

Does he speak openly and without regret of his failed marriages and neglected children?

And did Jeremy Corbyn ‘accidentally’ expose Diane Abbott to the gaze of fellow party activists as they entered his bedroom, the morning after the night before, looking for leaflets?

Had Jeremy, in fact, scored, with a black chick and didn’t care less who knew?

The answers to these and many other questions may or may not be discovered between the covers of Jeremy Corbyn’s A Lifetime of Ligging on the Left.

You will need to buy the book and risk your sanity to find out …

As you plough through Jeremy Corbyn’s A Lifetime of Ligging on the Left, desperately fighting off narcolepsy as you do so, you’ll marvel at how such a rather unremarkable, awfully mediocre male, who was born into an affluent, white middle class family in 1949 rose so high.

Surely, you’ll ask yourself, Jeremy Corbyn’s the exception not the rule?

Then you’ll look up from your labours and see Boris Johnson’s face on the tv.

Coming soon to a remainder bin near you, Boris Johnson, A Lifetime of Ligging on the Right (and in the Spectator, the Telegraph, the London Mayor’s Office, Number Ten) …

Is the Defence of Our Sceptred Isle Safe in @BorisJohnson’s Hands?

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Strange days, indeed, when we deploy four warships to contest the Narrow Seas with the fishing boats of a NATO ally.

The Channel is one of the busiest, if not the busiest of any of the seaways in the world’s oceans. Could the UK Government be sued for creating potential hazards to shipping?

Meanwhile, two weeks ago nearly a dozen warships and combat aircraft from Russia’s Northern, Baltic and Black Sea fleets gave a “show of force in the waters off the British and Irish coasts,” according to General Sir Nick Carter, Chief of the Defence Staff.

Unless the Black Sea Fleet ships were in transit to other duties then it was a lot of money to spend on fuel for them to participate in this exercise.

An exercise on a scale not seen since the last death rattle of the Soviet regime.

Admiral Johnson wears two eye patches on such occasions?

Or is General Carter’s contention that such a foray “… requires us to hold their backyard at risk, whether that’s in the Barents Sea, the High North, the Baltic or the Black Sea” in some way unpalatable to our latter day Winston Churchill?

Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty between 24th October 1911 and 25th May 1915. He returned to the post on 3rd September 1939 and left it on the 11th May 1940, because he became Prime Minister that day.

The Russians have gained an agreement with the Sudanese Government to use Port Sudan on the Red Sea as a naval base.

Almost directly opposite from the port is Mecca. No comment from the Trump administration and none, seemingly from the Saudis, but what would be the point, if your major ally is looking the other way?

Generations of previous Russian leaders would have given their eye teeth for a naval base in the Eastern Mediterranean. Putin now has one in Syria, north of the Suez Canal, complimented by the base in Sudan, south of the Suez Canal.

The Suez Canal is way more important to the economic life of our nation than a few paltry fish in the Channel.

British foreign policy in the Eastern Mediterranean for centuries was one of containment, putting pressure, by fair means or foul, on the Ottoman Empire to keep the Russian Black Sea Fleet bottled up in the Black Sea. It then became NATO and US policy until President Donald Trump.

Finally, Boris Johnson has elevated to the peerage, the son of a former head of the KGB’s London Station.

Lebedev Jr once owned two wolves, the one was named Boris and the other, Vladimir.

A story idea that even John le Carré might have thought too outré for one of his novels.

The barbarians are not at the gates. They have been let in by Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party, Dominic Cummings, Nigel Farage, Claire Fox et al and told to make themselves feel at home.

Why?

For today’s equivalent of 30 pieces of silver.

Julian Assange: A Dead Man Walking?

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Dear Assange fanatics,

I do not dispute that Wikileaks in its early days was providing a valuable service. However, when Wikileaks became synonymous with Julian Assange to the point where the man became bigger than the project and he started working for the Russians, around 2010, the project lost all credibility with people like myself.

The allegation is that Assange moved from being a passive recipient of Government documents to being an active seeker of them. The former is defensible, citing the First Amendment of the US Constitution. The latter falls outside of the First Amendment.

Lawyers who specialise in advising reputable media outlets like CNN, who have been working recently with Bellingcat on a story about an FSB hit squad, have said they would strongly advise clients against handling information gained in the way it has been alleged Assange did.

I hope Assange has his day in court and tells all.

Tells not only of his connections with Donald Trump’s 2016 Presidential Campaign, but also of the help he provided for that campaign.

Tells of his meetings with Nigel Farage whilst he was ‘imprisoned’ in the Ecuadorian Embassy.

Meetings that, it is believed, were a rest stop for Farage between Moscow and Washington.

It has been alleged that Farage was acting as a secure courier between Vladimir Putin, Assange and Trump.

I hope Assange reveals not only the breadth, but the depth of the work he has done for Putin.

Malign work designed to undermine Western Alliances, like NATO and the EU.

If he does speak, of even just some of that then Assange will be safer living in a US military stockade for the rest of his life than as a free man, ever alert for bulky men carrying umbrellas on a hot, sunny day and mindful of staying well away from the edges of Tube station platforms until the train has stopped in the station.

Putin’s Cold War Mark Two has no rules as the Hungarian Prime Minister observed a little while ago.

If Putin will send men to murder a defector after he had long ceased to be of value to Western intelligence services then Assange will not escape his wrath, if he blabs.

And if he doesn’t blab in court, there is no guarantee he will not seek to cut a deal for a sizeable sum of money with a media outlet or two and probably a publisher as well.

Assange’s life story would make interesting reading as a serialised autobiography in a broadsheet.

Assange is a dead man walking.

Incidentally, the intention was for Assange to imprison himself not in the Ecuadorian Embassy, but in the London Embassy of the Russian Government.

Here Endeth the Lesson.