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.