Each of us in society, giving according to both our abilities and means and receiving according to our needs.
“During the train journeys on his summer tour through Blackpool, Swindon and Glasgow, Sir Keir Starmer began jotting down notes about what he heard from voters and his own thoughts about politics.
With help from aides, he turned these into a 13,000-word essay that seeks to set the foundations of his leadership, before his first in-person speech to a Labour conference next week.
The thesis, published by the Fabian Society, specifies ten broad principles that Starmer says would drive his government, ranging from putting “hard-working families and their priorities first” to “restoring honesty, decency and transparency in public life”.”
“Our country is now at a crossroads. Down one path is the same old insecurity and lack of opportunity. But down the Labour one is something better: a society built on everyone’s contribution, with high-quality services, security and opportunity.
In this pamphlet, Labour leader Keir Starmer MP sets out his vision of a fairer, more secure and prosperous Britain, built on Labour values. He proposes 10 principles for a new contract between Labour and the British people, which together make up an ambitious plan to remake our country.”
The Ten Commandments
1. We will always put hard-working families and their priorities first.
What is a hard-working family in 2021?
For example, in the United Kingdom in 2020, it was estimated that 7,898,000 lived in one person households out of the total number of households of 27,792,000.
Early in 2021, Starmer gave a speech on family values, a few hours later, a staffer was sent out to say he had not just meant Mom and Dad, whose marriage had been consecrated in church, and the 2.4 children.
This Commandment needs rethinking from first principles.
There are nearly 11,989,322 people aged 65 and above in the UK …
- 5.4 million people are aged 75 and over
- 1.6 million are aged 85 and over
- 579,776 people are 90 and over
- 14,430 are centenarians.
“A third of the Tory vote is over the age of 65. Given we’re an ageing country, we simply cannot win unless we improve this position.”
“Thirty five of the seats where the Tory majority over Labour is under 7,000 have a higher than average number of pensioners. Winning back at least a portion of the ‘silver vote’ is mission critical to winning an election and aiming at 45%.”
2. If you work hard and play by the rules, you should be rewarded fairly.
Fine, but what if, for some reason or another, for example, disability or ill fortune, you are not able to work as hard as you would like?
3. People and businesses are expected to contribute to society, as well as receive.
4. Your chances in life should not be decided by the circumstances of your birth – hard work and how you contribute should matter.
Unfortunately, the circumstances of your birth do affect your chances in life well before you get the opportunity to go out to work and contribute to society.
Sure Start is designed to try and address the fact that many children born into relative poverty lose the chance to exploit their full potential even before they reach the age of 5.
5. Families, communities and things that bring us together must once again be put before individualism.
I take it that in the opinion of some of Labour’s focus group members that something has gone wrong somewhere?
Personally, I ‘blame’ the 1960s (as does Farage).
“Fings ain’t what they used to be …”
Dragooning people into doing things communally, particularly through peer pressure, is rather unBritish.
“But here it is worth noting a minor English trait which is extremely well marked though not often commented on, and that is a love of flowers. This is one of the first things that one notices when one reaches England from abroad, especially if one is coming from southern Europe. Does it not contradict the English indifference to the arts? Not really, because it is found in people who have no aesthetic feelings whatever …”
“What it does link up with, however, is another English characteristic which is so much a part of us that we barely notice it, and that is the addiction to hobbies and spare-time occupations, the privateness of English life. We are a nation of flower-lovers, but also a nation of stamp-collectors, pigeon-fanciers, amateur carpenters, coupon-snippers, darts-players, crossword-puzzle fans. All the culture that is most truly native centres round things which even when they are communal are not official – the pub, the football match, the back garden, the fireside and the ‘nice cup of tea’. The liberty of the individual is still believed in, almost as in the nineteenth century. But this has nothing to do with economic liberty, the right to exploit others for profit. It is the liberty to have a home of your own, to do what you like in your spare time, to choose your own amusements instead of having them chosen for you from above. The most hateful of all names in an English ear is Nosey Parker. It is obvious, of course, that even this purely private liberty is a lost cause. Like all other modern people, the English are in process of being numbered, labelled, conscripted, ‘co-ordinated’. But the pull of their impulses is in the other direction, and the kind of regimentation that can be imposed on them will be modified in consequence. No party rallies, no Youth Movements, no coloured shirts, no Jew-baiting or ‘spontaneous’ demonstrations. No Gestapo either, in all probability.”
This Commandment needs serious work or dropping completely.
6. The economy should work for citizens and communities. It is not good enough to surrender to market forces.
The second sentence is suitably vague. It might even extend to nationalisation where appropriate.
7. The role of government is to be a partner to private enterprise, not stifle it.
There is precious little evidence that Labour is consulting with businesses or even understands business as Rachel Reeves buy, make and sell more in Britain (to boost British exports!) policy illustrates.
Currently, the Preston Model writ large is the central plank of the economic policies on which Labour plans to fight the next General Election.
The policy alone makes Labour unfit to govern.
Starmer, like Corbyn before him, ignores the important role that the voluntary and community sector plays in both our society and our economy.
VCS deserves a separate mention here and, arguably, in the 3rd and 6th Commandments, too.
Trades unions are voluntary organisations and the Labour Party came out of VCS organisations, including the Methodist Church.
8. The government should treat taxpayer money as its own. The current levels of waste are unacceptable.
The public sector treating taxpayer money as its own is usually the attitude to which many voters actually object!
One voter’s waste is another voter’s essential spending.
For some voters, almost all public spending is wasteful.
“The government should never forget the taxpayer funds public services and that taxpayer money should always be spent wisely and with the aim of seeking value for money.”
9. The government must play its role in restoring honesty, decency and transparency in public life.
10. We are proudly patriotic but we reject the divisiveness of nationalism.
Is someone displaying pride, in say, their English, Irish, Scottish or Welsh identity being patriotic or nationalistic?
Are we coming close to Tebbit’s cricket test?
I understand the desire to reject jingoism, in all its forms, which by its very nature, is exclusive, divisive and unwelcoming, but there are surely better ways to phrase it than that which has been chosen.
“… patriotism matters, but I’m afraid we don’t get to define its basics. These are: pride in our country; support for the armed forces; being strong on law and order. The progressive view of patriotism will never be the same as the conservative one. We will add an emphasis on values of tolerance, equality and a commitment to social justice. But the basics can’t be absent.”
Labour needs to hold and win seats in Scotland and Wales to at least have a chance of depriving the Conservatives of an overall majority at the next General Election.
And it may well need the support in the House of Commons of Members of Parliament elected in Northern Ireland.
These ten principles should never have seen the light of day before they were put into easily accessible, unambiguous language.
The sort of language in which the Labour Party’s 1945 General Election Manifesto is set out in a mere 4,964 words!
One only has to have a reading age of seven to read The Sun.
The people who edit the newspaper, however, have an amazing capacity to put across complex issues in language that does not patronise its readers.
The Ten Commandments, overall.
Aneurin Bevan once observed, “Righteous people terrify me … Virtue is its own punishment.”
Starmer’s little list is not exactly uplifting in the context of the cheeky chappy who currently leads the Conservative Party.
All work and no play makes Keir a dull boy (or a mail order clothes catalogue model).
Let Starmer be Starmer and God help us all, if he really is as boring and uninteresting as his essay would suggest.
Yet, a sober suited, hard working, serious Knight of the Realm, a loving father and husband should appeal to the One Nation Conservatives and other voters whom Johnson repels with his very character (or lack of it).
In fact, the Liberal Democrats say they won the Chesham and Amersham by election, an Orpington style victory as a result of One Nation Conservatives and small business people defecting to them, primarily because of Johnson and Brexit.
Labour, meanwhile, had the worst by-election result in the party’s history, with 622 votes.
Off to the seaside …
Why, though, the need for Starmer to step off the train in Brighton, Ten Commandments in hand, when Labour already has Clause IV, agreed democratically by the party’s membership?
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.“