Keir Starmer – a viewpoint

Thoughts of Camden Activist, Unite GC Delegate, Gareth Murphy.

Gareth Murphy on Facebook – 29 March 2021

Comment in response to The Guardian Opinions article “What is the point of Keir Starmer? After a year, we still don’t know” by Maya Lothian-McLean.

The article followed a YouGov Poll on Keir Starmer’s approval rating, which shows that Labour Leader Keir Starmer’s popularity is plummeting.

The establishment was happy to rally around Starmer as a way to attack Corbyn, but the leadership election results showed a misleading level of support for him inside the party, and there are many who would have preferred to vote for Lisa Nandy, or another more openly right winger, but voted for Starmer to make sure Long-Bailey didn’t get in.

Obviously Keir couldn’t have become leader without the votes of many ex-Corbyn supporters, which is why he had to make so many pledges and promises that he had no intention of keeping. As some, including me predicted even before Keir became leader, his electoral coalition would fall apart as soon as he became leader, because of the conflicts between goals of the different groups who voted for him, and the reason they voted for him.

Unless Keir went into the last year, with a goal of being so far behind the Tories, he must be nonplussed at what’s happened. He’s done everything demanded by the media, been a reliable voice for the establishment, supported the police and the Rotal Family, sacked Becky Long-Bailey, suspended Jeremy Corbyn, has attacked the left in the party, got Campbell and Mandelson back on board, put flags everywhere, but the promised land of being 15, 20 points ahead is as far away as ever.

And now his erstwhile friends are briefing against him in the press, Nandy is prominent, Yvette Cooper’s perennial admirers in the media are starting up again. Anneliese Dodds has been scapegoated, and sacked from her role, incidentally learning of it from a Murdoch media outlet. You have to love the grown up politics and politicians, don’t you?

Expect more articles and pundits suggesting that 1 or 2 personnel changes are all that are needed, and some to counter, saying that actually a new leader is needed.

But to me, both sides of that argument are missing the point.  As is often pointed out, lots of the stuff we get exercised about on here passes the public by totally, so things like our complaints at restrictions on party democracy, or abuses of process, etc simply don’t register with the public and doesn’t factor in how they decide to vote.

If Labour Party is tanking in the polls, it’s because the public don’t like what they’re seeing or what their image of the Labour Party is. In the 2015-19 period, lots of us disputed that, saying that the public was badly misinformed by the media, and if the public became aware of the policies they would be positive about them.

But, given the considerable goodwill shown to Keir by so many sections, the favourable media coverage, he can’t say that he’s being misrepresented by the media, or blame other people. It’s the policies, or lack of policies, and most of all the lack of opposition to the govt, and the constant support of them, sometimes veering towards complicity that the public don’t like.

Next month, there are local elections, London mayoral and assembly elections, and a byelection. I imagine the results will be grim, and the attacks on Keir by the right and in the media will intensify, as will the calls for change.

To be honest, whether it’s Keir, Nandy or Cooper pushing these sad policies, doesn’t make much of a difference to me.

If Keir entered politics with the aim of joining and leaving the Labour Party and entering the House of Lords all within 10 years, he should carry on as he is. If he has any interest in becoming Prime Minister or staying as leader of the Labour Party, he should look at some of his speeches from his leadership campaign. I say that totally honestly. He’s not my cup of tea, but he did manage to enthuse supporters of his own, and lots of ex- Jeremy Corbyn voters, and if wants to survive he needs to try to get some of them back on his side.

Guardian Article: click here

YouGov Poll on Keir Starmer’s Approval Rating: click here

By camdenmomentum

Camden Momentum covers two CLPs - Holborn & St Pancras and Hampstead & Kilburn

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