Last Saturday, 13 May, ‘Sir’ Keir Starmer gave a speech to Blairite think-tank Progressive Britain (f.k.a. Progress), where he proclaimed Labour to be the true party for conservatives.
This was the latest episode in Starmer’s Establishment Man saga, in which our coiffured knight of the realm embarks on a quest to become the hero that the bosses need.
No friend of workers
Starmer delivered his speech with all the charm and dynamism of a scarecrow. Each hollow soundbite was presented awkwardly, in an overly rehearsed manner, reminiscent of the cast of Armando Iannucci’s The Thick of It.
The content was no more inspiring than the presentation. Between his sycophantic odes to King and Country, the Labour leader served up a series of demagogic and patronising remarks about the working class.
“It’s not our job to lecture working people that change is coming,” he said. “It’s our job to lead them through it…We must provide the stability that working people need…” And so on.
From his refusal to support strikes, to his promises of ‘fiscal responsibility’, to his nods to Thatcher on questions of law and order, however: it’s been evident for some time that Starmer is no friend – let alone leader – of working people.
Blair on steroids
Speaking in front of his New Labour audience, Starmer made no attempts to hide his love for Tony Blair. He would transform the party even “further and deeper” than his right-wing predecessor, he stated.
“This is about rolling our sleeves up, changing our entire culture, our DNA,” Starmer asserted. “This is clause IV on steroids” – a reference to Blair’s scrapping of the party’s old socialist aims in 1995, which constitutionally committed Labour to the fight for common ownership.
This, along with other statements, was designed to be another clear signal to the ruling class: this is a man whom they can trust to do their dirty work.
If he was in Number 10, Starmer assured, Labour would ensure that “businesses prosper”; that “support for NATO is non-negotiable”; and that “anti-semitism is ripped out [of the party] by its roots”.
To translate this doublespeak into plain English: A Starmer government would support the bosses, not the working class; unconditionally back US imperialism, acting as its loyal lapdog; and completely expunge the left from the party, on the hypocritical and cynical pretext of fighting racism.
Cuts and jingoism
Instead of attempting to win over the millions of workers and youth who are disillusioned and disgusted by all the mainstream political parties, and who reject the entire rotten establishment, Starmer was clearly targeting his words at traditional Tory voters.
Not satisfied with his own recent attempts to outflank the Tories to the right on the economy, migration, and crime, Starmer waxed lyrical about how Labour would be bluer than blue when it comes to waving the Union Jack and ‘Making Britain Great Again’.
“There are precious things in our way of life [read: capitalism]…that it’s our responsibility to protect and preserve, to pass onto future generations,” Starmer emphasised.
“And, look, if that sounds conservative then, let me tell you, I don’t care. Somebody has got to stand up for the things that make this country great, and it isn’t going to be the Tories”.
“A Tory Party that in generations past saw itself as the protector of the nation and the union has undermined both,” the Labour leader concluded. “The Conservative Party can no longer claim to be conservative.”
Dog-whistling his forthcoming austerity agenda, meanwhile, Starmer admitted that “there’s a lot more work to be done and the toughest part lies ahead”.
And no doubt this includes ‘tough choices’ in relation to the NHS and other public services, which the right-wing Labour leadership is intent on opening up to profiteers.
In short: a Starmer Labour government would serve up the same thin-gruel of cuts, privatisation, and jingoism as the Tories.
Fight for revolution
Saturday’s speech came on the back of a draft policy platform, revealed by LabourList, which outlines the potential contents of Starmer’s manifesto for the next election.
But those who remember the 2020 Labour leadership contest will know better than to trust any promises emanating from Starmer’s office. Three years on, not one of his infamous 10 pledges remains unbroken.
At the same time, we don’t need to see a list of pie-in-the-sky demands to know whose side Starmer is on. He’s already proven himself to be an outright liar, who will say whatever he needs to pull the wool over the eyes of workers, as he cosies up to the capitalists.
Momentum and the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs, for example, are still calling for an “alliance” between the right and left to forge a “united party” – all while Starmer and his cronies carry out their McCarthyite purge of left-wingers.
We must not sow any illusions in Starmer – this wolf in wolves’ clothing. Instead, workers and youth must get organised, build the forces of Marxism, and fight for revolution. To paraphrase Starmer’s Tory idol: there is no alternative.