Old Socialist engages in ‘waste management’.
@RColvile opens with these two paragraphs:
It is one of the most extraordinary statistics in British politics. Unless Rishi Sunak hurries to the polls, the next election will take place a full 50 years since any Labour leader not called Tony Blair beat the Tories. No wonder Sir Keir Starmer has been taking large chunks from the Blair playbook — moving to the centre, talking tough on crime, wooing business, committing to spending restraint and, above all, infuriating his party’s left wing.
Of course, there are a few differences between the two. Blair was by far the more gifted performer. His poll leads were larger. He never accused John Major of being soft on paedophiles — the charge levelled against Sunak in a bizarre attack ad the other week. It was all the odder given that Starmer, as director of public prosecutions, helped set the guidelines his party was denouncing, at a time when his rival wasn’t even an MP.
As Mrs. Thatcher remarked ‘Blair was her greatest accomplishment’
I’ll quote from Colevile’s collection of unadorned ‘Labour Left’ exhumations. This Times propagandist, hasn’t bothered with the inconvenient ‘The Labour Files’, as demonstrative of an utterly corrupt Political Class!
But there is still a shred of consolation for the Labour left — and a warning for any Tories tempted to think warmly of a restorative spell in opposition.
Now Starmer is very obviously no Jeremy Corbyn. For one thing, he is qualified to be prime minister. For another, he is not as viscerally tribal.
But Starmer is also very obviously no Blair. After the 2001 election, a veteran backbencher asked the great helmsman whether they could finally drop the New Labour stuff and do what they actually believed in.
Like Blair, Starmer is tacking to the centre on policy. Labour is busy setting out its “five missions”, which appear to involve matching some lofty goal — the highest growth rate in the G7, restoring the reputation of Britain’s police forces — to a series of worthy but inadequate policy solutions. (A task force on supply chain needs, tough penalties for fly-tippers and so on.)
But unlike Blair, there are clear limits. Many of Starmer’s policies are still to the left of anything contemplated by Blair or Gordon Brown —…
Labour is committed to continuity on tax and spend, and to accepting the Brexit verdict. But that is emphatically out of electoral necessity rather than conviction. Angela Rayner —…
You may retort that the reason Labour hasn’t accommodated itself to the Conservative record since 2010 is that it has been so much less impressive than Thatcher’s.
There is absolutely no sign, in other words, that Starmer and co have made an intellectual journey like Blair.
The fact that he has repudiated pretty much all of this out of electoral expediency — to the justifiable fury of the hard left — doesn’t change the fact that he said it. Or that he served under Corbyn, and campaigned for him to be prime minister, when more scrupulous figures stepped back.
What is Labour’s view on phonics, the curriculum, free schools? It says it wants to build, but where and how? Does it still view planning reform as a “developer’s charter”? Does it share Joe Biden’s vision of business policy as a form of woke corporatism where you lavish firms with investment incentives, but only as long as they recognise unions and commit to a host of quotas on diversity, equity and inclusion?
At the moment, Starmer is promising to govern as the technocratic scourge of the fly-tippers, his time as a Corbynite shield-bearer dismissed as the youthful folly of his, er, mid-fifties.
Starmer has been ruthless in weeding out Corbynite parliamentary candidates. But people who want to be Labour MPs still tend to be pretty left-wing.
Over the past few weeks, the polls have started to shift in Sunak’s direction. But Starmer is absolutely in pole position to become the next prime minister — especially if the SNP continues its implosion. It is time to talk less about whether he can win, and more about what he will do if he does.
Viewed in isolation these fragments of @RColvile’s essay use of catch words, phrases, as I have indicated by placing these in bold font, is pure Thatcherite political hysteria mongering. With Corbyn and his proffered fellow travelers, and even Joe Biden, as like political actors, in Colevile’s wan Political Melodrama.