Tony Greenstein | 13 May 2020 | Post Views:

If Labour Wants to Win the Next Election then it needs to Dump Starmer fast

COVID-19 Demonstrates why Sir Keir is so useless – He has Nothing to Say

If Labour had elected a Stuffed Dummy as its Leader it could not have done worse than with Starmer. Starmer’s performance during the current crisis has been dire. Someone should have whispered in his lug hole that the purpose of an Opposition is to oppose.

Take Johnson’s broadcast last Sunday ‘actively encouraging’ people to go back to work and effectively ending the lockdown. This is at a time when daily deaths are over 600 (and those are only the official figures).

The risk of a second wave or more accurately an extension of the first wave is extremely high. If people are squeezed together on tubes, rail and work, then there could be a massive increase in deaths. Yet it was left to Jeremy Corbyn, to make these points from the backbenches.

What was the response of Starmer? He has called for “clear directions” from the government and in his own broadcast Monday night he said “What we needed from the Prime Minister last night was clarity and reassurance.”

Starmer is incapable of criticising the Tory government on their culpability for the death of 30,000+ – it’s not in the ‘national interest’

What, one wonders, does Starmer not understand? Johnson and his cabinet are desperate to restore the fortunes of British capitalism even at the risk of thousands more people dying. Starmer’s refusal or inability to spell this out marks him out as unfit to lead a minor league football team let alone a major political party.

The Tory Press has been doing a better job than staid Starmer

When asked by LBC whether he’d support a trade union with safety concerns Sir Keir said that the party would “have to look at it”. How much more pathetic can it get? The answer should have been a simple ‘yes’. Writer Raphael Dogg wrote:

“So, when asked on LBC if he’d support a trade union telling workers to leave an unsafe workplace, Starmer said he’d have to think on that. An unsafe workplace. And he’d have to think about it. #StarmerMustGo.”

Starmer stated that “We needed to hear that nobody would be asked to go to work or send their children to school without it being safe to do so.” Any Opposition leader worth their salt would not need ‘clarification’. They would be demanding that no-one should go back to work unless safety can be guaranteed.

Of course that can’t be done until everyone who needs it is tested. Instead the Tories set a target of 100,000 tests a day and then fiddle the figures in their normal manner. If testing isn’t systematic and comprehensive then what is likely to occur is reinfection, especially as having COVID-19 once doesn’t guarantee immunity.

Corbyn got it right when he accused Johnson of waging class war. Unfortunately Starmer is of the same class as Johnson. He talks about the ‘national interest’ as if all our interests are the same. Owners of capital seeking to restore their profits and get production going do not have the same interests as the workers who put their lives on the line travelling on crowded public transport to get to work. This is the ABC of socialism. The problem is that Starmer is no socialist.

COVID-19 has demonstrated not just the lethal incompetence of Boris Johnson’s Administration but the deadly legacy of Austerity. No PPE, no testing, late to a lockdown, too few ICU and hospital beds, too few NHS staff, too few ventilators, no plan for a pandemic. The failures have been obvious. Add in the lack of quarantining of air travellers, the indifference to those living in care homes, the impoverishment of millions claiming a wholly inadequate Universal Credit and it has been a disaster.

Starmer hasn’t even been able to lay a glove on the hapless Hancock

Add to that the refusal to take part in an EU scheme to purchase PPE and you have a total, self-inflicted shambles. But of course to Johnson that was ‘taking back control’. One can only hope those who voted for Brexit and are now infected appreciate the irony.

Official figures show that over 32,000 people have died but according to the Office for National Statistics the excess numbers of deaths during the pandemic is 50,914 and rising.

Exercise Cygnus

I said that there was no plan for a pandemic but that is not strictly true. In 2016 Exercise Cygnus, a dry-run for a pandemic was conducted. According to The Telegraph:

There was not enough personal protective equipment (PPE) for the nation’s doctors and nurses. The NHS was about to “fall over” due to a shortage of ventilators and critical care beds. Morgues were set to overflow, and it had become terrifyingly evident that the government’s emergency messaging was not getting traction with the public.

Yet what was the response? To bury the Report and to do absolutely nothing. The result is that Britain has the world’s second highest number of deaths. Couple this with the Government’s delayed reaction to the pandemic forcing schools to close of their own accord.

Yet what has been Sir Keir’s reaction? Absolutely nothing. He has made no impact. Is it any surprise that the polls are still showing a lead of around 20%?

So dire has Starmer been that the main opposition to the government has been from the Tory press, Piers Morgan and even BBC Panorama! Starmer’s ‘forensic’ questioning to Boris Johnson has amounted to a pathetic nothing. You could replace Starmer with a speaking clock and the effect would be the same.

On 19th April the Sunday Times led with Coronavirus: 38 days when Britain sleepwalked into disaster which revealed

Boris Johnson skipped five Cobra meetings on the virus, calls to order protective gear were ignored and scientists’ warnings fell on deaf ears. Failings in February may have cost thousands of lives’.

In the five lost weeks from January 24th, Johnson spent 12 days on holiday in his grace and favour retreat in Chevening. Even Panorama got into the act when it reported that ‘There were no gowns, visors, swabs or body bags in the government’s pandemic stockpile when Covid-19 reached the UK.’ Yet what was Starmer’s reaction? Silence.

Piers Morgan has done a better job at holding the Tories to account than Keir Starmer

In response to Dominic Raab’s observation that people coming into Britain could bring COVID-19 with them, Morgan’s response was

‘Really? Really? You’ve just realised that there’s a risk of people bringing the virus into this country, Dominic Raab?…

The government insists that people need visas and passports to enter the country but if you have COVID-19 you are welcomed with open arms. 90% of the world’s countries took precautions at airports – including lockdown, quarantine and testing. Guess who was in the 10%?’ Yet Starmer is incapable of making such obvious points.

Indian military repression in Kashmir

But it’s not only on Coronavirus that Starmer has been a failure. The last Labour Party conference unanimously passed a resolution supporting the self-determination of Kashmir.  Following its victory in the Indian general election, on August 5th 2019 Narendra Modi, another of Netanyahu’s good friends, signed a decree abolishing Article 370 of the Constitution, thus stripping Kashmir of its autonomous status.

In December 2019 Modi passed a law preventing Muslims refugees from applying for citizenship. Modi is a member of the RSS an organisation that Nehru called a Nazi style organisation. It was founded by open admirers of Hitler. Its second chief, Guru Golwalkar, wrote in 1939 that Nazi Germany had manifested “race pride at its highest” by purging itself of the “Semitic races”. Its nationalism included abstaining from Congress’s Quit India movement. Opposition to colonialism was not part of the fascist agenda.

In a letter to Starmer the Muslim Association of Britain outlined a series of 12 points detailing the human rights abuses in Kashmir. India’s military occupation is granted legal exemption from any prosecution for killings, torture etc. The first point details how:

Security forces in Indian-administered Kashmir have been accused of carrying out beatings and torture. The BBC reported [29thAugust 2019]] that several villagers stated that they were beaten with sticks and cables,and given electric shocks1

The bland response of Starmer merely makes a commitment to uphold human rights and the rule of law. In the face of the imposition of military law over a civilian population any Labour leader with pretensions to be on the left would have condemned the atrocities of the Indian army and its occupation of Kashmir.

Starmer’s justification for changing policy was that

‘I am committed to working closely with Labour Friends of India to rebuild trust with the community. We must not allow issues of the subcontinent to divide communities here.’

Here you see the same weasel words that have justified Israel’s racism. ‘Jewish’ i.e. Zionist opposition to criticism of Israel’s ethnic cleansing and human rights abuses have been used to negate solidarity with the Palestinians. The same is now true of India as well. All in the name of ‘diversity’ and the poison of identity politics.

It is fortunate that there isn’t a large Burmese community here otherwise Labour would be silent over the genocide of the Rohinga. This isn’t an ethical foreign policy. It is naked opportunism and an abandonment of any principle.

The support of some Indians for India’s occupation of Kashmir is used as an excuse to support the military occupation of Kashmir. Who cares if some Indians are offended? What does it matter if some Jews support Israeli repression? One wonders what the reaction of British Jews would be if they experienced the same treatment as Palestinians in Israel? One suspects they might call it anti-Semitism?

The real reason for Starmer’s policy change was made clear:

“A Labour government under my leadership will be determined to build even stronger business links with India “

It is unfortunately true that the backtracking began under Corbyn with Ian Lavery sending a letter ‘insisting it[Kashmir] is a bilateral matter between India and Pakistan in which Labour will not interfere.’

When Starmer met with Labour Friends of India instead of upholding the principle of self-determination he jettisoned Labour Party policy saying that the occupation of Kashmir should be settled on a ‘bilateral’ basis between the Indian and Pakistan governments.

‘”Any constitutional issues in India are a matter for the Indian Parliament, and Kashmir is a bilateral issue for India and Pakistan to resolve peacefully. Labour is an internationalist party and stands for the defence of human rights everywhere,”

Even Neville Chamberlain didn’t declare that the question of the Sudetenland was a ‘bilateral issue’ between Nazi Germany and the Czechoslovak government.

Just as the far-Right support the Israeli state, which they see as anti-Muslim, they also support the BJP’s anti-Muslim policies. When he was Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi presided over pogroms against Muslims that led to more than 2,000 deaths.  Until his election as Prime Minister he was barred from the United States. Narendra Modi, then Chief Minister of Gujarat was accused of initiating and condoning the violence, as were police and government officials who directed the rioters and gave lists of Muslim-owned properties to them.

Electoral Politics and the Red Wall – Brexit is the Symptom NOT the Cause

The Labour Right is nothing if not stupid. It has nothing to say or offer apart from opposition to the Left. In this it is no different from right-wing European social democratic parties. Everywhere in Europe they are on the retreat before the forces of the right.

Unfortunately the Left is not exempt from the same criticism. Just as there is little understanding of the surge that led to the election of Corbyn in 2015 and then the election result of 2017 there is little understanding of why Labour lost the 2019 election.

For the sake of the Idiots of the North and those whose comprehension of things is one-dimensional or believe it was Brexit or the question of Corbyn’s leadership that lost the election, let us have look at the constituency of Bolsover, home of the Beast of Bolsover Dennis Skinner.

Bolsover is an ideal constituency because it was situated between the scab miners of Nottingham and the striking miners of Yorkshire. Bolsover pit itself was on strike throughout 1984/5. No greater supporter of the miners was there than Dennis Skinner.

Throughout the 1950’s Labour’s vote hovered around 80%. The same was true in the 1960’s. In the 1970’s it declined to 66% which is still very healthy. In the 1980’s, the decade of the Miners’ strike it declined to 56% and in the 1990’s it recovered reaching 74% in 1997.

During the years of New Labour it went back down to around 2/3 of the vote in 2001 and 2005 and then in 2010 there was a precipitous decline to 50%. There it remained until 2019 when there was a 16% slippage to 35.9%.

It is absolutely clear that Brexit had nothing whatever to do with the decline in the vote of someone who was a Labour institution. It is, or should be clear, that it is the demoralisation and defeat of the working class and its atomisation, reflected in the decline of strikes and class consciousness that has resulted in Labour’s vote between 1950 and 2019 declining by more than half.

Or take the General Election results in Mansfield, a former mining constituency in Nottinghamshire. In 2019 the Tories had 64% of the vote and a majority of over 16,000 votes. Yet even in the disastrous General Election of 1931, when Labour held just 52 seats, Mansfield was won with 56% of the vote. In 1945 Labour gained 75% of the vote. Until October 1974 no Labour candidate got less than 60% of the vote. Then there was a steady decline until in 1987 the Labour candidate Alan Meale won by just 0.1% of the vote, 37.5%. Although Meale recovered gaining 64% of the vote in 1997 there was a steady decline during the New Labour years. In 2017 Meale lost.

Sir Keir Starmer is a member of the Trilateral Commission, an invitation only club of the international ruling class. Membership include Carl Bildt, Henry Kissinger and Michael Bloomberg. One wonders what it was about Starmer that led to the invitation?

Possibly the fact that he was a rich QC, former Director of Public Prosecutions, an avowed Zionist and imperialist. What is certain is that Starmer will be incapable of winning back the Red Wall. His appeal will be next to zero because he has nothing to say that addresses their concerns.

Anyone imagining that the reason that Labour lost the Red Wall constituencies was because of Corbyn mistakes form for substance. Yes people gave Corbyn as the reason for not voting in 2017 but why was that? Did they know him? It was the pathetic inability of Corbyn to stand up to the attacks on him, to lay down an agenda and most importantly to fight the Right in the Labour Party which led to him being seen as weak. A fatal flaw for a politician.

Starmer has been unlucky and he is not currently in a strong position. Which is why the Left in the party should be attacking him, not giving him the benefit of an extended honeymoon.

Starmer had hoped by now to embark on a witchhunt of the Left. Coronavirus has intervened. And the one good thing that Jennie Formby did during her tenure, commissioning a report into the functioning of the Disputes Team has been like a delayed action bomb. Starmer’s first instincts was to go for those who leaked it and ignore what it said. But that has proven impossible. Instead he has appointed a Whitewash Committee to bury it.

In an article in the Jewish Chronicle of April 7th Starmer wrote that:

Tackling antisemitism within the Labour Party must be a priority and I want to set out the steps I am taking to begin restoring trust with the Jewish community….

we must fully cooperate with the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s inquiry into antisemitism….

And once the coronavirus pandemic is over and members of staff can return to work, I will be closing the Labour Party’s offices for a day and inviting representatives of the Jewish community to come in and facilitate a day’s training on antisemitism.

 And who is likely to be ‘training’ Labour Party staff in ‘anti-Semitism’?  Why the Jewish Labour Movement of course.  The same JLM which calls the Israeli Labor Party its ‘sister party’. The same ILP which is in a coalition with Netanyahu and which has agreed to vote for the annexation of West Bank settlements but not the Palestinians of the West Bank. The ILP is an openly racist  and segregationist party.

The JLM is also affiliated to the World Zionist Organisation, which has what Ha’aretz calls a Land Theft Division. The JLM is quite clearly a suitable group to train people into learning about racism. Possibly Starmer might also consider enlisting the services of Tommy Robinson and Nick Griffin or even better David Duke of the KKK.

Reports say that Russell Lloyd-Moyle attempted to bring in right-wingers to oust Richard Burgon (sitting to his left) as Secretary of the Campaign Group

However the revelations that Labour’s senior staff were actively working for a Tory win in 2017 will not go away. Whether or not the Left is prepared to campaign for Starmer’s early removal remains to be seen. Given the abysmal record of the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs, with turncoats like Rebecca Long Bailey and its share of opportunists such as Brighton’s Russell Lloyd-Moyle is doubtful. If the Socialist Campaign Group was what it says it is it would have a policy of refusing to serve in Starmer’s shadow cabinet which only gives credence to the idea that he is a ‘unity’ candidate.

When Starmer says “I support Zionism without qualification” we should take him at his word and treat him as the racist he so clearly is.

Tony Greenstein

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Tony Greenstein

1 Comment

  1. no2zionism on 16/05/2020 at 9:04pm

    With this slimeball in place, it’ll take a decade and a half for ‘Labour’ to be elected again.

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