That Starmer fella...

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  • This article, from Tom Kibasi (who worked on Starmer's campaign and is considered on the soft left of the party) is astute on precisely why Labour's current campaign is so futile: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfre­e/2021/feb/16/keir-starmer-leadership-ur­gent-course-correction-labour

  • I think he makes some reasonable points in that piece, and I am not claiming Starmer has got everything right, but he misses out that Blair was up against John Major's divided and exhausted government and that Labour were 20% up in the polls under John Smith. And he grovelled to Murdoch to get the Sun's endorsement. The Tories then had Duncan Smith, Hague and Howard as their leaders. Blair was a skilled politician for sure but he wasn't up against the strongest foes so comparisons to that era are not exact.
    I think Labour have massive problems with Scotland and there's no possible leader that can solve them. I think it is too early to decide about Starmer but I don't believe any of the other candidates would have done any better.

  • Yes, those are important points. I guess that leaves the conclusion that Starmer is both a far worse politician than Blair, and is operating in far less favourable circumstances. Where does that leave Labour's chances of political success?

    I agree that there is a dearth of talent on all wings of the Labour party, and that there has been no real attempt to confront the problems that the party faces in Scotland, including under Corbyn. I will be interested to see how the council elections in May turn out and personally can only hope that it results in a change in course from the current direction.

  • No, instead Starmer gets Richard Burgeon and Diane Abbott talking about emergency conferences and leadership challenges less than a year into his PMship.

    Look, I don't think Starmer is perfect, but let's not pretend he's not dealing with the exact same factionalism that Corbyn dealt with. Starmer is just doing a bit better at managing it.

  • The other thing Tom Kibasi misses out is why Corbyn was removed from the party.

    Corbyn said the problem of antisemitism in the party was 'dramatically overstated for political reasons' on the day that the Labour Party was found to have acted unlawfully by discriminating against Jewish people. That is not something you can sweep under the rug.

    That is not aiming barbs at the left of the party. That is Corbyn painting a big target on his chest and daring Starmer to come at him.

  • I'm sorry but the idea that the PLP under Starmer has been anywhere near as unruly as it was under Corbyn is ridiculous. Corbyn faced a coup in 2016—again, less than a year into his premiership—for receiving poll results not dissimilar to Starmer's latest Survation poll.

    Yes, Starmer is better at managing the PLP, but that is only made possible by the fact that he represents the dominant wing of the party.

  • Corbyn faced a coup in 2016—again, less than a year into his premiership—for receiving poll results not dissimilar to Starmer's latest Survation poll

    He faced a coup for his Brexit stance - even the coverage from the time makes that clear. It's fine to disagree with someone's opinions but let's not disagree over facts.

    Yes, Starmer is better at managing the PLP, but that is only made possible by the fact that he represents the dominant wing of the party.

    Corbyn's wing had full control of the party machinery in 2019, from NEC to LOTO, and we had our worst result in a hundred years.

  • I didn't vote for Starmer and remain convinced that he is not the right person to lead the Labour Party into the next General Election.

    I must say, however, that I am fascinated how obsessed the far right press are with him. The Times is really going overboard in their attacks on him. Why?

    My understanding - which is second hand as I don't read the Times but I do spend too long on Twitter - is that it comes from the far right of the Labour party having become impatient with Starmer, seeing he is not what they hoped, and now briefing against him. Essentially Mandelson, Campbell up to their old tricks again.

  • Agree, this is an interesting article.
    My take on Kibasi saying 'Starmer has potential if he does ...' is that he knows Starmer won't change so he thinks he basically should go, but doesn't want to say so in public.
    From someone who was one of his key backers just a year ago, and who is widely respected across the party, it's a devastating critique.

  • Starmer has managed the party much better

    Hmm - not sure about that! Unless you mean the PLP, that is.

    Starmer has seen membership numbers fall significantly, leading to a big problem in party funding, and has started a needless civil war with the left, which will end up with both sides losing.

  • And he shouldnt be driving an SUV in Kentish Town 😂

    I think that's a real problem. Undermines his, and hence Labour's, credibility on GND and environmental issues.

  • Starmer is just doing a bit better at managing it.

    Starmer is being more ruthless in getting rid of people who don't fall in with what he wants. Is that good management? Not necessarily.

  • Apologies, I got that bit wrong.

    Still, my point still stands re the compliance of the PLP—there is no way the left would be able to wield the power to attempt a coup on Starmer, even if this was their aim (I haven't heard anything from Burgon or Abbott to that effect).

  • Starmer has seen membership numbers fall significantly

    Not sure if that's true https://www.theneweuropean.co.uk/brexit-­news/keir-starmer-labour-membership-8837­0

    and has started a needless civil war with the left, which will end up with both sides losing.

    All the left needed to do was not be antisemitic. Instead RLB tweets support for AS conspiracy theories, Corbyn minimises the failures of the party he led on the day we were found to have discriminated against our Jewish allies, and both refuse to take the posts down. As I say, that's not Starmer picking a fight, that's those guys drawing a target on their chest and daring Starmer to come at them.

  • Still, my point still stands re the compliance of the PLP—there is no way the left would be able to wield the power to attempt a coup on Starmer, even if this was their aim (I haven't heard anything from Burgon or Abbott to that effect).

    That's true, the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs is relatively small. But so too were the number of centrist MPs openly gunning for Corbyn before the Brexit vote.

    It was the dawning realisation of how enormous a disaster Brexit was, and how badly Labour had managed its campaign (something which the 'seven and a half out of ten' quote seemed to sum up) to Remain, that really galvanised MPs into doing something. Sure, i'm sure the hard core always loathed him, but it's that broader narrative that built the PLP up into a workable coup. Trust me, if Starmer presides over anything so disasterous, you'll see the same thing triggered from the left of the party. We're nowhere near that yet though.

    I'm not a huge Corbyn fan but I am prepared to accept that Brexit was the single worst set of circumstances to hit a Labour leader since the second world war. All his options were dog shit. But I still think he could've made a difference to that 48/52 vote, and I think he chose not to.

  • I only think Starmer is doing OK, but his approval rating, even now at his worst, is better than Corbyn at his best. Corbyn never made it into net positive.

    We've made up 20 points in less than a year. That's not nothing.

  • The 20 points is ironic, as many people said during Corbyn's tenure that Labour would be 20pts ahead with any other leader.

    Keir has Labour leadership on easy mode at the moment, so I would expect his approval and polling ratings to be a lot better than they are. It's only going to get worse from here.

  • Why is it easy mode? It's only just over a year ago that tons of people voted tory and labour had their worst defeat for years. Swing voters that voted tory will still feel the same things as they felt when they voted tory for whatever reason. Despite everything that has happened last year, that massive tory win is still recent, think it's pretty difficult to expect so many people to suddenly change their minds just because the leader is different.

    It also seems prudent to hold fire on telling everyone exactly what you think the country should look like when you are PM at the moment because there is no doubt that we will be emerging into a very different world post covid with a whole different set of arguments and voter priorities. Hold fire until its over, oppose them, let the Tories continue to mess up and then bring out some policies and a coherent political story closer to an election so the Tories don't get the chance to steal them or outflank you.

    Plus Brexit has only just happened and in alot of people's minds, that is a massive tick for Boris Johnson and the Tories. That will only have a hope of unraveling over a few years.

    Personally I think the best starmer can hope for in 2024 is to reduce the Tory majority to a small one or a hung parliament with the snp on labour's side. Anything else is a fantasy

  • Why is it easy mode?

    He doesn’t have to deal with a hostile media, a hostile party or Brexit. He also has the open goal of the Tories mishandling of Covid-19 causing 117k+ deaths.

    None of those will apply come 2024.

  • Maybe.

    Alternative theory is the "rally around the flag" effect that people put trust in govt during times of crisis - they don't want to be too harsh on a govt given severity of situation, and also psychologically want to trust government when they don't feel safe.

    Whereas in 2024 hopefully the scariest stuff will be past and we'll just be living w consequences

  • Starmer has seen membership numbers fall significantly
    

    Not sure if that's true https://www.theneweuropean.co.uk/brexit-­news/keir-starmer-labour-membership-8837­0

    It is true. That link is very old. Look at the up to date figures that came out at the NEC this week. About 50,000 down.

  • All the left needed to do was not be antisemitic.

    This comment suggests that you have a very poor grasp of the antisemitism issue. And attempting to smear the entire left of the party is, at best, in very poor taste.

  • My link was from July 20. That 50k down figure is from November 20. Not a huge difference in timescale there. In any event membership is back up again to 519k, per luke akehursts nec report last week. http://lukeakehurst.blogspot.com/2021/02­/nec-report-11-february-2021.html?m=1 So as I say I'm not sure your stats are right there.

  • We've made up 20 points in less than a year

    You keep mentioning that figure every few days. But why is Labour's vote share at the last election even relevant? Surely that is not the benchmark that Starmer wishes to be judged by. It certainly isn't the benchmark which others will judge him by!

    Comparing him to Corbyn on approval figures is hardly relevant either. We all know that:

    • Corbyn was a marmite figure - people either loved him or hated him with relatively little in the middle, and being hated a bit less by people who are not going to vote for you is not worth anything electorally
    • After the 2017 election the press did a monstering job on Corbyn and succeeded in trashing his personal brand in the eyes of the electorate.

    Given we want to win an election, not lose one, surely the relevant comparison to make is not with Corbyn but with Blair.

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That Starmer fella...

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