It’s one year since Keir Starmer became leader of the Labour Party, and newspapers have been full of lengthy profile pieces trying to work out if he is doing badly.
I haven’t changed my view that I set out at the start of the year:
Starmer has by far and away the biggest problem in British politics. He has done incredibly well taking Labour from 25% to 40% in the polls, but hasn’t been able to build a decisive lead over Johnson. This is because 40% is Labour’s new ceiling. Labour historically was an alliance of the North and Midlands with the Celtic lands against the power of the Tory South of England.
In short – Labour are fucked. Hard as Starmer works he has already achieved all he can.
Things could be about to get worse. The Tories are closing in on taking Hartlepool, which will confirm that there are more Red Wall seats that could go Blue, including Sunderland and Durham City. Labour will go into crucial Council elections skint thanks to 5 years of financial mismanagement and a plethora of court cases.
What then can Labour do?
1. Recognise that there are more Labour voters who read the Mail and the Sun than read the Guardian and the Independent (or at least there were until Corbyn came along). Stop attacking Mail and Sun readers and portraying them as scumbags – their views are just as valid as Labour voters who read Owen Jones and Polly Toynbee. The people who run the Sun and the Mail are baddies. Not their readers.
2. Stop pretending that being a middle class leftie makes you morally superior to everyone else, particularly if you have been turning a blind eye to the shocking scandals inside the party in recent years. Stop being patronising and talking down to people who don’t share your particular views as if they were morally deficient
3. Working with the right wing press to reach Tory voters and get them to switch the Labour is an honourable task – it is not a betrayal
4. Being anti-racist means engaging with different minority and faith communities and allowing them to shape and lead party policy – it isn’t about middle class graduates policing the language of non-graduates – thats not anti-racism it’s snobbery
5. Embrace patriotism and show people that you love the country that you want to lead
6. Make common cause with the libdems, moderate tories and anyone else you can bring into your tent. This is the only way to power. There is no realistic prospect of Labour winning power by themselves again.
7. Get the far left – the cranks, the creeps, the racists and rapists – out of the party forever. No other mainstream left wing party in Europe includes the far left – it is a tragic historical accident that they latched onto Labour at the encouragement of Lenin in order to destroy it; they support Labour “like a noose supports a dying man”
I think the problem is that so many people on the left have a vision of what it means to be left wing that is fundamentally toxic to voters – lots of lefties see being patronising, posturing, snobby and self-righteous as being virtues not problems
They would rather be out of power and self righteous than in power but pragmatic. Labour face being out of power for the rest of our lives