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Sir Starmer plots a new shift to the right for Labour

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Keir Starmer wants Labour to be ‘patriotic’, pander to racism and support cuts, writes Nick Clark
Issue 2735
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer wants to shift the party further to the right
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer wants to shift the party further to the right (Pic: UK Parliament/Flickr)

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer will lay out his plans for a further move to the right in January.

Starmer and shadow cabinet ministers will present Labour as a ­“patriotic” party in speeches on ­“violent crime”, “government waste” and “Labour’s place in the world.”

The three themes are designed to push Labour’s politics onto right wing terrain.

Labour leaders in the past have used “tackling crime” to call for more policing and punishments that target working class people.

And tackling “government waste” will mean a return to the language and arguments that justify cuts and austerity.

Starmer told the Mirror ­newspaper the speeches would be aimed at winning back support in areas where there has previously been strong support for Labour.

He and his supporters in Labour believe that working class people didn’t vote Labour in the 2019 general election because it was too left wing.

They hope adopting right wing patriotism can win these voters back while proving that Labour won’t threaten the “national interest” of the rich and the state.

In a report the group Labour Together said Labour had to connect with people who are “proud to be British”.


The report, hailed as a “blueprint for Starmerism”, also said Labour must connect with people who want stringent immigration controls.

And one of his key advisers Claire Ainsley says Labour has to send “signals” that Labour shares their “values”. In practice that means pandering to right wing politics.

Starmer launched his effort to present Labour as a “patriotic” party with a speech in September, credited to Ainsley. He said Labour “loves our country” and “values” the “security for our nation.”

He then immediately pushed out shadow ministers who refused to back a Tory bill in parliament that protects soldiers from war crime prosecutions.

And in a speech last week, shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy set the stage for a return to backing US wars and “interventions”.

Nandy claimed that under Labour, Britain could play a progressive role by standing up for ­“feminism, environmentalism and human security” around the world. She said a Labour government would “shed light, not might”.

But in reality this meant reviving right wing nationalism—such as rallying around Britain against the US’s rivals Russia and China—in left wing language. Nandy said her plan to “put British people first” was actually “rooted in internationalism.”

She said this meant working closely with the US under its new president Joe Biden—a champion of the US’s wars in Iraq, Libya and Syria.

Supporters of those wars also pretended they were about ­defending democracy and “liberal values”. In reality they were about enforcing the US’s control of the Middle East that has caused devastating wars and wrecked millions of lives.

Corbyn’s ‘Peace and Justice’ project won’t confront war against the left

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is also set to launch a new project in January.

Corbyn announced on Sunday that he plans to launch a Peace and Justice Foundation in an online event on 17 January.

He said the foundation would “bring people together, for social justice, peace and human rights, in Britain and across the world”.

“It’s there to create space, hope and opportunity for those campaigning for social justice and a future that works for the many, not the few,” he said.

Corbyn described the project as an attempt to defend the legacy of his leadership of the Labour Party.

“We can build on the popular socialist policies developed in the Labour Party over the past five years,” he said.

Yet the new initiative avoids directly confronting Keir Starmer’s war on the left, or organising an independent challenge to the Tories and the right.

His supporters explicitly denied it was an attempt to set up a new political party.

Instead it was presented as an opportunity for left wing activists and campaigners to discuss policies.

“We will work with unions and social movements to build a network of campaigners, grassroots activists, thinkers and leaders, to share experiences and generate ideas about solutions to our common problems,” Corbyn said.

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