By Nick Clark
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2084

Starmer could expel left MPs who don’t support Nato warmongers

The Labour leader is determined to prove his slavish support for US imperialism — and the horrors it inflicts around the world
Issue 2084
A picture of Labour leader Keir Starmer speaking in front of a blue background

Keir Starmer—servant of the British establishment

Labour leader Keir Starmer has hinted he could expel left wing MPs who do not voice “unshakeable support” for the Nato military alliance. That’s despite the fact that Labour’s left MPs have already completely surrendered to Starmer by dropping criticism of Nato, and abandoning the anti-war movement.

In an interview on the right wing Times radio, Starmer was asked whether he would take action against Labour MPs who criticised Nato in the past.

Notably conflating antisemitism with anti-imperialism, he replied, “We’ve been very clear about the expectations of our members of parliament when it comes to issues like antisemitism”. And “when it comes to the false equivalence that some argue between Russian aggression and the acts of Nato.”

It was an attempt to prove—yet again—that Starmer’s Labour is completely loyal to Nato and US imperialism. Pressed on whether this meant he might act against his own MPs, he said, “Yes.

“These are principles that are absolutely the root of the Labour Party, the centre of the Labour Party. And I’m determined that the Labour Party will face the electorate and not the sort of internal machinations and arguments that we have had too much of in the past.”

It comes after Starmer threatened 11 left wing Labour MPs for signing a Stop the War Coalition statement in February when Russia invaded Ukraine. The statement began by condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But it also—correctly—pointed out that the war was a product of Nato’s expansion into eastern Europe.

Starmer demanded all 11 take their names off the statement or would no longer be allowed to sit in parliament as Labour MPs. As he later gloated, “It was remarkable that all the signatures were removed within one hour.”

But even that wasn’t enough for right wing MPs and their supporters. Now they demand Starmer get rid of the left completely. “Keir should have booted them out then,” one unnamed “party source” told the Times newspaper. “Forcing them to back down wasn’t enough. He still has to share a party with them.”

Another said Starmer “intellectually accepts” that argument—and could use his control of Labour’s ruling national executive committee to make it happen. Labour MPs fear that even a hint of anti-war politics will mean the right wing press will unite with the Tories to brand Labour unfit to be in parliament. So they are desperate to prove Labour worthy by erasing the left entirely.

As another unnamed source told the Times, “At the next election the Tories won’t make it about Ed Miliband in Alex Salmond’s pocket. It’ll be Keir Starmer in Richard Burgon’s pocket. We can’t run that risk.”

A shadow cabinet minister separately made the same case—except with John McDonnell’s name in Burgon’s place. They added, “There’s no chance of even a minority government if the Tories make that argument.”

It’s yet another example of the dangers in the Labour left’s “stay and fight” strategy. The left MPs dropped their opposition to war at the most crucial time so that they might stay in Labour.

Now they face expulsion anyway. Worse, they helped smooth the path for an assault on the anti-war movement. As Nato supporters accuse anti-war campaigners of supporting Russia, few Labour politicians or trade union leaders are willing to defend them.

McDonnell told supporters to “unite” to help Ukraine by dropping Nato criticism. And Labour MP Diane Abbott even insisted “Everybody in the Labour Party supports the defensive alliance” Nato. It’s a sorry place to end up. The way to avoid it is to leave the Labour Party—and be free to criticise Nato and campaign against the war.

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