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Don’t look to Starmer to resist the Tories

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Issue 2713
Starmer stands up to his own members, not the Tories (Pic: UK Parliamen/Flickr)

Here’s a forensic look at some of the big moments of Keir Starmer’s first 100 days as Labour leader.

On his very first day in the job he pledged to have the “courage” to support the Tory government “in the national interest”.

As the dreadful consequences of the Tories’ early refusal to impose lockdown came to light, he said it was “not the time” to challenge them.

Then the Tories faced anger over their failure to organise a proper test and trace scheme, to provide enough protective equipment for NHS workers, or to monitor care home deaths.

Starmer focused instead on demanding a plan to end the lockdown.

When teachers in the NEU union threatened to fight the Tories’ plans to reopen schools, Starmer said they should be among the first to go back.

When Black Lives Matter protesters in Bristol pulled down a statue of the slave trader Edward Colston, Starmer said it was the “wrong” thing to do.

And as the movement raged at police brutality, Starmer insisted his support for the police was “very strong”. When Boris Johnson’s top political adviser Dominic Cummings was caught travelling across Britain with coronavirus symptoms, it was a major crisis for the government.

Starmer wouldn’t even call for Cummings to be sacked.


Yet for all that, media commentators and right wing politicians across the board praise Starmer as “strong” and “decisive”.

That’s not because of his opposition to Johnson—there’s been none—but because of his opposition to his own members.

When a leak exposed how Labour staffers tried to sabotage Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, Starmer kicked it into the long grass with a vague promise to investigate.

But when left wing shadow cabinet member Rebecca Long-Bailey was ludicrously accused of antisemitism, he acted immediately and sacked her.

He’s likely to use the coming publication of an Equality and Human Rights Commission investigation into accusations of antisemitism to bury the left.

Starmer’s leadership is really about sending a signal to bosses, the media and the right that he can be trusted to run the system the way they want him to.

Capitalism is mired in a new crisis, and working class people face an onslaught. But Labour’s instinct is to prop up the system and reassure businesses.

Real opposition to the Tories means breaking from Labour—and from the idea that saving jobs and pay means cooperating with bosses. It means proper resistance—strikes and mass demonstrations.

After 100 days of Starmer, no one can have any illusions that Labour will offer the resistance we need.

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