An academic explains exactly what is driving the media’s love affair with Keir Starmer

Keir Starmer
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The British media’s U-turn in its attitude towards the Labour Party since the departure of Jeremy Corbyn as leader has been swift and extraordinary to watch. After years of berating the party and its leadership, many establishment journalists have now opened their loving arms to Corbyn’s successor, Keir Starmer.

But what’s behind this about-turn? Are swathes of the media actually thinking of ditching the Conservatives, after a decade of effectively propping the party up, for the latest Labour model?

The Canary sat down with academic Justin Schlosberg to talk about the media’s apparent new love, its potentially soon to be jilted ex, and much more.

The love-in

Why has the media, by and large, welcomed Starmer as Labour leader? If he’s the ‘threat’ to the Conservatives we’ve been led to believe, then why would Britain’s largely Tory-leaning press approve of his appointment?

One of the great myths in western democracies is that establishment power and the vested interests associated with establishment power are embedded only in conservative or right-wing mainstream political parties. So if you start from the assumption that establishment interests always entrench themselves on… both sides of the mainstream political divide… within the Republican Party as much as the Democrats, and within the Tory Party as much as the Labour Party, then I think it becomes clear why we don’t actually live in what could be characterised as a one-party state… The reason why we had such a prolonged spate of Labour governments between 1997 and 2010 was precisely because the Labour government under Tony Blair, and to a large extent under [Gordon] Brown, represented the very same vested interests that most of the mainstream press speak on behalf of, in my view.

The safe assumption would be that so long as Labour has in place a leader that broadly speaks to the very same interests across the mainstream political divide, and that underpin Fleet Street and the mainstream press, at some point they will attract the interest and support of significant sections of the mainstream press.

And the reason for that is simple. Because [while] the press don’t have an interest… in real social change, in any kind of fundamental change, they absolutely have an interest in what we might call surface change or superficial change – because that’s the stuff of news. And frankly… the narrative exhausts itself if it’s simply an endless Tory government.

Read on...

“The absolute red line is the socialist left”

So, although it has appeared over the last decade that we have a largely Tory-supporting press, what you’re saying is the press is propping up something, but it’s not necessarily the Tory Party, it’s the system. The press is propping up the interests that it has. But it needs the drama every so often of a switch in governance that still sits within that framework and can fill its pages.

I think that’s essentially right… there are obviously some titles that are blue through and through… that will never switch their allegiance. But I think that’s very clear with much of the broadsheets, certainly the Times… much of the centre to centre-right broadsheets, the Independent, and even in the mid-market press, the Mail and certainly the tabloids, the Sun, these titles have already signalled that they can, and have already switched allegiance. [They] have signalled a willingness to do so provided there is an ‘effective opposition’, which is establishment shorthand for… a quiescent opposition to their interests.

That’s also reflected in the way that almost every point in the political spectrum, from the far right to the centre left, has some kind of established platform within what we would call… the mainstream media. In other words, it is only the socialist left that is excluded. The perfect example of this is LBC. LBC prides itself… on being a-partisan or non-partisan by having what it considers to be presenters that offer listeners a range of political perspectives… from Nigel Farage to… James O’Brien. And that to them is the kind of epitome of impartiality… and the absolute red line is the socialist left.

Starmer’s solidarity

So far, Starmer doesn’t appear to be offering any kind of fundamental change to Britain’s status quo. He’s been weak on holding the government’s feet to the fire over their treatment of citizens during the coronavirus pandemic (and fairly strong on calling the government out for not helping big business). Starmer has also responded to the BLM protests by taking a knee in an empty conference room while telling off protesters for tearing down a statue of a notorious slave trader.

Corbyn, of course, was different. He did offer radical change. There were many qualities that defined his leadership, and solidarity with people was right up there among them. What do Starmer’s offerings as leader so far say about his capacity for solidarity, and with whom?

I’m afraid this was perfectly obvious almost from the moment that Sir Keir entered parliament in 2015, where I think one of the first bills that he voted on, or rather, in this case, abstained on, was the welfare reform bill… Thereby [he] gave implicit support for the brutal austerity regime that has been brought in by successive Tory governments.

He has always made it clear, to be fair to him, notwithstanding some quite infantile attempts to claim the mantle of socialism during his leadership campaign, he’s always in his actual concrete actions and statements, as an MP at least, made it clear that he stands for what I would call paradigm continuum.

It’s very clear that he is a pair of safe hands in that respect and that’s… borne out in the way in which he has been welcomed with open arms, and almost a kind of audible sigh of relief, amongst mainstream and professional journalists. Here is a man who ostensibly is on the left but speaks their language, and that doesn’t fundamentally… threaten their interests.

The acceptable face of capitalism

These kinds of… [moderate] political leaders on the centre left or centre right, they are… not only the acceptable face of capitalist ideology… but they’re a good brand for it… They have a degree of… symbolic power as being somehow speaking for the underprivileged [and] the disadvantaged… There is nothing of more value to the structures of power that underpin capitalist societies than having a political leader that has that kind of image and persona but that nevertheless more or less… acts in the interests of transnational capital.

That’s in a way much more preferable… to a figure like [Donald] Trump, or even to some extent [Boris] Johnson, who are… not very good brands for capitalism… There’s a lot of uneasiness about Trump within mainstream liberal spheres in the US, including the mainstream liberal media.

[But] the solution to Trump… to the extremism and illiberalism that is taking hold in Western democracies, is never going to be the good face of capitalism… They are never going to be able to provide the solutions, and I think are quite ill-fated in terms of their prospects of winning.

The media’s new ‘foe’

In contrast to Starmer’s welcome, there’s a narrative developing that the media’s relationship with Boris Johnson’s government is somewhat tense. Does the media have an adversarial relationship with the current government? I.e. when it comes to the current government, is it actually doing its job given that the media is meant to have an adversarial relationship with those in positions of power?

It’s always been true of this government as much as anything else that they always face some degree of adversary from the mainstream press… What’s clearly happened since Starmer has become leader of the Labour Party is that it’s given a kind of renewed impetus to that kind of adversarial journalism. And that’s why we saw almost immediately these Sunday Times features highly critical of the government’s handling of the pandemic that we just didn’t see before.

I think the reason for that is partly because there wasn’t this greater threat for the mainstream press in the form of Corbyn… But secondly, as I said before, that Starmer just… carries instant credibility. Not just because… he speaks off that same hymn sheet, but also because of his background as a public prosecutor. He’s just seen as respectable and credible in the way that a vegan, teetotalling, allotment-tending pacifist like Corbyn just didn’t fit the mould.

Raging against the machine?

The Johnson regime is selling that adversary idea too: that it’s him against the media; him against the establishment. Brexit was a useful prop for polishing that image. Essentially, he’s branding himself as someone who’s willing and able to rage against the machine on behalf of the people. Tied to that, is the fact he’s being called a populist. What is a populist, and is Johnson actually one?

The word populist, it bothers me because it doesn’t… immediately signal what it should, which is that this particular brand of politics is unique to the hard right. The problem with the word populist is it has this neutral tone that can make it applicable both to the left and the right. What it gives rise to is all sorts of very lazy false equivalences made between, for example, the way in which people like Trump and Dominic Cummings attack the media… and the longstanding radical left critique of the media.

It’s very clear that when Trump talks about the fake media, he’s doing so on the basis of a whim and on the basis that he perceives any media that doesn’t give him pretty much an unchallenged platform, in the way that perhaps something that Fox News or Breitbart comes close to, as being fake news media… That false equivalence just wipes away decades of established research across disciplines of journalism studies, media studies, cultural studies, which have shown time and time again that if there is any skew to the coverage in terms of political balance of mainstream media, including broadcasters like the BBC, it is almost always towards the right or the centre right, and it is always against the left.

It gives rise to the same kind of lazy defence by the BBC that, ‘well because we get attacked equally by the left and by the right, that must mean we’re balanced’. It’s as if evidence counts for nothing and that we live in this world where the quality of public debate is limited to just empty rhetoric and slurs from both sides of the political divide.

Owe their political lives to the media

I would also point out that not only is it devoid of any evidence, but that kind of rhetoric of media critique by the hard right just belies the fact that fundamentally these people owe their political lives to the mainstream media… Trump owes his entire political career to the fact that he was given vastly disproportional airtime… There’s a study done by the New York Times which showed that actually, forget Fox News – it was CBS, CNN, all of the networks and cable channels that he’s taken aim at in his anti-mainstream media rhetoric – [they] were actually the ones that put him on the political map.

And the reason they put him on the political map was vividly illustrated by Les Moonves, the CBS chairman, who during the [2016] campaign made a remark to the effect of… ‘Trump may not be good for America, but he’s damn good for CBS‘. Because everything that Trump said was a ratings boost.

There’s evidence in the UK as well; programmes like Question Time have been giving platforms to what I would call the far right, including people like Nick Griffin and certainly Nigel Farage, really long before their relative polling ever justified it. They were given that platform because they made for controversial television, and that makes for good ratings.

“We will make you special”

The other thing to say in terms of [Dominic] Cummings is that there’s very few… [who’ve had] quite the degree of incestuous relationship with particular elite journalists from the mainstream media that both Cummings and Johnson have had. And it’s very clear they’ve courted that relationship.

It’s clear in the way that, for example, journalists like [Robert] Peston and [Laura] Kuenssberg were invited into this kind of inner sanctum of government press briefings and they’re always the first to be granted a question. It’s very clear what the media management strategy is behind that. It is ‘we will make you special’. We will provide a platform to you that will help you to define your career.

Media identity crisis

There appears to be an identity crisis in the media. It doesn’t seem to quite know what it is – is it entertainment, as per what you were saying about ratings, or is its role to hold power to account? Because if Cummings and Johnson are ‘making you special’ and happily inviting you in to the ‘inner sanctum’ that’s indicative of the fact you’re not holding them to account.

This is why the Cummings strategy is so effective in my view. Because what it’s designed to do is really play on the different professional identities and different professional ideologies that journalists have, according to what institutions that they work for and what their roles are.

Someone like Laura Kuenssberg, yes she may see it as part of her job to some degree scrutinise and sometimes be critical of the government. But that’s not actually the main part of her job as she sees it. The main part of the job as she sees it, is to report what’s going on in government, and to be the first and to be the person who can get access to information that others can’t… Cummings plays on that, and by bringing them into that inner sanctum, what’s he’s effectively saying is ‘we’re giving you more and more opportunity to be the first, to be the only ones’.


By the same token, what they’re doing with the other hand, [and] this is really unprecedented, is that they’re saying to… news organisations like openDemocracy – probably one of the most non-partisan news organisations that there is… – you’re banned. You’re not getting any access because you see it as your role, first and foremost, to pour critical scrutiny over this government.

You give with the one hand and you take with the other, and that’s basically about media conditioning. It’s journalistic conditioning.

This is part of the game. This is the game we’re in. It’s a game about, fundamentally, not just media management but information control. Information control has always been fundamental to the sustainability of power. There may be slight differences in the way that Cummings does it to the way that Trump does it, to the way that [Tony] Blair and [Alistair] Campbell did it, but they’re all basically different tactics to pursue the same end goal and that is control information and control the narrative.

Schlosberg concluded by saying that “it’s extraordinary actually the parallels between a media system as it’s developing in a country like Britain and how it’s been in a country like Russia for many years”, whereby, although there are state-controlled and state-owned media outlets, “the agenda is controlled through exactly the same kinds of patronage that we’re seeing with this Johnson government”.

These are indeed unprecedented times. But they are not some weird kind of aberration that’s developing despite the structures of power that exist within capitalist societies. They’re a consequence of them. And Britain’s mainstream media – as opposed as it is to any fundamental change – is not going to be of any assistance in building resistance to them. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Featured image via ITV News/YouTube

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  • Show Comments
    1. I have always, except when I worked abroad, voted in every election.
      More and more, since MiLord Spymaster took over, am I feeling that it is pointless to do so in future.
      I’ve tried the Greens. They are bigoted haters.
      I could never vote for the Liberals.
      For us English. There will never be a serious alternative left party. As the majority of Socialist politicos see their roles as Lord Starmer’s dogs, sitting at The Labour King’s feet, hungrily waiting for a half chewed morsel from his lips.

    2. 1. The argument that Farage appeared on QT (etc) because he is controversial and so good for ratings is surely only partly true: there are left-wing figures of equal controversy who appear far less or not at all.

      Perhaps the argument should be that Farage etc are “acceptably controversial”. Which is consistent with establishment bias argument used elsewhere in the piecw – and which I agree with.

      2. The media do not exist in a vaccum but with a culture that normalises Capitalist ideology. Advertisments are obvious examples. Hollywood films are so often propoganda (a lone hero – not a group – takes on vested interests). TV shows (Dragons’ Den, The Apprenctice, but many others about house buying, winning money, …). Famous, glamorous, wealthy people lauded, given a voice. etc and so on.

      All of this makes creates the impression that Capitalism is some kind of natutal order of things. It makes the Capitalism message easy to speak. It frames the voice of the establishment media.

    3. Is it really possible to over think this issue? As usual I’m bored by the negativity of anyone urging inaction “…’cos it’s not worth it”. I do appreciate colourful criticisms of the Sirkeir character; a man who always seems to look like someone whose skeletons are known about by Ukania’s spymasters. Thank you Peter Hall for your succinct comment on this very good and informative article. Don’t be afraid to think and consider ideas. It’s not dangerous… really, it isn’t. Ineffective cynicism is infinitely more dangerous, and it becomes boring very quickly. It’s ironic that someone named ‘Peter Hall’ should call out the Beeb, he or his namesake didn’t when he was in charge. I suppose it’s a nice little earner if you can get the job.

    4. What we face is the business-State-media complex. There is a false idea abroad that capitalism is a market system, that it doesn’t need and dislikes the State. On the contrary, for the past five centuries the State has been used to defend and further the rights of property. The intellectual culture, with a few worthy exceptions, has supported this. The media, in their old form always did and in their new form follow suit. When the State is needed to defend property, the Right loves it. Take 1984 when the Continental Illinois Bank was on the verge of collapse. It was nationalised, the biggest nationalisation in US history up to that date. And then just look at 2008. It’s when the State is used to help the common folk that the doctrine of the market is pushed and the Right claim they don’t like State interference. The complaisance to Starmer is straightforward: he won’t use the State against business, against property, for the common people. The business-State-media nexus is intact. The terms of debate are set very narrowly. The intellectual culture complies. Popular culture reinforces the narrowness. The result is the citizens know nothing. Stupefaction prevails. Hence, democracy fails, which gives the Right the grounds to argue against it. Look at the argument, taken seriously, that votes should be weighted according to qualifications, wealth and status. The explanations are easy, but what should we do? The answer is to fight back in ways they don’t expect. We need a movement they can’t suborn. Power suits are no good. A fluid, non-violent, movement of consistent civil disobedience; a headless, non-hierarchical, non-bureaucratic movement is the answer. It doesn’t take a huge number of people. Just dedication, intelligence, imagination and a willingness to play the long game. If you want a quick glimpse what we’re fighting, read Nick Timothy’s nonsense in today’s Telegraph. According to him the Left is in control. The Equality Act and the Human Rights Act mean that poor Tories are defeated at every turn. This is typical. The Right control but claim the opposite. What lurks beneath Timothy’s piece is a desire for ever narrower limits to thought and behaviour. Orwell would have understood.

    5. I suspect it has more to do with creating ‘superficial democracy’ and providing a lightning rod for discontent. The media and their establishment bosses know that in these dangerous times, if Johnson appears to have unassailable power, people may become so disillusioned with the democratic process, they take to the streets in their millions (which terrifies the powers that be).
      So instead, the establishment make a show of undermining Johnson and pretending to give voice and support to the opposition. With so long until the next election, they know that media support for Starmer is cheap.
      When the next election actually comes, most probably they’ll split the left-wing vote as usual, claiming that Starmer is too ‘establishment’. Oh the irony.

    6. So in a natural human way all governments devolve into a one party philosophy which has been noticeable to myself for awhile everywhere. Perhaps more so where tBut this isn’t democracy or a goverance which

    7. So in a natural human way all governments devolve into a one party philosophy which has been noticeable to myself for awhile and is happens everywhere. Perhaps more so in England where the establishment is well rooted in with the class system.
      But this isn’t democracy or the kind of goverance which will be successful in the rapid change we are undergoing now. Its failing as anyone can see with leaders appearing to have swallowed goof ball pills.
      The illusion of having any relevance to our times has overtaken their minds. They live the illusion and it shows. Its purely a social adjenda without any connection to the surrounding real world.
      Natures life world is one of diversity constantly seeking out unimaginable niches very successfully over 3 billion years or more.
      This idea was so annoying to the Socially Religious Dominance who clearly misunderstood the idea of creation. Upsetting not to be the centre of its version of the social universe and ‘Control the information” back then, as now is the game. Some hope this idea has of surviving.
      Bascially the original ideas which were rejected by the social status quo determine the way we live now.
      Computors, invention of the steam engine, airplanes were never developed by the social staus quo.
      The social status quo is just a myth. To control it is absurd. Who invented Goggle?
      To adapt and survive democracy must recognise the value in diverse viewpoints, including radical social change , and I don’t see a Mission Statement for democracy as any company has outlining what it stands for.
      It simply doesn’t exist.
      No talk about it either or is any learning curve seen so one looks upon
      a massive failure in practical thinking is underway.
      Any new ideas are happening out on the street like “Defund the Police” and “There is no Planet B”.
      The goof ball pills these leaders have swallowed look just like moth ball pills.
      Parliament smells terrible.

    8. Starmer isn’t just more popular than Corbyn with some in the media. He is also massively more popular with the voters. In politics this is normally deemed a good thing. The Canary and the far left do seem to have a perverse love of losing and losers.

          1. They must be because the crap coming from the “independent” press is doing a fine job of passing off lies as truth. But that’s no surprise considering who keeps them in their cosy little jobs with little to do except cut and paste from Tory party press releases.

            Tell the lie often enough and people will believe

            Convince people that running a country is the same as running a house then they will tolerate benefit cuts to the disabled as we cant afford them.

            Keep the public at large dumb and lazy by constant exposure to popularity competition like Love Island, I’m a celerity, factor etc etc

            And finally ensure that every single political commentator is right wing and willing to lie.

            1. You obviously have nothing but contempt for dumb and lazy masses. You feel superior to them in every way. Why don’t you join the Conservative Party?

            2. Does the Canary claim to be objective media?
              That would be. a joke if it does. The slanted agenda supporting bias would make the Telegraph blush.

          2. Who says the public or the voters love Sirkeir? Is it the same organisation that managed to predict the last elections results from an exit survey that if you read the figures could only of questioned 40 voters from each constituency? It seems to me that it would be impossible to represent even the smallest constituency’s opinion with such a small sample.

      1. Accepting the status quo _is_ losing.

        It took brave people of the past to stand up for the freedoms you enjoy today,
        people who would not accept the status quo.

        That includes the right to vote. It also includes child labour, working hours, education, and of particular relevance at the moment: slavery.

        The history of democracy and of the Labour movement are inter-twined.
        None of those brave souls were elected (they could be).

        Voting for the status quo _is_ a defeat.

    9. I believe that what we’re seeing is the largely invisible ‘deep state’ at work. The stateless media owners maintain an unhealthy relationship with the security services. They who controls the media control the message. Starmer appeared almost from nowhere and any internal opposition faded away very quickly. How? He was a ‘sleeper’ supported by MI5.

      Starmer is a puppet of the security services placed to suggest we have a real Democracy when in fact we have a business/security services administration. Something Benito Mussolini called “Corporatism” but better known by it’s original name. Fascism. Starmer, quite like Tony B’Liar, is a Tory Lite place holder. He does not represent the many. He serves the few.

            1. You are the one that created that statement and generalised ‘them’ as everyone. You disagree and I don’t imagine that you are ‘Tory Lite’. Perhaps Tory, but not ‘lite’. What you have entered into is a discussion. But it seems you don’t really have anything to contribute, other than the occassional semantic grenade. Keep it up, the smoke always clears… and we continue our discussion.

      1. This is where left wing politics intersects with conspiracy theory, and there is a LOT of cross-over. Your beliefs are unpopular so everyone else must be brainwashed by the government. Anyone who’s view is inconvenient to you is a puppet. You’re unable to process moral greyness and problems embedded in remote cultures – there has to be a small number of evil plotters behind everything (and guess which race they are). If reality still gets in your way, lets just say reality is a projection by the reptilian overlords. No, Starmer is not working for MI5 you old fool.

        1. Perhaps you are over thinking this? Perhaps the notion that the Sirkeir character was/is an MI5 sleeper was an overstatement, but you are obviously just as much a victim of ‘conspiracy thinking’ as bkwanab seems to be, and how do you know for sure that ‘old’ is an accurate description. And as for ‘fool’; it’s obviously an attempt to agrandise your own intellect. However at least you are prepared to articulate you opinions regardless of the accuracy of those opinions. This government received less than half of all the votes cast in the December election, which does not suggest that Corbyn’s message was unpopular or that the Tories should have the majority in parliament that they do.

    10. I disagree with the analysis.

      (1) Corbyn undoubtedly attracted hostile media attention but I do not think that was because he was too radical or any kind of threat to the status quo. Most of his ideas were mainstream, accepted favourably by CBI and City, and commonplace for most European countries. In 2015/16 McDonnell was building support for his ‘Green New Deal’ and Labour were on course for GE victory as many were sick and tired of Tory ‘neoliberalism’ and ‘austerity’ and considered it a failed experiment. Country wanted change. Corbyn attracted big crowds of enthusiastic supporters.
      (2) Then came the Brexit referendum – Labour were split. Most Labour members backed Remain but Corbyn and most of the leadership wanted Lexit. Backing Lexit was a strategic error by Corbyn. He lost his own support and could not win enough Brexiteer support away from Farage and Johnson. Corbyn was then criticised by Remainer and Rightwing Brexiteer MSM. He was too Brexiteer for Remainers and too Remainer for Brexiteers. Nothing about his fantasy Lexit (which never had more than a tiny minority of support and could never have won a GE) was a threat to the ‘system’. Corbyn failed because he was not politically astute enough to avoid being attacked on two fronts.
      (3) Every other ‘scandal’ Corbyn was involved with, whether orchestrated or genuine let’s not forensically examine old stories yet again, was just ammunition for the same gun fight he could not win – stuck in No Man’s Land between two fires and with nothing to use as a shield or counter-attack.
      (4) Corbyn embraced Lexit and as a result he sacrificed McDonnell’s economic reforms and a chance to form the next government as a Leftwing, reforming force. No media forced Corbyn to do this. He chose to hole his own boat. And to destroy his supporters’ hopes for a better Britain.
      (5) Corbyn’s Lexit struck me as reactionary not revolutionary. And his other policies could only be described as reforming not revolutionising Britain. At most, under Corbyn, Britain would have aligned towards the northern European ‘big state’ status quo and away from the decades-long adherence to north American ‘small state’ values and practices. That does not make him a revolutionary, nor any kind of threat to any ‘system’ least of all ‘capitalism’.

      (6) Starmer worked his arse off to try to keep the majority of Labour members, who backed Remain, from walking away from Corbyn and Lexit. I voted for Labour and Corbyn in 2019 mainly because I wanted McDonnell as Chancellor and hoped Starmer would handle brexit/lexit and minimise the harm done. Without Starmer, Labour would have lost many more votes and Johnson would have an even bigger majority.
      (7) Is Starmer too Rightwing for me? That remains to be seen. He has embarrassed Johnson at PMQs. Otherwise he has been very reserved. I am waiting to see how he reacts to the next budget from Sunak – which is likely to return to austerity. If Starmer backs austerity I will no longer trust him. I am already pissed off that he gave a Shadow Cabinet place to Ed ‘more austere than the Tories in 2015’ Miliband. Miliband is a Rightwinger in my book and a wannabe Blair. He is the Nick Glegg of Yesterday’s Labour and belongs in the past. Has he reinvented himself? I am yet to be convinced.
      (8) Has MSM been ‘nice’ about Starmer? No more so than they were about Corbyn and McDonnell in their first months of leadership. Will the MSM continue to be nice? I think it depends on (a) whether Johnson continues to destroy his popularity and supporter base so that even Rightwingers start to look for alternatives and (b) whether anyone can trick Starmer into a self-inflicted wound the way Corbyn was by the Lexit fiasco. Does Starmer have the same skeletons in his cupboard as Corbyn (photographs, tweets, ‘terrorist’ chums)? Is Starmer less agile in the ‘chess’ of party politics than Corbyn? Not my impression. Starmer has a ‘statesmanlike’ demeanour and that ‘cultural capital’ will increase in value as long as we have a crisis (and it looks like all we have are crises ahead: pandemic, recession, brexit, dissolution of UK, climate crisis etc).
      (9) Starmer is not a threat to capitalism. But neither was Corbyn. But Starmer might be elected to public office in the next GE and once there might deliver at least some of McDonnell’s ideas. Fact is, Corbyn and McDonnell pulled the ‘Norton Window’ Leftwards in their time and that legacy remains. Starmer has that as a basis for future policy and it is unlikely he will renege on much of it since it addresses existential threat deeper than capitalism i.e. climate catastrophe. Moreover, when Johnson bothers to put forward policy it is frequently to the Left of May and certainly to the Left of Osborne. Thus Corbyn has achieved a reform of neoliberal capitalism even while he lost a GE.
      (10) My own view on revolution follows Guy Dubord ‘Society of the Spectacle’. Frankly, it is almost impossible for anyone to threaten capitalism from within it, not Starmer, not Miliband, not McDonnell, and not even ‘superman’ Corbyn. The only hope of revolution rather than reform (which simply helps capitalism adapt, evolve, deepen its hold on us all) comes from outside. Classic Marxism hoped the working class would defeat capital. The Communists-turned-Cummings fans aka the Spiked circle have abandoned the workers as too weak to change anything and now hope to smash society from the top-down through elite vandalism aka Cummings, Johnson and libertarian anarchistic ‘fuck it, I don’t care, let’s break this and see what happens’. That approach kills people but it does not, will not kill capital. Corvid-19, climate catastrophe – existential threats from nature might actually free us from capital. But what the end of that revolution might be cannot be seen from here, in the fog of capitalism’s ‘false consciousness’. We cannot say that e.g. Starmer’s reforms will not help us towards future revolution because no one knows. I suggest we wait and see, at least until the autumn when pandemic, recession and brexit are due to simultaneously hit the fan. As ‘wrecking balls’ go, this is unprecedented and we cannot foretell the outcome. Minimum result? Either Johnson clings to office by enacting McDonnell-style reforms that end austerity (i.e. at least on a superficial level c.f. Sunak’s ‘fulough as compassionate govt’ which Osborne would never have done) or he is replaced by a Tory who will… and the fall out of that crisis in Tory leadership means the chance of an early GE increases either way. Which means we might see a Labour govt sooner rather than later. And if sooner it is more likely to follow McDonnell’s ideas than have made its own plans. So, Corbynites should stop being bitter about the past and start being proactive and hopeful about the future. I backed Corbyn. Now I back Starmer. Pragmatism. It’s how to do politics. Try it 🙂

    11. Well thought out reflection yellowbird, thanks. But no mention of our corrupt and nasty Labour HQ staff, who activly undermined our prospects of a left leaning victory. Maybe, just maybe they should be purged, rather than anyone who questions the Israel goverments treatment of the Palestinians. Just a thought.

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