If they expel Corbyn, Labour centrists will open themselves up to the one thing they can’t handle

Keir Starmer standing in font of a sign which reads 'A new leadership'
Wilson Belshaw

Over the past five years, Labour’s most prominent centrists have demonstrated an impressive level of resilience. By that I mean no matter how stupid, wrong, or nasty an idea is, they’ve been prepared to vocalise it in order to monster Corbyn and the political project behind him. As the media happily joined in, this has meant the centrists’ own political ideas have gone half a decade without any serious attention.

This could spell trouble ahead.

Because if Starmer expels Corbyn and the Labour ghouls lose their bogeyman, they’re opening themselves up to the one thing they can’t survive: the mildest of public scrutiny.

The central complaint

Labour’s centre has a pretty clear mission statement:

Like 1997 but now.

It’s true that Labour were popular in ’97 – landslide popular – winning 43.3% of the vote compared to the Tories 30.7%. In 2001, that dipped to 40.7%, albeit with only a third of what was lost going to the Tories, who achieved 31.7%. In 2005, Labour plummeted to 35.2% – the Tories scraping 32.3%. After Blair left, support bottomed out at 29% as David Cameron’s New Conservatives achieved 36.1%. Miliband clawed less than a percentage point back to achieve 30.4% as Cameron swallowed enough Lib Dem votes to hit 36.9%.

From Parliament.uk
So what does this tell us?

It tells us that while politicians of this mould were popular, they become increasingly less attractive as people got to know them, and with good reason. The economic model they championed failed, and their inclinations towards xenophobia and demonising poor people opened the door for more hardcore forms of racism and class warfare.

The problem for Labour centrists is that time is linear.

It’s all well and good harking back to ’97, but people remember everything that happened in between. The idea that they can shout, “things can only get better!” and become miraculously popular again is like Bono waking up one morning and thinking:

I fancy going back to before everyone thought I was a bell end.

Something he attempts to achieve by squeezing into his ancient jeans, donning his antique shades, and slicking back the hair he increasingly no longer has.

It won’t work Bono.

If anything, seeing this Halloween version of you makes me like you even less.

Vision

As disappointing, awful, and war crimey as New Labour turned out, it’s worth remembering they didn’t sell themselves as authoritarian managerialists in ’97. Blair and co captured people’s attention by presenting an alternative vision of how things could be. What’s Keir Starmer’s vision for the UK?

The extent of his political programme so far can be summed up in the slogan:

Under new management.

Which translates as:

Not Jeremy Corbyn.

It’s certainly clear to everyone that Starmer isn’t Corbyn, but that doesn’t answer who he is.

What does Starmer’s Labour stand for?

We can probably forget his ten pledges, as front benchers like Lisa Nandy certainly have – even as Starmer makes vague promises to stand by them. We can question his dedication towards the environment, too, seeing as how he’s tearing around London in a gas-guzzling SUV mowing down Deliveroo cyclists. Starmer would be three weeks ahead of Boris Johnson on pandemic measures, but that’s still three weeks behind the science. And that’s if he follows the experts. He notably seemed loath to do so when Labour threw teachers under the bus in its haste to pile kids back into classrooms like tinned guinea pigs.

As bad as that last one sounds, it’s even worse when you consider he chose the Daily Mail to announce his anti-union alliance with the coronavirus:

At the more wishy-washy end, we can’t conclusively say Starmer’s Labour is pro-war crimes and rape cops, but the party’s mass abstentions mean they’re not not against those things either.

We’ve also seen the party siding with landlords over renters and wealthy donors over organised labour. Both incredibly normal positions for a party of labour to take, obviously. Definitely the sort of thing that will appeal to a broad coalition of voters and not just rampant capitalists who’ll vote Tory regardless.

Labour! Huh! Good god! What is it good for?

Clearly this isn’t Corbyn’s Labour, and for some voters that might be enough. For many others, an inevitable question will arise:

Who’s Labour is it? Is it mine? Is it Lord Adonis’s? Is it the Daily Mail’s?

Sections of the gutter press have given Starmer an easy ride while he attacks the left, but if Corbyn and the rest are gone, the kid gloves will come off. Outlets like the Daily Mail, Sun, and Express are rabid. They love hard-right Toryism, and now they’ve got a taste for blood, they won’t settle for off-brand Pedigree Chum.

Starmer will undoubtedly get an easier time in the press than Corbyn, but Socialist Labour had a counter-balance thanks to the party’s incredibly popular policies. What’s Starmer’s counterbalance? A sizeable number of voters will look past the tabloid smears, but that’s of little benefit if there’s nothing beneath the slander worth looking at.

Sir Nothing of Nowhere

It’s possible that Starmer will expel Corbyn permanently at this point to avoid attracting more criticism from the media types he’s decided he needs praise from. It’s possible he’ll go beyond that and root out the majority of the left. People have rightly pointed out that “divided parties don’t win elections”. They’ve spent less time questioning what it means if Starmer wins the civil war he claims he hasn’t started.

It’s worth thinking about. Because if the day comes when the Labour establishment forensically annihilates one of its most reliable voting blocs, people will want to know what comes next. The sad truth is Starmer and co won’t have an answer. The sadder truth is tepid columnists will pretend having no solutions to a world full of problems is the height of sensible politics.

I imagine that in this future of tabloid aggression and voter disaffection, more than one centrist MP will think to themselves:

It was a lot easier when we just ripped the piss out of Corbyn.

Featured image via YouTube

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  • Wilson Belshaw’s latest novel is Game of Plagues – a satire of the UK establishment’s disastrous, corrupt, and contemptible response to the coronavirus (with zombies). You can get it in paperback or eBook here. You can also follow him on Twitter.

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  • Show Comments
    1. I think Starmer has already taken the decision to expel Corbyn. He’s all but saying it. So, the BOD have got their wish.

      Well, Jeremy Corbyn has a far more distinguished record as an MP of 38yrs serving this country as an MP and as Leader of the Opposition, in which he was brilliant. Stalin on the other hand, is a shameless opportunist who offers no opposition at all to this Government, none, who does things like suspend Corbyn because it curries favour for him with the MSM. He hasn’t got a single Labour principle in his head, just look at his Conference Speech (utterly ridiculous in total) in which he said the working classes all they wanted was traditional values and family. No, they want jobs, education, affordable transport and housing etc all set out in the Labour Manifesto.

      He’s no less a charlatan and a buffoon than Johnson he’s just got a smoother veneer on it.

    2. There’s a “Green-Left” platform with Corbyn’s name written all over it.

      The Torighs discovered that F’Rage’s Brexshit Party would have made them 3rd place if it had run Nationally – how far down would Steer Calmer come?

      Fingers crossed we find out.

    3. It would seem that some fail to read the articles , or simply ignore the facts therein, for their own convenience. It would appear that some would like there not be any other opinion. A charge they usually lay at the door of their opponents. This hysterical waving of the discredited IHRA document, on which many of these ‘charges ‘ are based, should be rejected and something that make sense put in it’s place , should people think such a document is neccesary. More people should be asking why a non legal document is being used to castigate people in a quasi legal way. Many good articles in here. Thanks .

    4. I finding it surprising that the {so called} leader of the Labour Party does not know the meaning of basic English. Certainly he does not know what ‘unity’, ‘opposition’ and ‘solidarity’ mean! Similarly someone supposedly conversant on ‘International Law’ not knowing what ‘anti-Semitism’ is bewildering in the extreme. Moreover a leader that takes instruction from the Zionist lobby rather than the party’s members is, to my mind unforgivable. A ‘status quo’ ‘establishment’ lackey leading a once {under Corbyn for example} great party should surly not be tolerated.
      I find it hard to believe that if the ‘left’ win a majority on the N.E.C. this sham Labour Party leader will take any notice and go his own ‘right wing’ way!
      The suspension of Jeremy Corbyn could be the catalyst needed to form a new party with socialist ideals, I for one hope so!

    5. Quite right. Meringue politics. That’s how it works. No substance is good for the rich and powerful. Showmen and women who look good, perform well before cameras and haven’t a rigorous idea in their heads. Blair was nothing but a mouth. Think of a significant idea he produced. Nye Bevan produced the idea of the NHS and toyed with idea of a national housing service. That must make him a raging anti-Semite. Starmer is a frightened, obedient little boy. Just watch his eyes. He bullies because he feels bullied. He has no capacity to challenge the rich and powerful. He is one of them. He’s on the Trilateral Commision. Read its Crisis of Democracy which claims there has been an “excess of democracy”. That’s what he agrees with. The people must be given a kicking for daring to vote for a socialist. We need civil disobedience. Labour under Starmer is compliant and cowardly.

    6. A new party is a wonderful thing to start, and unencumbered by those who simply conform to the stupid, nasty, lie of Antisemitism all without thinking or paying attention to what is really going on. Religious Persecution by the those who have weaponized reigion is one aspect, but this Collassal Lie paraded by Keir Starmer brings an aura of utter dishonesty to any inspiration the Labour Party may have in store for its witless trust.
      If one looks back to the the Election of New Labour by Tony Blair in 97 , nothing new ever happened at all.
      It became just another version of the political fossil inhabiting the country at some level of understanding no one can fathom as to why.
      So this problem has been going on at least for 20 years. It time to restructure a New Labour Party with its humanitarian values in place, and with a complete makeover of its structure.
      You just have to implement what Corbyn’s goals were which so appealed to young people.
      I think its not about the Right, Centre, Left march of UNITY? but a focus on what it means to be human, and what our needs are. We still are a very deep mystery to ourselves and pretending we are descended just the other day from Gorillas is just another theory. We are far beyond it, and far more a threat to life on the planet , and ourselves.
      A new start is what is needed that deals with this mystery of deep staleness in the inspiration found throughout the land by a New Focus. Tradition is one thing, but a staleness ignoring the world around you means deep trouble in these fast moving times.
      It needs to go on the offensive simply by having a new idea which Bliar wasn’t up to imagining.
      He imagined power as the answer.
      Wrong, Bozo the Chimp.
      The Guardian in going along with the lie may soon be eating its proverbial hat as its motto about “Facts” has been treated with contempt by its reporting.
      Will they be questioning themselves in this stale fog they perceive humanity to live in?
      Its dynamic times , and an excellent time to begin anew a Party fresh to the world as we now find it.
      Call it the New Labour , and put Labour on the defensive.
      Vanquish them.
      Starmer’s idea of Unity looks like the kind found in a totalitarian regime when everyone was either Protestant or Catholic and murdered each other so “The Right Dialogue of Piety to be with God” could be heard by everyone who agreed.
      Starmer is good at appealing to piety, and duty, and it looks like the same idea of tradition Johnson ,and Trump are playing up to. But is it really tradition???
      It just looks stupid in this era of social media who “must be controlled”, taxed , and fined” before it gets out of hand by those seeking a social order to rule over.
      The only vitamin of nourishment is money for the likes of these out of time, out of one’s mind, creatures of the primitive lie.
      I hear no heart beat, no voice of a coming spring. Just dissolution.

    7. Spot on MM100
      “He is one of them. He’s on the Trilateral Commision. Read its Crisis of Democracy which claims there has been an “excess of democracy”. That’s what he agrees with. The people must be given a kicking for daring to vote for a socialist.”
      Sir Keir Starmer could go from being first elected in 2015 as a Labour MP to Labour Leader in 5 years, that’s one parliamentary term, Starmer’s name first appeared on the membership list of the Trilateral Commission in April 2019. Out of 650 MP’s, he was the only one invited to become a member.

      https://freddonaldson.com/2019/03/26/trilateral-commission-2019-membership-list-of-establishment-leaders-in-america-europe-and-asia/

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