Keir Starmer has won the Labour leadership election. No surprise in the result, as he was the favourite all along. But what’s worrying is there are no surprises in his victory speech either. Because Starmer just gave the worst response imaginable.
Starmer in, Corbyn out
Starmer was elected with 56% of the vote. Angela Rayner was also elected as deputy leader. The outgoing leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted his congratulations:
Being Labour Party leader is a great honour and responsibility.
I look forward to working with Keir and Angela to elect the next Labour government and transform our country.#LabourLeadershipElection
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) April 4, 2020
The Tories seem happy, so far, with Starmer’s victory. Their party chairman Amanda Milling urged him to:
put aside the divisiveness and infighting that has plagued the top of the Labour Party for the past five years
But it was the new leader’s victory speech that was most telling. Aside from the usual niceties, Starmer said:
That’s why in the national interest the Labour Party will play its full part. Under my leadership we will engage constructively with the government.
So Starmer’s making out like Corbyn somehow didn’t “engage constructively with the government”. Even though he repeatedly wrote to it with suggestions, asked all the right questions at Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), and constantly stood up for the public.
Clearly all that might have been a bit too edgy for Starmer. He continued by saying Labour wouldn’t do:
opposition for opposition’s sake.
And that the party under him would make sure it was:
Not scoring party political points, or making impossible demands, but with the courage to support where that’s the right thing to do.
It’s the honour and privilege of my life to be elected as Leader of the Labour Party.
I will lead this great party into a new era, with confidence and hope, so that when the time comes, we can serve our country again – in government. pic.twitter.com/F4X088FTYY
— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) April 4, 2020
It’s perhaps this which sticks in the throat the most. Because the Tories’ response to coronavirus has been all about politics.
There are numerous examples of why coronavirus is political. As The Canary‘s Emily Apple recently wrote, the government’s response has been a shambles:
But NHS staff are still struggling to get tested with only around 2,000 able to access tests up to 1 April. The government has lied time and again. Johnson promised 10,000 tests a day, then stated he was aiming for 25,000. But these tests aren’t materialising. And many people blame the lost months when the government either failed to take action or was promoting herd immunity. One in four NHS staff, meanwhile, are off work and self-isolating. And frontline staff are dying.
As Apple also pointed out, Johnson’s even losing the support of the mainstream press too. And with rumours published (yet denied by Downing Street) that Johnson’s senior aide Dominic Cummings essentially said ‘let old people die’ to save the economy, you have to question what the government’s priorities are.
Some believe Tory policy is killing people:
You were warned Boris would be a disaster.
You didn't believe it.
Within 3 months, Tory government policy is literally killing people.
You were told Jeremy Corbyn was dangerous.
You believed it.
Within 3 months, Tory government policy is literally killing people.#YouWereWarned
— Dolly………. #FightThePower 👊 (@Calumets) April 1, 2020
Others, meanwhile, feel that despite coronavirus this is typical Tory behaviour anyway:
— They *are* lower than vermin (@shirleymush) March 29, 2020
Meanwhile, certain groups of sick and disabled people have been getting forms asking them to agree to “Do Not Resuscitate” notices if they catch coronavirus:
This sounds profoundly disturbing. People with learning difficulties to be listed by these services as "Do Not Resuscitate" if they are hospitalised with Covid19.
There's a very dark place to which we cannot afford to go. https://t.co/sAEmJt4ADN
— George Monbiot (@GeorgeMonbiot) April 2, 2020
So, as tax expert Richard Murphy pointed out, it’s hard not to think that the Tories are deliberately carrying out eugenics – where people deemed lesser than others are intentionally got rid of or stopped from having children:
Read Anthony Costello’s biography: he knows what he is saying, and he is very, very angry with this government. And rightly so. We are all being subjected to a eugenics exercise in which hundreds of thousands may die in the UK, unnecessarily https://t.co/8E7g4tJABW
— Richard Murphy (@RichardJMurphy) March 14, 2020
Starmer: game over already
For Starmer to say he won’t score political points is ignoring the reality of a situation that is utterly political. But it perhaps sets out his centrist stall well. So, instead of Corbyn’s consistently robust challenging of the government, and groundbreaking, radical approach to policy, will the Labour Party become just another vehicle for hand-wringing centrism?
Gayle Letherby perhaps summed this sorry mess up best:
Keir Starmer – Leader
Angela Rayner – Deputy
Not my choices, as my timeline shows.
I WILL fight WITH any leadership that works #4TheMany, that fights inequality & injustice AND truly is respectful of members, the foot soldiers of the movement.
If not, I'll fight you too.
— Gayle Letherby 🌹 #MyVoiceWillNotBeStilled (@gletherby) April 4, 2020
Starmer has a lot to prove. But his first speech as leader shows he probably isn’t going to deliver.
Featured image via BBC News – YouTube
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