Keir Starmer has once again shown his party is no friend of migrants or refugees, this time during a speech to business leaders. But fear not – because the Guardian was there to make the Labour leader look a little bit less right-wing than he actually is.
Starmer: dog-whistle racism again
On Tuesday 22 November, Starmer delivered a speech to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference. There were various bits of dog-whistle racism, like the Labour leader saying Britain was “too comfortable” hiring foreign workers, and that this “low pay model” had to go because it “doesn’t serve working people”. However, the stand-out bit of right-wing rhetoric was when Starmer said:
our common goal must be to help the British economy off its immigration dependency. To start investing more in training up workers who are already here.
Starmer may as well have said ‘those bloody foreigners coming over here and taking our jobs’. His inference was fairly clear – even if it was dressed up with soundbites around hiring “skilled” foreign workers for certain jobs. However, Starmer hadn’t read the room at the CBI. Just a day earlier its head had said the UK needs more immigration to drive economic growth. So, what do you do if you’re Starmer, and not only are you sounding a little bit Farage-y but also at odds with the business lobby group you’re trying to court? Well, get the Guardian to whitewash your dog whistling for you.
Enter the Guardian
The allegedly left-wing rag covered Starmer’s CBI speech. However, it decided to lay cover for the Labour leader. It (probably intentionally) misrepresented what Starmer said, running with the headline:
Keir Starmer vows to wean business off ‘cheap labour’
The Guardian‘s Jessica Elgot provided similar cover in the opening paragraph. She framed Starmer’s “immigration dependency” as:
Keir Starmer will say that UK businesses must wean themselves off “cheap labour” and that a low-pay model for growth is no longer working for the British people.
It took her until the fifth paragraph to note what Starmer actually said. People on social media spotted what Elgot had done:
You’ve washed his statement. Tell your audience what he really said.
— Tory Fibs (@ToryFibs) November 22, 2022
Starmer’s right-wing centrism
This isn’t the first time Starmer has used the language of right-wing racists and xenophobes thinking it will win Labour votes. As the Canary previously reported, his comments about foreign people working in the NHS were pretty appalling. On that occasion, the BBC covered for Starmer – altering a headline to make him look slightly less racist. Now, the Guardian has done similar.
It’s almost as if Starmer’s brand of right-wing-courting centrism appeals to these outlets. This is unsurprising, given Labour’s lead in the opinion polls and potential for a general election victory. The likes of the Guardian and BBC, devoid of moral fibre, will court whoever wields political power – even if that means whitewashing their racist rhetoric. Of course, both outlets also helped ensure Jeremy Corbyn never got into power. Right-wing centrism wins every time.
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