On Sunday 9 July, the ordinarily uncurious Laura Kuenssberg identified the problem with Labour‘s economic policy – namely that it’s just austerity under another name. This week, the presenter actually laughed out loud as Keir Starmer‘s pathological inability to answer a straight question confirmed that yes, Labour’s plan is more of the very thing that got us here in the first place:
"Do you believe public services in this country need more money if they're going to improve?"
— Saul Staniforth (@SaulStaniforth) July 16, 2023
It’s tempting to call Starmer a joke. However, it’s hard to laugh when you remember that we’re the ones who’ll get hit by the punchline.
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Kuenssberg: just answer the fucking question, Starmer
Asked repeatedly if he believed public services needed more money and if a Labour government would offer this, Sir Keir would only say: “A Labour government will always want to invest in its public services.”
Before the third time he robotically repeated this line, Kuenssberg asked:
Do you believe, after years of saying austerity has damaged the public sector [Kuenssberg laughs before continuing]; do you believe that part of the answer has to be more money?
Without registering any sense of shame or emotion, a dead-eyed Starmer repeated the stock response they’d loaded into his mainframe that morning:
A Labour government will always want to invest in its public services.
What does it even mean? Is this how he answers every question? If his wife asks ‘have you done the dishes, Keir?’, does he respond:
Keir Starmer will always want to have done the dishes.
It’s unclear why Starmer is like this. Perhaps a witch cursed him, and he now finds himself unable to present as being trustworthy or honest. Maybe Batman’s archrival the Joker kidnapped his family and put Starmer under strict instructions to act like a boring ham-robot lest the Clown Prince of Crime do something less than mirthful to his auntie.
“Reform” was another phrase Starmer kept getting stuck on. As the BBC noted:
Sir Keir insisted his promise to reform public services was bold.
Presumably this reform will have some sort of cost attached – unless we’re to believe that after 13 years of austerity-driven “efficiency savings”, Starmer has devised a strategy that will enhance performance by 3,000% while simultaneously costing less than we pay now?
Of course he fucking hasn’t.
Not unless he’s invented a device that will allow public sector employees to work in their sleep. Saying that, though, going off how listless he seems in these interviews there’s a chance they’re using such a device on him. There’s an even greater chance that the “reform” he’s talking about is more privatisation, given that Labour’s already made it abundantly clear that’s what the plan is – something these interviewers are criminally failing to press him on.
As reported in the Observer some hours before the Kuenssberg interview, Starmer said:
Taking seriously the foundations of economic responsibility may not set people’s pulses racing, but the new country we can build on top of them will do.
Ah yes, so we’re back to throwing around terms like ‘responsibility’ and ‘big boy politics’ and hoping nobody digs deeper than that. Unfortunately for Mr Responsibility, folks have dug a little deeper.
As the Canary covered last week, journalists like Raoul Martinez have reported that far from being a ‘foundation of economic responsibility’, austerity as an ideology has led to the slowest recoveries on record whenever a country has been foolish enough to implement it. He also noted that:
President Herbert Hoover’s austerity response to the 1929 economic crash was followed by the Great Depression.
The historical failure of austerity as a response to economic crises resulted in a widespread consensus among academic economists that, since recessions are caused by a reduction in demand (and when there is no room to offset cuts by reducing interest rates), cutting spending only makes the situation worse. The textbook response to economic downturns, as any student of the subject knows, is to increase spending. By spending more in the short term, a government can reduce public debt faster because smart spending creates jobs, increases tax revenues and releases more people more quickly from dependency on the state.
However, as governments began to embrace austerity, a handful of economists produced research telling them exactly what they wanted to hear.
Ironically, Keir ‘Big Boy Politics’ Starmer also said the following in the Observer piece:
Frankly, the left has to start caring a lot more about growth, about creating wealth, attracting inward investment and kickstarting a spirit of enterprise.
But is Starmer “kickstarting a spirit of enterprise”, or is he flogging what remains of an already well-flogged horse?
We won’t get a response to that question, obviously. If Starmer were to provide a straight answer his head would explode.
For the few
You’d be forgiven for screaming into a pillow at this point. Unless you’re one of 200 rich dudes who’ll benefit from another round of austerity, of course – in which case you’re welcome to take a celebratory trip to wherever the new Epstein Island is. Oh, and speaking of which:
Extent of Jeffrey Epstein’s contact with frmr Minister & Starmer adviser Peter Mandelson is laid bare in newly released report that describes repeated meetings between the disgraced financier & the politician he knew as ‘Petie’ 1/2 https://t.co/QfvufCcqGA
— Andrew Feinstein (@andrewfeinstein) June 21, 2023
Is it unfair to suggest that Starmer’s key motivation is the betterment of the rich simply because he has connections to the most oily of plutocrats? Oh – and also because he’s worked hard to ensure that wealthy donors primarily fund Labour – donors who notably wanted nothing to do with the party when its aim was to minimise the gap between rich and poor?
No, it’s not unfair at all.
Interestingly, according to Bloomberg, Labour invited several Tory donors to breakfast the other day. It was apparently in an effort to woo them. So, it makes you wonder – when these wealthy donors ask a question, does Keir Starmer give them a straight answer?
We think he probably does. Moreover, we all know exactly what that answer will be – namely whatever they want to hear.
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