In May 2023, Keir Starmer laid out why his Labour Party is the true vehicle of conservative values. Those who’ve watched him lurching ever rightwards will be unsurprised to learn he’s now praising – of all people – Margaret ‘milk snatcher‘ Thatcher. They’ll additionally be unsurprised to discover he’s doing it from behind a paywall in the Daily Telegraph.
Their lack of surprise will be further un-tested when we tell them Starmer tries to set himself up as a man of the people in this paywall-gated, Thatcher-praising stinkpiece. ‘Which people?’, they won’t ask, because they know exactly which people he’s pitching himself to – namely the sort who can stomach paying for a subscription to the Daily Telegraph.
Margaret fucking Thatcher
In his piece, Starmer said:
Margaret Thatcher sought to drag Britain out of its stupor by setting loose our natural entrepreneurialism
As people have rightly pointed out:
This is the opening paragraph of the Starmer piece:
It is too easy to look at Britain today and throw your hands up in despair. Families across the country are bombarded with daily reminders of our current malaise: crumbling public services that no longer serve the public, families weighed down by the anxiety of spiralling mortgage bills and food prices, neighbourhoods plagued by crime and anti-social behaviour. Any one of these individually would be cause for outrage. Taken together they merge into something more insidious: the idea that our country no longer works for those it is supposed to.
The irony is that although this obviously describes the here and now, most of it also describes Britain under Thatcher:
You could argue that giving council tenants the right to buy their rentals aided social mobility. You could simultaneously argue that flogging off social housing without replacing it massively contributed to the nightmare we find ourselves in, in which renting is sky high, buying is sky high, and the prospect of being able to buy (and in some cases even rent) is looking increasingly unlikely for many.
Needless to say, people had some opinions on Starmer’s comments:
Promises not found
A big part of Starmer’s rightwards lurch has been the slow abandonment of the 10 pledges he made in the 2020 Labour leadership race. Given the fact that every dropped pledge generated negative coverage, many wondered why he didn’t just rip the plaster off in one go. Instead, Starmer has allowed the plaster to grow grimy and damp before limply peeling it off – exposing the festering ideology beneath:
Labour’s polling has undoubtedly benefitted from the cost of living crisis obliterating any credibility the Conservatives had with your average British voter. When the election rolls around, however, people will actually be paying attention – and some of them will notice that Starmer’s pitch is ‘if you’re fed up with the Tories, vote for me – Keir Starmer – the biggest fucking Tory there is’.
Some have suggested that Starmer’s attempts to appeal solely to the right will actually be his political undoing:
The context of this tweet is that the Starmer-led drive for a second referendum alienated the ‘Red Wall’ Labour voters who voted Tory in 2019 (the ‘Cambridge Analytica destroyed democracy’ is pretty silly, but everything before that is worth considering).
Among the critics was SNP leader Humza Yousaf:
‘Thatcher bad’ is a very commonly held opinion in Britain, and that’s especially true in Scotland.
Starmer supposedly wants to win back seats in Scotland, so it’s unclear why he’s forced himself into a position which is on a par with banning kilts or taxing Irn Bru. Maybe he’s actually just annoyed that Scottish Labour refused to back him up when he said Israel had the right to cut Palestine’s water and power off – i.e. to ethnically cleanse them (a clear statement he later claimed meant something other than the words he actually said) – and now he wants to get rid of the Scottish branch entirely.
Car crash incoming?
It really seems like Starmer doesn’t grasp what the general election is going to be like. During an election, impartiality rules kick in, and while it’s still nothing like genuine impartiality, it does mean journalists are nowhere near as terrible as usual. This means that all the back-peddling and broken promises – all the Thatcher praising – this stuff will come up, and Starmer will have to answer for it.
The thing is, we know precisely how he’ll answer – namely by doing that awful thing he does of robotically repeating whatever uninspiring slogan he memorised that morning:
Can Labour mess things up badly enough to destroy the current poll lead they enjoy? In the words of Starmer’s hero Margaret Thatcher, “of course they fucking can”. We don’t know when she said that precisely, but she likely said it at some point – perhaps when asked “can the working classes of Britain go fuck themselves?”
Featured image via YouTube