Ahead of the Labour Party conference, you’d think Keir Starmer would be looking to ensure there was no additional drama prior to kickoff – given that he’s already infuriated the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and its supporters. However, the Labour leader clearly doesn’t care – as he managed to insult the people of both Liverpool and Ireland in the space of a few hours.
As the Canary previously reported, the Labour Party has banned the use of the word “apartheid” from all its promotional material related to the conference. PSC are obviously angry, Human Rights Watch has weighed in, and trade union ASLEF has condemned Labour’s move. Not to be stopped, though, Starmer has now shown his colonialist credentials against Irish people.
Starmer: I’ll decide what Irish people want
In an interview with BBC News NI on Thursday 5 October, Starmer discussed Irish reunification. Specifically, regarding the question of a referendum about the issue, the Labour leader said:
I don’t think we’re anywhere near that kind of question… It’s absolutely hypothetical. It’s not even on the horizon.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise from the avowed ‘yoon’. Starmer previously said of Irish reunification:
I believe in the United Kingdom and I will make the case for a United Kingdom.
The Labour leader’s latest clumsy intervention was branded “laughable” by former Unite leadership candidate Howard Beckett noted:
If it wasn’t so serious this would be laughable. The Good Friday Agreement took the decision on a referendum out of the hands of a Westminster weather poll and into the hands of the people of Ireland.
Flagrant appeal for DUP votes at the risk of NI peace. https://t.co/Es4rZvgtis
— Howard Beckett (@BeckettUnite) October 5, 2023
The Good Friday agreement itself is wishy-washy on the issue. As think tank the Institute for Government wrote:
As part of the Good Friday Agreement, an explicit provision for holding a Northern Ireland border poll was made in UK law. The Northern Ireland Act 1998 states that “if at any time it appears likely to him that a majority of those voting would express a wish that Northern Ireland should cease to be part of the United Kingdom and form part of a united Ireland”, the Secretary of State [for Northern Ireland] shall make an Order in Council enabling a border poll.
However, the think tank noted that “it is not clear exactly what would satisfy this requirement”.
Meanwhile, opinion polling in June found that 48% of people supported the North of Ireland remaining in the UK, while 31% supported reunification – the latter up from 14% in 2015. So, some people pointed out that Starmer could have been merely following the rules:
The BBC headline seems to me to get wrong what Starmer actually says. He simply (accurately) notes there is very little prospect of the relevant conditions being met, so it is a very distant hypothetical, not even on the horizonhttps://t.co/4xb8BWVfQu
— Sunder Katwala (@sundersays) October 5, 2023
However, others noted that the Labour leader’s attitude is a problem – like it’s ultimately his decision or something:
This is mindblowing.
A single man in London cannot surely be allowed to dictate the entire future of Ireland on his own whims.
Surely democracy and the voice of ordinary people must be allowed to count for something?https://t.co/hjqdcHmkvD
— Tory Fibs (@ToryFibs) October 5, 2023
Then, also on 5 October, Starmer threw the entire city of Liverpool under the bus, too.
Throwing Liverpool under the bus
accused Liverpool supporters of robbing victims, urinating on policemen and beating them up. It sought to alleviate police responsibility by blaming ordinary people. But the claims began to unravel 6 months after the front page ran, as they were entirely fabricated.
So, you’d think any Labour leader with a shred of empathy would boycott the Sun, too – particularly given that the city will be playing host to his own party’s conference. But not Starmer. He’s previously happily written for, and spoken to it. Now, he has reconfirmed his commitment to the Sun in an ITV Granada Reports interview – saying:
I’m very happy to work with the Sun, to write for the Sun, to do interviews for the Sun…
"I'm very happy to work with The Sun, to write for The Sun, to do interviews for The Sun…"
— Andrew Misra (@MisraAndrew) October 5, 2023
The predictable onslaught followed:
Whatever anyone’s view of the Sun it’s surely politically inept & plain cruel for sir Keir Starmer to write for it just before your party visits Liverpool where the Sun is boycotted & still mourns for #Hillsborough a loss exacerbated by that awful right wing rag. https://t.co/GvEGr3RsJW
— Maria D #EnoughisEnough (@Maria4CarmsEast) October 5, 2023
Starmer bringing Labour conference to the people of Liverpool, just to say "Fuck the Lot of You", just as Sunak & the Conservatives did with the People of Manchester.
No one copies the Torys as well as this guy https://t.co/MqPG4Scoop
— Mikey Walsh (@thatbloodyMikey) October 5, 2023
Moreover, people were pointing out that during his Labour leadership campaign, Starmer promised not to give interviews to the Sun:
Starmer in Liverpool then: "This city has been wounded by the media, the Sun.. & I certainly wont be giving interviews to the Sun during the course of this campaign"
Starmer heading to Liverpool this weekend: "I'm very happy to work with the Sun.. to do interviews with the Sun" pic.twitter.com/xCewb4ygxX
— Saul Staniforth (@SaulStaniforth) October 5, 2023
A Labour government will be no cause for celebration
Clearly, Starmer doesn’t care about the people of Liverpool. He also clearly doesn’t care about the free will of the people of Ireland. Moreover, both these incidences and the party’s banning of the word ‘apartheid’ show that it has become a right-wing, colonialist, capitalist entity.
Also on 5 October, Labour won the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election – taking the seat from the SNP, and seeing the Tory vote collapse in the process. Under any other circumstance, this would be celebrated as a victory for the left wing. However, Starmer’s stance on Ireland, Liverpool, and Palestine show that the party winning the by-election, and probably the general election too, is no cause for celebration. At this rate, a Labour government will be little different to the Tories.
Featured image via ITV Granada Reports – screengrab
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