Starmer’s Labour conference: former Tory MPs, private health companies, right-wing think tanks, and GB News

Labour conference 2023
Support us and go ad-free

The first few days of the Labour Party conference were a right-wing shitshow to say the least – with former Tory MPs, private healthcare companies, and right-wing think tanks as headliners. Oh, and GB News. Meanwhile, the party was removing left-wingers from the stage, and trying to block democracy at a local level.

Buy now, pay later sponsoring Labour: an apt metaphor?

First, it emerged that a London Labour Party regional event at the conference was sponsored by ‘buy now, pay later’ firm Zilch:

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

As journalist Solomon Hughes pointed out, Zilch threw money at both the Tory and Labour conferences – presumably to buy influence within whichever one forms the next government:

This is because the Tories have brought forward draft legislation to regulate the buy now, pay later sector. However, the Treasury has reportedly “stalled” that regulation. Funny that – when Zilch pays for a party at the Tory conference.

Meanwhile, Labour had pledged just in September that it would bring in “consumer protection regulation” if it was elected – saying “millions [were] at risk” from “bad actors” in the buy now, pay later sector. Now, the party has exposed itself as not really caring that much – as it lets Zilch sponsor it.

Even former Channel 4 News journalist Michael Crick spotted the problem:

Oh well – maybe if Crick hadn’t spent the majority of 2016-2019 bad-mouthing Jeremy Corbyn he wouldn’t need to point things like this out now. Of course, the former Channel 4 News hack is a corporate journalist – so we’d expect nothing less. Speaking of corporate journalists, there were plenty of those at conference, too.

Courting the far-right corporate media

Labour had allowed GB News a stand:

The alleged ‘broadcaster’ is currently under multiple investigations by regulator Ofcom – essentially for being a party political broadcaster for the Tories, and allowing hosts to spout hate speech. Of course, this is now Labour’s target audience. Why would it try and give hope to the near-third of people who didn’t vote in 2019 when it can dogwhistle at far-right voters instead?

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, after charlatan Starmer came out recently saying he’d happily “work with”, “write for”, and “do interviews for” the Sun. What also shouldn’t come as a surprise is that elsewhere at the Labour conference, party honchos were shutting up members who were speaking left-wing views.

Security removed a member of affiliated group the Socialist Health Association. It was after he stood on the podium and started talking about NHS privatisation:

Admittedly, it appears the guy hadn’t been listed to speak. He’d just taken the opportunity to grab the mic. However, it’s hardly a shining example of Labour values when one of the party’s delegates is not allowed to do an impromptu speech and is removed. Ring any bells?

All a bit Tory-esque

The Labour conference was ringing more than just a few Tory-sounding bells. Former grim reaper at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Iain Duncan Smith’s think tank the Centre for Social Justice was hosting fringe events on Monday 9 October:

This is the think tank that created the terrible Universal Credit, on the basis that poverty was poor people’s fault, and that to stop them being poor you should cut their benefits to force them to get a job. Given Labour’s current welfare policies, having a right-wing think tank which hates chronically ill, disabled, and non-working people is completely on brand.

Then, a private, Belgium-based pharmaceutical company and its Swiss private healthcare counterpart were hosting Labour MP Jess Phillips’ unsubtle privatisation-laden rhetoric around the NHS:

Just to complete the Tory-esque shenanigans, there was even a former Conservative MP hosting a fringe event:

Just give it up already

Amid all this, mainstream charities like the Trussell Trust were paying for billboards to call out Labour’s lack of plans on things like poverty:

And the party machinery is trying to remove the voting rights of minoritised officers in constituency parties:

So, it seems the right wing’s recapture of the Labour Party is complete. Anyone at conference who is of a left-wing persuasion should think carefully about why they’re there. If they seriously believe they can change Labour from within, then carry on – because that went so well under Corbyn. Otherwise, the last remaining socialists should evacuate the party at the earliest possible opportunity – and put their time and energy into something that might actually achieve something.

Featured image via the Labour Party – YouTube

Support us and go ad-free

We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support

The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.

The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.

So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.

Support us