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Friday 19 February 2021

Keir Starmer’s Labour Relaunch WASN’T

Any other leader, we were constantly told by former New Labour fans during Jeremy Corbyn’s tenure, would have been 20 points ahead in the polls. Now that Labour has a new leader, those fans have fallen silent. Because Keir Starmer is not 20 points ahead in the polls. Worse, whisper it quietly, he is unlikely to achieve that position any time soon.

Starmer was elected to the leadership in a landslide, on the first ballot. He took with him a significant amount of goodwill. Now, after Corbyn has inexplicably had the whip withdrawn, many voicing support for Jezza have been suspended, and amidst an exodus of members, Labour is behind in the polls. Behind a Government which has made incompetence its middle name, mishandled the Covid-19 pandemic, and fouled up Brexit.

So someone not unadjacent to the leadership decided that a relaunch was in order. And yesterday it came to pass. Sadly, what we got was not Tony Blair at his most astute, but Gordon Brown at his most accident prone. The sum total of today’s front page press coverage is very little, barring the i Paper, and a mention from the FT.

What went wrong? Simples. It seems the new Labour leadership is borrowing from the previous New Labour leadership. And what worked then is not going to work now.

New Labour was all about focus groups and triangulation. A focus group nowadays is not going to behave as it would have done in the 1990s: then, there was no social media, no incessant barrage of conspiracy theories, very little flag-waving, next to no ramped up Europhobia, rather less overt migrant bashing and blaming.

Small wonder today’s focus groups bring messages of flag-waving, patriotism, and an exceptionalism that is inevitably English. It won’t win back Scotland and will increasingly alienate Wales. And then we come to triangulation. Like the 1990s, this too is not going to work as the new Labour leadership might expect. Because we no longer have any kind of honesty in Government. John Major had his failings. But he was not an habitual liar.

Not only is alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson a serial and indeed congenital liar, those who back him, in politics and in and around our free and fearless press, are not tired and in favour of change as they were in the 1990s. They are fervently and indeed enthusiastically in favour of joining in with the falsehood and misinformation. The phoney “Culture War” is right up their street. Starmer can’t triangulate out of that.

So what can he do? Sadly, what is needed is something he may not be able to pull off, and that something is authenticity. Like or loathe Corbyn, he was authentic. Starmer comes over as not being authentic, and guess what? We already have Not Authentic in Downing Street. Some in Labour are therefore beginning to think the previously unthinkable.

If Keir Starmer cannot provide the authenticity, perhaps he should yield to someone who can. Being competent and, indeed, forensic is not enough in the new world of post-truth politics. All is not lost: there are authentic and competent Labour politicians who could command a wide range of support and not alienate the party’s left wing.

Deputy leader Angela Rayner is one. Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham is another. Starmer is not cutting the mustard. So someone needs to make a decision.

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Derek said...

Dear Zelo ,
What remains astonishing to me is the persistence of the ‘New Labour’ Blairite cohorts in the Labour Party . The futility of bringing back Peter Mandelson to draft a New Labour ‘relaunch’ as if we are back in the eighties , before the utter discrediting of the neo-Liberal system by the ‘credit crunch’ of 2008 . I voted for Blair in 1997 but never again for Labour until finally Jeremy Corbyn was elected Leader . Subsequently he was definitively denied election by the ‘New Labour’ traitors in 2017 and his campaign ‘scotched’ by the ‘New Labour’ ‘Peoples’ Vote’ position of 2019 .
After the Labour vote declining in every ‘New Labour’ election from 1997 until the revival in 2017 , why I’m astonished is the unreflective crass stupidity of the ‘New Labour’ cohort , who appear unable to view the evidence before their eyes . Their philosophy is wrong (in my view as it has always been) and ‘trickle down’ didn’t work in the ‘nobless oblige’ Middle Ages and manifestly isn’t working now . For the first time in my life I’m believing it’s really not worth voting . The ‘New Labour’ crowd are worse than the Tories because they’re occupying the space which should be being used to campaign for radically different policies ,

Land of Hopeless Tories said...

Millions of Brits would rather be treated like shit by a Tory government than have a fairer life under Labour.

Anonymous said...

Starmer has the most dishonest face and voice in politics. Eyes like a shithouse rat. With the Butcher's Apron as backcloth, took five "questions" from, wait for it, the BBC, Sky, ITV, the Graun and the torygraph. Structured access on heroin. Christ.

The fellow's an utter fraud and red tory hypocrite. Now he's not even bothering to hide it.

Rayner and Burnham?....Pfffttt....Starmer Lite. Not worth a carrot.

Britain is now a de facto one party capitalist state with two factions. It is not, never has been, and at the current rate never will be, a democracy. All thanks to gutless gobshite spivs like Starmer and his apologists.

Rosie said...

I'd go for Andy Burnham now but it is a scrabble to find anyone else on Labour's Front Bench or anywhere. Mostly without talent and charisma. Mostly career politicians and a lot of fabricators who cried crocodile tears to attack Corbyn. The Party seems f***ed and if it seems that way it probably is for some time. It can regroup, eventually. But not for some time. So, why Burnham? Authenticity has to be combined with a record of taking on Government in working class areas up North - and Burnham has that profile and experience. Starmer has an image of fakery about him and he has killed off Labour's energy and enthusiasm seen under Corbyn most clearly. He turned on Rebecca Long Bailey and then on members. He appointed a most disconnected and useless General Secretary, and has only really survived because Covid has menat no live Party Conferences. Yet. He is finished and was within six months. A hollow man with a small mind and pink cheeks.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully, the Green Party will benefit from the demise of Labour!

Anonymous said...

The three word thing - eat-out help-out die infuriated me beyond belief. It’s insincere enough when fatbollocks minions trumpet it at every opportunity, but to think that some PR wallah has trumped up a bucket load of cash for rehashing the exact same pile of dog poo was for me beyond belief. Seriously, the cuntservatives already believe that three words is the maximum Attention span of the average voter, but to see starters collective fuckwits doing the selfsame is truly sickening

Anonymous said...

Give the job to that famed cognizant of British Heritage and non-sir the Rt Hon David Lammy PC FRSA MP, the perfect elucidation of todays diverse and new " New Labour" party. A sure fire vote winner or what?

And, may I point out to bloggers, he his a gentleman who makes his point without resorting to unnecessary foul language!

Anonymous said...

Baffling thing is how Starmer seems to think removing all traces of 'the left' will somehow endear him to right-wing media and therefore allow him to win because somehow Britain hates socialist policies.

How about instead pushing for more accountability for the media, so they actually tell the truth some of the time? No, this isn't about censorship, is about trying to make democracy work against an onslaught from billionaire sociopaths.

Here's an easy one for Kier - call out some of the Tory press covid denialists in public. Ask why Boris & co. have said nothing while various hacks have lied and manipulated details about the pandemic resulting in thousands of needless deaths. You're a fucking lawyer, amass a base of facts then make a speech ripping into these characters.

Nah, he'll probably just rattle on about the need to appeal to Edna from Sunderland who wants all the forrins gone because the Daily Express told her they were BAD.