Keir Starmer: The Bystander has no recovery bond

Starmer’s role is to ensure opposition to the Tories is ineffective. 

His speech today (18th February 2021) was billed as a big policy reveal but pre-speech leaks, to favoured media hacks and to Labour’s own spokespersons, contained next to nothing and that was an accurate indicator of the worth of the speech. 

A new meaningless eclectic three-word phrase was declared: Secure, protect, rebuild.  This should not be confused with the meaningless eclectic three-word phrase from Keir Starmer’s speech on September 22nd 2020 delivered at Labour’s virtual conference ‘Connected’ in Doncaster: Opportunity, family and security. 

Policies

Starmer policies in bold below followed by analysis.

Reverse the planned £20 cut in Universal Credit: Universal Credit was designed to cause destitution, debt, homelessness and death.  Its system of calculating payment, particularly with respect to rent payments, is insufficient for people to survive.  The vicious, unregulated and law-dodging sanctions process leaves people starving and homeless.  It should be abolished and replaced with a welfare system that guarantees food, heat and somewhere to live as basic necessities.  Starmer wants to only maintain the £20 uplift introduced as a consequence of Covid-19.

Reverse key worker pay freeze: Vital public service workers are underpaid and their employment contracts are becoming increasingly insecure with continuous reductions in rights and benefits.  Resetting the system of employment for key workers requires sufficiently more than just stopping pay freezes.

British Recovery Bond: Billions and billions of tax is dodged by wealthy people and large corporations.  The stolen wealth, if collected, would provide a huge boost to public services, education, NHS, public housing, etc. and could enable tax cuts for most people.  The Recovery Bond, coupled with loans for start-up business, will allow wealthy people to make a profit as lenders.  

National Infrastructure Bank: Alongside the Recovery Bond this bank is part of a process of moving the financing of infrastructure away from a tax/public spending model to a lender/debtor model.

Extend business rate holiday and VAT cut for hospitality and leisure: Covid-19 affected hospitality and leisure severely.  Many businesses closed and more will follow.  A temporary tax reduction will not make any difference to the viability of such businesses.  By 2024, the year of the next general election and likely to be beyond the pandemic, such businesses will have survived or closed, and so this policy is moot.

Extend and update the furlough scheme so it’s better able to help people back into work: Again, by 2024 this policy will not be relevant due to the earlier likely end of the pandemic.

That is all the policies that Starmer announced. 

Waffle

There were several turns of phrase uttered by Starmer that sounded like a introduction to something but were followed by nothing.

This must be a moment to think again about the country we want to be.  Our chance to diagnose the condition of Britain and to start the process of putting it right.”

The public are looking for government to help them through difficult times, to provide security, and to build a better future for them and for their families.  A government that knows the value of public services, not just the price in the market.  A government that invests in British skills, science, universities and manufacturing, that provides world-class education for all of our children, and whose driving mission is to tackle inequalities from birth.”

This <Recovery Bond/Infrastructure bank> is bold, it’s innovative and it’s an example of the active, empowering government I believe is needed if we’re to build a more secure economy.”

When I think about business I see a source of pride, dignity and prosperity.  And I know there’s no vision of a future where Britain fulfils its potential in which business does not thrive.”

He also said “I’ve said a lot about the incompetence of the Government’s handling of the pandemic and I make no apology for that.”  That comment surprised people who heard Starmer agree often with the Tories’ pandemic actions.

Another absurd comment revealed how out of touch with reality Starmer is: “Many people have, I think, saved for the first time during this pandemic.”

Alert

Starmer did not mention Brexit during his speech.  

Conclusion

Starmer offered a few crumbs though barely enough to feed a squirrel.  Some of the policies announced will no longer be valid by the time of the next election.  The biggest policy of Recovery Bond and Infrastructure Bank is a means of sidestepping responsibility to collect taxes from the wealthiest.

He has, or chooses to pretend to have, no knowledge of how much people’s lives and livelihoods are affected by Brexit and by the pandemic.

Every speech by Starmer emphasises how unsuitable he is as a leader of the opposition and how banal he would be as a prime minister.

Calamitous consequences of Brexit and dual effects of Covid-19 – huge fall in gross domestic product and over one hundred thousand deaths – make Starmer’s Bystander philosophy difficult to maintain. 

Examination of the ratio of intent to ineptitude is the single residual query of Keir Starmer’s inducement of the suicide of the Labour party.

Recommended reading
Grace Blakeley for Tribune

Keir Starmer: The Bystander has no recovery bond

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