Keir Starmer: The Bystander’s ten principles

In yet another launch of his philosophy current Labour leader Keir Starmer published an essay today (September 22nd 2021) including a statement of his “ten principles for a contribution society that will form the basis of a new contract between Labour and the British people, rooted in our party and our country’s values.”

N.B. His ten principles announced today were not an update of or a refinement of his ten pledges he declared in December 2019 as part of his campaign to be elected as Labour’s leader.  The set of principles and the set of pledges are distinct from each other.  The pledges were designed to acquire votes to become leader of Labour.  The photo below depicts the state of the ten pledges.

deadParrot

Each “principle” below is quoted exactly as Starmer wrote it.

Principle 1: “We will always put hard-working families and their priorities first.”

What criteria does Starmer intend to use to define “hard-working?”
What are his plans for people who, possibly due to disability or illness, are unable to “work hard?”
Why did he use the word “families” rather than “people?”

In 2015 Starmer abstained in a House of Commons vote on the Tories’ Welfare Reform And Work Bill.

Principle 2: “If you work hard and play by the rules, you should be rewarded fairly.”

Whose “rules” did he mean?
Who decides what is “fair reward?”

Many very hard-working people are paid low wages and barely scrape by while others enrich themselves for no work at all.  A fair reward would mean removal of unearned wealth of landlords, market speculators, hedge funds, exploitative employers and “owners” of privatised public services; it would mean huge pay increases for low paid workers.  It can be certain that Starmer does not mean that.

Principle 3: “People and businesses are expected to contribute to society, as well as receive.”

Did Starmer mean “contribute” via taxation and “receive” via public services and financial assistance where necessary?  If so, the main issue in UK is businesses’ and wealthy people’s tax avoidance but Starmer does not want to tackle that.

What are “businesses” expected to “receive?”  Billions were handed to businesses and continue to be by the Tories for alleged public services and for Covid contracts.  Is that what Starmer meant?

Principle 4: “Your chances in life should not be determined by the circumstances of your birth – hard work and how you contribute should matter.”

So, will Starmer make university education free again and reintroduce maintenance grants?

If the “circumstances of your birth” are a disability or a chronic illness and “hard work” is difficult did Starmer mean that “your chances in life” will be limited?

Will he propose the abolition of the monarchy?; the royals’ “chances in life” are currently enhanced hugely by the “circumstances of their birth.”
Will he propose the abolition of landlordism?
Will he propose the abolition of owning shares?

The answer to the last three questions is an unambiguous “no.”

Principle 5: “Families, communities and the things that bring us together must be once again put above individualism.”

That was a weak attempt at a nod to socialism.

Principle 6: “The economy should work for citizens and communities.  It is not good enough to just surrender to market forces.”

The economy,” the capitalist economy, is designed to not work for “citizens and communities.”  It is designed to suit exploiters, gamblers and thieves.  If Starmer had any sincerity about this principle he would need to be a communist.

Principles 5 and 6 were composed as woolly patronising comments describing a utopia that neither he nor his wealthy corporate donors has any intention of ever leaning toward.

Principle 7: “The role of government is to be a partner to private enterprise not stifle it.”

The counterbalance to 5 and 6. 

The role of government regarding “private enterprise” should be to ensure “enterprises” don’t exploit, that workers are well paid with secure employment and good working conditions, and that products or services provided by “enterprises” to the public are of high quality and a fair cost.  That is not a “partnership” between government and “enterprises;” it is an government ensuring a business acts correctly.  Such demands on a business are not “stifling” it.

Prinicple 8: “The government should treat taxpayers money as if it were its own.  The current levels of waste are unacceptable.”

Starmer appeared to misunderstand that a government belongs to the people and, thus, “taxpayers money” and “government money” describe the same thing.

He also appeared not to know that taxes are only a part of funding for government spending.

He described Tory handover of cash to racketeers as “waste” rather than its correct term: “Corruption.”

Principle 9: “The government must play its role in restoring honesty, decency and transparency in public life.”

That was said on the same day that members of Labour were suspended for unstated reasons a few days before the start of the party conference as a ruse to prevent them from attending and voting.  An underhand and unlawful process, outside the party’s rules, is operating to diminish democratic opposition within Labour.  It is being conducted dishonestly, indecently and opaquely.

Principle 10: “We are proudly patriotic but reject the divisiveness of nationalism.”

Patriotism” and “nationalism” are the same thing.  Why be “proud” of such an outlook?

Summary

Predictably, Starmer’s “principles” were vague and bland.  As The Bystander he remains acutely fearful of policy, of vision and of expressing an opinion or aim.  He is determined to stand for nothing and to never align himself with any particular political philosophy. 

Starmer and his advisers observed the ever more destructive conduct of the Tory government, they heard the general concerns from the public about ongoing and future effects of Tory behaviour, and they decided to declare, as flavourlessly as possible, that Starmer’s Labour won’t be as bad as that.

None of his “principles” were principles.  The word has several nuanced meanings but the meaning most applicable to a politician’s aims would be “a fixed or predetermined policy or mode of action.”  Starmer’s “principles” were so vague and so flaccid that they could never be described as a “mode of action” and, of course, the only policy he has is to never have any policies.

There were not ten different points made.  

The “principles” could have been composed by David Cameron, or Nick Clegg.

Starmer is down the rabbit hole of emptiness and does not want to attempt to clamber out; he is digging deeper.  His time is diminishing as is that of his party.  It is easy to laugh at him but lack of opposition to the Tories aids their campaign of catastrophe.

Recommended reading
Starmer’s forgotten ten pledges

Related blogs
Keir Starmer: The Bystander
Keir Starmer: The Bystander’s Unvision

Keir Starmer: The Bystander’s ten principles

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