Duplicitous centrists espouse joy at Starmer’s behaviour

The centrist gloop in broadcasting, newspapers and politics spent four and a half years (September 2015 to December 2019) attacking socialism.  Having played their roles successfully they switched to earning a grift via undemanding criticism of Johnson and the Tories, criticism that highlighted incompetence of the Tories rather than philosophy or ideology and that never described the causes of Tory policy or the intent.

With equal lack of sincerity, the same gloop indulged in an espousement of joy in response to Keir Starmer’s party conference speech and to words and actions associated with it.  Commentary on the speech included:

Former adviser to Tony Blair Alastair Campbell: “Rich in values and integrity.  Serious prime minister.”
Labour Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Rachel Reeves: “Outstanding, outstanding speech.”
Deputy leader of Welsh Labour Carolyn Harris: “Absolutely electric.”
Chief political Commentator at ipaper Paul Waugh: “Labour leader seizes moment.  The punchiness of the big speech was matched by a broader self confidence Starmer has shown over the whole week in Brighton.”
Whitehall Editor at Financial Times Sebastian Payne: “Speech was impressive, well crafted and well delivered.”
Former Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron: “Just watched Keir Starmer’s speech.  Decent job.
Sky News reporter Beth Rigby: “Elected leader in April 2020 on a message of party unity and continuity and it was on Wednesday that he finally crystallised what that really means.”
Columnist Ian Dunt: “There was movement, genuine change, happening right in front of your eyes.”
Corporate influencer and ex-freelance mouthpiece Matthew Stadlen: “Starmer has emerged stronger and as a very credible Prime Minister-in-waiting.  He offers hope, decency, seriousness and a proper vision for the future.”
Guardian editor Katherine Viner: “Starmerism offers Britain a fresh approach to leadership and political culture.”
Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee: “Here begins the rebuilding of trust.  No-one can call Labour policy-free now.  By mysterious osmosis people will know Starmer better after this week, and they’ll be a step closer to envisaging an alternative prime minister.”

Rich,” “outstanding,” “electric” and “punchiness” were client adjectives [1] chosen in advance of the speech.  None was a fair assessment of a speech that was very light on policy and very mild in criticism of Tories.  It was a functional speech wherein the function was for Starmer to present himself and his colleagues as an alternative management team to the Tories but not with alternative politics. 

The ecstasy of his complimenters was performative.

As a throwback to their relentless and relentlessly dishonest assaults on the politics of Jeremy Corbyn and his team the gloop’s members were keen to claim that Starmer had erased socialism and they were unconcerned if such a removal was gained via undemocratic and underhand means. 

Former Labour adviser and current Evening Standard columnist Ayesha Hazarika admitted that Starmer’s extrememly undemocratic rule changes were concocted to stop members voting for a socialist.”

He won the respect of moderate members by getting significant rule changes through which mean MPs will no longer be at the mercy of the hard-Left and face deselection.  He has also stopped another Jeremy Corbyn becoming leader, providing MPs aren’t stupid enough to put a total pudding on the ballot paper.” – Ayesha Hazarika, 29th September 2021

Template centrist Ian Dunt used his own interpretation of the choice of topics in Starmer’s speech.

It was a full spectrum-attack on Corbynism: a commitment to tackling crime, celebrating patriotism, prioritising defence and embracing the record of New Labour.  All the things which had alienated voters from Labour were addressed in turn.  It was like we were watching Corbynism being buried.” – Ian Dunt, 29th September 2021

Dunt’s willful dishonesty and analytical fantasy was typical of him – see his analysis of Change UK’s creation [2].  Above, he dodged purposely the fact that the 2019 general election victory for the Tories was due to support for Brexit.  Note that when the likes of Dunt say “Corbynism” they mean socialism, and they always denigrate and misrepresent socialism.

New Statesman’s and Policy Exchange’s Stephen Bush echoed Dunt’s imaginative interpretation.

Starmer started well, with a couple of big and showy gestures to demonstrate that the party is changing under his leadership, and announcements on issues such as crime and defence, which also signal a new approach.” – Stephen Bush, 29th September 2021

There is a necessity for the gloop to adore “Starmerism.”  Having eschewed socialism with peremptory disdain (and continuing to do so) and having distanced themselves from Johnson’s brand of conservatism, they must have something to support in order to justify their self-appraised depiction as activists, analysts, influencers or politicians. 

The invented centre, or “centre-left” as its practitioners describe it, is, by definition, a vacuum; it has no foundation, no history, no aim, no ideology, no dialectics and no solutions.  To be one of its cheerleaders it is necessary to be performative, imaginative and, sometimes, giddy with excitement about nothing.  

A common feature of a cult is that its leader has charisma so that she or he is able to persuade followers to follow without inspection, doubt or pause.  If charisma is absent but the followers are desperate to be in a cult then they must imagine the charisma and must imagine that knowledge, intelligence and foresight are characteristics of the cult’s leader’s persona.

Starmer’s pitch is that he thinks he would be a better manager than Johnson.  That is it.  He does not oppose Johnson.  To believe in Starmer requires complete abandonment of critical thinking.  It requires an absence of interest in opposition to conservative libertarian destruction.

If Starmer persists as Labour leader than both Tory and Labour parties have leaders, and respective teams, that are driven by misrepresentation, falsehoods and sleight of hand and whose professional supporters (MPs, councillors, media, think-tankers, etc.) are comfortable in a pool of delusions.

The epoch of a single political option via a choice of different administrations, of a choice between right-wing media uncritically supporting one possible administration and centrist media uncritically supporting the other, is the epoch of no opposition. 

Destructive Capital’s gain is the public’s loss.  Democracy is dead.

[1] client adjective n. Adjective used to add supportive description to comment or act by a politician, or to describe the politician’s philosophical stance
[2] Ian Dunt, for Politics.co.uk 20th February 2019: “It was meaningful, in a way that went far beyond the events of today and spoke to something far deeper in our national character.  It stood against the poison of the age: the constant toxic tribalism that has infected our political debate.  It wasn’t just that they sat together.  This was a cultural moment as well as a political moment.  The signs are positive.  A YouGov poll for the Times today found extraordinary levels of support for the new group.  It is perfectly realistic to imagine that within a month or two, they could have 30 or so MPs.  Once they get past 35, they overtake the SNP as the third party and get a guaranteed place asking questions at PMQs.  The moment is primed for something to truly shake up the way this country does politics.  This could be it.” – Dunt on Independent Group

Related blog: Duplicitous centrists espouse despair at Tories’ behaviour

Duplicitous centrists espouse joy at Starmer’s behaviour

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