What brand of conservatism is Starmer’s Labour offering?

Labour leader Keir Starmer working at Global Media & Entertainment Limited-owned LBC radio

Control of conservative governments is achieved via payments to politicians and to political parties.  The only actions such a government takes that diverge from their employers’ directions are resultant from either a) the necessity to win an election, or b) to achieve a compromise with a subgroup of politicians who are funded from different sources. 

An example of b) was the (ultimately unsuccessful) contortions attempted by former Tory Prime Minister Theresa May when trying to appease European Research Group (ERG) MPs in her party in order to gain enough votes in parliament for her Brexit bill(s).  ERG took effective control of Tory party.  The current Tory government (2023) is hell-bent on destruction of society via removal of rights (including the right to vote, the right to protest and the right to strike) and abdicating governance, via handover of public services and creation of charter territories, to exploitative, reckless and callous corporate wealth-grabbers. 

Extreme libertarianism, devised, designed and formulated at secretly-funded think-tanks, is a wrecking ball through civilisation that hands all property (homes, businesses, land and public services) and all legislative, executive and judicial power to wealth gluttons.  It is a stage of capitalism that was inevitable and also planned for decades.  Many of the planners are now in UK government or are advisers to ministers.  Its objective is huge transfer of wealth to the wealthiest with no thought for future consequences.

Not all capitalists are supporters of current Tory government’s extreme extrapolation of Thatcherite destruction of society.  Some prefer steady, reliable and sturdy exploitation that doesn’t completely annihilate the entities it fleeces.  They cannot expect that from Sunak, Kwarteng, Barclay, Zahawi, Badenoch, Truss, Braverman, Rees-Mogg, Hunt, Johnson or Mordaunt.  However, they do have confidence in the intent of Starmer and his colleagues Phillipson, Reeves and Streeting to pursue a standard conservative methodology of exploitation.

In under four years – from December 2019 hence –  Labour’s income switched from predominantly union contributions and small individual donations to corporate payments, often from payers who paid Tories previously.  Large corporate payments to Labour and to its key protagonists are not altruistic.  They are fees for services to be rendered.  They are investments whose return is expected to be generous.  It is noteworthy that many large donors admitted they declined to support Labour financially when Jeremy Corbyn was leader because they knew he couldn’t be bought.

Andrew Kersley listed some privateers’ donations to Labour MPs in MPs’ staff bankrolled by climate sceptics and gambling industry.  

Consequences of New New Labour’s income stream are evident whenever shadow cabinet members speak. 

In January (2023) Starmer and Labour’s health spokesperson Streeting elucidated support for privatisation of healthcare.  Starmer said NHS must “reform or die” rather than offering plans for improvement.  When applied to public services “reform” is always a euphemism for privatisation.  Streeting attacked doctors: “NHS is too often run for doctors rather than patients.”  Neither spoke about deliberate Tory underfunding and destruction of NHS.  Streeting’s description of NHS as in “an existential crisis” revealed that Labour chooses to describe current severe problems in NHS as resultant from how NHS operates rather than from purposeful actions by Tory government to destroy it.

Starmer told Labour MPs to not join pickets.  Strong union actions in 2022 and 2023, to protect job security, to ensure wages keep pace with high inflation and to ensure safety in the workplace, succeeded with no support from Labour leadership.  The resurgence of union power was necessary because of the absence of political opposition in parliament.  The success is measured by improvements for workers in each union and is visible as growth of understanding of how politics operates and of the nature of the relationship between conservatives and exploitative employers.  Starmer’s Labour party is not engaged at all.  It is side-lined and impotent.

On March 7th (2023) Tories described their intent regarding asylum applications from refugees.  This included their cognizance of their policy’s inadmissability with international human rights laws.  Their Illegal Migration Bill is criminalisation of refugees; it is incompatible with law, with human rights and with morality; it is ugly promotion of extreme othering and blame-shifting to distract people from the devastation of Tory governance including rocketing costs for fuel and food, shortages of food and sewage-filled rivers and coastlines, and to focus attention away from their insidious plans to further corporatise UK via more privatisation and imposition of charter territories.  It is standard corporate fascist playbook strategy: Create enemies while robbing everyone of everything. 

Starmer’s response was to criticise the Tories’ competence.  The following day (March 8th) in House Of Commons he said

Those on the Conservative benches have lost control of the borders.  The Prime Minister promised the country that the bill will stop all small boat crossings, no ifs, no buts.  It sounds like more talk, so in the interests of adequate action, when will he achieve that?  The Prime Minister says the government will detain people who are not eligible to claim asylum here and then return them.  Last year 18,000 were deemed ineligible to apply for asylum – that is the easy bit, the talk – but as for the action how many of them have actually been returned?  The number is 21.  What happens to the rest?  They sit for months on end in hotels at the taxpayer’s expense.”  Keir Starmer in House Of Commons, 8th March 2023

Starmer’s statement, prepared in advance, displayed annoyance that Tories did not act more inhumanely, more disgustingly and more extreme.  His words were indistinguishable in content and tone from expectorations from far-right extremists like Nigel Farage, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, Douglas Murray and Paul Golding.  He went beyond conservatism and dived deep into the rancid pit of fascism.

As a means of conning party members he lied with his five pledges made during Labour leadership election in 2020.  Most notably, since Starmer became leader Labour backpedalled, reversed and sped away quickly from a supposed commitment to unprivatisation of vital public services.  Starmer clarified at DAVOS in January (2023) that Labour intend to do “completely the opposite” to unprivatisation because it would be “too expensive” to “buy up shares in energy companies.” 

The false necessity to buy back rather than take back privatised vital public services is a key foundation of the con-trick of all libertarian think-tanks (Centre For Policy Studies, Tax-Payers’ Alliance, Institute Of Economic Affairs, etc.) that focus on promotion of theft of public services to feed wealth gluttons.  Publicly-owned fuel or water supply can be created without needing to buy anything.  Additionally, if any physical infrastructure is “owned” by racketeer privateers then it should be taken without compensation because income already accrued by them is several magnitudes greater than the value of services provided.  Furthermore, they should be billed for all necessary upgrades that they failed to do and they should receive back-dated tax demands.

Starmer’s pro-privatisation ideology is extremely conservative and wholly incompatible with the public interest.

He is committed to Brexit.  His commitment contradicts diametrically his intervention during 2019 general election campaign when he opposed Brexit, but that was just a scheme to disrupt Labour’s chance of winning because he didn’t want a Labour government with Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister.  In a speech to Centre for European Reform on 4th July 2022 he said “the first step is to ensure Britain thrives in its new role in the world by ensuring we make Brexit work” and he emphasised that “[if Labour is in government] Britain will not go back into the EU.  We will not be joining the single market.  We will not be joining a customs union.”

He named four steps to take to “make Brexit work.”  First, Labour will “sort out the Northern Ireland protocol” but his only plan for that is Labour “will be the honest broker our countries need.”  The second step is to “tear down unnecessary barriers” with the EU.  “We will break that barrier down, unclog the arteries of our economy and allow trade to flourish once more” with no explanation of how barriers will be removed and no recognition of EU’s perspective.  Third “will be to support Britain’s world-leading industries.”  Such a policy can exist within or without the EU, and exactly matches rhetoric from Tory government.  The final step will “be to ensure we keep Britain safeLabour will seek new security arrangements to defend our borders.  We will share data, intelligence, and best practice, and we will set up joint intelligence working here and in Europe.”  Again, that is not dependent on membership or not of EU.

Starmer’s single aim, therefore, regarding “making Brexit work” is to try to sort out some of the pig-headedness in Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal fiasco with, hopefully, co-operation from EU.  He has no intention of accepting that Brexit is the problem.  He claimed he couldn’t admit Briext’s intrinsic unworkability because “you cannot move forward or grow the country or deliver change or win back the trust of those who have lost faith in politics if you’re constantly focused on the arguments of the past.  We cannot afford to look back over our shoulder because all the time we are doing that we are missing what is ahead of us.”  Brexit is not in the past.  It is very much the here and now.  Tory government is about to bin thousands of EU laws that protect rights, food standards and justice with no guarantee of replacement.  Food shortages are due to Brexit.  He continued: “Nothing about revisiting those rows [about membership of EU] will help stimulate growth or bring down food prices or help British business thrive in the modern world.  It would simply be a recipe for more division.”  There was no recognition from him of a shift in public opinion recently toward a majority against Brexit.

Keir Starmer (left) and Rachel Reeves at DAVOS

Labour’s Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves is a dedicated conservative capitalist.  On 25th July 2022 she said “to be spending billions of pounds on nationalising things, that just doesn’t stack up against our fiscal rules” and explained that Labour’s “fiscal rules” means “all day-to-day spending will be funded by day-to-day tax revenues.”  Balancing spending exactly with tax is not how government finances work.  Reeves knows it isn’t how they work.  Her argument is an excuse to not unprivatise.  As explained above, there is no need to spend “billions” on unprivatisation of vital public services; unprivatisation of services is not the same as buying private businesses.

On 7th March 2023 Reeves delivered a speech at Make UK (who “stimulate success for manufacturing businesses, helping them to meet their objectives and goals.  We empower individuals and we inspire the next generation“) where she attempted to describe Labour’s alleged “mission to secure the highest sustained growth in the G7 with good jobs and productivity growth in every part of the country making everyone, not just a few, better off.”

She described UK as “enduring economic malaise; that vicious cycle of low growth, low productivity and low investment.”  Most people in UK would describe the current state of the country as enduring price gouging of food and fuel, swamped by shit in the rivers and on the coasts, food shortages, purposefully under-funded NHS, and led by a government handing out billions of pounds to racketeers while our rights – workers’ rights, legal rights, human rights and right to vote – are being removed.  Reeves’ assessment is utterly detached.

Her “growth” will be achieved by “supporting a dynamic private sector with an active state” and Labour will be a “mission-led government: future-facing and guided by clear and ambitious strategic priorities bringing public and private sectors together around shared purpose.”  Labour will create various grandiosely named quangos.  “It begins with strategic partnership, between government and business. That partnership will be enshrined in a new Industrial Strategy Council,” and a new National Wealth Fund will part-fund eight new gigafactories with a £2bn Battery Power Fund to ensure the future of the UK automotive industry.”  Also, “Labour’s Green Prosperity Plan; a plan to decarbonise our economy; to drive down bills; and to let British businesses compete in the global race for the jobs and the industries of the future; that plan will rely upon government and business working, and investing, together.”

All the plans and strategies, elucidated with repetition but no detail by Reeves, full of eclectic meaningless soundbites, are essentially the same: Public money handed to businesses and “investors.”  It is beyond Reeves’ choice of cognizance to realise that the money could be used to create manufacturing that is publicly owned.

The speech exposed that Reeves, as an ex-employee of Bank Of England, perceives government’s role in the world of businesses, products and jobs very precisely as handing money to businesses (via public money “investment” and tax breaks) and, then, magically, everybody is better off.  She has nothing more to offer than a rehash of 1980s conservative con of “trickle-down economics.”

Reeves is committed to being as anti-refugee as Tories.  On 5th October 2022 she said

What the government need to do is get a grip of the system, process claims quicker, and ensure people who have not got a right to be here are sent home.  The Conservatives have been in government for 12 years now and illegal immigration is on the increase, so this is a problem that’s been made under their watch.  They need to process claims faster and get people out of the country if they’ve got no right to be here and get a grip of their failed immigration system, which is not working for British people.”

What brand of conservatism is Starmer’s Labour offering?
Labour’s conservatism is a contrast to the recklessness of Rishi Sunak’s government and to that of the latter’s predecessors Liz Truss and Boris Johnson.  Within the context of Brexit Tory government is on a wrecking spree destroying all societal advances made since 1945.  It knows it will lose 2024 election; it is determined to destroy as much as possible before then and to enrich the rich as much as possible before then.  For example, former Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s manipulation of financial markets via an announcement of a tax cut (later withdrawn) caused severe ructions but made his associates very wealthy.

On 11th March 2023 Reeves stated 

Under Rishi Sunak’s watch nearly £30 billion has been wasted on crony contracts, fraud and vanity projects. The Tories have failed to get a grip on public finances and failed to manage taxpayers’ money.”

Remarkably, her statement is correct, both in its description of Tory destruction and in its revelation of Labour intent, the latter being what “Tories have failed to get a grip on.”   A “grip on public finances” and “management of taxpayers’ money” mean restricted or no funding for public service improvements, public sector pay, unprivatisation, development of council houses and improvements to public transport. 

Labour is obsessed with “growth” with a heavily-implied flashing caveat that any improvements to society and to people’s standard of living is dependent on existence of that “growth,” and with “growth” being attained via handing money to private corporations.

When Tories lose next year’s (2024) election Labour will likely be in government, possibly as part of a coalition.  The new government will inherit administration of a country in distress: An imposed cost of living crisis exacerbated by Brexit’s effects, NHS sent to ruination by Tories as a plan to privatise healthcare, vast increase in homelessness due to soaring rents and mortgage payments, and angry disaffected people robbed of right to vote, right to protest, right to strike and access to justice. 

What does Labour offer? 

That answer is it doesn’t offer anything.  Its plans for “growth” via “investment” are just a welfare system for corporations.  Starmer wants to “make Brexit work” which is not possible.  Labour is not offering to address price-gouging by suppliers of necessities; it is not offering to remove Tory restrictions on protest and workers’ rights, and is not going to make justice accessible again; it supports “investment zones” or, accurately, charter territories; it supports sanctions policy for Universal Credit; it does not support development of social housing; it is at least as antagonistic and as prejudicial toward refugees as are Tories; it is fully committed to any military conflict that NATO demands.

Labour is, and will be if in government after next election, a straightforward conservative party beholden to demands of corporatism, finance industry and arms industry.

On 14th March (2023) Starmer said, accompanied by the photo below, “talking to CEOs today, it’s clear British business is bursting with ambition.  My Labour government will work in partnership with them to drive growth and productivity.  Labour’s mission to secure sustained growth will mean every part of the country is better off.”  CEOs are laughing their heads off because he offerred them free money via publicly-funded “investment” with no requirement for better pay, better working conditions or cheaper products.  The only “growth” will be in their offshore accounts.

Starmer & CEOs
Keir Starmer and CEOs, 14th March 2023

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What brand of conservatism is Starmer’s Labour offering?

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