“How do you know he’s lying? His lips are moving” has been the cruel barb flung at politicians over the years. But with Sir Keir Starmer it is: “How do you know he’s U-turning? He is opening his mouth.”
We know now, as was shown in his recent foray across the border, that Sir Keir is no Messiah. Instead, he’s simply a politician with no principles who is prepared to abandon commitments at the drop of a hat.
Of course, portraying yourself as being of the Left and then veering into the centre has been the course of many, if not most, Labour leaders other than Jeremy Corbyn. The latter actually believed in what he said when he sought the leadership, ultimately paying the price with treachery from within the senior elements of his own ranks. However, it should never be forgotten just how close he came in 2017 with the mantra of “for the many, not the few”.
But Sir Keir is just following in the trajectory of the likes of Harold Wilson, who wooed the left against Gaitskill before proceeding to follow in his footsteps, although it seems that the current leader is even more flagrant than the slippery and very cunning pipe holding PM.
The main commitments he made in seeking to succeed Corbyn have been abandoned without even a political shot being fired in an election campaign. The pretence of keeping left, albeit less so, to avoid being pilloried has been summarily ditched. That is somewhat surprising given some of Corbyn’s thinking, which was declared to be fantasy economics, came to pass with Covid and policies such as nationalization of infrastructure now prove to be ever more popular with a public wearying of decline. No wonder Labour members have been deserting in their droves.
The latest double-whammy was the U-turn on devolving employment law and then compounding it by backtracking on reforming current Tory laws, with the manoeuvre undermining changes that are ever more needed in a gig economy where we see the flagrant exploitation of workers and the fire and rehire of employees.
Then, we saw Sir Keir undermine his Deputy’s suggestion that there was no need for the Scottish Parliament to have the powers as all would be resolved from a radical Westminster. How pathetic he made her look – but he’s no more loyal to her than he’s wedded to any policy other than achieving power..
Sir Keir’s political machine will be even more vicious as the election draws near but many are already walking away or just not buying it. For sure, there’s been by-election victories but a general election is a different beast as people look to see what policies are on offer and assess who aspires to lead.
Adopting Tory-esque policies, which amount to no more than just diet of the same emblazoned with different colours, is high risk for Labour as voters might just decide the original rather than the ersatz version is more palatable. On leadership, it’s hard to know what Sir Keir stands for or that he’ll stand by anything. It’s not just that he’s no Messiah, more he just doesn’t stand for anything.