If the secret to great comedy is timing, then Keir Starmer must be one of the biggest clowns in the United Kingdom.
And the joke is on the party members who supported him.
Having won the leadership of the Labour Party on a “continuity” platform that promised to continue the work of former leader Jeremy Corbyn in restoring the organisation to its historic values, Mr Starmer has now decided to reject those policies and claim that Mr Corbyn’s leadership is the reason Labour lost dozens of northern English constituencies that voted to leave the European Union.
I mention the EU referendum because it was previously accepted that it was Mr Starmer’s policy on Brexit that confused voters and sent them to the Tories, whose own policy risks a catastrophic “no deal” Brexit but was at least clearer than Starmer’s.
It is perfectly understandable that the new Labour leader would want to shift the blame for himself – albeit transparent; obviously he doesn’t want his leadership to start in acknowledgement that the policy he forced onto Labour’s last election manifesto kept the party out of government. It makes him look a fool.
And attacking Corbyn’s leadership also gives Starmer – now known to be a ‘Red Tory’; a supporter of policies that put him at the far right of the Labour Party with the so-called Blairites – an opportunity to ditch all of Mr Corbyn’s progressive policies in favour of a return to the neoliberal consensus that led to the financial crisis of 2007/8.
So he gave an interview in the Financial Times saying Mr Corbyn’s leadership was the top topic of conversation, without acknowledging that residents of the 40 constituencies he visited (and he doesn’t mention how many were among those that abandoned Labour) might find it uncomfortable telling the architect of Labour’s disastrous Brexit policy that he was a dunce.
More believable is his assertion that people believed Labour had overloaded its manifesto with promises to re-balance power within the UK, nationalising several utilities, providing £300 billion of shares to workers and promising an extra £83 billion in tax and spending – but in fact, Labour’s policies were fully-costed and the most controversy arising from its spending policies was a plan to compensate the so-called WASPI women for pension losses triggered because the Tories had raised the state pension age without providing adequate opportunity for those affected to make plans.
Still, when you’re using a position of power to betray everyone who put you there, any excuse will do – and we’re starting to see the results of Starmer’s rightward lurch now.
He has appointed right-winger Bridget Phillipson as Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, who was previously known for attacking Labour’s 2017 election manifesto for offering too much to voters. The offer was hugely successful and reduced the Tory majority of the previous two years to a hung Parliament.
According to a leaked letter from Phillipson to other shadow cabinet members, all policies that involve spending will now require the approval of both Starmer and the shadow Treasury team before they are even put into the planning stages.
Clearly, Starmer wants an “out-Tory the Tories” spending policy of the kind that led to then-Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves promising to be “tougher than the Tories” on benefits, in just one particularly out-of-touch policy from the Miliband era.
The first sign of right-wing betrayal arrived over the weekend, with Starmer’s decision to betray tenants of rented properties:
— The Agitator (@UKDemockery) May 9, 2020
Starmer’s policy comes in response to a current Tory promise to help tenants and may be summed up as follows:
Extend the three-month ban on evictions to nine months; introduce no-fault eviction ban now; protect tenants from being made bankrupt by their landlords for non-payment of rent; grant renters at least two years to pay back any arrears accrued during this period; speed up and improve the provision of Universal Credit and consider a temporary increase to the Local Housing Allowance to help prevent risk of homelessness.
Joe Halewood, in his excellent SpeyeJoe blog, shreds just two of these proposals. He states:
In the simplest terms the rented properties that are ordinarily available will now NOT be available and we have a chronic shortage of rented housing supply being the direct and inevitable consequence of any ban period. We also see a huge increase in demand for rented properties… The ban creates a massively adverse systemic problem for all forms of rented housing on the day a ban ends and the longer the ban the greater the s**t [that] hits the fan.
Let’s assume the current 3-month ban is not extended for the purpose of illustration as to what it will mean from 26 June 2020 and the day after the ban ends.
I begin with domestic violence and abuse (DVA) and the 3-month ban on housing moves also means that:
- Those who have already fled DVA to a refuge have been unable to move out of refuges as there is no supply;
- Those who wanted to flee DVA in the 3-month period have not been able to flee as refuges are full and nobody is allowing sofa surfing in the COVID19 period which is also government guidance;
- The 3-month ban period that coincides with lockdown has created even more DVA cases than in any ordinary 3-month period; and
- Government has announced that all DVA cases will be treated as priority need for homeless persons which infers a safe and settled rehousing will be found and will lead to more DVA cases coming forward in that expectation
26 June will see a huge increase in DVA cases requiring rehousing either in a refuge or directly in safe and settled accommodation which is the phrase government use to sell this priority need change. There will be no refuge provision available nor will there be any form of accommodation never mind safe and settled other than temporary and often dingy unsuitable B&B type provision. DVA survivors will also have to stay longer in this dingy unsuitable B&B type provision as the 3-month eviction ban has massively reduced supply of all forms of accommodation.
Those fleeing the horrors of domestic violence and abuse will be warehoused more and for longer than they were prior to the 3-month eviction ban and it will take years, literally, for the already appalling position we had for DVA immediately prior to the 3-month ban.
On the proposed no-fault eviction ban, he states:
The number of single person homeless in England is not less than 140,000 each year yet just 13,000 are rehoused by social landlords to escape homelessness. 130,000 and 90%+ single homeless persons are rehoused by private landlords and who operate Assured Shorthold Tenancies that can be ended by the so-called no fault eviction (NFE) which is the landlord not needing to give a reason to end the tenancy.
The private landlord rehouses the perceived high risk single homeless tenant because if the tenant is a problem they can get rid easily and without the need for a reason. Yet take that ease of NFE away and you have the same high risk homeless tenant whom the private landlord is unable to get rid of easily. Such a tenant becomes an unacceptable too high a risk tenant so private landlords as an obvious and correct business decision do not rehouse the single homeless person.
Crunch the numbers. IF the private landlord takes just 10% flight from the much higher risk single homeless tenant they rehouse 13,000 fewer per year. These 13,000 will need to be rehoused by the social landlord and see their numbers have to go from 13,000 to 26,000 per year. To wit, just 10% PRS flight means SRS landlords have to DOUBLE the number of properties they now give to single homeless persons.
It’s an unsustainable position.
Joe goes on to say that the social media are already full of how right-wing Starmer’s new policy is, and that it “ignores context, fact and any notion of commonsense or efficacy”.
Let’s take a look:
63% of private tenants have no savings.
In London, single tenants are spending up to 85% of their monthly salaries on rent.
If their income collapses, a two year rent deferral means pushing them into debt – and stops them spending, which is bad for the economy https://t.co/ebL3ZsbbKQ
— Owen Jones🌹 (@OwenJones84) May 9, 2020
I am surprised at the people who are surprised that New-New Labour won't support tenants. Don't you remember the expenses scandal? Do you really think it was only Tory MPs who were implicated? Did you forget a Labour MP going to prison?
Patience, comrades. Our time will come. 🌹
— CrémantRésiste ✋🖐️🏾 🥂 (@0Calamity) May 9, 2020
The Labour Party should be the party of tenants and not landlords.
— Josie Long #voteMKD (@JosieLong) May 10, 2020
Point made, I think.
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