Labour reshuffle: last bonfire of the Left makes Starmer party LESS ready for power

Keir Starmer has reshuffled his shadow cabinet in a move that many are saying has removed the last left-wingers from that party’s top team and left it as nothing more than a hollowed-out carbon copy of the Conservative Party it is supposed to oppose.

Jim McMahon has resigned as Shadow Environment Secretary, and Rosena Allin-Khan has quit as Shadow Minister for Mental Health. She did not go gently, writing in her resignation letter that Starmer does not “see a space for a mental health portfolio in a Labour cabinet”.

It seems “Allin-Khan – a serving frontline doctor with actual first-hand knowledge of healthcare – was openly sceptical of Labour’s Blairite shadow health secretary, Wes Streeting, and his support for expanding privatisation in the NHS, putting her at odds with the direction of the party”.

Angela Rayner and Ed Miliband are being tolerated among the Blairites – for now – because they both have power bases within the Parliamentary Labour Party. But look at the responsibilities they’ve been given:

“Rayner … retains responsibility for the party’s agenda on workers’ rights, its last remaining transformative set of policies. However, her oversight of workers’ rights are not attached to a government department-in-waiting, and are at heavy risk of being watered down in office.”

And “Miliband survives, for now – but even after the party’s £28bn a year climate transition fund was scaled back, he remains unfinished business as far as powerful Labour officials are concerned.”

A few right-wingers have been promoted into the Shadow Cabinet and a lot of right-wingers have been moved around within it. A full list can be found here, if you can manage to read it without a mounting sense of futility and despair.

Starmer lied to the entire Labour membership and has done nothing but betray the trust that was given to him

Owen Jones put the boot into this collection of nameless Blairites in a Guardian column that makes sharp points:

The standout theme from this reshuffle is the ascendancy of the Blairites, cementing the repudiation of Starmer’s “Corbynism with competence and unity” 2020 leadership pitch.

This means Keir Starmer was lying about his entire approach to politics when he stood as a candidate to be the leader of the Labour Party. That alone should disqualify him from even being in the Shadow Cabinet himself, let alone appointing the other members of it.

This means Labour now has a shadow cabinet dominated by politicians opposed to taxing the well-to-do, sceptical about public investment, fixated with expanding the private sector in public services and uncomfortable with the welfare state.

In other words, the Labour Party’s policies are now entirely opposed to those on which it was founded by another Keir – Hardy – at the turn of the 20th century.

Take Liz Kendall, a key figure in understanding Starmerism. In 2015, she stood for leader on a platform that included backing welfare cuts, and secured a paltry 4.5% of the vote. This was a searing experience for her campaign manager, Morgan McSweeney, who went on to run Starmer’s leadership bid. His new strategy was to play the long game: posture to the left in a leadership campaign, then crush the Corbynites, marginalise the soft left and promote the Blairites.

Again, this shows that Starmer lied to the entire Labour membership in order to become leader and, having gained that position, has done nothing but betray the trust that was given to him.

Now Starmer’s chief of staff, his plan has been vindicated as Kendall is promoted to work and pensions shadow secretary, replacing the left-Brownite Jonathan Ashworth, who won lasting bitterness from his colleagues for refusing to resign during the 2016 coup against the then leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

Pat McFadden, Blair’s former political secretary, is now the party’s national campaign coordinator, revealing Labour’s political direction on the final approach to a general election. Darren Jones once hailed Blair as his political hero: he is now shadow chief secretary to the Treasury. Peter Kyle, one of the most ardent Blairites on Labour’s benches, now holds the science brief.

The soft left has no meaningful future in Starmer’s Labour party. The brand of politics now dominant is Blairism circa 2005, when the leadership became obsessed with marketising Britain’s public services.

But this indicates that Starmer and his cronies are out-of-step with the spirit of the times:

The problem is that the country looks more like it did in 1974, a period defined by turmoil and decline. Investment is desperately needed in failing services and to kickstart industry to help Britain grow. And unlike the Labour landslide of 1997, there is a resurgent labour movement and younger generations are more politicised: these are potentially powerful forces if a Labour government disappoints them.

This is certainly true:

Ultimately, Jones is scathing in his condemnation of a Labour team (if it can be called such a thing) that will do nothing with power other than send the electorate back into the grip of the most corrupt and incompetent incarnation of the Conservative Party to be seen in the UK in generations:

This brand of politics offers no meaningful answer to a nation defined by crisis. There are those who crave social, economic and environmental justice who indulge illusions that the party will be more ambitious in government but, like New Labour, it will only lurch rightwards. Many of them keep silent in the run-up to an election, rallying around the opposition as the only means to dislodge the calamity of Tory rule. When the reality of Starmerism – and the Blairite coup – becomes evident in government, it will be their disappointment that will be the bitterest.

In a nation whose political make-up is polarised into two-party stateism (and particularly now, when both those parties have the same policies), this means voters who lack the imagination to seek a better alternative – or who are herded towards the “main” parties by mass media organisations with vested interests – will continue to be shunted between political machines that have no interest in the needs of the many and will continue to serve only their own mendacious desires.

Here’s Cornish Damo to point out some of the underlying horrors:

The take-out from the video is that the Labour-Tory duopoly has to end. That’s not going to happen as long as voters are influenced by mass media that support the ‘Big Two’.

It is time to embrace change – turn away from Starmer’s hollowed-out Substitute Tory Party and find something new.

As Damo says, the Green Party seems a logical choice, in terms of policies and integrity.

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