Category Archives: Democracy

Amazing: StarmerLabour has won a by-election

Taking the limelight: Starmer spouts about Labour’s ‘fantastic’ win while new MP Kim Leadbeater is shunted to the side. Earlier this week he was tweeting about football rather than discussing the election, and wouldn’t go near Batley & Spen.

Congratulations are due to Kim Leadbeater after she achieved the impossible: winning a by-election for Keir Starmer’s Labour Party.

The circumstances in which she managed her feat were extraordinary, and are reflected in the result.

Labour threw away a majority of more than 8,000, won when Jeremy Corbyn was party leader in 2017. Batley & Spen is no longer a safe Labour seat and must be considered a Labour-Tory marginal as Ms Leadbeater won with a majority of just 323 votes.

The party – and its candidate – failed to put forward any policies at all. Ms Leadbeater merely said she would listen to voters after winning the election, and parroted Tory attack lines about there being “no magic money tree” to give nurses the pay rise they deserve.

At least one Labour representative apparently smeared the constituency’s Muslim population as violent and anti-Semitic, while authors of election literature were accused of “dog-whistle racism” over a leaflet showing Boris Johnson with Indian premier Narendra Modi.

Ms Leadbeater’s election literature suggested that she was ashamed of representing Labour. Party logos were stripped from leaflets and party colours were not used. The candidate herself wasn’t even a party member four months ago; Starmer broke Labour rules to make her a candidate in a cynical bid to win votes from the fact that she is murdered former MP Jo Cox’s sister.

And, of course, a surging Conservative Party was held back at the last minute as public opinions were swayed against the Tories because of the Matt Hancock affair scandal.

The result: a skin-of-the-teeth win due to “tribal” Labour voters who, as This Site mentioned yesterday, would have voted for a shaved monkey if it had a Labour rose next to its name on the ballot paper.

And now we have to listen to the chinless cuckoos who’ve invaded the once-great socialist party and turned it into Tory-lite, crowing about what a “fantastic result” it is.

I suppose it is a fantastic result for people who thought they were going to lose.

“What a fantastic victory… of hope over division,” said Keir Starmer, neglecting to say that the hope was that of those who must now wait in vain for Ms Leadbeater – and him – to come up with a policy programme that remotely resembles traditional Labour thinking – or that he is responsible for the division with his relentless onslaught against traditional party members and supporters.

He said nothing at all about what Labour will do in the constituency, or for it. This is because his party will do nothing. The win means he can continue as party leader for a while longer, while he searches for a soundbite that will attract voters.

He is not a principled politician. He does not have political views. His interest is only to put himself in power and to use it for his own purposes. He is, to all intents and purposes, a Conservative.

And not even a Tory in Labour clothing. Starmer despises the trappings of the working classes and has discarded them in favour of the sub-fascist iconography of Boris Johnson: a suit and a Union Flag. Only the haircut is an improvement.

And while the tribalists have helped him hold Batley & Spen, those of us with any political nous at all are abandoning Labour at the polls.

In other local elections, Labour vote shares have been plummeting while the Tories’ have been skyrocketing.

And this is after two years of Boris Johnson’s incompetence over Brexit and Covid-19, and his government’s corruption generally.

Starmer will try to spin this narrow win as a huge victory for him and for the direction he has taken Labour but nobody should be fooled – he is taking Labour down the drain.

Source: Batley and Spen: Labour narrowly hold seat in by-election – BBC News

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Starmer’s dilemma: where does Labour go after Chesham and Amersham?

The problem, not the solution: Keir Starmer – and all his supporters – are a betrayal of the Labour Party and of Labour voters. We all know it. Labour is unelectable until they have all left the party – and they won’t go. They are the worst of all Boris Johnson’s Tory enablers.

No points to anybody who responds to the headline with “Batley and Spen”.

It would be fair to say that Keir Starmer did not expect to win the Chesham and Amersham by-election.

But the scale of his loss there – and I think it should be understood that it was a failure that Starmer owns – should make it clear to him that he has taken Labour in the wrong direction.

His party’s 622 votes – just 1.6 per cent of turnout and one-sixteenth of the number Jeremy Corbyn managed to raise in 2017 – is fewer than the number of people in that constituency’s Labour Party.

Either party members abstained or they voted for someone else, which is an offence for which they could be expelled.

(Or there could be far fewer members remaining in that constituency than Starmer is willing to admit, after the – alleged – mass exodus of members following his election as leader. If so, even if remaining members did vote for somebody else, he’ll be in a quandary over whether to carry out disciplinary procedures.)

Encouragingly, it seems almost nobody aged less than 70 voted for the Conservatives:

I’m not sure Richard Murphy is right about that, as the number of pensioners in the UK will remain very high, some way into the future (even after the ravages of Covid-19), and the Tories have a knack of duping the gullible into supporting them (or perhaps that should be bribing the gullible). Still, it suggests that the Tories’ time is running out.

That said, the simple fact is that people aged under 70 simply didn’t go for Labour, despite Starmer’s attempts to woo them by changing Labour’s direction sharply to the political right. They voted Liberal Democrat.

I draw two conclusions from that:

Firstly, Starmer’s claim that Boris Johnson’s party has enjoyed a “vaccine bounce” – resurgent popularity because of the perceived success of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout – is bunkum. Or at least, any such bounce has now petered out.

Secondly, that people prefer to put their trust in political organisations that have some consistency about them, rather than wandering around all over the political spectrum searching for votes – or very obviously trying to fool people into voting for them – like Labour under Starmer (and Miliband, Brown and Blair before him).

Some commentators are now suggesting that Labour should at least discuss the idea of a “progressive alliance” with other opposition parties like the Liberal Democrats and the Greens, to field just one candidate against the Tories in Tory strongholds, thereby making it easier to force them out. But there are problems with that…

Yes indeed; the Liberal Democrats won because they are the most similar to the Conservatives in Chesham and Amersham, not because they are a radical alternative.

So a “progressive alliance” isn’t going to happen. And dreams of getting the Tories out by using proportional representation will continue to be dreams for the foreseeable future because the Tories are in power and they aren’t going to bring it in because they know it would harm them.

What’s left? Tactical voting?

But that will just result in another hung Parliament that the Tories will probably dominate – with Liberal Democrats joining them for the sake of power if they get enough seats. We’ve already had that from 2010 to 2015.

And all of this theorising neglects one simple fact:

In order to beat the Tories, whichever party you support will need to deserve to win.

And Labour, under Keir Starmer, doesn’t.

How can left-wing voters support a party that deserts them in the way Starmer has? How can they support a party whose Parliamentary representatives no longer come from the working class but represent exactly the kind of middle-class privilege that Labour was originally created to oppose?

How can right-wing voters support a party they know only courts them in order to gain power for its own purposes? They know the Tories are untrustworthy – but only in their promises to people earning less than £100,000 a year; as long as Tory priorities are aligned with their own, they’ll carry on with Johnson’s bandits, even if it means imposing fascist-style dictatorship on the rest of us.

Starmer has been criticised because he hasn’t brought forward a single policy to replace the 10 pledges he scrapped as soon as they had won him the Labour leadership under false pretences. There is a reason for this failure: Starmer is trying to find a magic promise that will fool a majority of voters, just long enough to get himself into Downing Street.

His problem is that we all know that this is what he’s doing. He is probably the most classic example of Tony Benn’s “weathercock” ever to come forward – a career politician who doesn’t have any principles of his own but goes any way the wind blows, chasing votes according to what his focus groups tell him is popular.

And Starmer’s focus groups are disastrously out-of-touch. This means Starmer is continuously trying to tell us what we want, and getting it wrong.

So he drapes himself in the Union Flag because he has seen the Tories do it and he thinks it appeals to our patriotism – but under Boris Johnson’s fascism, we have no reason to feel patriotic at all.

So he blames Jeremy Corbyn for his failures and tries to remind us that Corbyn was accused of letting anti-Semitism into the Labour Party – when we all know that the accusations were (mostly) false (there are always a few racists in any large organisation but the leader cannot be blamed for them). Labour has just been in court defending itself against a group of former members who have brought a hugely damaging case against the party.

In all this squirming, he presents himself as entirely untrustworthy.

So we don’t trust him, and that means we don’t trust Labour:

It won’t change until Starmer is gone. I don’t mean that he should step down as leader of the Labour Party; I mean he should leave the party altogether, along with all the other cuckoos who got in under Kinnock, Blair, Brown and Miliband. You know who they are. Including party staff members who support them rather than traditional (pre-Kinnock) Labour values.

One more note: I could happily tap out a list of policies that Labour should adopt in order to win public support – it isn’t hard to do.

But there is no point while Starmer and his cronies are in charge. They would see such policies as a marketing strategy to win votes – and if it worked, they would then ditch those policies in favour of the right-wing agenda they’ve had all along.

They have to go.

The problem is, they won’t. They know they are unacceptable; unelectable. But they absolutely won’t allow anybody to lead Labour who could possibly break the deadlock.

And in the meantime, Boris Johnson gets worse and worse. Enabled by Starmer.

Labour suffers worst by-election result in party’s history. Will Starmer accept the blame?

What will be the excuse this time? Whatever Starmer says, the facts are clear: he has led Labour to its worst by-election result EVER. The party is on course for destruction under his leadership. If he stays, we’ll know that is what he wants.

Don’t think for a moment that the Liberal Democrats are on the rise again.

Ed Davey’s claim that his party’s victory in the Chesham and Amersham by-election means his party is now the main threat to the Tories in many areas is nothing but hot air.

No – the main shock of the by-election (triggered by the death of Tory Cheryl Gillan) is the collapse of support for the Labour Party under Keir Starmer.

Labour scraped together just 622 votes – that’s just 1.6 per cent of the votes cast, meaning the party even lost the £500 deposit it paid to take part.

It is the worst by-election result in Labour’s 121-year history.

Yes, turnout was lower than at a general election; yes, there may have been tactical voting to remove the Conservatives; and yes – Labour has never been in a position to win this particular Parliamentary seat.

But in general elections with turnout twice as high, Labour has historically won around 7,000-8,000 votes, with the 11,374 it received under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership in 2017 its best result of all.

Once again, claims that Labour would do better with any leader other than Corbyn are destroyed.

And once again, Starmer will be looking to his Big Book of Excuses for a way to explain why he is dragging a once-great socialist party down to ruin in a mire of sub-Tory neoliberalism, focus group psychobabble and flag-waving.

Once again we see that the British public wants genuine, traditional (pre-Blair) policies and won’t be fooled by sharp haircuts, sharp suits, and vague announcements.

Labour is now in crisis. If Starmer continues as leader, he could drag the party down to destruction.

Source: Chesham and Amersham: Lib Dems overturn big Tory majority in by-election upset – BBC News

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Will Tories rebel against extension of English lockdown to July 19?

Staying closed: many businesses may be forced to remain closed for a further four weeks – unless Tory backbenchers ruin Boris Johnson’s plans. But will he welcome that?

Well, there it is.

Boris Johnson is expected to announce an extension to the English lockdown, meaning most remaining restrictions won’t be lifted until July 19.

There are good grounds to do so:

Many scientists have called for the reopening to be delayed to enable more people to be vaccinated and receive second doses, amid rising cases of the Delta variant.

A delay would also allow more work to be done on whether vaccines are breaking, or simply weakening, the link between infections and hospitalisations.

But it is possible that the plan will face resistance – from Conservative backbenchers who are sick of the demand that we all wear masks when we go out, observe social distancing and keep some businesses closed, harming the economy.

On the last point, the BBC provides these examples:

If the lifting of restrictions is pushed back, the UK Weddings Taskforce – an industry group – estimates that 50,000 weddings planned in the four weeks from 21 June could be cancelled, with the industry losing £325m for every week of delay.

UKHospitality, which represents pubs, bars and restaurants, said businesses faced losing £3bn in sales if the relaxation of restrictions is delayed by a month.

The Night Time Industries Association said businesses such as nightclubs had already spent millions preparing to reopen, and the association will legally challenge any delay to reopening.

But the BBC also reports that projections based on the current trend show that if the current rate of increase continues, there could be 15,000 new cases per day – at least – by June 21. That’s double the number on June 13.

Ignoring that could be a public relations disaster for Johnson, who has been vilified as a dimwit for failing to acknowledge the warnings and delaying previous lockdowns, thereby assuring the deaths of thousands of people who might otherwise have avoided infection.

Still, collective responsibility for such recklessness is better for Johnson than having the blame piled on his shoulders alone, so he may welcome a vote that defeats his extension plan.

After all, how many of you will remember if your MP votes to end lockdown too soon? How many of you will even check what your MP does?

Source: Covid: Lockdown easing in England to be delayed by four weeks – BBC News

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Tory dictatorship: MPs and Lords say attack on courts will weaken rule of law. But THEY CANNOT STOP IT

Manifesto commitment: the Conservatives made their plan to end democracy clear in their 2019 election manifesto. Every Conservative voter demanded an end to democracy and a slide into dictatorship and there is no way to stop it now.

This will make no difference at all to Boris Johnson’s plans because none of the objectors are Conservatives.

It seems a cross-party group of MPs and peers has written to Justice Secretary Robert Buckland to say government plans to restrict judicial review will weaken the rule of law (and therefore harm justice).

Buckland couldn’t care less, of course. That is what these plans are supposed to do – as some of us have been saying for years.

Judicial reviews examine whether an action or decision of a public body – like the government – follows the law.

Boris Johnson was deeply embarrassed by judicial reviews that overturned his decisions to mismanage Brexit and to prorogue Parliament, back in 2019.

So he made plans to stop the courts from forcing his government to obey the law, and put them into his 2019 election manifesto.

And then every single tribal Tory headbanger in the United Kingdom voted away their right to a law-abiding democracy.

Johnson has couched his plan to end democracy in the UK with (typically) a lie: he said his plan will “restore the balance of power between the executive, legislature and the courts”.

In fact, it will enshrine in law the right of a sitting – Tory – government to do whatever it wants, by making sure the rest of us don’t have any legal power to stop it.

In their letter to Buckland, the 32 Labour, Liberal Democrat, Green, SNP, Plaid Cymru, DUP and Alliance MPs stated

the proposals “would weaken both individuals and the courts, and effectively put government actions beyond the reach of the law.

“Together, these changes would make it much harder for people to put things right when mistakes are made or governments overstep their bounds. They would undermine the rule of law and the crucial principles of fairness and accountability.”

The letter said the proposals are based on a “false claim” (read: lie) by Johnson and his government that a panel led by Lord Faulks QC had found that courts in judicial review cases had become more prone “to edge away from a strictly supervisory jurisdiction”.

Faulks himself has contradicted this Tory lie. He said his panel did not identify any such “trend” and “was not ultimately convinced that judicial review needed radical reform”.

The plan to put the government above the law has been condemned by the  Bar Council, Law Society, Constitutional and Administrative Law Association, Liberty, Justice and the Public Law Project for the same reason.

The Ministry of Justice has stated: “We made a manifesto commitment to ensure the judicial review process is not open to abuse or delay, or used to conduct politics by another means.” Fine words that are not borne out by the substance of the plan.

When we consider the ways the Tories have abused the system during the Covid-19 crisis – bypassing the competitive tendering system to give contracts worth fortunes to their friends, who failed to deliver, meaning tens of thousands of lives were sacrificed for profit, we can predict what this plan will mean.

Every incompetent, corrupt and self-serving decision by Boris Johnson will carry the full force of the law, because there will be no law to stop him.

It will extinguish democracy and force you into a new dark age of dictatorship.

And while this letter of protest is a nice gesture, it is futile.

The decision was made in 2019. There is nothing you can do to stop it.

Source: Plans to restrict judicial review weaken the rule of law, MPs warn | Law | The Guardian

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Was Sadiq Khan’s narrower-than-expected London Mayoral win due to Keir Starmer’s right turn?

Sadiq Khan said unflattering things about then-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn after his 2016 London mayoral victory. But at least Corbyn provided Labour policies for the public to support in the poll. Starmer put him in a vacuum and it is a miracle he received as many votes as he did.

Belated congratulations to Sadiq Khan on his re-election to the London Mayoralty.

But isn’t it disturbing that he won by a narrower margin than against Zac Goldsmith in 2016, against an equally inept candidate?

In the years preceding the election, Bailey had been criticised for racism (calling Khan “the Mad Mullah of Londonistan”, criticising celebration of Muslim and Hindu festivals and claiming that British people were being indoctrinated in the cultures of those religions).

He also proposed forcing larger London businesses to drug-test their employees – but with Parliament, dubbed the “corridors of powder” because of the huge “trace” amounts of cocaine that have been found there, exempt.

And he was accused of sexism as well as racism when it emerged that he had stated in 2006 that single girls in inner cities “deliberately become pregnant” in order to secure homes and benefits from the government.

Against such a man, Sadiq Khan gained more than 100,000 fewer votes than against Goldsmith.

I don’t think the drop-off was anything to do with Khan himself – or with his opponent, though.

I think it was about the leadership of Khan’s political party – Labour.

When he was elected in 2016, the people of London were riding high on the election of Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership with a set of genuinely socialist policies that had the potential to transform the UK into a vibrant example for the world.

By 2021, Corbyn’s right-wing opponents in the Labour Party bureaucracy had stabbed him in the back and had him replaced with suit-haircut-and-flag man Keir Starmer, who had promptly ditched all of those transformative policies in favour of an “any way the wind blows” approach.

In the absence of any policy support from his party leadership, it is a miracle Khan received as many votes as he did.

Source: Sadiq Khan wins second term as London mayor despite tighter-than-expected race | The Independent

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Queen’s Speech confirms it: Boris Johnson is renewing his attack on your freedom – because it’s what Britain wanted

Manifesto commitment: the Conservatives made their plan to end democracy clear in their 2019 election manifesto. Every Conservative voter demanded an end to democracy and a slide into dictatorship.

Boris Johnson is getting back to business after the Covid crisis – and his business is stripping you of the liberties and freedoms your ancestors fought hard to win over the last several hundred years.

Be in no doubt: you will have lost most of your rights by the end of this Parliamentary term, and you can thank your Tory-voting neighbour for making it happen.

Included in the Queen’s Speech were announcements that all three main planks of the attack on democracy – listed on Page 48 of the Conservatives’ 2019 manifesto, so everybody who voted Tory absolutely supported them – are still going forward. They are:

  • Removing your right to protest so they can use the police and armed forces to put down any dissent.

  • Imposing dictatorship by ensuring that the courts cannot stop the Tories from breaking the law.

  • Imposing indefinite Conservative government.

The only one of these that has been given prominence by the mainstream media is the last – the planned repeal of the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act. This has been reported as meaning that Johnson would be able to call elections before his Parliament has served its full five-year term.

But it could also mean that he will allow himself to delay elections indefinitely.

The FTP Act repealed the previous electoral law that allowed prime ministers to call elections at any time during their five-year term, but demanded that they must call an election to be held after five years, no matter what.

So repealing the FTP Act means that unscrupulous prime ministers like Johnson would be able to call elections whenever they liked – or simply neglect to call them at all and remain in power indefinitely.

This is what will happen unless he specifically writes new limitations on Parliamentary terms into his new law. And why would a corrupt liar like Johnson do that when he has a majority of 80 seats in the Commons and can currently do whatever he likes without fear of punishment?

Worse still, the new legislative programme includes more attacks on democracy, the most important being the planned limitation of the right to vote to those who can afford to show the proper photographic identification.

This, Johnson claims, is to stop electoral fraud. You may assume that this is a rampant problem across the UK, but in fact it is practically nonexistent. His plan will strip the vote from around two million people:

Here’s a graph showing the scale of voter fraud as a percentage of all votes cast:

You see the picture?

Further information is available below:

The plan will strip votes from people who are poor and young – in other words, people who will not vote for the Conservatives at the next election. It is corrupt Tory gerrymandering to prevent the voice of the people from being heard at elections.

Typically of the current Tory government, its MPs tried to justify the planned law by lying to us about it. Gillian Keegan, whoever she is, claimed you need photo ID to pick up a parcel from the Post Office – and was put straight in no uncertain terms by fact-checking site Full Fact:

Many of us think valuable Parliamentary time would be better spent preventing the kind of corruption that allowed Tory cronies to gain multi-million pound contracts to provide vital supplies in the fight against Covid-19, that they were totally unable to fulfil. What happened to all that money?

Finally, shall we consider the misplaced priorities of these entitled Tories who have spent more than a decade manslaughtering benefit claimants without feeling any need to reform the system?

Come to that, why isn’t the government introducing plans to end tax evasion? I mention this because the deaths of disabled benefit claimants are linked to the Tory clampdown on claims – the so-called “magic cures” that claimed hundreds of thousands of people were not disabled at all, despite volumes of medical evidence showing they were. These people were unceremoniously stripped of their benefits and many of them subsequently died. The figure of 120,000, quoted above, is a very low estimate.

The Tories spend huge amounts of money every year on their campaign to strip disabled people of their ability to survive. It is a campaign of persecution that has been more successful in eliminating the disabled than the infamous Nazi “Aktion T4” in 1930s and 1940s Germany. In comparison, they spend hardly anything on tracking the rich Tories – let’s not deny it – who have evaded their tax responsibilities in order to squirrel away trillions of pounds in tax havens abroad.

Absent from the new legislative programme are any plans to support the rights of workers with promised reforms to zero-hours contracts and the gig economy, and an end to the practice of “fire and rehire” – terminating workers’ contracts and then demanding they take new contracts with lower pay and fewer privileges:

“Fire and rehire” is a key element of Howard Beckett’s campaign to lead the UK’s largest union, Unite. He was in London to campaign about it while the Queen was delivering her speech:

He has also made the very obvious point that the currrent Labour leadership has no interest in looking after the interests of British workers – because Keir Starmer actually refused to oppose “fire and rehire”.

The oppression goes on and on:

Long-awaited plans for reform of social care – promised by the Tories years ago – went undiscussed. There is no plan for such reforms in the current Parliamentary term.

Admittedly, Andy Burnham is right to say all parties are responsible for allowing social care to fall into the disrepair we have today; New Labour failed to do anything about it too.

And Death Health Secretary Matt Hancock has claimed the government is committed to social care reforms this year – 2021:

He spent the whole of 2020 lying about the severity of Covid-19 and justifying his decisions to award government contracts worth billions of pounds to Tory cronies who couldn’t fulfil them. What are his words worth?

Oh, and before anyone suggests that plans to address the climate crisis show at least some hope for the Tories, they don’t:

For a more detailed attack on the new legislative programme, take a look at Unite’s response (under current leader Len McCluskey). I’m sure other critiques are also available.

Last word can go to Smokey, below, who makes an excellent point despite their inability to spell the word “speech”:

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Labour wins historic SIXTH term in succession in Welsh government – and may consider independence vote

Mark Drakeford: Wales’ First Minister has described the Tory government in Westminster as “utterly shambolic”.

Has any UK-based government won six successive terms? That’s what Labour just achieved in Wales.

It shows the advantage that sitting governments can use, when they actually deliver on their promises and do their best to help the population.

The mainstream media have been unforgivably quiet about it. Perhaps the London-based hacks think Wales doesn’t matter. They certainly pay more attention to Scotland, where the SNP has won only its fourth successive term.

That could all change very soon, with both devolved governments likely to support independence referenda if proposals are put before them.

I know Nicola Sturgeon has vowed to make it happen. The surprise here is that Mark Drakeford has said he will support an independence referendum in Wales, if there is a majority in the Senedd for holding one.

The contrast with Labour’s performance in England could not be more extreme – as social media commenters have merrily pointed out:

The lesson was very clearly put by Simon de Jever: “Drakeford is a left wing Corbyn supporting leader. Starmer is a Corbyn bashing centrist. Drakeford has had a spectacular win even in Brexit areas and Starmer has reduced the Labour vote to 29%.”

And Andrew Feinstein added: “Makes you think Starmer’s purge of the left and massive shift to the right might have been a mistake!”

 

 

Ya think?

The victory creates huge problems for Keir Starmer because his failure will be measured against Drakeford’s success. Some are already laying bets that Drakeford’s suspension from the Labour Party is already in the mail.

But if Drakeford is serious about permitting an independence referendum, it could create a monumental problem for Boris Johnson.

He can’t refuse permission for such a poll on the basis that we’ve had one recently (as in Scotland) because we haven’t.

He can’t rely on Wales rejecting independence because he knows his government has been so appallingly useless that many Welsh people may consider going it alone to be preferable – even if it means a few lean years in the immediate future. We’ll have hardship under the Tories indefinitely.

And it means he could be in line for a double dose of shame as the prime minister who presided over the end of the United Kingdom.

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Starmer in denial as Labour take local election pummelling. HE is the problem

The excuses man: but no amount of references to Jeremy Corbyn can save Keir Starmer from the condemnation of traditional Labour supporters who have been forced to walk away from the party by him.

Before I start, let’s be clear about one thing:

That being said…

Keir Starmer has vowed to lead Labour’s fightback after having led it to a bitter local election pummelling and the loss of one of the party’s Parliamentary strongholds.

The denial is strong in this one.

It is clear to even the most disinterested observer that the party’s losses are all Starmer’s fault; that his direction for the Labour Party is deeply unpopular with the British people and that the best way he can help Labour fight back is to resign.

But he won’t do that. Instead, he’ll be announcing a “bold vision” for the party in the next few days.

That will be – what? His third “bold vision”? His fourth? – since he deceived party members into making him leader last year.

By the time of writing, StarmerLabour has lost 192 council seats, with the bulk going to the Conservatives.

The Green Party has picked up 51 seats, indicating that left-wing voters have migrated to that party in protest against Starmer’s betrayal of traditional Labour values. And the Liberal Democrats have also lost seats – 24 of them – indicating that the public has still – and rightly – not forgiven them for propping up the Tories for five years, from 2010 to 2015. These are about the only things the English voting public has got right.

In terms of council control, the Conservatives have taken Pendle, Maidstone, Cornwall, Nottinghamshire, Basildon, Northumberland, Dudley, and Nuneaton and Bedworth councils from no overall control. They also took control of of Harlow council, in Essex, from Labour.

Labour has lost Sheffield, Plymouth and Rossendale to no overall control.

And in another former Labour stronghold, the Tees Valley, Conservative Ben Houchen was re-elected mayor with 73 per cent of the vote – a massive swing of 23 per cent away from Starmer’s Labour.

Meanwhile, here in Wales, Mark Drakeford’s version of Labour – which many have said is a genuine continuation of Corbynism – has won 30 seats in the Senedd, securing another working majority. Labour will rule in Wales for another five years.

The contrast with StarmerLabour could not be more plain.

For This Writer, the most surprising aspect of StarmerLabour’s implosion is the way his critics are pussyfooting around him, playing down the scale of the disaster.

Look at left Labour MP Richard Burgon’s comment, quoted in the following tweet – and the response by Jen Wood:

Let’s not bother with the ‘soft’ critics. Starmer doesn’t need to hear people saying “Never mind, Keir. You stay put and next time you’ll do better.” At this point, such a possibility seems unlikely in the extreme; Labour is more likely to run out of votes altogether and be extinguished as a political movement.

He needs to hear the hard criticism – like this, from Peston:

And this, from near-legendary Canary columnist Steve Topple:

Even this is charitable; voters didn’t abandon Labour because they don’t care – they walked away because they do, and because Starmer wasn’t offering them anything they could support.

You want proof?

So that’s that. These people aren’t going to come back to Labour while Starmer remains in charge of what was once their party.

The message of the 2021 local elections is clear, then. For those who are still having trouble grasping it, it is this:

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Starmer silent after Hartlepool calamity. He knows he should resign but will he go?

Are you sitting uncomfortably? Keir Starmer’s relationship to the Labour leader has become akin to that of a squatter in an abandoned house after the loss of Hartlepool in yesterday’s by-election.

I honestly don’t know if Keir Starmer has failed dramatically, or actually achieved his goal.

As leader of the Opposition, his party’s loss in Hartlepool is devastating. A constituency that has been a Labour stronghold since it was created in 1974 has passed to the Conservatives. It means no Labour seat is safe from the Tories.

But many critics have suggested that Starmer’s job as a right-wing Labour leader has been to ensure that – at a time when the Conservatives are burdened with a corrupt and incapable leader, the consequences of failed Brexit and Covid policies, and rampant cronyism – Labour still cannot win an election.

If the latter is true, then he has succeeded monumentally.

Any sincere Labour leader would see that his time is up; his policies have failed and it is time to go.

But Starmer was silent when he left his house today (May 7). Maybe it is too soon to make official announcements (although Corbyn was prompt enough after the 2019 general election result).

He had claimed he would “carry the can” if the result was poor – but This Writer fears it is more likely that he will try to pass the buck instead.

Already Peter Mandelson has tried to blame the disaster on what he called “the two Cs – Covid and Corbyn”.

Many people consider him to be a certain kind of C, too.

His comment is reminiscent of the claims made by the Tory government many times since they took office in 2010, whenever they have been criticised over a policy failure – that the fault lay with the previous Labour administration.

The facts betray the lie in both cases. Here, it is more than a year since Jeremy Corbyn was leader of the Labour Party. Starmer had himself elected as a “continuity Corbyn” candidate, sure – but he subsequently dumped every single policy promise he made, replacing them with nothing.

As a result, voters were left with no idea what StarmerLabour represents – and it seems to me that this is what has put people off, more than the shadow of the previous leader.

As former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said, “You cannot go into an election without any policy programme, without explaining what sort of society you want. You can’t send candidates out there naked without policies to advocate.”

But that’s what Starmer did. There is also the question of whether he foisted an unwanted candidate on Hartlepool’s Labour party by interfering with the selection process (as suggested in certain parts of the social media).

Even right-wing Shadow Culture Minister Alison McGovern has implied that voters don’t consider Labour to be a viable alternative to a one-party state run by the Conservatives.

She said: “There are lots of people who will have voted Conservative with a heavy heart – who want there to be an alternative,” implying that people don’t see Labour as an alternative any more. And who can deny this after a year of Starmer supporting one Tory policy after another?

“The way to do that is to offer people a set of policies that give them hope for the future, [hope] that we don’t live in a one-party Tory state, that things can be better and different,” she added, implying that people think we do live in a one-party Tory state, and that Starmer’s leadership of Labour has turned it into a pale-blue imitation of the Tories that provides no alternative but merely shores up the corrupt Johnson government.

The most risible comment so far came from hard-right “Labour First” activist Luke Akehurst, who managed to get himself onto Labour’s National Executive Committee under Starmer. He said Labour needs to make sure it is relevant and talking about issues that big swathes of the electorate care about – which is hilarious considering the way his wing of the party has diligently steered it away from those issues.

Apparently the left-wing Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs is planning to demand radical reform of the party, possibly including a shift to a federal structure in England, with cities and regions having their own leaders who then exert influence over the Westminster leader.

This would de-centralise power, ensuring that Starmer could not force right-wing, un-Labour policies on the wider party membership. That would have the advantage of ensuring that Labour had a strong direction – if the local leaders could agree a policy position with party HQ.

But it also runs the risk of fragmentation.

An alternative suggested by the BBC is that Labour could re-focus itself as the centre of a combined Opposition, allying with other parties like the Greens. This risks a watering-down of some policies, which is exactly the problem that many believe Starmer has created.

No matter what happens in the long term, the short-term problem can be summed up in two words: Keir Starmer.

He has to go. The longer he delays, the worse Labour’s plight – and that of the UK as a whole under Boris Johnson’s corrupt Tories – will become. And this brings us back to the big question: is that what Starmer wants?

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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