Tag Archives: populist

Starmer’s hollow politics: he wanted another referendum last year – now he’ll accept any rotten Brexit

Keir Starmer: hollow man.

What’s wrong with this?

How strange.

Only last year, Starmer was the one who came up with the Brexit policy that lost Labour the 2019 general election, when he demanded that the party must support another referendum on whether to stay in or leave the European Union.

Now – according to a report in The Guardian (I won’t go to The Sun if I can possibly help it),

Keir Starmer is preparing to risk a party rift by throwing Labour’s weight behind a Brexit deal if last-minute negotiations succeed in the coming days.

In what he hopes will be a signal to “red wall” voters that the party has heard them, multiple Labour sources said Starmer, and Cabinet Office shadow minister, Rachel Reeves – who has been liaising with backbenchers on the issue – are minded to impose a three-line whip in support of a deal, subject to the detail.

They have rejected the idea of abstaining or giving MPs a free vote, fearing it would suggest Labour has failed to absorb the lessons of the pasting it took in last December’s general election.

Tony Benn’s immortal comment about weathercocks and signposts springs to mind.

The late, great Benn said some politicians are like signposts – you always know what they stand for and in which direction they want to travel, politically. Others are like weathercocks; they blow with the wind of public opinion.

Starmer is, therefore, a cock.

His current Brexit dilemma could have been avoided if he – and others in Labour – had only worked out an appropriate Labour Party position on the possibility of leaving the European Union before the 2016 referendum but they didn’t.

For more than four years, these creatures have been “triangulating” – trying to work out what policy would be most popular with the voting public in order to pretend that it was what they genuinely believed.

Last year the position may have been slightly more complicated, as it is entirely possible that Starmer had an eye on bidding for the Labour leadership if the party failed to win an election with Jeremy Corbyn as leader, and his decision to demand a referendum may have had something to do with that.

Yes, I wrote it. Somebody had to, and I’m not the only one thinking it:

Now, it seems he is definitely back to triangulating, pretending he wants the same thing as the general public (in this cse the so-called Red Wall voters who defected to the Tories in the face of Starmer’s election Brexit policy.

And we all know it:

Sadly, those of us with an ounce of intelligence know that Starmer is simply leading Labour into another trap. An endorsement of a Tory Brexit will swap long-term harm to the party for an uncertain short-term election gain, and it will signal a capitulation to the Tory narrative on Brexit.

And there’s no need for any of that. Consider:

The smart choice is to abstain:

Even this is unpalatable for Starmer because of his recent behaviour towards votes on Tory government policy, that earned him the nickname “Keir Abstainer”.

Wise observers will take away just one message: that Starmer and his so-called “Centrist” friends are political frauds:

They simply don’t have any policies other than gaining power for themselves. Once they have it, they won’t know what to do with it.

I can demonstrate this with reference to the following:

Well, Starmer now has power within the Labour Party – for the time being, at least. He obtained it by stabbing Jeremy Corbyn in the back over Brexit, and now he doesn’t know what to do with it.

He is a hollowed-out politician – a fraud. He’ll say anything he thinks can advance him and he doesn’t have any political beliefs of his own at all.

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Theresa May vows to ‘defeat socialism’ and Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘populist politics’ – at exclusive banquet for the very rich

Theresa May: “Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party are exploiting populist politics” [Image: Pool New/Reuters].

She just can’t stop putting her foot in her mouth.

I wonder that nobody questioned the wisdom of attacking the so-called “populist politics” of Mr Corbyn at an exclusive dinner to which only very rich people are invited.

Mr Corbyn’s Labour Party states repeatedly that it is “for the many” – but Mrs May made her speech at an event that was open only to those who could afford the £15,000 admission fee.

That’s more than most people earn in a year.

The “free trade” and “economic liberalism” extolled by Mrs May are Tory myths. She is taking the UK into an era of highly-taxed trade, thanks to Brexit.

And what about her “rules-based order”? Tories belong to the party of deregulation. Their relaxation of the rules allowed the Grenfell Tower fire to happen, and it is on their orders that Carillion collapsed.

Mrs May’s claim that a Labour government will cause a run on the pound is rich; she has started several, simply by making speeches.

Her claim about capital flight – businesses and wealth deserting the UK – is already coming true due to Brexit (so, again, the Tories are responsible).

And Labour’s plans for re-nationalisation will return the profits from water, energy and rail companies to the United Kingdom after decades in which we paid for other nations to prosper.

She could not have made a better case for electing a Labour government.

Theresa May has pledged to “defeat socialism” as she attacked Jeremy Corbyn for exploiting “populist politics”.

Amid an increasingly divided Tory party, the Prime Minister has attempted to rally flagging Conservatives by turning her fire on the Labour Party.

Speaking at the Conservative Party Black and White Ball on Wednesday night, May was expected to contrast Labour’s left-wing agenda to her party being champions of “free trade, economic liberalism and the rules-based order”.

Source: Theresa May Promises To ‘Defeat Socialism’ And Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘Populist Politics’


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Defeat for far-right Austrian politician – has right-wing populism had its day?

Austrian far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) presidential candidate Norbert Hofer waits for the first projections in his office in Vienna, Austria [Image: Leonhard Foeger/Reuters].

Austrian far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) presidential candidate Norbert Hofer waits for the first projections in his office in Vienna, Austria [Image: Leonhard Foeger/Reuters].

It’s far too early to say, of course.

But the defeat of Norbert Hofer in Austria indicates that Europeans are less willing to be swayed by the anti-fact, emotion-driven, right-wing populism that is propelling the UK out of the European Union and will shortly see Donald Trump enter the White House in the USA.

Some anti-EU activists in the UK have been hoping the rise of the alt-Right (who some believe are more correctly described as neo-Nazis) would lead to the collapse and dissolution of the European Union, with new European leaders following the UK’s lead and choosing to go it alone.

Now those hopes have been dashed as, it seems, our cousins on the Continent have more common sense than has been displayed by certain voters in the UK and across the Atlantic.

It isn’t enough to suggest that the neo-Nazis, fascists, Kippers – and all the other political flotsam and jetsam who’ve been turning up lately – are ready to slither off the political stage again. Time will tell.

But those of us who want sanity in our politics can take comfort from it.

The candidate vying to become Europe’s first freely elected far-right head of state since World War Two conceded defeat in Austria’s presidential election soon after polls closed on Sunday evening.

The result is a blow to populists who had hoped a wave of anti-establishment anger sweeping Western democracies would carry Norbert Hofer to power after Britain’s Brexit referendum and Americans’ election of Donald Trump as president.

Hofer, of the anti-immigration and anti-Islam Freedom Party (FPO), conceded he had been soundly beaten by former Greens leader Alexander Van der Bellen.

Austria’s president traditionally has a largely ceremonial role. But the election, a re-run of a May vote that was overturned due to counting irregularities, had been seen as another test of populist sentiment in Europe ahead of elections in France, Germany and the Netherlands next year.

Voters may have heeded Van der Bellen’s increasingly strident warnings that Hofer wanted to follow Britain’s lead and pull Austria out of the European Union.

Source: Far-Right Camp Concedes Defeat In Austrian Presidential Election

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Jeremy Corbyn’s speech to European socialists about the rise of the populist right

Jeremy Corbyn.

Jeremy Corbyn.


In light of the possibility that Austria might elect a man who has been dubbed a neo-Nazi, amid the rise of allegedly extreme right-wing politics across Europe, it seems appropriate to quote Mr Corbyn’s speech in full (as published on LabourList).

I have highlighted parts I think are particularly important in bold. Feel free to differ.

Colleagues and comrades, I want to thank you for inviting me here today, and for the reception we have received from our hosts in this magnificent city.

It is fitting we are in Prague to discuss the challenges ahead for democracy in Europe.

This is a city which has been at the heart of the history of our continent and the convulsions of the past century – of war, revolution and the struggle for democracy and social justice.

We are in a city that also suffered the scourge of Nazi occupation and the horror of its genocidal crimes.

Today I will also be visiting the Terezin memorial which commemorates the victims of Nazi political and racial persecution in the Czech Republic, a permanent testimony to the threat posed by far right politics, anti-semitism and racist scapegoating.

On behalf of the British Labour party I will be paying tribute and remembering those who died, whose suffering is a reminder of the scars left by the far right, not just on this country or this continent, but on the whole world.

Today, we live in a different time with different pressures and opportunities.

But it is clear, across Europe and beyond there has been an alarming acceleration in the rise of the populist right, whether it be UKIP in Britain, Donald Trump in the United States, Jobbik in Hungary or Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France.

Politics has been shaken across the world and, as socialists and progressives, we know very well why the populist right is gaining ground. But we are finding it increasingly hard to get our message heard and it is up to us to offer the political leadership needed for a real alternative.

We know the gap between rich and poor is widening. We know living standards are stagnating or falling and insecurity is growing.

We know that many people feel left behind by the forces unleashed by globalisation – powerless in the face of deregulated corporate power.

Often the populist right do identify the right problems but their solutions are the toxic dead ends of the past, seeking to divert it with rhetoric designed to divide and blame.

They are political parasites, feeding on people’s concerns and worsening conditions, blaming the most vulnerable for society’s ills instead of offering a way to take back real control of our lives from powerful elites who serve their own interests.

But unless progressive parties and movements break with that failed economic and political establishment it is the siren voices of the populist far right that will fill the gap

It can be difficult to convince the long-term unemployed that the reason there is no work is not that immigrants are stealing their jobs but the result of the economic programme of the right that has failed to deliver sustainable growth, security and rising living standards for all.

Or it can be hard to make clear that our public services are being run down because of years of austerity and predatory privatisation, rather than overspending and government waste, but it is vital that we do.

We cannot abandon our socialist principles because we are told this is the only way to win power. That is nonsense.

The reason we are losing ground to the right today is because the message of what socialism is and what it can achieve in people’s daily lives has been steadily diluted.

Many people no longer understand what we stand for.

Too often in recent years the left in Europe has been seen as apologists for a broken system rather than the answer to how to deliver radical social and economic reform for the 21st century.

Too often the left has been seen as the accomplice to reckless, unfettered capitalism rather than a challenge to it.

Too often the left has been seen as standing up for the privileged few rather than for the many we exist to represent and defend.

If we are only seen as protectors of the status quo how can we expect people to turn to us when they can see that status quo has failed?

We must stand for real change, and a break with the failed elite politics and economics of the past.

If we do, I have every confidence that the principles of solidarity, internationalism and socialism that we stand for can be at the heart of European politics in the 21st century.

That’s why it is vital that our rhetoric cannot be used to legitimise the scapegoating of refugees or migrant workers.

When we talk about refugees we need to talk about them as human beings, not as numbers, or as a burden, but instead as children, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters.

And when we face the challenge of migration we need to work together to halt the exploitation of migrant labour to undercut pay and conditions in a race to the bottom across Europe. We cannot allow the parties of the right to sow divisions and fan the flames of fear.

When it comes to Britain’s referendum vote to leave the European Union we in the Labour party respect that decision, and we want to work together with Socialist and progressive parties across Europe to find the best possible solution that benefits both Britain and the EU in the Brexit negotiations.

Labour is calling on the British Government to guarantee the rights of all EU Citizens before Article 50 negotiations begin, and not to use them as a bargaining chip in negotiations.

Labour is pushing for Brexit negotiations to be carried out in a transparent manner, in a spirit that aims to find a deal that works for all across our the continent.

That is why I am inviting leaders from socialist and progressive parties and movements across Europe to a special conference in London in February.

I believe our movement has the new ideas to take on and beat the populist right.. But we must harvest those ideas and that energy, allow a space within our parties for new ideas to be heard and build a movement with a democratic culture at its very heart.

It is when people lose faith in the power of politics to improve people’s lives that the space opens up for the far right to scapegoat and blame. Our task is harder, to restore people’s confidence that we have both the vision and an understanding of the lives of those we represent to change them for the better.

As we head towards 2017 many people are worried about the direction that Europe is taking. Well now is time for us to turn the tide. To put the interests of working people front and centre stage and to fight for our values, of social justice, solidarity, equality and internationalism.

If we do that together, and break with the failed politics of the past, I am confident we can overcome the challenge from the populist right.

Source: Corbyn: “Alarming acceleration” in the populist right across Europe and beyond | LabourList

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