Keir Starmer has changed his tune.
Only days ago, he said he had a “mountain to climb” and would continue doing that after today’s local election. Now he is saying he will “carry the can” if the result goes badly.
But will he?
Polling suggests that Labour is heading for its worst local election result in decades – equivalent to that suffered by previous Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn at the general election in 2019.
The Guardian reported that
Labour’s canvassing in Hartlepool suggested only 40% of the party’s previous supporters had pledged to vote for its candidate, Paul Williams
and Starmer will have to take responsibility if Williams loses; the candidate was practically parachuted in after Labour’s head office interfered with the selection process in a return to the bad old days of Tony Blair’s New Labour.
A particular problem across the board is StarmerLabour’s lack of any coherent policy after he abandoned the “continuity Corbyn” pledges he made to get elected as party leader and opted to be what Tony Benn once described as a “weathercock” politicians.
It means rather than choosing to take Labour in a well-defined direction, he has chosen to adopt whatever seems popular at the moment in a bid to fool voters into thinking he’s on their side.
That tactic seems to have failed.
Labour’s policy on the doorstep seems to have been to appeal to anti-Tory sentiment – but the party seems to have done this by making itself a caricature of northern working-class voters: “beer, fish and chips and flags,” as one left-wing MP told the Graun.
This has caused offence in several ways:
Labour's obsession with booze is more than weird, and disturbing.
When did professionalism become associated with alcohol consumption?
What of those unable to afford such treats?
And what about folk with alcohol problems?
— Prof Gayle Letherby 💙 #PeaceAndJustice (@gletherby) May 6, 2021
And behind it all is resentment at the way right-wing Labour MPs, who are now in charge of the party, stabbed Corbyn’s Labour leadership in the back in order to ensure that big defeat in 2019 – only to make matters worse.
At the time of writing, Jess Phillips is trending on Twitter. Here is the reason in two tweets:
Remember how Jess Phillips actively campaigned for a Tory win to undermine Corbyn in the 2017 General Election? And here at the 2019 GE count where she is displaying dupers delight as it became clear Labour would lose. She put the Tories in power.pic.twitter.com/ED3patIFw6
— Ragged Trousered Philanderer (@RaggedTP) May 6, 2021
Remember this when you vote tomorrow…..
Jess Phillips laughed the night we lost in 2019
Kids are starving tonight because of what she did
Cancer patients had their benefits cut today because of what she did
Make sure she does not laugh on May 6th
Don't vote Labour pic.twitter.com/PsCkehYJ3V
— Daniel Fooks (@DanielFooksArt) May 5, 2021
That kind of betrayal is not something a political party can easily leapfrog.
Now it seems party members are planning to demand Starmer’s resignation if the party suffers major losses – including in Hartlepool.
He has said he’ll “carry the can” – but even in that, it seems he may just mean he’ll kick it down the road.
Already we are hearing that he has voiced concern that the next general election could be in 2023, not the following year, and that he is trying to suggest that this would be too soon for Labour to change direction if a new leader was elected between now and then.
If this is true, then he is deliberately avoiding the point – that it is better to have a new leader with a chance to win than an old one who will definitely lose. That is, after all, the reason he and his right-wingers forced Corbyn out.
Well, the one they presented to the public, anyway.
The saddest part of this whole sorry StarmerLabour saga is that he has made the Conservatives more popular – surely the cardinal sin of any Labour leader.
In Hartlepool, it is being suggested that half of the electorate will support the Tory candidate – a shocking claim in a Labour-held seat.
And it’s one that is made even worse when one considers that abominable record of the current Tory government under Boris Johnson:
His Covid-19 policies led to the deaths of 150,000 people – most of these could have been prevented if he had locked down earlier and more effectively.
He has mired his government in allegations of cronyist corruption.
And his Brexit – the way he pulled the UK out of the European Union – may actually lead to a shooting war with France over fishing rights near the Channel Islands; a war in which the UK, as the side causing the conflict, would be seen as the villain.
Johnson must be delighted that Starmer is leading Labour towards death in a ditch. It has taken all the heat away from his own failings.
And that is why – barring miracles – Starmer will have to go.
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