Support our Nation today - please donate here
Opinion

A tale of two Starmers

14 Jan 2024 4 minute read
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Ben Wildsmith

For about 10 seconds earlier this week, I warmed to Keir Starmer. Granted, reintroducing supervised teeth brushing for primary school children doesn’t represent the Khmer-Rouge-style Year Zero approach required by 40 years of Neo-Liberal devastation but, hey, it’s something.

Accompanied by chillingly ambitious Shadow Heath Secretary, Wes Streeting, the Labour leader toured the studios to let us know that, under them, state intervention will be making a comeback.

This was uncharacteristically nimble politics from Starmer. Interfering in every aspect of our lives is the only Socialist impulse Labour has retained in its current incarnation, so it makes sense to offer it as a virtue before Andrew RT Davies starts tweeting ‘Labour will forcibly clean your teeth with blankets’ 26 times a day until the election.

Rotten teeth are, according to Shiny Wes, the leading cause of hospital admissions for children. In the quiescent world of New New Labour (25% more new, 50% less Labour) absolutely nothing can be considered desirable unless it saves money.

It’s one thing that little Nathan has to suffer the trauma of having all his baby teeth extracted, but ‘the cost to our NHS’ is why action must be taken.

The political reason for making such a hullabaloo about this minor policy adjustment was that it allowed Starmer to say he was ‘Up for the fight’ against those who claimed Labour was proposing a nanny state.

Forced labour

The 20mph debate here has clearly spooked UK Labour. The tactics used to oppose that law could be applied to anything a Labour government seeks to do.

With the population disheartened by years of declining spending power, people are understandably tetchy about any government intrusion into the private sphere.

Separating your recycling is a far more cheerful task if you’re off out for the night afterwards. Doing it upon returning from the food bank, however, can feel like forced labour.

Most of us accept that it has to be done, however, and Starmer’s task is to persuade us that neglecting civic virtues is why things have got so bad. Rebranding society as a benevolent environment after decades of extreme individualist rhetoric is a laudable ambition.

The role of National Life Coach, however, comes with an expectation of personal rectitude that is difficult to fulfil. Boris Johnson managed to survive for as long as he did by projecting his dissolute selfishness as charming, thus relieving the electorate of any pressure to be socially responsible.

Starmer’s ‘I’m not angry with you, just disappointed’ approach will see his adherence to principle scrutinised robustly. His performance this week suggests that this will be an uncomfortable experience for him.

Lawful case

In 2020, when he was running for the Labour leadership, Starmer pledged to ‘pass legislation to say military action could only be taken if a lawful case was made, there was a viable objective and consent from the House of Commons had been given.’

This week, after immediately backing the UK/US bombing mission in Yemen, he was pressed on that commitment by Laura Kuenssberg.

He replied, ‘There is obviously a huge distinction between an operation, the like of which we have seen in the last few days, and military action, a sustained campaign, military action usually involving troops on the ground.’

Asked if he still proposed legislation, Starmer clarified,

‘I want to codify that – it could be by a law; it could be by some other means. I’m not ruling out law.’

Discontent

People familiar with the fate of Starmer’s other pledges to the Labour membership will be unsurprised by this repositioning. The wider electorate, however, is yet to experience the temporary nature of his positions on fundamental matters of principle.

Starmer has bet the farm on Jeremy Corbyn’s unpopularity being the cause of Labour’s recent electoral woes. In doing so, he has overlooked the widespread anger at Tony Blair’s perceived dishonesty over Iraq and Labour’s failure to address underlying economic factors in the widening inequality that has marginalised much of the UK.

Discontent towards the end of the last Labour administration gave rise to UKIP and the chaos of Brexit. Resultingly, fissures that existed in society then have widened into chasms into which ever more impoverished citizens fall.

If Starmer plans an interventionist government, it will succeed only by example. A man who seeks to supervise the nation’s oral hygiene needs to watch what passes his lips.

Flags & Bones by Ben Wildsmith is available to order from Cambria Books


Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
11 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
David
David
1 month ago

Starmer speaks with a forked tongue.

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
1 month ago

Starmer is a real-life equivalent of the spiv private Walker from Dad’s Army.

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago

Problem is, protest vote Starmer and you let Tory party back in.

Far rather get Starmer across the line then hold him to account than the existing government that is selling the UK off bit by bit.

Mawkernewek
Mawkernewek
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff

How does that work if he gets a big majority and the Commons is stuffed with his yes men?

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago
Reply to  Mawkernewek

How does it work if we leave the Tory party in charge.
Never said it would be easy, but leaving the Cons get in is an existential threat to the UK, this is the UK that is basically stuffed at the moment and dont forget this party put Liz Truss in (controlled by the IEA). Even worse if Trump gets in.
Always a risk but if the voters lay it out that they will not vote for a 2nd term, may help.

Johnny Gamble
Johnny Gamble
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff

A Starmer Government would be no different to any Conservative government since the days of Thatcher, Remember Blair and Brown.It will be the continuation of the Status Quo same horse different jockey.

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago
Reply to  Johnny Gamble

Yeah, about that, it is interesting watching the spin around this now. Starmer bad, grrrr. Labour will be worse grrrr, I mean really!! I am watching people that cannot get their drugs, cannot get hospital appointments, I am watching water infested with waste and the profits off shore, I am watching the client press push Starmer bad, I am watching a party that has caused 300k death through austerity and many thousands in covid deaths, there is a lot more. I don’t know what he will be like, I suspect Tory lite, but it will sure as hell not be… Read more »

Midge0
Midge0
1 month ago

“…the Khmer-Rouge-style Year Zero approach required by 40 years of Neo-Liberal devastation…”
Really?
It’s not remotely funny.
Look it up! 😞

Welsh_Siôn
Welsh_Siôn
1 month ago

This concern about the children of the nation’s [sic.] teeth is surely another smack in the kisser for our First Minister. It’s an open secret that Starmer and Drakeford don’t get on – and that’s putting it mildly.

The fact that when it comes to dental policy, Starmer is BFF with his useful sock puppet in Scotland, Sarwar, who just happens to be a millionaire dentist is shurely shome coincedensh … Isn’t it?

Steve Woods
Steve Woods
1 month ago

There are two things I dislike about Keir Starmer: his face.

robin campbell
robin campbell
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Woods

Da iawn!

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.