Keir Starmer speaking at the 2020 Labour Party leadership election hustings in Bristol. Keir Starmer speaking at the 2020 Labour Party leadership election hustings in Bristol. Source: Rwendland / Wikicommons / cropped from original / shared under license CC BY-SA 4.0 / License linked below.

A hat trick of own goals from Keir Stammer and his inability to support the unions should concern us, writes Lindsey German

Keir Starmer has scored a hat trick this week and it’s only Thursday. First, he made clear that his leadership would not call for the nationalisation of utilities and railways, but for more regulation (this is when the dogs in the street know regulation is a joke). Then he showed his full woodenness when confronted with Merseyside pensioner Audrey White, refusing to even acknowledge the salient points she was making, which articulated what so many Labour members and voters feel. And now he has sacked Sam Tarry, shadow transport minister and former employee of TSSA, the rail union, not apparently for going on a picket line, but because he said workers should get a decent cost of living increase. What the hell was he expected to say? That they should suck it up and accept pay cuts?

There has been growing anger at Starmer’s inability to support the unions in struggle, or to follow policies which would benefit workers everywhere. This has to be seen against a background of vicious attacks on our rights from the two dire Tory candidates, one of whom will become prime minister. Whoever it is will implement further restrictions on unions and will allow profits to flow freely, at a time when heating and eating are costing more than ever. Not a word about Centrica and Shell’s record profits today.

The unions are standing up against the outrages of British capitalism, which is why they are growing while Labour is losing members on a daily basis. There is no opposition within parliament. There will likely be a general election next spring. I wouldn’t count on Starmer winning it, but even if he is able to form a government, it will continue with lukewarm versions of Tory policies.

So our only defence against future attacks is our own collective action. As I posted earlier this week, the unions will need general strike action if they are not to be further weakened by the Tory laws. Some union leaders, like Mick Lynch, are making similar points.

There also needs to be a new political organisation for the left. And, unlike the movement around Corbyn, it needs to be much more focused outside parliament and much more prepared to challenge the power of capital. The stakes are very high.

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Lindsey German

As national convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, Lindsey was a key organiser of the largest demonstration, and one of the largest mass movements, in British history.

Her books include ‘Material Girls: Women, Men and Work’, ‘Sex, Class and Socialism’, ‘A People’s History of London’ (with John Rees) and ‘How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women’.