Keir Starmer Keir Starmer. Photo: UK Parliament / Jessica Taylor / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Starmer is barely audible from inside the Gilded Palace of Westminster argues Mike Wayne

It’s nice to know that Keir Starmer, the nominal leader of the Labour party, is focused on the need ‘to get a Labour government elected’ according to a recent interview on Jeremy Vine’s Channel 5 programme. After all, he is one of the architects of the disastrous policy of offering a second vote on leaving the EU which did for Labour at the last General Election.

And no doubt he made his own contribution to the faction fighting tooth and nail to prevent a Labour victory in 2017 and 2019, hence his non-response to the Forde Report.

At least Starmer did not wheel out his earlier jibe against the Corbyn led Labour party, part of the Blair mantra, that Labour has to move on from a party of protest to a party of government. Mindful perhaps that he has to soften his language a bit given trade union anger following the sacking of Shadow Transport Minister Sam Tarry for appearing on a picket line, Starmer, the face of the Blairite counter-revolution, talked instead of the division of labour between trade unions and a party preparing for government.

He understood (apparently) why workers were going on strike and he even went so far as to say that he supported their right to do so (steady now), but he said:

‘I want to be the Labour Prime Minister. You can’t sit around a cabinet table resolving issues and then walk on to a picket line. They are different jobs. That is the thing that is going to change millions of lives for the better, I can’t lose that focus.’

As the political theorist and historian Perry Anderson once remarked, ‘non-participation of the masses in the work of parliament…is…constantly presented and represented to the masses as the ultimate incarnation of liberty.’

Because actually it might be quite useful to link the process of resolving issues – whether around the cabinet or in this case, as Keir was getting a little ahead of himself, the shadow cabinet table and listening to workers and their representatives on the picket line.

Mick Lynch, General Secretary of the RMT, has pointed out the limitations of Labour’s solution to the economic crisis (windfall taxes) and instead pointed to the need for public ownership and wage rises – the latter clearly dependent on wage bargaining and increasing the leverage which workers need to resist the decades-long employer offensive.

Unfortunately, the separation of the economic struggle from the political struggle, which Keir seems to think is the highest expression of ‘mature’ politics, is exactly what the status quo wants to hear.

We are living at the tail end of a broken economic model presided over by a political class which across the board, is deeply mediocre, remote, has no real solutions and are widely reviled. This is exactly why Mick Lynch has achieved what media pundits like to call ‘cut through’ while Starmer drones on barely audibly from inside the gilded parameters of the Westminster Palace.

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