Starmer's Labour Party is a bit like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, let's learn the right lessons, argues Ben Tunstall
At the end of a day wondering whether to leave the Labour Party after I nearly fell asleep during Keir Starmer’s painful victory speech, for our Saturday night lockdown entertainment, we watched the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. When we first sat down to watch, we were thinking ‘oh this is funny we’ve chosen this, it’s like the Coronavirus’.
But then as it went on, and the virus plant pods do their work and turn everyone into emotionless drones, I realised it's actually like the Labour Party under Keir Starmer where all the passion and life of the Corbyn years gets turned into dull technocracy. We Corbynistas are like Donald Sutherland and his dwindling band watching Owen Jones emerge like a newborn pro-Keir version of himself and telling each other not to fall asleep in the vegetable patch.
Of course, the film has always been a metaphor for political paranoias in American life. In the original 1956 version, at the height of the Cold War, the metaphor is for ‘reds under the beds’, so in the end the aliens have to lose and small-town American life is protected and restored. The 1978 version is a complaint at the end of the hippy era (it’s set in San Francisco) that everyone’s about to become a Reaganite. The aliens win.
What our time needs is a new version where neither the virus wins nor the old way restored. Instead, in fighting the coronavirus, people and society become transformed into something new. Our version can’t fight the virus to protect the old way that allowed the virus to happen. Nor can our version allow the virus to win and we all just accept the bland consensual platitudes of Starmer.
Instead, our version needs to be the one where the measures we use to fight the virus (nationalisations, new forms of planning, recognition for the workers society actually depends on, genuine preparedness for the next crises of climate change, international coordination and support) keep our passions, end the era that began with Reagan and Thatcher, and together create, well, socialism.