KEIR Starmer has not only been a grave disappointment for the British left, but openly hostile to the progressive wing of the Labour Party.
Jeremy Corbyn’s suspension – done twice for good effect – may have been the symbolic split centrists have dreamed of, but the last seven months or so have yielded several poor political decisions – both morally and strategically.
It is thought that the majority of Sir Keir’s ’10 Pledges’ he made during the leadership campaign have already been broken as he tries to appeal to the ‘golden’ centre ground.
So when Boris Johnson announced £16.5billion in extra defence spending last week – while his party had to be forced to fork out a few hundred million to feed hungry children – it was no surprise the Labour leader welcomed the decision with open arms.
“We welcome this additional funding for our defence and security forces and we agree that it is vital to end what the Prime Minister calls – I have to say with a complete lack of self-awareness – an ‘era of retreat’,” he told the Commons.
Part of the reason Corbyn was so popular was down to his anti-war policies – something that a significant portion of the electorate back.
By continuing his shtick of ‘patriotism’ and liberal interventionism, Starmer is not only betraying the Corbynite years, but failing, once again, to provide any opposition to the government.
Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade told Redaction Politics: “The opposition should not be trying to out-do the government in terms of its support for military spending.
“They should be asking the fundamental questions, such as how this spending can keep us safe from the biggest threats, such as pandemics and climate change.
“It should ask why the government has said it cannot feed school students but it can afford to throw money at the military. These are big issues, and the opposition can’t just become an echo of government.”
Sir Keir’s only problem with the announcement was even more staggering, questioning who would pay for it.
He said: “But this is a spending announcement without a strategy. The government has yet again pushed back vital parts of the spending review and there’s no clarity over the government’s strategic priorities.
“And then there is the question of money. How will this announcement be paid for? Such is the government’s handling of this pandemic that the UK has the sharpest economic downturn of any G7 country.”
It appears the lessons of centrism’s decline have not been learned. The British liberal would rather be ‘forensic’ than provide an alternative – and Starmer will soon learn that at the ballot box.
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