DESPITE coronavirus and Brexit dominating the headlines this year, Labour’s not-so-subtle policy shift rightwards has not escaped the attention.
‘Wet wipe’ Keir Starmer has dispelled any notion that his Labour will be inclusive to the left this year.
Support for the leader is dwindling among members, the public and trade unions, ensuring he will not see the same level of activist support Corbyn enjoyed.
But then again, Sir Keir entered the fray to radically change the party back to anti-radical ideas.
Domestic gaffes have sidelined an underlying shift in foreign policy back towards the Blair years.
A 29-page document by Open Labour this month reviews the party’s recent record and proposes an ‘internationalist’ way forward.
Redaction had initially tipped Lisa Nandy, who co-wrote the document, to be a solid shadow foreign secretary, but this is a weak leaflet.
Thousands of words were written to “take up the mantle of Robin (Cook’s) biggest vision” for an internationalist policy.
And yet the Palestinian cause and the continued incursion into Yemen is hardly mentioned.
Yemen is really only mentioned in the context of alleged Iranian support for the Houthi rebels.
“Whilst there has quite correctly been widespread condemnation of the character of the Saudi intervention to restore the Yemeni government and its role in the humanitarian crisis engulfing the country, for instance, less left-wing ire has been reserved for Iran’s role in the 2015 coup and subsequent destabilisation via its Houthi proxies,” the document reads.
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It lauds Hillary Benn’s speech in support of air strikes in Syria, detests Nicolas Maduro’s “disastrous” regime (with no mention of powerful forces destabilising Venezuela), and spends more time slamming China and Russia than Saudi Arabia.
With anti-imperialists like these….
Last week Wayne David MP, Shadow Minister for the Middle East, told Redaction Politics that he fully endorsed the soft-left group’s pamphlet and that the party must stopped its “obsession with anti-imperialism”.
“There is a trenchant critique of the failings of “Corbynism” and its simplistic view of the world being divided between the ‘West and the Rest’,” he added.
But anti-imperialism was not the reason why Corbyn lost the 2019 election.
A YouGov poll from 2017 found that the majority of the public sided with Corbyn in opposing Britain’s last four interventions in Iraq (twice), Libya and Afghanisatan.
Among the reasons why voters could not bring themselves to vote Labour last December, foreign policy was barely a factor.
Under Corbyn, Labour was not deaf to the needs of veterans nor the wider public’s generally positive view of Britain’s armed forces.
The party put forward a new social contract for veterans covering areas such as mental health and homelessness.
In summary, the welfare of ex-serviceman was prioritise over sending troops into harms way in costly foreign interventions.
A manifesto based around peace and true internationalism – that is, speaking for the voiceless in Yemen and Palestine, criticising the powerful who exert unjust policy and, naturally, joining in objective condemnations with said powerful nations, is a winner, both morally and electorally.
The Open Labour document appears to wave Sir Keir’s Labour back to the Blair years, to the era when Labour became to be known as the party who launched the Iraq War.
It was Corbyn who radically changed that image – and if Starmer wants to maintain some semblance of leftist support (and general morality, for that matter), he must continue the anti-imperialist tradition set by his predecessor.