Sunday, 19 July 2020

10 Socialist Demands for Sir Keir Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer, you stand accused of abandoning the left, breaking leadership campaign promises and capitulating to smear merchants. You promised a 20 point lead over the Tories and yet you are currently eight points behind. You have failed every major test of your leadership so far. Here is what you must do to put this right:

1. Stop Praising the Damn Tories

I should not have to point out the Tories killed 130,000 of our most vulnerable people through austerity policies. Nor that they let 70,000 of our citizens die from Covid-19 because they were reluctant to take the necessary preventative steps. The Tories were not doing their best. They were not trying to help people. They were certainly not doing a brilliant job. They were letting people die while protecting capital interests, and those who died were absolutely depending on you standing up for them.

You are supposed to lead the opposition, instead you let our people down. Their blood is on your hands as much it is on Boris Johnson's hands. You must stop praising the Tories or suggesting you broadly agree with them, and you must stop being so afraid to criticise them. There is nothing forensic about acting like you are on the same side as our horrendous government. What happened to meaningful opposition?

If you agree with the Tories, you should not be Labour leader, and if you are afraid to say you disagree with the Tories, you should not be Labour leader. Grow a damn spine!

2. Adopt a Fair and Independent Complaints Process

Labour's complaints procedures are an absolute shambles. Any complaints process must be fair and impartial, yet your MPs feel it necessary to provide a running commentary of complaints and demand the outcome they want. It strongly looks like this is about eliminating political opponents.

Any complaints process which is not free from political interference is simply not worth having. Rein in your damn MPs and tell them to stop conducting trials by media. Take Chris Williamson for example. No matter what anyone thinks of his guilt or innocence, no one, I repeat no one can pretend he faced an impartial complaints procedure and indeed, the courts agreed with him. Where was the apology for this by the way?

3. Stop Purging Socialists

You had one prominent socialist in your shadow cabinet. One! And you got rid of her at the first opportunity. Nobody believes Rebecca Long-Bailey is an antisemite. It really looks like you were just waiting for the excuse to get rid and I hope I am wrong on that. I really do.

I am honestly unsure whether you are aware of your bias, but you promised, I repeat promised a balanced shadow cabinet and yet you have provided no left wing representation. Your shadow cabinet is a centrist's neoliberal shadow cabinet running a socialist party. It's almost as though a fifth column has taken control and this is hugely concerning.

It's not just MPs we fear are being purged either, it's councillors and party members who get suspended on apparently spurious reasons, including NEC candidates, suggesting this was to keep them off the ballot.

Time and again we see suspensions of pro-Palestinian activists for statements far less controversial than anything uttered by the late, great Nelson Mandela. Would you suspend Mandela for antisemitism? Labour was founded to be a socialist party which fights human rights abuses at home and abroad and you would do well to remember that.

4. Find some Perspective on Racism

Antisemitism is one of the great evils of the world and you do the fight against it absolutely no favours whatsoever when you throw terms like "antisemitic conspiracy theory" around to attack the likes of Rebecca Long-Bailey and Maxine Peake. How dare you slander Maxine Peake by the way. She is a good person who has done far more for our movement than you ever will and it is ridiculous to accuse her of spreading an antisemitic conspiracy theory because she made a comment on Israel.

People like Maxine deserve our support and Jews deserve for antisemitism to not be weaponised for political purposes. I am unsure whether weaponisation was your intention but please do not fall into this trap. Also, remember conflating all Jews with the state of Israel is in itself an antisemitic trope so please be careful.

And now let's contrast your approach to antisemitism with your approach to anti-black racism. You called the Colston protesters "totally wrong" for God's sake. You and your team remained silent on the anti-black racism in your party. You said you have "no truck whatsoever" with Black Lives Matter. Add to this your silence on the brutalisation of the Palestinian people and I am left wondering if you even understand what racism is.

Please apologise to BAME communities and consider booking yourself onto a racism awareness course.

5. Introduce Open Selection

MPs like Twitter troll Jess Phillips are not representing the left. Hell, Jess can't even hide her contempt for us. She piled on me 4 or 5 times in one day for asking if she would fight for a Labour government in 2019! Why is she even in the Labour Party? I seriously get the impression she hates socialism with every fibre of her being.

And Jess is not the only problematic MP either. It was galling to see Labour MPs constantly attacking their own party and sneering at our manifesto pledges in the build up to the last general election. A united Labour Party could have won but your allies chose disunity.

Let the membership decide who should represent them and give them the option to change their minds before every general election. No labour MP should have a job by default simply because they meet your personal approval. Open selection is considered normal in many political parties around the world. There is a crazy concept called democracy and you should embrace it.

6. Stop the NEC Stitch Up

The NEC elections are supposed to be democratic. This is not supposed to be a process for you lot to decide which of your handpicked shortlist should get a job. It is hugely concerning to hear of last minute rule changes to favour your candidates and potentially keep others from the ballot, especially given this change was not agreed at party conference. What do you have against democracy by the way?

7. Stand by the Labour Manifesto

The Labour manifesto is amazing, inspiring and hugely popular. It offers hope to millions. The green industrial revolution will save the economy and the planet. Nationalisation is absolutely necessary to fix our broken public services. People are counting on you to honour the promises you made during your leadership campaign, Sir Keir. If you water down our manifesto, you will appeal to neither the left nor right wing and you will be consigned to the dustbin of history. Britain needs a meaningful alternative to Tory rule. Are you willing to offer this?

8. Apologise for the PV Policy

Over half of voters who switched from Labour to Tory said they did so because of your People's Vote policy. You promised this would win us the general election, even though you had previously acknowledged it would hurt us in Labour heartlands. This looks like a seriously disingenuous move on your part. Was it part of a plot to sabotage Corbyn? Throw the general election so you can step in as leader? Or was it just a woeful error of judgement? Either way, an apology is needed.

9. Take Meaningful Action on the Labour Leaks Report

We need full protection for whistle blowers and an apology to the Labour membership, including acknowledgement of the racist abuse received by the likes of Diane Abbott. We need to see prosecutions, if it turns out your staff really sat on complaints and misdirected funds. And don't you dare apologise to these people or even think of compensating them. It is horrifying that some of your staff seemingly wanted to lose the 2019 general election, and it appears you may have backed some of them for promotion. If correct, this is completely unacceptable.

10. Stop Promoting Troublemaker MPs

I know I said you should stop the purge, but seriously Jess Phillips and Wes Streeting have to go from the shadow cabinet. Like yesterday.

All of the above would probably make uncomfortable reading for you, if you ever bothered to read it. In fact, it would probably make your skin crawl, if as I suspect, your political views are closer to conservatism than socialism. But here's the thing, every one of the above demands is utterly fair and absolutely necessary. If you can't take the above actions, you are not a Labour leader worth having and you certainly aren't one I can respect. This is about integrity and it's about whether you are a socialist.

If you are not a socialist, please resign and make way for someone who is.

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