A Letter to Sir Keir Starmer From A Member of the Working Class

Dear Sir Keir, 

You are no doubt reeling from the Chesham and Amersham by-election result, which not only saw your Labour Party pick up just 622 votes (which was 1/16th of what Corbyn got in 2017), but also saw the Lib Dems take a safe Tory seat, thoroughly demolishing your narrative that the Tories are benefitting from a "Covid vaccine bounce". 

A huge surge in popularity for the Greens at recent council elections has also demolished your narrative that no one wants left-wing policies. Clearly, gains can be made for Labour, but positioning yourself a hair's breadth to the left of the Tories is definitely not the way forwards. People who want Tories will vote Tory and people who want an alternative will seek an actual alternative.

This must be a frustrating time for you, following the disastrous Hartlepool result, and with the Batley and Spen by-election just two weeks away, I am sure you are feeling the pressure. You keep falling back on the blame Corbyn strategy, so it would be remiss of me to not mention how Corbyn transformed Labour's fortunes after the Miliband disaster and actually won by-elections. He didn't make excuses or blame the last leader, because let's be honest, that would be lame.

Now I know you've gone to pains to "win back trust", to make gains in the Tory south and rebuild the so-called red wall. Your focus groups seem to have convinced you the way forward is to drape yourself in the Union Jack, repeatedly tell the nation you're not Jeremy Corbyn, be reluctant to criticise the calamitous Tory government and refuse to take a position on any major issue.

In short, keep telling everyone how much of a patriot you are and give the Tories enough rope to hang themselves so you win a general election by default. Only, you must be aware this strategy is not working out well and endlessly blaming Jeremy Corbyn will not make you Prime Minister. If anything, it undermines your credibility and shows you lack confidence in your ability to turn things around.

I'm a member of the working class. I was born and raised on a rough council estate in a single parent household and fed by free school meals and income support. My adult life has been a mix of unemployment and mostly low paid jobs. And I live in what was one of the safest Labour seats in the country. I say was because I don't know what it is now, and the people around here have no idea what your party stands for anymore.

I'm afraid you've got us massively wrong and draping yourself in the Union Jack really isn't going to cut it. If you somehow survive in your job until 2024, I genuinely believe you might achieve the unthinkable: turning our safe red seat blue. And I promise you this is not because we are all Tories. You couldn't find a person in my town who'd publicly admit to voting Tory because they would be driven into the sea!

So instead of telling the working class what we want, please start listening, because we so desperately need the representation you're refusing to provide.

Take my kids' primary school, for example, which has set up a foodbank. It gets donations from local businesses like Greggs and tops that up with its own surplus stock and gives out food to anyone who wants it. There is no means testing because there would be no point. Almost everyone around here is "skint" - that's working class terminology to describe peasantry. (Please don't include it in your next speech to show how in touch you are, though!)

On top of this, the school sometimes gives out clothing - hand-me-downs from other parents - including school uniforms and shoes which have been outgrown. This is necessary because so many parents are struggling to feed and clothe their kids in the fifth richest nation on Earth. I know first-hand the panic of trying to buy uniforms in time for the next school year.

The system is not working and people like you, who think it requires only minor tweaking, might as well be living on a different planet.

I was sitting in the local park with my kids the other day. The park is shit, by the way. Half the swings, and other features, were removed for no obvious reason, leaving us with half a park in a boggy field about a mile and a half from where we live. There are no parks on our estate, meaning I have the joy of dragging three small kids that distance, just so they can play out. As you can imagine, it's exhausting.

So anyways, I was sitting in the park as my kids played on the tiny slide and the two bouncy elephant things which are pretty much all the park has now, and as smoke wafted our way, my gaze turned to some of the older kids. They had built a large bonfire nearby and were probably at risk of a nasty accident. It was the kind of thing we used to do when we were kids, growing up on the same estate. To be honest, we did a lot worse than build bonfires and boredom was the main driver of our behaviour. Good kids doing foolish things.

A bunch of other kids had built their own swing from the frame which previously held real swings, and they were taking turns getting pushed by one of their mothers. They were making their own fun because there is naff all around here, and even replacing a swing is too much for the local council, apparently.

Another kid was playing music from a ghetto blaster or boom box or whatever the kids are calling them these days, and I pictured someone like you saying they couldn't possibly be living in poverty because they have an electronic gadget! 

Sounds bloody stupid, doesn't it? But that's the kind of crap we hear all the time from the privileged middle class. They pretend our struggle isn't real, even though their worst fear is ending up just like us.

We started playing frisbee and then a couple of hooligans decided to race a motorbike which they'd quite possibly nicked (that's working class for appropriated, I think) and so we had to go back home where it was safer. It's hard to take the kids to nice places when you don't even have bus fare, so it's the crappy half-built park or nothing.

You see, that's the thing about poverty, it's not just about money being a bit tight, or whether you can pay the bills and keep the bailiffs away, it's also about living in areas that have been totally left behind. Areas where there aren't many, if any, safe places for children to play. Areas that are run down, and let's be honest, more than a bit depressing. Areas where people find it near-impossible to "better themselves". (I hate that term though, because I don't need to be better, and nor do most of the rest of us. We need our local area to be better and the free market isn't going to help with that.)

People like us, stuck in our run-down council estates with no opportunities, we need answers, we need solutions, we need policies, and most importantly, we need someone who will fight back against corporate power and the diabolical Tories. And we're not seeing any of this from you.

We need to know what your plan is to bring better jobs to our region, to regenerate our towns and get our high streets going again, to ensure that wages and, yes, benefits, are actually sufficient to ensure we can live dignified and stress-free lives. But you're not telling us anything. You're not even talking to us. And what's worse is you seem embarrassed to represent people like us, so instead, you've created this northern working class caricature that you feel more comfortable representing.

And it's a really fucking offensive "socially conservative" caricature that is not representative at all. 

First of all, we are not a monolith - there is no working class hive mind. We are not all secretly hating gays and foreigners and other minorities. And we're certainly not getting a hard on when we hear the national anthem. We get all types around here, but the general trend is that we hate the Tories and we want major systemic change.

I take objection to the idea that bigotry, I mean "social conservatism" is the norm in the red wall. Don't get me wrong, there are bigots, but I would definitely say they were more common, or perhaps more vocal, when I was a kid. 

Today, there is more inclusivity. I saw a young lad the other day dressed in, shall I say, a flamboyant manner, which would have gotten him beaten up in the 90s. But today no one bats an eyelid at such sights. We have Muslims and immigrants in much higher numbers than we used to, and I myself married an immigrant. While we have certainly been on the receiving end of racism, those racists would be roundly condemned by 80% of our neighbours. I, as a straight man, am just as comfortable sitting in a gay bar as a straight bar, just as happy to talk to a trans person as a cis person. It's only the gammons who are uncomfortable with this sort of thing, and it's one hell of a projection to treat the working class like one gigantic slab of gammon. Most of us think gammons are idiots.

If it's still not clear, let me spell this out: no one is impressed by your flag shagging. You're treating us like simpletons. And to add insult to injury, you've gone and made Rachel "tougher on benefits claimants than the Tories" Reeves your Shadow Chancellor. 

Now I've claimed benefits. I was once long-term unemployed and I can assure you, my diet of baked beans and porridge oats was no "lifestyle choice" and I certainly didn't need anyone being tougher on me. I was tough enough on myself.

I remember almost getting a benefits sanction because I couldn't afford to attend a job interview ten miles away. It was the day before my benefit money was paid and I did not have a penny left.

"Well, what did you spend the money on?" the woman asked me.

"Food," I replied. I was then told in no uncertain terms that my benefits were not for food, they were for attending interviews only, and any further instances would result in a sanction. I have no idea how the JobCentre expected me to eat, but there you go.

On my estate, I doubt you will find a single person who has never claimed benefits, who doesn't have a similar story to tell. And a party with Rachel Reeves as Shadow Chancellor is screaming that it doesn't want to represent us. 

It's not just a huge chunk of the working class you've alienated either. Your shocking response to Black Lives Matter has alienated many Black voters. Your horrendous fence-sitting on Palestine has alienated many Muslims. Your apparent indifference to the climate crisis has alienated many younger voters. Your disgraceful treatment of Jeremy Corbyn has alienated many socialists. And you are winning back absolutely none of the voters your People's Vote policy lost in 2019.

Yes, the 2019 disaster was on you, and I'm pretty sure you understand this, because I'm pretty sure it was intentional self-sabotage. You acknowledged that such a policy would divide the "red wall", one year prior to adopting the policy. This was your great plan to become leader though, wasn't it? And now it has backfired. If you really want to "win back trust", an apology would be a good start.

It would appear you sacrificed all of Labour's core principles, and I honestly don't know at this point, if you're even interested in power, or just interested in ensuring ordinary people never have power, but either way, the end result will be the same.

We have been left behind.

We were left behind by Thatcher and we were left behind by Major. But we were also left behind by Blair and Brown. I was long-term homeless under Blair, and I can assure you, none of us around here are desperate to return to the Blair days. Centrism is dead because it never offered anything to us. 

You need to pick a side.

You either side with the people the Labour Party was set up to represent (and the many decent privileged people who fight our cause) or you pick the side of the people who would maintain the status quo. 

The status quo, let's not forget, means trampling us down forever. It means crap wages for the working class, overpowered corporations running the country, and no light at the end of the tunnel. No better tomorrow. No end to the constant exhaustion and lack of time with the family and fear of destitution and anti-depressants just to maintain sanity. 

If you really are on the side of the status quo, you are one of the people trampling us down and you should not be in charge of the Labour Party. You should not even be in the Labour Party.

However, if I'm wrong about you, and you genuinely want to unite your party, here is what you need to do:

  • Listen to the working class
  • Actually oppose the Tory government
  • Apologise for the People's Vote
  • Reinstate Jeremy Corbyn
  • Stop expelling activists
  • Build bridges with unions
  • Honour your ten pledges
  • Build upon the 2019 manifesto
Until you do these entirely reasonable things (and I suspect you won't), then you will never have my vote. And what's more, you will surely destroy the Labour Party. Pasokification will become known as Starmerfication.

NOTE: You can contact Sir Keir Starmer at the following link:
Feel free to send him the link to this article, or alternatively, copy and paste the article to let him know exactly how we feel.

If you appreciate the work of Council Estate Media, even the most modest of donations can help massively, but please only contribute, if you can reasonably afford to do so. 


Donations are greatly appreciated
Thank you for your support

Comments

  1. What an amazing read! A mixture of lived experience and righteous indignation at Labour/Starmer's failures. A call to action. I felt completely engaged and represented by you! Will happily share and, if I weren't unemployed myself, I'd contribute some funds.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Simply spot on. Nail hit square.
    STARMER , if he reads this must choose which side he's on. Somehow I doubt he will last long enough to choose.

    ReplyDelete
  3. As a lifelong union member, and Labour voter and member, this letter almost reduced me to tears. It is so reminiscent of large sections of the country who have suffered from over 40 years of failed right wing policy. The destruction of our manufacturing base. Privatisations that have robbed us of services so a few can mak lots of money. For privatisation of services to work, it has to do several things.
    Reduction in service level and quality, which means jobs are lost and the state picks up the bill.
    This guy has put into words what millions in a similar position feel.
    I worked and fought for better wages and conditions from the end of the 50's until thatcher started the rot.
    Now I feel that all has been lost by a totally corrupt westminster cess pit.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Well written and a great, honest read .
    Thank you, you have used your brilliant writing talent to state facts.
    Stone cold facts. This is real life, overlooked, ignored and with a large helping of the repugnant sanctioning (belittling, unwarranted and cruel), thrown in. So many facts covered.
    Bravo!

    ReplyDelete
  5. If only I could be a fly on the wall to see if he reads it and if he even reads it does he have the intelligence to understand it. Labor is lost and this letter sums up the feeling of many.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wouldn't be surprised if he thought that was only one person's view point. Maybe we should all print it and post him a copy.

      Delete
  6. It is very rare to actually see the truth in print. But the letter to Starmer is the bare unvarnished truth unpalative, but brutally the truth. Written by one who lives it every day, and sees his own children subjected to the uncaring actions of the evil Tories. And choking on the knowledge that those actions, and life wasting policies, are supported and maintained by the party Leader of the party that was born and and designed to protect the welfare of the working class. But instead does all he can to keep the Tory foot firmly on the necks of those he was elected to serve.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you for giving so many the chance to relate to your words, and to understand exactly where you are coming from. I pray Starmer will read and digest what you have said as I would suggest he is not a keen person on relating exactly what Labour used to stand for. Perhaps if we all flood his letter box with our stories and what we wish for in a party, he might just decide if that is what he wants to lead or leave to a another. Thank you, you have given us all faith.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Excellent letter. Boris and Starmer make abgood team stamping down on the aspirations of the working class. They are also one of the catalysts behind the imminent break up of the UK. God help the English working class who will be left to permanent Tory rule when Wales, Scotland & Northen Ireland have acheived their dreams of independence

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was a Labour voter here in Scotland until Blair and then Brown put absolute paid to that. Not that they didn't do some good things, but overall, it was Tory light to appease the SE of England. (Yes, I read Lord Mandelson's book.)

      In our parliament in 2007 we ditched that Labour Party (narrowly) for the SNP and after Labour joined forces with the Tories in 2013/14 to lie to us about a federal UK, and us all being equal ... and the UK being our only chance to be in the EU, which would unceremoniously throw us out the day we left the UK, we got rid of 41 or the 42 Scottish Labour seats in what we tend to think of as the English parliament. It didn't help that Labour in Scotland was at that time being led by the right winger, Murphy and that Brown was used by Cameron to sell us these lies.

      I was told some time ago,by an English relative, that we couldn't leave the UK or Labour would never again form a UK government. I thought that the most pathetic of arguments.

      If England wants a Labour government, it needs to vote Labour and not depend on Scotland to vote for them. They no longer represent Scotland in any way, and we aren't voting for a bunch of right wingers so that England can go on voting Tory but possibly still get a slightly less right wing government.

      I found this article most touching. Probably the best I've ever read on the subject and unless the author advises me otherwise, I intend to link to it on my own blog.

      Delete
  9. Brilliant letter. Just one question. Are you male or female? I guess the latter but I'm happy to be wrong!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are WRONG! He states that he is male several times in the article so I assume that you did not read it that carefully. Kind regards, Martyn

      Delete
  10. I left the Labour Party because it betrayed its core principles.
    This letter explains very well how I feel.

    ReplyDelete
  11. The truth always appears well written, but the feeling and care behind the words shine through. Well done.
    We should demand they bring Jeremy back, and you should have a place in his team.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I agree with everything every word of this person says but how do we get a leader to work and get voted by the working man Corbyn is a honest man but nobody voted for him until people want to change go back to core principles and want what the older generations fought for nothing will ever change we want the people to want change and get the liar out of office

    ReplyDelete
  13. Starmer is a tory. He's been put there to destroy what's left of the Labour Party. [Party] Politics is broken and imo that and the entire concept of representational democracy is irreparable. Networking Peoples' Congresses/Citizen's Assemblies at the local level are surely now the way forward. Add Community TV to the mix and the sickening hold that the lying tory BBC has over us can be removed.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Brilliant letter (even if Starmer will never read it or acknowledge what it represents). You make your heartfelt points very well, especially those that relate to your own personal experiences. Very happy to share your comments with others.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Fabulous! Why isn't the writer replacing the dire Starmer as leader?

    ReplyDelete
  16. Amazing letter, should be taken to the newspapers, and handed personally to Parliament.
    Reading this it has finally given us strength to decide to leave the Labour Party. It doesn't represent the working class anymore. My husband and I have been members for more years than we can count, and have gradually seen it crumbling down. This incredible manifesto, plus all the comments made before us are a proof of what the Labour Party has come to.
    Almost all, Tories in disguise. Therefore, what is the point of being a member when we can't make our voice heard? This letter should be taken to Parliament and also published in a trustworthy newspaper.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Absolutely Brilliant. Says what I want to say exactly.

    ReplyDelete
  18. My background is almost identical, from Liverpool, child of a single parent, I can't even concieve of voting Tory but no longer see labour as being on my, or rather our side.
    K S represents faux concern faux empathy faux everything.. He comes across as somebody who has no connection with the lives of real people and sadly, no awareness that this is true.
    I agree that we need a root and branch change to the systems that are only there to maintain the status quo I don't see any sign that Starmer understands or has any intention or indeed reason, to be part of that change.
    The Labour party is in critical care, may even be dead; all that's left is to decide what to do with the body then to move on without it.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Excellent letter, really heartfelt and moving. Brilliantly sums up the situation. Will Keir Starmer actually see it though? I hope someone with the power makes sure that he does.

    ReplyDelete
  20. This letter gives a clear picture of the UK today, but it's been like that for far too many years, and thatcher started it.

    Despite the power and depth of feeling here, the english are not rising against these twins of UK domination, the labour and the tories!

    Will they ever?

    Scotland MUST leave!

    Then, and perhaps, only then, will the english see the depth of the lies they've been fed all their lives, and finally rise up.

    The well kennt principle of westminster governance is to benefit those in it by robbing those outside and changing the rules and laws to prevent the rules and laws being changed against them.

    That process started with Willie the conk and goes on day by day.

    ReplyDelete
  21. what a bloody good letter ..my heart goes out to you and your family .....i left the labour party because of stammer ....i joined because of Jeremy what a wonderful man ...lets hope he has the guts to answer you take care

    ReplyDelete
  22. Wow! What a fantastic piece of writing. You have sumed up brilliantly what is wrong with the Labour party and in particular Keir Starmer. I was born on a council estate and I have always supported true socialism and even though I am now 62 and living a comfortable life compared to yours, I still believe in a fairer society and HATE the Tory party with a passion. This country is in the worst state I have ever seen and I dispair for the future. Something drastically needs to change to end all the greed and selfishness that has swamped our country and the world.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I hate, HATE, this idea that "hard work" will lift people out of poverty. Most poor people I know work harder than anyone for far less reward, whether they have an actual job or not. I really hope the UBI scheme in Wales works because I think it might be the only way out of this hellscape. People who are food- and shelter-secure are much happier and more productive, but I guess that doesn't fit the neo-liberal narrative.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Fantastic straight to the point well written well done we need more people like you to point out how bad this is and not having a labour leader like you put it sitting on the fence licking Boris's boots. Know way can the manb Starmar be a labour leader he is more on the tory side a Red Tory by all accounts.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Millions of people know what Starmer is up to with the bunch of corporate and establishment stooges in his shadow cabinet the problem is they believe they are superior to ordinary people and are the only ones born to rule they think ordinary people are stupid. Well we may have to vote them out one by one but hopefully they will realise their ideology is a lost cause and they will give up before the next election.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I voted Starmer in as leader as I thought he had a huge heart, compassionate mind, brilliant brain and a Barrister's perception and articulation. I'm sure these components are all still there - please follow the advice in the article and use them Keir.

    ReplyDelete
  27. We are extremely fortunate to be skint in an area that isn't. We've got nice parks (and a few not so nice) within walking distance. Segregation we feel is whether you can afford stuff, park - yes, ice cream man - no (sorry kids), paid activities - no, diesel in car - just (but dont know why they bother with the rest of the gauge that isn't red). Can Jeremy not form a new party so can vote for him again as dont recognise Labour anymore. Genuinely think people with money skewed perceptions of what was on offer from Labour at the last election when Jeremy was leader. Everything now is just about moving money away from those who need it to those who want it to keep their other money company.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Brilliant. Rings so many bells with me. Been there. Done that. Felt the same way. Thanks for putting my thoughts in a lucid manner.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I've copied this into an email and sent it to Sir Starmer with a personal message at the front end.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Fantastic piece RD, tells it like it is. Keep up the good work. From you comrade AmberGoth

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment