On 13 December 2019 Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn announced he would be standing down following a disastrous election defeat. What followed was one of the most shamelessly dishonest political leadership campaigns ever seen. Keir Starmer, Corbyn’s continually disloyal Shadow Brexit Secretary, easily got the required nominations from the PLP and the wider constituency membership, but the reasons for each group backing him were vastly different.
Starmer ran his campaign under the guise of “Corbynism Without Corbyn”, much like the Left’s preferred candidate Rebecca Long Bailey. He made out that if he were to become leader he would continue to push the transformative policy platform that continues to poll well with voters generally to this day, but with a more polished, more “electable” public face.
This promise, along with a laudable Ten Pledges, supposedly guaranteed the progressive projects of the Corbyn leadership would be pressed on with: a host of green policies, a promise to scrap Universal Credit and replace it with a fairer, more dignified system, and the public ownership of services such as water, energy and transport.
As you would expect, this offering won over much of the “soft left” and a fair chunk of the left proper; maybe Starmer was the guy we needed. Some, usually bawled out as being “cranks” or “trots”, warned that Starmer was not to be trusted. A glance at his actions as Director of Public Prosecutions showed that an authoritarian streak ran through him like a stick of rock. But many people seemed convinced by him. RLB, it was thought, might be too close to Corbyn.
The Parliamentary Labour Party was also rooting for Starmer, though not because of what he was promising ordinary members. It now seems that many in the PLP knew exactly what Starmer was: a liar and a fraud. The Labour Right’s guy, “but shhh! The plebs are buying it!” This divergent swell of support all but assured Starmer would win.
On 4 April 2020 Starmer was elected with 56% of the vote in the first round. Even some on the “hard left” were willing to give the man a chance. It didn’t take long for him to show his true colours. Quickly, tax rises for the richest in society dropped off the to-do list and still the soft left said “give him a chance…” As his leadership went on pledge after pledge slipped off the fridge door.
Starmer’s leadership was won on those Ten Pledges among the membership, and won on the wink that came with them among the PLP. And so began Starmer’s leadership; one based on underhandedness, factional attacks, and barefaced double standards. It was clear to anyone who cared to see it that this man’s word could not be trusted.
In this ongoing series of articles I will explore the key moments of betrayal, the hypocrisy, and the alleged corruption from Starmer and his closest allies that form the foundation of a leadership built on lies. Check back soon for a closer look at the now-infamous 10 Pledges and how Starmer was – indeed admitted proudly to be – more than happy to make and break any promises necessary if it meant he’d get elected.