A man who believes in nothing
Keir Starmer is easily the most dishonest politician of his generation.
Another day, another Keir Starmer ‘vision speech’. Following more accusations, from within the Labour Party this time, that no one knows what our presumptive next prime minister actually stands for, Starmer has treated us to another string of clichés and mixed metaphors – ‘we need to roll up our sleeves and put our shoulders to wheel’ – delivered in front of some high-tech machinery in Bristol. Given Starmer’s trademark negative charisma – and his numbing, nasally tones – the machinery very nearly stole the show.
That this man has taken Labour from a historic defeat to a presumed landslide in the space of one election cycle is testament to just how royally the Conservatives have fucked it. Even in the absence of any eye-catching principles, policies or personality, Starmer has managed to ride the blast of the Tory implosion to within touching distance of Downing Street. All he’s had to do is look relatively sensible and shake his fist at the ‘mess’ made by the government. Meanwhile, he offers up more of the same managerialist slurry as PM Rishi Sunak, only with more alleged ‘competence’ and ‘compassion’ than those horrible Tories.
This moralism is all Starmer’s got – and even that is a sham. Today, he spoke of the ‘tide of cynicism in Westminster’ and the power of democracy to change things. ‘The power of the vote, the hope of change and renewal, married to the responsibility of service, that’s what I believe in’, he warbled. But Keir Starmer is to democracy and trust in politics what Rolf Harris is to child safeguarding. Starmer has done more than anyone else to breed a deep distrust in the Westminster system. After all, this is the man who led the charge to frustrate the historic vote for Brexit – who tried to foist a second referendum on a nation desperate to move on.
He might just be the most dishonest – or at least slippery – politician of his generation. Despite Starmer’s posturing over the years against the ‘liar’ Boris Johnson, it’s hard to think of anyone who has so shamelessly said one thing and done another, who has so swiftly changed his view depending on who he is talking to and which way the wind is blowing. He convinced credulous Corbynistas that their agenda was safe with him, before turning into a Tony Blair tribute act once he was elected leader. He hailed Extinction Rebellion as heroes, then told them to piss off. Today, in the Q&A, he even posed as a lifelong supporter of women’s spaces, despite spending the last few years struggling to define what a woman is and pontificating about how many of them might have penises.
I suppose this is what happens when you believe in nothing, beyond liking the idea of being prime minister. You say one thing and do another. You say mad things then deny you ever said them. You convince yourself that all our troubled nation needs is smarter, nicer people like you running things. You confuse your own career ambitions with a project for national renewal. The empty-suited, focus-grouped politician is hardly anything new. But has there ever been someone quite so hollow as this? The man’s like a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy of a mid-ranking New Labour hack. What does Starmer stand for? I don’t think he knows.
The problem is, the empty vessel needs to be filled with something, and we all know what it is going to be filled with. Namely, the same old identity politics, green austerity and bloodless technocracy that has defined our politics for decades – and that the Tories had (in their own meek way) begun to push back against. For all Keir Starmer’s talk of reviving faith in democracy, and busting through a failed economic model, he also says he wants to hand more power over to technocrats and the Bank of England, to better insulate their calamitous decisions from public accountability. For all his talk of healing ‘division’ he is also still visibly scared of the wokesters in his party, who are hell-bent on introducing a divisive identitarian agenda.
Britain is about to find out that a man who believes in nothing can be a very dangerous thing.
Tom Slater is editor of spiked. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Slater_
Picture by: Getty.
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