What is UK Labour doing?

Written By: - Date published: 1:03 pm, April 8th, 2023 - 28 comments
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From afar the recent behaviour of the UK Labour Party is profoundly disturbing.

For a start it has banned Jeremy Corbyn from standing as a Labour candidate in his Islington seat.  He had previously been excluded from the Labour Caucus on trumped up charges of antisemitism.  If wanting a peaceful and proper outcome for the people of Palestine is antisemitism then many of us progressives are guilty of it.

Mike Smith discussed the earlier suspension in this post.  In particular he said:

Following a report into anti-semitism in the UK Labour party, Corbyn said anti-semitism exists in the Party but it is over-stated and the campaign against it is politically-motivated by opponents inside and outside the Party. He was instantly suspended from the party and had the whip removed by leader Sir Keir Starmer, which seems excessive and will cause further discord. Corbyn is not an anti-Semite.

The issue of anti-semitism in Labour in my opinion has been a very successful psyop, running over several years since Corbyn became leader and  most likely originating in the Israeli state. When Corbyn was riding high, his support for Palestinian rights would have  been seen by Israel as a threat. As a long-time human rights activist, Corbyn’s past statements were productive fodder for his opponents, and provided much grist for UK media mills.

The issue came to a head in a debate in Labour Party National Executive committee over the definition of anti-semitism, as to whether it included opposition to the activities of the Israeli state. The committee agreed to the definition advanced by some that such opposition was included. Those who want to get into the weeds of the issues can visit the wiki here.

The EHRC criticism was more about the lack of process for dealing with antisemitism than the existence of actual antisemitism within the Labour Party.

Corbyn’s deselection is rather predictable but utterly unforgiveable.

Keir Starmer and Co had the temerity to leak news of the result to the Guardian even before the decision had been made.  If ever there was a situation crying out for judicial review on the basis of predetermination of an issue this is it.  From the Guardian:

Jeremy Corbyn will not stand as a Labour MP at the next general election, Keir Starmer will confirm at Tuesday’s national executive committee (NEC) meeting after he vowed to prove the party had changed under his leadership.

The Labour leader will propose a motion that makes it clear the party’s ruling body will not endorse Corbyn as a Labour candidate for the Westminster election expected next year.

Starmer first confirmed the move last month as he marked an “important moment” for Labour after the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) lifted the party out of special measures over its past failings on antisemitism.

The motion Starmer will propose at the NEC does not explicitly mention antisemitism. Instead, it says Labour’s electoral prospects in the seats it needs to win at the next election would be “significantly diminished” should Corbyn be a Labour candidate.

The claims that the banning is necessary to improve Labour’s election chances are rather strange.  Corbyn almost led Labour to an unlikely election victory in 2017.  And this was despite elements from within the party doing their best to make sure that the campaign failed.

The Guardian at the time described the election campaign and the result in these terms:

Through a gruelling seven weeks of spats and leaks, Corbyn, widely viewed within his own party as an electoral millstone, went from barely being able to fill his own front bench in parliament to packing out town squares and car parks up and down the country with ardent fans, while his team of leftwing outriders burst into the mainstream of Britain’s political debate.

They didn’t do it alone. None of Corbyn’s high command had run anything on the scale of a nationwide general election campaign. They needed Labour’s party machine, with its spreadsheets and budgets and cumulative wisdom of campaigns gone by. Both sides – Labour apparatchiks and Corbynistas – harboured deep suspicions of each other, and there were bitter battles, over resources and tactics. But ultimately both tribes played their part.

They lost that night, of course: Corbyn’s party took 262 seats to the Tories’ 318, and May remains in Downing Street. But they won, too – against the sceptics inside their own party; against the nip-and-tuck political compromises they felt had marred the last Labour government and the party’s manifestos in 2010 and 2015; against the odds.

As Corbyn ally John Trickett said at the time:

“Every lesson all these politics professors ever learned has been proved wrong … I think the dislocation between ordinary people’s lives and the people who run the country has never been greater: they don’t understand what’s going on in the country. That applies to the people that write the newspapers, the people on the telly and some people in our own party. The political centre of gravity in the country was never where they thought it was.”

After that Labour became a cot case. It lost the 2019 election heavily.  Nick Kelly, rightfully in my view, considers that Labour’s messiness over Brexit was a major cause.  From Nick’s blogpost:

Labour appeared incoherent on Brexit. Jeremy Corbyn, a former Eurosceptic was trying to balance a line so not to alienate leave or remain voters. His opponents in and out of Labour could use this against him. And to the general public it was not clear how a Labour Government would resolve the crisis. The 2019 position of negotiating a new deal where the UK remained in the Customs Union then putting this deal to a referendum where remain would be the other option, alienated traditional Labour voters in leave constituencies.

Of course the leader always gets the blame for a loss.  But to then deselect him even though he clearly retains the support of his local constituency party is bizarre.

And under Starmer there have been a series of position reversals as he triangulates policy as far to the centre as he can.  And policy pronouncements that make them indistinguishable from the Conservative Party.

It is an interesting campaign technique where you sit on an 18 point lead in the opinion polls but mimic your opponent.  And if you want to understand the thinking behind this sort of nonsense then listen to this plonker who sees  politics as being nothing more than working out which policy will cause Stevenage Woman to change her vote, not which policy will raise the passion levels of the electorate.  Such an approach will only minimise change around a focus group determined centre and will stop the Government from addressing the inportant issues that the United Kingdom and the world face.  Politics will become nothing more than a battle between Coke and Pepsi.

And Corbyn may run as an independent.  The Guardian reported this after the decision to deselect him was made:

After Labour’s NEC passed a motion last week preventing Jeremy Corbyn from standing as a Labour candidate in Islington North, the party’s former leader put out a statement which said: “I will not be intimidated into silence. I have spent my life fighting for a fairer society on behalf of the people of Islington North, and I have no intention of stopping now.”

The implication seemed to be that he would stand as an independent at the next general election, thus setting up a dramatic ideological battle between Keir Starmer’s party machine and the hard left rallying around arguably its most successful leader in British history. Apart from the political spectacle, that scenario creates a crisis of conscience for many Labour members in the constituency that Corbyn has represented for 40 years.

It is a shame that the United Kingdom does not have proportional representation.  That way there could be a real left wing party and room for an energetic green party.  Instead at this stage it appears almost inevitable that the next Government will be formed by a Labour Party for which the best description is “meh”.

If there is no room for Corbyn then it is inevitable that Labour’s Parliamentary ranks will be full of appartcheiks who think that the measure of success is how Stevenage Woman responds to snippits of policy.  Not what has to be done to secure our future.

28 comments on “What is UK Labour doing? ”

  1. Ad 1

    Imagine if Corbyn had 'won' and had to run the country with a traffic light coalition of LibDem, Labour and Greens. That would not have ended well.

    Nothing worse than failed leaders holding on in the backbenches just so they can shift cheeks to raise the occasional fart.

    It will be a better test surely if the Greens adopt him.

    Keir is going to do the thing that no one else including Corbyn has done for 13 very long years:

    He's going to remove the Conservative Party from power.

    • mickysavage 1.1

      He may do but at what price? And surely the presence or absence of Corbyn from Labour’s ranks won’t affect the result. In face removing Corbyn in the way that Starmer has may cost the part in electoral terms.

      • Ad 1.1.1

        Starmer is ideologically identical to Blair, Albanese, Ardern, or even Mette Frederiksen on the outside.

        With Ardern we held our ideological nose, and with Starmer they'll do the same.

    • DS 1.2

      Nah, the Conservative Party is removing itself from power. The self-immolation under Truss has pretty much doomed them, regardless of what Labour has been doing.

      • Ad 1.2.1

        Remember how many UK elections in a row the left have said that, and the people disagreed?

        • DS

          There hasn't been an election since the Truss debacle. The Tax Cut Reversal was one of those epoch-defining screw-ups on a level with 1993 Black Wednesday.

          None of this has anything to do with Starmer.

    • Rubbish Ad. Corbyn came within a gnats whisker of winning the election in 2017. If the popular/populist Ruth Davidson had not (rather freakily) won a swathe of seats for the Tories in Scotland he would have been PM. Labour got 40.0%, far more than Blair’s 35.2% in 2005.

      He lost the election in 2019 because it was dominated by Brexit and because he was attacked as an antisemite. In the first case the Labour Party was hopelessly divided and in the latter case idiot Labour members (usually to the Right of the party and actively anti-Corbyn) chose to believe the MSM's lies about him being an antisemite.

      If Starmer were not a fool he would have brought Corbyn back into the shadow cabinet in a minor role, such as Minister of Nationalising the Railways. Now the party has shifted to the Right and is hopelessly divided where Corbynistas are loathe to vote for it.

      If he chooses to stand, I predict Corbyn will easily hold his seat of Islington as an independent. I bet you a pint on this. (Rumour has it his wife wants him to retire).

      • Ad 1.3.1

        Corbyn lost twice and should have removed himself straight afterwards.

        In 2019 it was their worst result since 1935.

        The 'if onlys' and 'but waddabouts' are just weak.

        Starmer is doing fine.

        If Starmer's party looks ideologically like Ardern or Blair or Albanese, you might want to ask yourself why are you so far out of sync with the majority of the left?

        • Bearded Git

          We will have to agree to disagree on Starmer and Corbyn.

          All those Starmer policies you list…see if they appear in the manifesto and see if he actually carries them out. I have doubts. He was loyal to Corbyn until he stabbed him ruthlessly in the back.

        • DS

          "Worst result since 1935" is one hell of a misrepresentation.

          In overall seat numbers? Sure. Problem is, 2019 had one thing 1983 and 1987 lacked – the SNP as the dominant party in Scotland. And that had nothing to do with Corbyn. In terms of Labour in England and Wales? 2019 was better than either 1983 or 1987 (a bit worse than 1992) in terms of both seats and vote share.

          And that's quite apart from the systematic undermining that Corbyn suffered in 2019, both from the media and his own parliamentary colleagues. The fact that you write off 2017 – a literally unwinnable election – as a sign of Corbyn as a loser shows some interesting spin. Compare 2017 with Milliband in 2015.

          Meanwhile, you lumping in Ardern with Blair is one hell of an insult to Ardern.

  2. Tiger Mountain 2

    Keir Starmer is right opportunist filth, no more, no less. There will not be a “For the many not the few” manifesto of re–nationalisations from him.

    Jeremy Corbyn has been relentlessly slandered by party bureaucrats in an organised way.
    He should have done what the party is doing to him when he was first elected–deselect the worst right wing Labour candidates and make all admins and functionaries reapply for their jobs. But Jeremy was too genuine and principled to engage in that type of brutality.

    Micky is right about the lack of proportional voting in the UK which makes political change harder. If Mr Corbyn stands and wins as independent he will be anointed as the British Bernie Sanders. No Ad, it is not all about winning at any cost.

  3. Stuart Munro 3

    Starmer is a mere traitor – just like Roger Douglas. Neither of them are too good for the end that William Wallace met.

    Deselecting Corbyn is inevitable – scoundrels cannot stand the odium of the comparison.

  4. Nigel Haworth 4

    The attacks in the “dangerous” Left in the UK LP have long roots going back to Harold Wilson and before (remember the "….tightly-knit group of politically-motivated men” about the dockers). Militant took on the role of whipping boy subsequently. Mr Starmer is conducting himself in tune with a long tradition of “reds under the bed” scare-mongering as he seeks, it seems, to reconstruct Labour as a social-liberal party, devoid of any tint of Socialism. This is a path open to, and desired by, current traditions within social democracy everywhere. This saddens me, and, whilst for historical reasons I could never be fulsome about Mr Corbyn, Mr Starmer’s perspective is eroding that reservation.

    • mickysavage 4.1

      Thanks Nigel.

      It also makes mockery of the concept of solidarity. The left function better in coalitions where the differences are understood and worked on.

  5. tc 5

    Cleaning house is what sir Rodney's overseeing.

    Clear out the socialists and anyone who dares criticize Israel. Jez is 2 for the price of one.

    Aljazerras 3 part doco explains how labour head office got the job done.

    The establishment wanted their labour party back so Starmer steps up.

    • aj 5.1

      …Aljazerras 3 part doco

      It's all in the play book of certain western nations who meddle in the internal politics of other countries to get the leaders they want. We've see this closer to home . . .

      The British-American coup that ended Australian independence

      ……..Whitlam knew the risk he was taking. The day after his election, he ordered that his staff should not be “vetted or harassed” by the Australian security organisation, Asio – then, as now, tied to Anglo-American intelligence. When his ministers publicly condemned the US bombing of Vietnam as “corrupt and barbaric”, a CIA station officer in Saigon said: “We were told the Australians might as well be regarded as North Vietnamese collaborators.”

      Whitlam demanded to know if and why the CIA was running a spy base at Pine Gap near Alice Springs, a giant vacuum cleaner which, as Edward Snowden revealed recently, allows the US to spy on everyone. “Try to screw us or bounce us,” the prime minister warned the US ambassador, “[and Pine Gap] will become a matter of contention”.

      Victor Marchetti, the CIA officer who had helped set up Pine Gap, later told me, “This threat to close Pine Gap caused apoplexy in the White House … a kind of Chile [coup] was set in motion.”


  6. KS is a tool. The UK political establishment does not want an outbreak of real democracy.


    • Ad 6.1

      Keir Starmer is smashing the Conservatives out of the park.

      Opinion polling for the next United Kingdom general election after 2019 (LOESS).svg

      • Stuart Munro 6.1.1

        The Conservatives are smashing themselves out of the park. Too many terms = too big a butchers bill.

  7. Ad 7

    Worth reminding what Kair Starmer's Labour is already proposing:


    – Income tax for top 10% of earners goes up. Corporate tax goes up.

    – Abolish the Conservatives' cruel Universal Credit and sanctions regimes for beneficiaries

    – Abolish tuition fees

    – A New Green Deal and a Clean Air Act

    – Public ownership of rail, mail, and to set up a new public energy company (though now soft on full renationalisation of water for some reason).


    – Abolish Non-Domiciled tax status. That's the most important step to pulling the cancer of international financial corruption off of the City of London, abolish non-dom status and raise around £26bn a year

    – Raise the minimum wage, ban zero-contracts, ensure workers from day 1 will get sick pay, paid holidays and paid parental leave, in its package of workers’ rights and protections . Labour alsopledges to negotiate fair pay agreements with employers and trade unions, setting a floor to wages and working conditions in key sectors.

    This puts Starmer in about the same ideological spectrum as Ardern and Roberston.

    Not sure what the fuss is about Starmer.

  8. Mike the Lefty 8

    UK Labour is following the same path as NZ Labour, not really Labour but National/Conservative-lite.

    But UK Labour will probably win the next election in a canter unless the Tories can engineer some major scandal that hurts Labour or resurrect the Brexit bogey.

    Jeremy Corbyn should stand as an Independent Labour or plain independent in his Islington seat. He is 73 but after all Dennis Skinner was in his eighties and still representing the seat of Bolsover. There were plenty of people in the Labour Party that wanted to get rid of Skinner but they didn’t dare. Those old Labour stalwarts are tough characters and don't balk at telling dodgy Conservatives that their parents weren't married.

  9. Corey 9

    UK labour is absolutely annihilating the Conservatives by not spooking the horses or getting involved in alienating radical identity politics bullshit and by agreeing to support reform on the equality act to look at enshrining sex based rights rather than gender based rights it has identiarians frothing at the mouth, but who else are they gonna vote for Green, lib dem? Lol sure.

    Its smart enough to realize it needs to win back the red wall and working class which abandoned Labour in droves under the previous leadership.

    It's infuriating the identiarians and radical left.

    As distasteful and trumpian as that Sunak attack ad was, its populist and will play very very very well with the very very angry northerners and working class who Labour need to win and if a few Londoners don't like it, they can vote Green or lib dem LOL.

    Unfortunately, much like NZ labour it's a party offering SFA in terms of social democratic reforms. When the Trots masquerading as demsocs and soc dems lost so horrifically in 2019, a bunch of vile neoliberals took back the party and didn't just purge some of the crazier trot policies they purged even the most modest soc dem and dem soc policies that were extremely popular.

    But they are still annihilating the Tory's, what should be asked :

    What is NZ Labour doing?

    Wasted a historic nation building level of support on bureaucratic reforms, spent six years begging developers to fix the housing crisis they helped cause, sitting on their hands and refusing to do anything but the most minor tweaks to anti consumer duopolies hurting kiwis in a cost of living crisis, foolishly embarked on a radical bureaucratic restructuring of the health system (that cost billions and didn't improve capacity) at the height of a pandemic, a restructure that will take ten years to get right and they block their ears when confronted on the ever increasing disturbingly long waits for surgeries, gp appointments and decreasing quality of care but hey spending billions on duplicating the disastrous NHS reforms the Tory/lib dem govt implemented is so much smarter than giving free education to nurses doctors, surgeons , psych workers and anesthetists. Go team but hey! While the peasents starve and spend two hours on hold waiting to get help from a govt agency at least that govt agency has a name 85% of the country doesn't know what means 😂😂 and atleast we know our classist "progressive" govt is out there apologizing for political violence and racist directed at 35% of voters from ministers of the crown!

    Noone from NZ labour should really be criticizing UK or Aussie labour or even the democrats considering how we managed to waste historic electoral support on meaningless tweaks and badly times reforms and go from 50% in a proportional system to certain defeat in just over two years.

    [Please fix the typo in your e-mail address, thanks – Incognito]

    • Incognito 9.1

      Mod note

    • SPC 9.2

      spent six years begging developers to fix the housing crisis they helped cause

      Developers do not cause a shortage of housing supply. The 5 years of government has seen the largest amount of housing built since the 1970's.

      foolishly embarked on a radical bureaucratic restructuring of the health system (that cost billions and didn't improve capacity)

      The HB's were weighed down by debt and we had post code service availability. It's not the reforms that cost billions. The nurses have/are/will receive pay increases and hospitals are not constrained by money from hiring more.

      and they block their ears when confronted on the ever increasing disturbingly long waits for surgeries, gp appointments and decreasing quality of care

      Like rising costs, this is worldwide (aging population, burn out and global shortage)

      a restructure that will take ten years to get right … duplicating the disastrous NHS reforms the Tory/lib dem govt implemented

      So it came right after 10 years?

      is so much smarter than giving free education to nurses doctors, surgeons, psych workers and anesthetists.

      Providing free education to those who leave for jobs elsewhere is irresponsible. There should be no need to make any TD repayment while working here (in those areas).

    • DS 9.3

      Those working class supporters stopped voting during the Blair years (seriously, check the turnout in the Northern seats in 2001 and 2005). They turned out for Brexit in 2016 (the real turning point – it's the point at which Britain entered Culture War), and while Corbyn was narrowly able to hold many of them in 2017, the damage was done in 2019.

      Assuming UK Labour wins the next election, the actual gains will be in rich Tory Remain places more than the old-school mining seats. UK electoral geography is turning American, and the North of England is the equivalent of West Virginia there. It's rather like how New Zealand Labour actually lost the candidate vote in the West Coast section of West Coast-Tasman in 2020 – a 9% National swing in a year where there was a nationwide 10% Labour swing.

  10. mickysavage 10

    Wow it gets worse. UK Labour has axed Labour Youth's conference for doing what youth wings do and be slightly radical.


    • tc 10.1

      Acceptable standard of behaviour breach Mickey.

      Got to keep the proles in line, know their place and all that sort of thing.

      Keirs doing the job expected of him.

  11. Tiger Mountain 11

    Wait, there's more yet……attack ads–really? a rather questionable populist move trying to ‘out thug’ the tories.


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