Starmer Chameleon: 10 Broken Pledges and a Palestinian motion ignored by the mass media so he can ignore that too

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16/10/2021 by socialistfight

By Angela J Byrne

The latest (5-6 Oct) YouGov/Times voting intention figures show the Tories still on 39% (n/c from previous week), while Labour’s vote share also remains the same at 31% (n/c). On these figures the Tories will sweep the next election, but Labour will get its 10 million-or-so votes. Of course, two and a half years is a long time in politics, but it is clear that the conference season made little difference to voting intentions.

Starmer’s conference has not seriously deterred Labour voters, not has his witch hunt of the left and mass expulsions. A union colleague pointed out that Starmer used the word “I” 140 times in his rambling 90-minute speech but “we” and “us” almost never.

But the loss of some 150,000 members and legal fees of £2 million means there will be far fewer canvassers and a huge financial crisis for Labour. He has not yet persuaded the corporate world of big business to fund him; there is no need for a fall back safe alternative; Boris Johnson is well ahead in the polls.

Jeremy Corbyn is still denied the whip on Starmer’s insistence and many well-known celebrities and decades-long party activists, such as Ken Loach, Pamela Fitzpatrick, Pete Firmin and Graham Durham have been suspended and expelled. Back in August Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) complained to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission that Labour “is purging Jews from the party” – with Jews almost five times more likely to face antisemitism charges than non-Jewish members. They point out that Jews are experiencing “discrimination, victimisation and harassment” inside Labour.

Delegates supporting Labour Against the Witch-hunt (LAW) and Socialist Appeal were auto-expelled from Labour on their way to conference and even whilst at the conference in one case. And some retrospectively, like Graham Durham, for speaking at the LAW Zoom months before it was banned. His crime was lack of clairvoyancy, he quipped.

David Evans survived as general secretary by 59% to 41% at the conference, despite strong opposition to his role as witch hunter. He needed the support of the GMB and UNISON. However the UNISON NEC is now dominated by the left, but that election came too late; the conference delegation was already elected. Next year will be different.

In September Starmer said he is will tear up the promises he made during the Labour leadership election to make the party electable his; “most important pledge” was to make the party fit for government. This amounts to an open admission that he lied; he only made those pledges to get elected and had no intention of keeping them.

Moreover, he attempted at conference to change the way leaders were elected by re-instating the electoral college where MPs, Constituency Labour Parties and the membership at large get one third each. He failed because even the right wing GMB and UNISON were not consulted, and they refused to go along with it. But he did succeed in getting the percentage of MPs necessary to stand for leader increased from 10% to 20%, with the support of the same right wing unions. Unite voted against that.

Other anti-democratic changes he got through were making it harder to deselect sitting MPs and easier to discipline members but he lost the attempt to parachute in his own nomination in byelections like Blair did.

The sum total of these changes is designed to make it impossible for members to get rid of him for his cynical abandonment of the 10 pledges, as our front page cartoon, Starmer Chameleon depicts. These 10 pledges were to continue with key elements of his predecessor’s policy platform, including common ownership for industries like energy, rail and mail. But at conference he said he would not nationalise the big six energy firms. [1]

However, a number of motions went through conference which showed the fight within Labour is far from over. Primarily the motion on Palestine. Young Labour Wolverhampton South West CLP [2] moved it. Jawad Khan asserted that the motion would “bring us one step closer to finally ending the shameful century of British complicity and the denial of the right to self-determination, liberation and return”.

But Labour List’s Elliot Chappell gives Labour Friends of Israel chair Steve McCabe  space to attack:

“This motion is completely unacceptable, grossly inaccurate and morally repugnant. It does not represent Labour’s longstanding policy in support of a two-state solution, backs the toxic BDS movement, which singles out the world’s only Jewish state and propagates the apartheid smear… This vote shows that there are still too many in the party who remain unhealthily obsessed with Israel. We must continue to work to restore our party’s proud tradition of support for Jewish self-determination and the state of Israel.”

The motion, which was so strongly supported that it went through on a show of hands; no one dared call for a card vote. It directly contradicts the whole antisemitic witch hunt in Labour since Jeremy Corbyn got elected in 2015 and also the grounds on which most of the expulsions from Labour have been based. Understandably it was almost totally blacked out in the mass media.

These are just a few of the points, the full motion can be accessed from the footnote:

“Conference condemns the ongoing Nakba in Palestine, Israel’s militarised violence attacking the Al Aqsa Mosque, the forced displacements from Sheikh Jarrah and the deadly assault on Gaza. Together with the de facto annexation of Palestinian land by accelerated settlement building and statements of Israel’s intention to proceed with annexation, it is ever clearer that Israel is intent on eliminating any prospects of Palestinian self-determination.

“Conference also notes the unequivocal 2021 reports by by B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch that conclude unequivocally that Israel is practising the crime of apartheid as defined by the UN.

“Conference resolves to support “effective measures” including sanctions, as called for by Palestinian civil society, against actions by the Israeli government that are illegal according to international law; in particular to ensure that Israel stops the building of settlements, reverses any annexation, ends the occupation of the West Bank, the blockade of Gaza, brings down the Wall and respects the right of Palestinian people, as enshrined in international law, to return to their homes.”

Those who can should remain in Labour or rejoin to continues the fight. The unions play  an absolutely vital role in Labour, despite Tony Blair’s and Starmer’s best efforts. This was established in Britain at the start of the 20th century. The fate of Labour rests on the battle to form rank and file bodies to democratise both the unions and Labour, beginning with UNISON. Andy McDonald resigned from the shadow cabinet because of pressure from affiliated unions. This situation could never arise in the US Democrats, despite significant union funding. Labour is still a bourgeois workers’ party; that contraction still lives between base and leadership and between the unions and the party. The Democrats are a straightforward party of US imperialism with no such contradictions We should never vote for it but fight to replace it with a union-based party of labour.


[1] Kier Starmer, Based on the moral case for socialism, here is where I stand, My pledges to you,

[2] Labour List, Elliot Chappell 27/9/21, Labour conference passes Young Labour Israel and Palestine motion Composite one – Israel and Palestine, Young Labour Wolverhampton South West CLP,  ▲

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