Labour's still a byword for economic ineptitude, writes LEO MCKINSTRY
Ignore the veneer of moderation and soothing rhetoric… Labour’s still a byword for economic ineptitude, writes LEO MCKINSTRY
This represents a remarkable turnaround for a party that has been out of power for more than 12 years and which is still haunted by the poisonous legacy of Jeremy Corbyn’s extremism.
It is also surprising, as the Labour leader lacks charisma and struggles to have much appeal to the British public.
Faced with the Conservatives’ current meltdown over their mini-Budget, Sir Keir’s task is to try to reassure voters about the competence and caution of any future Labour government.
To that end, the party’s conference last week promoted its mainstream credentials, even singing the National Anthem and holding a minute’s silence to honour the late Queen – acts unthinkable under Corbyn.
Faced with the Conservatives’ current meltdown over their mini-Budget, Sir Keir’s task is to try to reassure voters about the competence and caution of any future Labour government
But make no mistake, despite this veneer of moderation and soothing rhetoric, Labour’s return to power would herald a return of socialism. It would, I believe, bring social upheaval, conflict and economic decline in its wake.
Echoing Tony Blair – the last Labour leader to win a General Election (and that was as long ago as 2005) – Sir Keir has claimed that Labour is ‘the political wing of the British people’. But, in truth, it remains the creature of narrow vested interests, social-justice warriors and shrill pressure groups, all crying out for taxpayer-funded subsidies and special treatment.
Rather than representing ‘the British people’, Labour, especially in its metropolitan base of London, is still in thrall to woke ideology and class envy. Its activists want to squeeze the rich, open our borders, dump tradition and roll forward the frontiers of the state.
Echoing Tony Blair – the last Labour leader to win a General Election (and that was as long ago as 2005) – Sir Keir has claimed that Labour is ‘the political wing of the British people’. Pictured: Tony Blair (left) and Gordon Brown (right) in 1997
The contradiction between the party’s new centrist image and its radical heart can be seen on every front.
Despite being in government during the financial crisis of 2008, Labour now suddenly poses as the champion of fiscal rectitude. Yet it remains addicted to high taxation and expenditure.
History tells us that every Labour government since 1929 has presided over a financial crisis because of economic mismanagement. There is no evidence that a Starmer government would be any different.
Crucially, the party puts wealth redistribution above wealth creation, as reflected in pledges to jack up corporation tax and keep the top 45 per cent income tax band.
‘I am looking at whether and how we tax all different forms of income,’ Sir Keir said last week.
Such words should send a chill down the spines of entrepreneurs and wealth creators.
Labour’s extra taxes would be used, not to boost growth, but to bankroll the expansion of the benefits system and state bureaucracy.
But make no mistake, despite this veneer of moderation and soothing rhetoric, Labour’s return to power would herald a return of socialism. It would, I believe, bring social upheaval, conflict and economic decline in its wake
It boasts of cash injections into ‘our NHS’, as Sir Keir calls it with a proprietorial air, but in the absence of health service reform, the money would inevitably be swallowed by unaffordable pay rises and subsidise endemic inefficiencies.
The same is true across the public sector, from Whitehall to the town halls, particularly since the trade unions, which provide 58 per cent of Labour’s funding, would want a return for their financial support. In addition to pay increases, union pressures could also lead to the right to strike and form picket lines being made easier.
Meanwhile, in the name of inclusion, mollycoddling of public employees would grow through measures encouraging special leave, working from home, and the kind of Fair Work code of practice operating in Scotland to enhance individual ‘wellbeing, security and respect’.
Under Starmer, the government machine would grow ever larger through measures such as the creation of a vast state company, Great British Energy, with initial funding of £8 billion to invest in renewables and green technologies.
This behemoth would be one element of Labour’s aggressive environmental agenda to achieve net zero emissions, using more green levies, though the result would risk regular blackouts and rising bills.
A ‘fairer, greener Britain’ – Labour’s conference slogan last week – would, I fear, be translated into a ‘poorer, darker Britain’.
Just imagine Britain under Prime Minister Starmer. Culture wars would intensify, reflected in the introduction of wokeness tests for public landmarks such as statues, and purges of academia and the Civil Service to root out anyone deemed insufficiently signed up to Labour’s ‘progressive’ dogma.
Undoubtedly, new impetus would be given to spreading Critical Race Theory (which sees everything through the filter of race and puts racism as the central evil, even when there is none) and Unconscious Bias Training.
Toxic identity politics would sweep through civic institutions, promoting division, victimhood and grievance.
A chilling insight into the ugly bigotry of the Left was provided last week by Labour MP Rupa Huq’s appalling comment about Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng: ‘superficially he’s a black man’. It exposed the mindset of many on the Left who, in power, would push an agenda dominated by initiatives to end ‘white privilege’ and diktats to celebrate diversity.
All the while, free speech would wither and debate would be stifled. This process would inevitably be accompanied by an emphasis on gender identity issues – which has already seen many Labour politicians clumsily attempt to redefine human biology.
Just imagine Britain under Prime Minister Starmer. Culture wars would intensify, reflected in the introduction of wokeness tests for public landmarks such as statues, and purges of academia and the Civil Service to root out anyone deemed insufficiently signed up to Labour’s ‘progressive’ dogma
Sir Keir, when asked, has hesitated to say whether women could have male genitals.
This rejection of a view of human biology that has held for millennia has been criticised for having a negative knock-on effect on women’s rights.
Politically, there would be a drive to entrench other major changes such as some form of proportional representation to replace our first-past-the-post electoral system.
Already, Labour operates an informal pact with the Liberal Democrats to maximise the anti-Tory vote in England. The same alliance could further tighten the stranglehold of the Left by lowering the voting age to 16 under the guise of youth engagement, though the real motivation is that the majority of young people are not Tory voters.
At the same time as the voting system is vandalised, the integrity of the United Kingdom would come under threat as never before.
To get Scottish Nationalists to back its radical agenda, Labour may grant them another referendum on independence. Also, there would likely be a vote on Northern Ireland leaving the Union now that Sinn Fein is the largest party in the province and recent census figures show Catholics, traditionally nationalists, now outnumber Protestants.
More upheaval would follow from Labour’s open-door immigration policy. It has long been hostile to strong border controls, not least because migrants overwhelmingly tend to vote Labour. Any pretence at restrictions would be abandoned, even towards illegal Channel crossings, which would be turned into a safe method for asylum-seekers.
But we don’t need to gaze into a crystal ball to see what Labour would be like in office. We can already see how it governs through the example of the London Mayor Sadiq Khan, whose tenure has been characterised by expensive gesture politics, the growth of a sprawling bureaucracy, economic sluggishness and inaction on crime.
While knife offences have soared, Khan has set up a Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm to conduct a woke audit of London monuments. As the former Labour MP postures as an eco champion, with policies such as an ‘ultra-low emissions zone’, City Hall staffing costs have increased by £30million, the public relations budget has gone up by a third and almost 600 managers at Transport for London are paid over £100,000 a year.
Such a spendthrift agenda does not demonstrate that Labour is ‘the political wing of the British people’.
Labour may be way ahead in the polls now, but by General Election day in January 2025 there will be countless reminders to the British people that, at heart, Sir Keir Starmer leads a movement that is a byword for economic mismanagement and obsessed with class war.
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