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Keir the Coaster

The Labour Party’s craven leadership will leave the electorate guessing when voting starts

Artillery Row

Keir Starmer has been swapping outfits faster than the star of a one-man panto. He campaigned to become the Labour Leader dressed up as a Corbynite not literally of course, he was wearing shoes rather than sandals. Having emerged victorious, he freshly presented as the would-be champion of the Red Wall. His costume was so convincing Maurice Glasman hailed him as “a true conservative”. Just as we were warming up to the Labour party’s new look, the leader bolted for stage right, and was already snatching at the rails.

Keir let slip his extreme opinions on transgenderism

He re-emerged for the Autumn statement as a Blairite, opposing the Chancellor’s increase in corporation tax and briefing his party’s opposition to what was then a prospective windfall tax on supermarkets. When with incredulity, critics on all sides asked if this could really be Labour policy, the leader’s answer was clear: “Oh no it isn’t!” Soon he was on the offensive against the G7’s mutual commitment to a 15 per cent floor tax on firms, lambasting it as too low, and laying blame at the feet of the British government. After an extended period of political crossdressing, Starmer now seems to have settled on a style: the political equivalent of a grey suit with a grey tie, which like him, says nothing at all.

Six months ago, Keir let slip his extreme opinions on the question of transgenderism, telling Andrew Marr that it was “not right” to say women have a cervix, and that it “shouldn’t be said”. Last month the question was returned to by LBC’s Nick Ferrari, who asked the Labour leader if a woman could have a penis.

“Nick, I’m not, I don’t think we can conduct this debate with, you know —”

“Have I offended you?” Ferrari interjected.

“No no no, I just, I just I don’t think that discussing this issue in this way helps anyone in the long run”.

After a bruising response to the Marr interview, both internally from the likes of popular Labour MP Rosie Duffield, and externally from the sane world at large, Starmer beat a quick retreat from his earlier proclamation. The issue of men in women’s changing rooms will not in the end be an electorally decisive one. After all, President Biden came to power on a wave of Irish and Italian Catholic support, in spite of his radical agenda to give minors access to medical procedures in order to “transition”.

For the vast majority, the trans issue is overshadowed by cost-of-living, defence of the nation and immigration concerns. However, Starmer’s stammering serves as just the latest example of a long string of climbdowns by the Labour leader, who has become wedded to strategic ambiguity.

He told the Church Times that Christian values were the best of British values, and that they should form a blueprint for a better society. Later, under pressure from the LGBT lobby, he would apologise for visiting a North London Church which had joined the pandemic war effort to double as a vaccination centre. “I completely disagree with Jesus House’s beliefs on LGBT+ rights,” Starmer tweeted, before removing all video evidence of the occasion from social media. This a church previously visited, without apology, by both Theresa May and Boris Johnson. You’ll not catch him talking about Christianity now; it’s not worth the risk.

When Starmer was attempting to trade on his credentials as a QC, he told the BBC that Black Lives Matter’s “Defund the police” demand was nonsense, and dismissed the group as “a moment”. Later he expressed regret for the remarks, and clarified that it was in fact a “defining moment”. Then he denounced the Colston statue topplers as completely wrong, before complaining that the statue should have been taken down a long time ago.

The architect of the second referendum was recently quizzed by James O’Brien. “You, as Labour leader, still won’t go anywhere near the reality of what Boris Johnson’s Brexit has done to our economy, why is that?”

“James, let me be clear about that,” Starmer retorted, before quickly withdrawing to the hollow redoubt of his latest grey slogan: “We’ve got to make Brexit work,” he insisted, a phrase he went on to repeat three times in fourteen seconds.

We have no idea what his plans as a prospective Prime Minister are

On the bread-and-butter issues of our time, we have no idea what the Labour leader thinks, or what his plans as a prospective Prime Minister are. Does he want to stem the flow of illegal migrants, or support open borders? Labour party social media adverts pictured Heathrow arrivals with a caption reading, “Britain is locked down. But the borders are open. Any idea why?” At the same time Shadow Ministers were complaining of Priti Patel’s plans to push boats back as inhumane and unconscionable. Party activists didn’t like the adverts, and voters didn’t like the comments. Now, on the rare occasion Starmer or his team to wade in on the issue, you’ll find them saying that Patel is “failing at the border”. Who could disagree with that?

There is method to all this madness. Starmer knows he is devoid of the aptitude required to move his MPs to the right on social issues, toward embracing Brexit, or to adopting populist economic policies like nationalisation, which are popular even with Conservatives, especially those in the Red Wall. Instead of waging a political war, he has discarded the elements of Corbynism that his MPs never liked, such as opposition to NATO and Israel and common ownership of rail, mail and energy, and carries on rhetorically as though this were some major renewal. This is because he has, not without reason, pinned his hopes on Boris Johnson simply tripping up, and walking over him into Downing Street. If he gets in, we’ll find out the hard way what he really wants to do about Brexit, women’s spaces, immigration and law and order. For the mean voter who tunes in occasionally, paying attention mostly at election times, they’ll hear Labour messaging about the government failing at the border. They’ll assume in large numbers that Labour would make it work, just like it promises to do with Brexit. If the current bloke can’t do it, then the alternative is worth a shot.

“Our policy on Ukraine is the same as the government’s,” Emily Thornberry tells TalkRadio. Where the government gets things right, Labour claims they’d have done the same. Where it falls down, Labour says they’ll fix it. But recently Labour top team member Peter Kyle let the cat out of the bag when he told that same radio station of his desire to rejoin the European Union.

David Mitchell said of the grey suit and grey tie, that it was so unnoteworthy, as to become noteworthy. It was so impossibly bland that the eye would invariably be drawn to it. If we don’t pay attention, we’ll accidently elect someone we think will get mobhanded with XR, defend our borders and make Brexit better. Only to find that the person in power is diametrically opposed to the majority on every major issue of our time.

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