Keir Starmer needs a plan for tackling Boris Johnson’s shallow nationalistic sloganising
PUBLISHED: 14:18 06 July 2020 | UPDATED: 14:18 06 July 2020
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One reader thinks the tactics Boris Johnson used to win the last election are here to stay.
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Why do so many commentators and letter writers to TNE assume that the collapse of the Johnson project (if such a shambles may be termed thus) will provide an opening for the liberal centre-left? Given the 2019 election result, there seems to be an appetite among voters for shallow nationalistic sloganising.
If Johnson fails to deliver the vision of revived national confidence and global reassertion they dream of, will they turn to Starmer’s quiet, clinical and intellectually precise parliamentary style? Or will they seek something more red-bloodedly offered on the streets to carry through their dream of national(istic) revival?
As the last month has shown, politics is moving more onto the streets. That may be where the country’s future may be decided, rather than through the sort of parliamentary manoeuvres that so failed the Remain campaign in the end.
As the right-wing thugs recently showed, they are beginning to organise there. What answer does the liberal centre left have for that?
Many of us see the Labour Party, with Keir Starmer as leader as the only real hope for setting our country on a new and better course. But if he is to make progress then he needs to create a new vision based on core values.
He could do worse than to try to spell out what a good society looks like, much as Compass is attempting to do. This would include a society which promotes greater equality, caring for all people and ensuring everyone has enough money to satisfy fundamental needs as well as access to key services such as health and education, actively protecting and nurturing the environment, and developing proper participative democratic processes across all levels of society (including, crucially, PR for Westminster).
The economy should be used to promote these social ends, ensuring that the wealth created by our society is shared fairly by everyone, both directly and through excellent public services. Businesses need to understand that they, too, are part of society and like everyone else depend on the proper functioning of a good society.
This pandemic has shown what governments can do if they have the political will. Labour needs to seize this moment to show that things can be different and better, for all, if you have the vision and the will.
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Far from drawing a line under Covid, as John Kampfner proposes, Keir Starmer should use arguably the most life-changing event in living memory to forensically draw out the future direction of Labour policy.
To avoid potential future pandemics which scientists assure us are waiting in the wings, we obviously need to be better prepared, but crucially to prevent intrusive interaction between wild animals and humans, already the source of previous viruses.
Fundamentally our economy needs to be rebooted in pursuit of sustainability and regeneration, rather than economic growth per se – the Green New Deal
The fault-lines in our unequal society, already widened by austerity and the “hostile environment”, were laid bare by Covid. Starmer should link policy on health and social care, housing, education, employment and justice to the glaring inequalities revealed by the pandemic.
Thus, whatever the Conservatives conveniently blame on Covid can be traced to its true cause – their policies of extreme capitalism, putting private profit before public good.
In short, policy needs to be driven by the climate emergency, which is fed by the extremes of poverty and wealth.
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