As Strong As Your Team


What exactly is the purpose of the Labour Party? If it’s sixth-form activism, then Rebecca Long-Bailey’s petulant 49-point Twitter questionnaire to Gavin Williamson makes sense. At least we know the Williamsons won’t be panic-buying Andrex any time soon.

If it’s Britain’s state-funded comedy circuit, then Corbyn cabinet choices suddenly become coherent:

If however the Party is supposed to provide an effective opposition, in an attempt to regain power, they have serious work to do. According to the widely-respected Lord Ashcroft polls, the principle reasons for Labour’s electoral defeat were Corbyn, Brexit, undeliverable promises, division, and no longer representing traditional voters. After the worst drubbing in almost a century, Labour will surely pretend to have listened?

So you’d expect incoming leader, Keir Starmer to make considerable changes to the shadow cabinet, and to an extent he has. In terms of harmony, the hard-left has made way for centrists. As an homage to progressivism meanwhile, Starmer has compensated for his own, hideous white masculinity, by packing female and BAME colleagues to the rafters. Guardian readers will at least be placated.

In Starmer’s own words:

We’ve got a mountain to climb, but we will climb it, and I will do my utmost to reconnect us across the country, to re-engage with our communities and voters, to establish a coalition across our towns and our cities and our regions with all creeds and communities to speak for the whole of the country.

Where that requires change, we will change. Where that requires us to rethink, we will rethink.

Digging beneath the platitudes, a closer inspection of the shadow cabinet reveals it’s less of a shake-up and more of a recycling. Leadership woes are likely to continue with Starmer at the helm – a man who aggravates his lack of lesbian blackness with a charisma so indetectable, he makes Herman Van Rompuy’s ‘damp rag’ look positively chamois leather. Indeed, voters are already clear they are no more willing to vote Labour under Starmer than they were under Corbyn.

Turning to Brexit, the shadow cabinet is 100% Remain – this is no coincidence, and an obvious slap in the face for leave voters. Plus ça change, eh?

To be fair to Starmer, he hasn’t yet had time to make any ridiculous promises, so on this we can give him the benefit of the doubt. On division and the betrayal of traditional voters though, we absolutely cannot. Consider some key appointments:

  • Angela Rayner, Shadow Deputy PM. In what universe is a pregnant, teenage school dropout, and grandmother at 37 a suitable choice for second-in-command?
  • Rebecca Long-Bailey, Shadow Minister for Education. While clearly it was important to keep Corbyn’s heir close, how can you justify placing the education brief in the hands of someone who grades Corbyn’s leadership 10/10, and believes Labour’s defeat stems from speaking in ‘intellectual terms that were quite alien to many of our communities’?
  • David Lammy, Shadow Minister for Justice. (Don’t laugh). Not only is Lammy the one man who could find racism in a vacuum, he also thinks papal smoke is racist; prefers judges to be non-white, rather than qualified, and believes black criminals should be allowed to hide their convictions.
  • Jess Phillips, Shadow Minister for Domestic Violence. The same Jess who laughs at men’s rights. God help male suicide rates if this misandrist ever succeeds to ministerial office, you won’t be able to charter a Thames barge for falling bodies.
  • Naz Shah, Shadow Minister for Community Cohesion. A bridge too far. Starmer could have given any number of junior appointments to Shah, had he wanted to use her talent for sowing division. Affording such a sensitive brief to a woman previously suspended for antisemitism, and guilty of telling white rape victims to ‘shut up for diversity’, borders on criminal.

Starmer is too intelligent for these posts to be accidental, which means the Shah promotion in particular is clearly a sly manoeuvre. Take your pick from ‘attempting to cement the Muslim vote’, ‘deflecting criticism of his mismanagement of the CPS’, or ‘ready deployment of the Islamophobia card’ – either way, it’s not a good look.

While some commentators have heralded this new, centrist Labour, the opinion polls are less forgiving. In the midst of a pandemic, and even from a hospital bed at death’s door, Boris Johnson has taken the Tories to 55% in the opinion polls; an all-time high.

For Johnson has something Labour do not possess, and have not had since Blair – popularity outside Twitter. Becoming mayor as a Tory, in a city as red as London is a feat perhaps only Boris could achieve; and whether you see him as a joker, a buffoon or a lovable rogue, there’s no one in Labour who bridges divides like him.

Which brings us back to the question of Labour’s purpose. The Party is still anti-white, anti-male, and anti-British in all but name – why don’t they go all-in? Having done everything possible to forsake their traditional voters, why not elect scumbags who at least have a bit of dash to them?

Suggested Starmer reshuffle:

  • Stormzy – Minister for Kulcha
  • Luftur Rahman – Minister for Electoral Integrity
  • Gina Miller – Minister for Compliance
  • Gerry Adams – Minister for Wreath-laying
  • Louis Farrakhan – Minister for Antisemitism
  • Anjem Choudary – Minister for Jihad.

Keir Starmer needs to decide quickly what his Party’s purpose is, because right now it appears to be the certainty of a comfortable Johnson majority.