Starmer Must Build on the Positive

By Michael Calderbank

Right-wing critics of Jeremy Corbyn are jubilant at his departure, and the comprehensive victory of Sir Keir Starmer in the leadership contest on an overwhelming 56.2%.   But they should be reminded that this victory was won on a platform very different from that of Ian Murray for Deputy who polled just 13.3% after having roundly trashed the previous leadership.    By contrast, Starmer appealed for unity, an end to factionalism, and promised to retain the radical policy platform and fight to repeal anti-union laws.

Of course, the Corbyn-haters might be right in believing that was an entirely cynical exercise in playing to the gallery, to be followed by a stampede to the right at a rate of knots.   But if Starmer is remotely serious about building unity in the party, and becoming an effective opposition, he’d be well advised to build on the positive aspects of Corbyn’s policy programme including:

Unyielding support for trade unions, and active backing on picket lines.

Ensuring that the cost for bailing out the economy does not fall on the back of millions of working people – and striving to end the plague of in-work poverty.

No return to the politics of scapegoating benefit claimants, migrants or ethnic/religious minorities.

Taking back key utilities under democratic public ownership, to be run for the common good not private profit.

Serious commitment to rewiring the economy to promote regional investment

Radical action to tackle climate change

Promotion of an ethical foreign policy, including a firm commitment to human rights and justice in Palestine and the Middle East.

None of the above conflict with the urgent project of holding the Tories to account (not least over their failures of planning and policy in relation to the Coronavirus crisis) and building a platform on which Labour can win the next election.   On the contrary, if Starmer jettisons these commitments and pursues an ill-advised purge of socialists from the party, we _will be further away from power than ever.