“If you stand for nothing, you’ll stand for anything”

Keir Starmer (photo: Jessica Taylor/UK Parliament (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Phil Vellender says people are hungry for change so why stick with ever changing Tory fiscal rules. The Green New Deal should be beacon of hope.

Keir Starmer is increasingly looking like a frightened rabbit. Terrified of fiscal rules – but what do these actually signify? Tory chancellors have had eight different fiscal rules in 14 years. You don’t allow Tory rules, as these are, to frame Labour’s priorities and policies. You make Labour policy, as the Green New Deal was, and sell it to the country.

That’s what Atlee managed to do in 1945. Would Reeves and Starmer seriously suggest that 1945 Labour should have carried on with the same Tory policies that devastated the “lost decade” of the 1930s? Similarly, continuing with the same Tory economic thinking since 2010 would be equally absurd.

Does Starmer ever talk to any other economists than slavish adherents to neoliberalism? Obviously, Rachel Reeves doesn’t. She built her reputation back in 2015 with her repellent “bash the skivers” rhetoric and her support for Labour’s notorious “red mug” racism. Always believe first impressions. Come 2024, and she’s morphed into a right-wing, conservative economist.

Has Starmer ever heard of, for example, Prem Sikka? Prem has plenty of good ideas about how to rebuild the economy. Borrowing to invest in our infrastructure, training our people and, yes, developing our green economy! I asked Reeves on LBC how Labour intended to solve a Tory crisis withTory policies? Of course, she had no answer.

In 1945, Atlee’s Labour understood the importance of investing to rebuild. It worked! We are in a post-Covid, post-2008 crash, post-austerity crisis. Now, in 2024, Labour needs an imaginative response. Labour needs an offer that engenders hope. Starmer’s is the politics of hopelessness, cloaked in the Tory-lite rhetoric of “realism”.

However, Labour’s Green New Deal isn’t about simple economics, although neither Reeves nor Starmer have the political vision to grasp that fact. This commitment was an idea, a covenant even, with every generation of the British people, and they responded positively because they believed Labour, unlike the Tories, recognised the existential crisis we face in 2024.

Much as Atlee understood when he proposed Labour’s Welfare State, such a response would demand determined selling, even to a public open to change. But that’s what “change” politicians do: sell imaginative policies they believe in!

People are hungry for change and Labour’s Green New Deal promise offered those of us already struggling on the doorstep to give the “what does Labour stand for?” refrain, a distinctive response.

Tony Blair’s theme tune was “Things Can Only Get Better”. Starmer Labour’s theme tune is “Things Can Only Stay Similar’. Now try singing that to yourself with Starmer’s clunky enunciation, it’s an real earworm! Except it doesn’t scan does it? And Starmer’s 19th Nervous U-turn won’t scan with an increasingly disillusioned electorate.

First, it was the Muslims, now it’s the many hundreds of thousands more of potential Labour voters, who will feel an increasing sense of disillusionment, witnessing Starmer doggedly sticking to some entirely arbitrary, never explained, incomprehensible dogma as he ditches Labour’s headline policy, its most relevant in decades.

What frankly is the point of Labour? If saving our planet is not as important as pleasing Reeves and her Bank of England dining companions, it’s increasingly hard to answer that question with anything other than just “they’re not this lot”. Is that all there is?

For how can Starmer credibly attack Sunak at PMQs for being “weak” when he himself is so patently running scared of him?

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