#027 Power Concedes Nothing Without A Demand
Rather than working to unify Labour party members, in its various opposing internal factions, as promised in his early 2020 leadership campaign, Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of the labour party, has made it clear he instead prefers to attack, undermine and alienate progressives & democratic socialists within his own party, whilst at the same time consistently failing to offer electable, credible opposition, to the disaster that is the current conservative, Boris Johnson lead, government, that he and his supporters promised.
Whereas the previous labour party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, was widely known as a man of principle, Keir Starmer is instead a man of performative, political calculation. A vacuous, visionless, insincere, dishonest and strategically weak leader who is damaging the Labour party’s polling, electability and finances, turning the party into little more than an entertainment organisation.
It is also clear Keir Starmer cannot be trusted, for example, in his early 2020 leadership campaign, he said,
“Jeremy Corbyn was right to make us the party to fight austerity… We build on that, we don’t trash it going forward,”
Starmer said Labour should treat the 2017 manifesto as its,
“foundation going forward”
And Keir Starmer also promised explicitly to maintain Labour’s “radical values” by putting forward ten clear pledges, alongside concrete ideas to “reform and unite labour”.
By mid 2021 however he had abandoned almost all of these pledges (if he ever pursued any of them at all) and instead claimed,
“Labour will have a completely new blueprint for power not based on previous manifestos”
He even released a new 12'000 word pamphlet for the Fabian Society that made no mention of any his original ten pledges.
For the Labour party to win even a small majority at the next election, on its own, it would need a truly massive swing and it would need to win a very high vote share. The likelihood of this happening is almost zero, all things considered, so logically then, Labour will need to co-operate with progressives to have any hope of winning sustainable power.
With this in mind then, progressives should not hesitate to boycott the Labour Party and support alternative political parties, such as the Green Party of England & Wales or the Scottish National Party in Scotland, and refrain from working with the Labour Party, unless or until they adopt a base level of our policy demands, before the next election, in line with the pledges Keir Starmer himself stood on to win the labour party leadership in the first place.
Here I put forward what these policy demands could be, to potentially form the basis of a cross party political project.
Labour must adopt a policy to reform the voting system for Westminster elections, meaning the share of MPs in the house of commons more closely reflects the share of total votes won (vote share). Labour must also agree to abolish the house of lords, replacing it with a democratically elected chamber.
One potential proposal here, for example, could be abolishing the house of lords and in its place instituting a MMP/AMS elected unicameral parliament, using the 650 constituencies we have now in the United Kingdom. 50% of the seats could be elected using FPTP and 50% of the seats could be elected using list PR making future results overall, much more proportional. Alternatively a Single Transferable Vote system (STV) could be brought forward for Westminster and local elections.
Labour must adopt a policy or group of policies to implement significant decarbonisation in Britain. Measures could include big programs to insulate British homes to a much higher standard or cancel new oil licenses.
Labour must adopt a policy to increase the minimum wage to the independent Living Wage Foundation’s UK rate or higher, for instance £12.50 per hour nationwide, action on fire and rehire, laws to remove zero hours contracts, a maximum pay ratio between highest and lowest earners in companies (say 10:1) and significantly improve or replace universal credit, to start to combat relative poverty and destitution in 21st century Britain.
Labour must adopt policies to implement significant tax changes for the benefit of the whole of society, such as moving the top rate of income tax (a progressive tax) to cover the top 5% of earners, introducing a (one off) wealth tax (https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/research/centres/cage/news/a-wealth-tax-for-the-uk.pdf), applying national insurance to investment income, making national insurance more progressive by applying the same rate for all income (https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/research/centres/cage/manage/publications/bn33.2021.pdf), introducing a land value tax, Scrapping the “non-dom” regime and taxing offshore income, taxing dividends at the same rate as income tax, taxing dividends & capital gains in line with personal income tax rates, introducing an online sales tax, introducing a carbon/tougher windfall tax on oil and gas extraction companies and clamping down on tax evasion.
Labour must adopt a policy to abolish tuition fees.
If demands like those presented here are met, progressives should look at co-operating with the Labour Party in its bid to win power going forward.
And we should not stop there.
We should then demand both basic income, https://www.compassonline.org.uk/events/its-bloody-complicated-with-guy-standing-episode-10/, and moves toward a reduced working week, with no loss of pay, for the public and private sectors, https://autonomy.work/portfolio/the-shorter-working-week-a-report-from-autonomy-in-collaboration-with-members-of-the-4-day-week-campaign/.
2021 analysis finds that Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour needs an anti tory co-operation alliance with other political parties, to have almost any hope in ousting Boris Johnson and bringing Labour to power, https://www.bestforbritain.org/mrppactanalysis, so there is some chance demands like these could be taken on board by the Labour Party, the largest opposition party, and built upon, https://inews.co.uk/news/politics/labour-stop-standing-in-way-left-alliance-says-green-party-sian-berry-1003179.
The notable problem here is that we have already seen Starmer seemingly break all his own pledges to Labour party members, shorturl.at/djxEX, so it becomes difficult for progressives to trust that he would stick to his agreements on progressive policies such as those outlined above even if he did pledge to act on them in government as pat of an agreement with third parties like the SNP, Greens and Liberal Democrats. However should Starmer win the largest number of seats in the next general election, there would be anti tory, third party MPs, alongside socialist campaign group left labour MPs, within the labour party, essentially propping up his minority government for a price. This price demanded should simply be progressive policies like those outlined in this article.