Keir Starmer

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God Save the Queen?
Sadly, we don’t have a government that has such high standards. I’m hugely ambitious for this country. I think Britain has so much yet to achieve. And it angers me that this government is holding us back. I’ve tried to be constructive. I appreciate that these are unprecedented times and that governing is difficult. I’ve tried to be fair, to give the government the benefit of the doubt. But now, with one of the highest death rates in the world,[note 1] and on the threshold of one of the deepest recessions anywhere, I’m afraid there is no doubt. This government’s incompetence is holding Britain back. They couldn’t get kids back into school in June. They couldn’t work out a fair system to get exams marked. They couldn’t get protective equipment to care workers and they wasted millions of your money in the process.
—Keir Starmer, accurately describing BoJo's Boyband[1]

Keir Rodney "Fear the Keir" Starmer[note 2] (1962–) is a former barrister and a British Labour Party MP. He's been the Labour Party leader since April 2020, replacing Jeremy Corbyn. Prior to becoming leader, he had served as the party's Shadow Brexit Secretary and was a strong advocate for the ultimately unsuccessful cause to hold a "People's Vote" (referendum) on the agreement reached with the European Union. Despite initially running as a broad "unity candidate" in the leadership contest, this was ultimately a hope voided with a party who are in a constant, factional cold war. As of now, he is now largely favoured by the party's "soft left" faction, and somewhat by the centrists. Many of the more hardcore lefters really do not like him.

Since he became leader, Labour finally rose in opinion polls to roughly match or slightly trail the Conservatives, similar to polling results in the months following the 2017 elections.[note 3] Kept up, along with the chaotic Brexit, and its fallout, and more COVID-19 response incompetence, Keir may swat away the fly Johnson in 2024. He only needs to overcome the wall of his party's unholy factional division, an extremely difficult, but not impossible, five-year task. From Brown, Miliband to Corbyn, he is pratically the only hope Labour have of winning anything after the complete collapse of the New Labour project.

Before politics[edit]

Prior to entering politics, Starmer was a human rights barrister, a career defender before becoming Director of Public Prosecutions. He has been involved in high profile human rights cases all over the world, with pro-bono work in challenging the death penalty, with significant contributions to efforts throughout Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. He was a founding director of charity 'the Death penalty Project'.[2] Of note, he helped in winning appeal against the government for two environmental activists at the ECHR as part of the McLibel trial, the longest running libel case in british history.[3] He was Director of Public Prosecutions for England and Wales, which is the head of the Crown Prosecution Service from 2008 to 2013. In the 2014 honours, he was awarded the honour of Knight Commander of the Order of Bath,Wikipedia one of the highest orders of chivalry, for his legal work. From this, he is often referred to in the British press as Sir Keir Starmer, though he prefers not to use the title.

Frontline politics[edit]

Shadow Brexit Secretary[edit]

Starmer was appointed Shadow Brexit Secretary in 2016. His legal expertise empowered him to scrutinise the finer points on the government's plans with trade agreements and the adoption of various EU laws post-Brexit.

In the run up to the 2019 United Kingdom general election, Starmer was strongly in favour of holding a second referendum on EU membership. Jeremy Corbyn ended up making a second referendum a manifesto pledge. Some have speculated that this cost the Party seats in the leave-supporting North of England.[4][5]

Labour Leadership[edit]

2020[edit]

Following the results of the December 2019 election, Corbyn announced his intention to resign. Starmer was elected as Labour’s new leader on 4 April 2020.[6] Starmer (and his competitors, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy, whom he tried to stand between ideologically) learned of the results via email; the conference where the results were due to be announced was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak. Long-Bailey (endorsed by the leftmost wing of the party) and Nandy (endorsed by the right) had also served in Corbyn's shadow cabinet. Starmer initially retained them in different roles, but in June he sacked Long-Bailey after accusations of anti-Semitism, after the latter reposted an article by Maxine Peake talking about a conspiracy theory about Israel, in relation to the recent murder of George Floyd. It's as bizarre as it sounds.[7]

Starmer gave himself a stupidly hard job becoming leader of the Labour Party, and it has been a very rocky road in the last several months. Said party he inherited has lost four elections in a row, contains deep enmity between the "soft left" and "hard left" wings of the party and is widely distrusted on the economy. Boris Johnson's Conservative Party has a majority of 80 seats in the House of Commons. When Starmer took over the party, the Conservatives were also leading the Labour Party by approximately 20% in the polls. Fast-forward a few months, Starmer has closed the gap considerably.[8]

During the first peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and onto now, Starmer became notorious for roasting Boris Johnson into burnt turkey in every single PMQ during the pandemic, as he easily picked apart Johnson's frankly terrible response negligence. This probably didn't mean much for polling as not many people care about PMQs, but it certainly made some minor headlines given nothing else was happening (pandemic). Still, it's a good laugh seeing Johnson looking like a complete wally, as Starmer's previous work made it rather easy to take down any bollocks that BoJo stirred, making him look goofy and clueless. Which is, obviously, Johnson's actual character.

In his September 2020 Party Conference speech, Starmer distanced himself from Corbyn by saying the party "deserved" to lose the 2019 election, under the general pretext that Labour did not fully appeal to all voters,[note 4] and Labour is now under "new leadership".[9] Also in September, he expelled three MPs from his shadow cabinet after they defied the party whip by voting against a bill which would introduce a "presumption against prosecution", protecting British soldiers accused of comitting crimes while serving overseas, which critics described as "legalizing torture".[10] A weird reverse clock smash for Starmer, who at the same time opposes the death penalty to the very end.

While these events were not controversial at first, a flame war would begin when the party suspended Corbyn the following month, citing his unrepentance on the long standing Labour anti-Semitism controversy, after an investigation surfaced on the matter.[11] This was met with heavy backlash from the left-wing of the party which blamed Starmer for it, painting him as a figure similar to Neil Kinnock (the man who started pulling Labour to the center in the 80s, which the left in turn blames for recent failures, moreso than Blair oddly enough).[note 5] Corbyn was then reinstated, but Starmer refused to restore Corbyn's whip, and then promptly suspended a Jewish member of the party for defending Corbyn.

Oh, and around this period Diane Abbott decided to virtually border on harassing Starmer, attacking his mother.[12] Classic Abbott manoeuvre, but exceptional rudeness for her.

2021[edit]

Political views[edit]

Keir Starmer believes in renationalising the rail network and giving trade unions more power, as well as abolishing the universal credit benefits system.[13] In August 2020, he supported the government re-opening of schools the following month in an editorial for the Daily Mail, in spite of the still-ongoing pandemic,[14] a mistake many other usually sensible people keep making for some reason.

Notes[edit]

  1. Credit to Boris Johnson delaying every action in a pandemic until someone else told him what to do, the UK now has the highest death rate per capita in the world. Fucking hell.
  2. Too many rhymes? Okay, we will stop now.
  3. After what honestly seems like forever. 2017 is relatively not that long ago, but we lost passage of time with May flopping around a Brexit deal.
  4. Most likely correct, given how Corbyn overestimated his reach, and had people as incompetent as Diane Abbott in shadow cabinet. However, the party was still sabotaged from within.
  5. A little harsh, considering the situations are not remotely the same. The real issue that both the soft and hard left of Labour need to focus on is not having verbal wars with eachother, as it makes it a lot harder to function as a political party.

References[edit]