Lies, Falsehoods and Misrepresentations from Boris Johnson to Keir Starmer

“We can put factionalism and division to one side and unify around a radical programme”

Sir Keir Starmer, Labour Leadership Candidate, Labour Leadership Launch Video

Facts

In his campaign for the Labour leadership at the start of 2020 Keir Starmer presented himself as a radical politician who would build on the best elements of the Corbyn era, end factionalism and unite the party around a radical agenda. 

In an interview with Jamie Driscoll, Labour’s Mayor for the North of Tyne region, he said: “If you’re going to go for unity, you’ve got to inspire people to come together. You can’t force them to come together. Disciplining people to be united is going nowhere.”

In his campaign launch he described the party’s 2017 manifesto as a “benchmark” and said: “We are not … going to trash the last four years.” He presented the party membership with ten policy “pledges” which included a hike in taxes for higher earners and taking “rail, mail energy and water” into public ownership.

He has since abandoned almost all of these pledges. 

In February 2023 he told the BBC: “What I’ve had to do is obviously adapt some of them to the circumstances we find ourselves in. Since I ran for leader, we’ve had Covid. Since I ran for leader, we’ve had the conflict in Ukraine. Since I ran for leader, we’ve had a government that’s done huge damage to our economy.”

In subsequent entries we will explore this argument. It may justify some policy reversals, but it does not explain others.

Starmer has also proved a ruthlessly factional leader, carrying out wholesale purges of the left wing of the party. Ironically, one of the most prominent victims is Jamie Driscoll, to whom he extolled the virtues of tolerance and unity in 2020. 

Members are now being expelled for supporting proscribed organisations, even if they expressed support before those organisations were proscribed.

A new clause in the party’s rule book reads: “Neither the principles of natural justice nor the provisions of fairness… shall apply to the termination of party membership”.

Verdict

In 2020 Keir Starmer ran a leadership campaign that was fundamentally dishonest. Needing to gain the support of the Labour Party’s left wing membership he presented a pitch which was entirely at variance with the way he subsequently ran the party. 

We emailed Sir Keir Starmer’s office and Labour offering them the chance to respond. We received no response.

Additional Note

At the time of the leadership campaign Margaret Hodge MP – one of Jeremy Corbyn’s fiercest critics – gave a revealing interview to the Financial Times

“Somebody said to me, I don’t mind what he does so long as he wins … So is Keir lying to get the job? ….  That’s what this person was saying to me as a way of promoting Keir.”

Whether this person had inside knowledge of Starmer’s campaign was unclear. But it clearly left Hodge uncomfortable. “It’s a different way of doing politics,” she said – contrasting Starmer with Tony Blair who she said was always “completely straight, completely honest.”

Published 28 Jun 2024
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