Socialist Studies Socialist Studies

Starmer's anti-Socialism

Starmer: Just another Capitalist Politician

The new Labour Party Leader, Sir Keir Starmer, desperately wants to run capitalism. To do so he has to court a non-socialist working class vote. He needs their votes. And to get their votes he has to persuade them he is no Jeremy Corbyn but someone who will ingratiate himself to their prejudices, dislikes and hatreds.

And Starmer has a political wheeze. Labour will try to get elected into power at the next election under the umbrella of a vacuous new slogan - 'A New Leadership'. He will appeal to patriotism and nationalism. He is no socialist.

The slogan about leadership and the patriotism of Starmer's speech speaks volumes for the crass and shallow reformist politics of the Labour Party. Starmer does not want to change society in a revolutionary way, but like Corbyn before him, focus on leadership and control. He wants to manage capitalism not abolish it.

Starmer is no different to any other capitalist politician. And like any other capitalist politician he will fail. Capitalism runs politicians, not the other way round. All political leadership ends in failure.

Brexit is now history and Starmer wants to distance himself from the toxicity of the "remain" vote. He needs to attract the anti EU Labour voters in the Midlands and North back to Labour from supporting the Tories.

Starmer wants to regain the "Blue Wall" vote of the Northern constituencies whose voters turned to Johnson and his "Get Brexit Done". If Starmer gets their votes, the wall will still remain blue not socialist "red". He will not get the socialist vote. These were not socialists but workers voting for the retention of capitalism.

At least you will not hear "socialism" from Starmer’s lips. The word "socialism" will have been binned by his political advisors and speech writers as a vote loser. The Labour Party has no justification for using the word "socialism" in the first place. The Labour Party has never been a socialist party and it will never be a socialist party.

Courting the Non-Socialist Vote

At the on-line Labour Conference Starmer did not wave the Red Flag as much as the Union Jack. He wants to persuade non socialist workers that he supports their "values" around patriotism and nationalism. He will dress more solemnly than Corbyn at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday.

Perhaps at that annual occasion in Whitehall - a vulgar display of militarism, - Starmer might reflect on the wars pursued by previous Labour governments which led to the death of hundreds of thousands of workers. He might even remember that the Labour Party once told us that they were the "Party of Peace"! That was before the First World War; a war the Labour Party supported and socialists of the Socialist Party of Great Britain, at great cost, opposed on the grounds of class.

What about the nuclear option? As Prime Minister, will Starmer press the red button? If required, of course he will. Will he go to war to protect the interests of the capitalist class? Yes, without hesitation.

Where does Starmer stand on the question of health or wealth? Starmer agreed, with a few misgivings, about the need for workers to return to work after the Covid-19 lock-down in March 2020. In whose class interest was it to get workers back to their place of exploitation as quickly as possible?

Those who shouted the loudest for workers to return to wage slavery were the industrialists, the share holders, the rentiers, the financiers and the owners of commercial outlets like Tim Martin, the owner of Wetherspoons. They were the owners of the media outlets; Murdoch, Lord Rothermere and the Barclay Twins. And they were the owners of the large office rental portfolios in the City. They were not the terrified working class who had to worry about crowded trains, unsafe working environments and bullying management. Starmer was not going to upset these very real economic interests against the health needs of workers. This is the class Starmer represents.

Starmer will unquestionably back the Tory Government in its wars abroad. No criticism of the war in Yemen. Nothing said about the jets and drones in Syria. He will embrace Rule Britannia at the Proms. And he will not despise "white van man" for flying the George Cross from the window.

The New Working Class: Same as the Old Working Class

Much of the content of Starmer's speech to the on-line Labour Conference this September came from the Labour leader's director of policy Claire Ainsley. Ainsley is the former head of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation think tank and author of the New Working Class: a reformist to the bone.

Apparently the values of the new working class is "Family, fairness, hard work and decency", or as one commentator put it, "flag, forces, family". She argues that identity politics is now more important than class politics.

Capitalist politicians and their advisers do not like class politics: and for a very good reason. Class focuses attention upon the real political issue of capitalism; the issue of ownership and control of mineral resources, land, factories, transport and communication systems and distribution points. Class draws attention to what the means of production and distribution are used for and for what purpose. And under capitalism they are used to make profit not directly and solely to meet human need.

The capitalist class own the means of production and distribution to the exclusion of the rest of society. Workers are forced to sell their ability to work as a commodity to the capitalist class where they are exploited in the production process producing more social wealth than they receive in wages and salaries. What workers want is rationed by the wages system. A wage or salary is only enough to produce and reproduce the workers and their families as an exploited class.

What is "new" about the "new working class"? The "New Working Class? is the same as the old working class. The exploitation of the working class generates what Marx called "surplus value", the source of the unearned income going in the form of rent, interest and profit to the capitalist class.

Workers pursuing their own class interest as socialists do not need leaders. They do not need people like Starmer telling them what to do and what to think. Starmer might be a new leader of the Labour Party but it is the same old capitalist policies. Starmer only joins other flailed politicians as Labour leader all the way back to his namesake.

Identity Politics

What about identity politics? If identity politics was politically dangerous to capitalism, capitalist politicians would not embrace those shouting out for "rights", "justice" and an "end to discrimination".

Of course Starmer will pursue "identity politics". He will take the knee when required for the black vote; he will visit Imams, Rabbis and, Bishops for the religious vote and tour army and air force installations for the SUN vote. When Murdoch asks him to jump he will ask "How High"?

For socialists, someone earning a wage or salary is a member of the working class irrespective of colour, gender and sexuality. We are a global class. We have identical class interests in every continent of the world.

A world working class faces a world capitalist class and their politicians and media. Only socialism - a world without frontiers - can deliver a society without racism, xenophobia and prejudice. Socialism "will involve the emancipation of all mankind without distinction of race or sex" (Clause 4 Socialist Party of Great

And to gain votes, Starmer will come down hard on refugees and immigrants. Starmer might not be a racist but he knows that a sizable portion of the voters he will be chasing are. Many non-socialist workers voted against continued EU membership to prevent immigrants coming into the UK and to get rid of those already here.

Traditionally the Tories do better than Labour in getting the racist vote. Remember Thatcher and her 1978 comment on World in Action that "People are really rather afraid that this country might be rather swamped by people with a different culture...". That comment helped her on her way to an election victory the following year. Johnson does racism very well. And it puts Starmer at a great disadvantage.

In attracting the anti-immigrant vote Starmer has an uphill task. Perhaps he could dust down the red mugs produced by one of his predecessors, Ed Miliband, now in his shadow cabinet, with its logo "Controls on Immigration". This was supposed to be an election pledge. What socialist could ever have been associated with such racism? Not that the production of these mugs did Ed Miliband any good. He still lost the election to David Cameron.

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumber

Identity politics accommodates itself within capitalism's social reformism. Identity politics is safe. Identity politics does not threaten class ownership of the means of production and distribution. Black capitalists, Chinese Capitalists, and Asian capitalists all exploit the working class. So do gay, female, religious and atheist capitalist. To remain capitalists they have to exploit the working class.

A world capitalist class confronts a world socialist class over the means of production and distribution. The interests of these capitalists are not the same as those they exploit. Identity politics is no route towards socialism.

Only a socialist majority, without leaders and the led, can establish, politically and democratically, the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production and distribution by all of society. And that requires working with principled and democratic socialist parties with only socialism as the objective.

As for the class struggle it exists despite the wish of politicians that it didn't. The class struggle is fought over the intensity and extent of class exploitation. It takes place whether workers are aware of it or not.

Capitalists have to exploit the working class to remain capitalists and workers have to resist, individually or collectively in trade unions. And as leader of a Party desperately wanting to be re-elected and needing a smooth ride by the capitalist media, Starmer will have to keep the unions in the cold. Existing anti-Trade Union legislation will not be questioned.

It is only through uniting together as a class that we can transform society in a revolutionary way: from capitalism to socialism. Unless workers become socialists we will be stuck with the likes of Sir Kier Starmer and Boris Johnson: Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumber.

Politicians who claim class no longer matters are obviously misleading us and if they were honest they would admit it. Of course class matters. It matters to the capitalist class; to the rich; to the privileged. By being members of the capitalist class is how they get their unearned income.

Workers need class consciousness and to become aware that there are only two classes in capitalism: the working class and the capitalist class. And to understand that only the establishment of socialism, through the capture of the machinery of government, will deliver a classless society of free men and women.

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