Despite the Landslide, Labour Have No Vision and Only Won the UK General Election Because the Tories Lost So Spectacularly


A composite image of the outgoing Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, and his replacement, Sir Keir Starmer.

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So the good news is easy. After 14 years of cruelty, incompetence and corruption, the Tories were wiped out in yesterday’s General Election in the UK, suffering their worst ever result, and ending up with less MPs than at any other point in their 190-year existence.

Of the 650 seats contested, the 365 seats that the Tories had when Rishi Sunak unexpectedly called a General Election on May 22 were slashed to just 121 (a loss of over two-thirds), with their vote almost halved, from 13,966,454 in 2019 to just 6,814,469 yesterday.

High-profile Tory losses included Liz Truss, the disastrous 43-day Prime Minister, whose vote plunged from 35,507 in 2019 to 11,217 in South West Norfolk, the absurd and offensive pro-Brexit toff Jacob Rees-Mogg, and a number of ministers until six weeks ago including the vacuous Tory pin-up Penny Mordaunt, the empty Grant Shapps and Mark Harper, the far-right ideologues Liam Fox and Johnny Mercer, and the offensive Thérèse Coffey and Gillian Keegan.

Other good news involved the Green Party, whose vote share leapt to 7%, and who quadrupled their number of MPs, with Siân Berry not only successfully replacing Caroline Lucas (the sole Green MP for 14 long and lonely years in Parliament), but also with co-leaders Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay triumphing in Bristol Central and Waveney (in East Anglia), and Ellie Chowns securing victory in North Herefordshire.

The four Green MPs: Carla Denyer, Adrian Ramsay, Siân Berry and Ellie Chowns.

It was also a hugely successful election for the Liberal Democrats, who increased their number of seats from eleven to 71, taking shire after shire in the Tory heartlands which, in many cases, had always been Tory, and whose MPs made the mistake of thinking that they would remain so even as they became ever more infected with cruelty and complacency.

There were also resounding victories for a number of independents, most prominently Jeremy Corbyn, the former Labour leader and veteran MP for Islington North, who was booted out of the Labour Party by Keir Starmer, as the sacrifice for his alarming and completely invented antisemitism witch hunt — which made Labour the malignant global poster child for equating criticism of the State of Israel with antisemitism. Despite Starmer pouring resources into the constituency to promote an NHS-privatising rival, Corbyn had the last laugh by romping to an astounding victory.

Corbyn secured 24,120 votes (49.2% of the vote share), which was a much more resounding victory than Starmer’s lacklustre performance in his home constituency of Holborn and St. Pancras, where his vote share halved from 36,641 in 2019 to just 18,884 yesterday, and where his closest challenger, the former ANC MP Andrew Feinstein, secured 7,312 votes on a platform specifically opposed to Starmer’s unconditional support for Israel’s’s genocide in Gaza.

A screenshot of Jeremy Corbyn’s victory.

For Labour, however, the giddy enthusiasm of having secured a landslide really ought to be tempered drastically by a recognition that they only won because the Tories lost so badly — and, alarmingly, because a late entrant to the circus, the whingeing fascist Nigel Farage, split the opposition vote still further, his Reform UK Party securing a disturbing 14% of the vote nationally (over four million votes).

However much Labour may want to hide it, the awful truth for Starmer’s grand-sounding but vacuous project of “change” is that he secured less votes than Jeremy Corbyn did in both 2017, when the Starmerists’ own covert sabotage of Corbyn largely prevented a Labour victory, and in 2019, despite the landslide that Boris Johnson secured because he turned the entire election into a narcissistic spectacle devoted to his hollow promise to ‘Get Brexit Done.’

Overall, Starmer’s Labour Party secured 9,712,011 votes, compared to 12,877,918 for Corbyn in 2017 and 10,269,051 in 2019. Even factoring in the spectacularly low turnout yesterday — just 59.9% of the registered electorate, down from 68.8% in 2017 and 67.3% in 2019 — there is no way that Starmer’s Labour Party can claim that they won a resounding victory — and, of course, the low turnout was not only due to Tory fatigue; it was also clearly due to the fact that Labour had done precisely nothing to enthuse anyone to believe that they offered any sort of inspiring vision for the future. In election-eve polling of Labour Party members, 48% admitted that they only wanted a Labour win to get rid of the Tories.

While one dispiriting aspect of Labour’s victory is that it shows up, yet again, how unrepresentative Britain’s antiquated ‘First Past the Post’ system is — Labour secured 63% of the seats on just 34% of the vote — the most alarming factor, as noted above, is that Labour has no vision to inspire the British people, exhausted by 14 years of Tory rule.

Instead of promising meaningful “change”, Labour’s empty one-word campaigning soundbite indicates only that the individuals in charge of the country have changed; not that there is any fundamental difference in policy.

I suspect that most people in Britain today would struggle to confirm even one single policy proposed by Starmer’s Labour Party that differs noticeably from their predecessors. Unprovoked, Starmer has, almost on daily basis, committed to fundamentally Conservative right-wing policies — or even far-right policies — on almost everything for which his Party is now in charge.

Noticeably obsessed with wooing Conservatives, to the deliberate exclusion of existing Labour voters, and, especially, anyone on the left, Starmer’s right-wing enthusiasms cannot be explained solely by the obstacles that even a moderately centre-left would-be government faces in a country dominated by a hostile right-wing — or far-right — largely tabloid print media, and a thoroughly compromised broadcast media.

Co-opted by the ruinous myths of neoliberalism

At the heart of the problem is the adherence of Starmer and his Chancellor Rachel Reeves to neoliberalism — essentially, the market-based dogma focused on the unchallenged supremacy of unfettered private profiteering, and the privatisation of everything for which an argument could and should be made for its public ownership.

This is in spite of the evident truth that, over the last 45 years, since Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister in 1979, neoliberalism has ruinously dominated politics, turning political leaders into little more than pimps and prostitutes for big business, and has also entrenched an ever-growing chasm between the rich and the poor.

Despite neoliberalism’s demonstrable failures, leading to such discontent amongst the poor that fascism is noticeably on the rise — not just in the UK, but across the whole of the west — Starmer and Reeves are, if anything, even even more enthusiastic about it than their Labour predecessors from 1997 to 2010, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, who at least tempered their neoliberal enthusiasms with a nod to aspects of redistributive socialism.

After 14 years of austerity, first imposed by David Cameron and George Osborne in 2010, as a devastatingly cynical response to the banker-led global economic crash of 2008, the last thing the UK needs right now is more of the same, and yet Starmer and Reeves won’t even commit to the most basic redress of some of austerity’s most cruel and punitive measures — the welfare cap on families with more than two children, for example, introduced by George Osborne, which affects two million children in the UK — and instead only drivel on about securing “growth” and “investment” from the same corporate ghouls who have already plundered almost everything there is to plunder in this broken country, ravaged by predatory corporate greed.

Britain has, to be blunt, been completely broken by the privatisation that is Thatcher’s darkest legacy. To take just one example, water privatisation, imposed in England and Wales in 1989, uniquely in the western world, has left our rivers literally swimming in sewage, as the private transnational consortia who own the water companies have accrued £64 billion of debt, while paying £78 billion to shareholders, all while presiding over such neglect of the water and sewage systems that our rivers are full of sewage, and in some places even the drinking water in unsafe.

Renationalising water may well be fiendishly expensive (although I’d like to see Labour working with clever lawyers to work out how to expose the water companies’ activities as illegal), but it’s difficult to see how it won’t continue to get worse without these companies being once more brought into public ownership. Starmer’s announced intention — of ramping up oversight and accountability — simply rings hollow as an attempt to address a colossal and ongoing 35-year national crime scene.

Similarly, on housing — the most pressing issue for everyone in the country who isn’t fortunate enough to either be a well-established owner-occupier, or amongst the dwindling numbers of people in safe, secure and genuinely affordable social housing — Starmer shows no sign whatsoever of recognizing that an out-of-control housing bubble, in existence since the early years of Blair and Brown, has made housing fundamentally unaffordable, pricing out first-time buyers, and, via a startling absence of regulation, allowing the country to become awash with abominably greedy private landlords. Only a massive social homebuilding programme can effectively deal with this, but Starmer remains as wedded to private homebuilding — or, more accurately, the monstrous private/quasi-public hybrid of private developers and housing associations, with their unaffordable ‘affordable’ homes and their monstrous scams (in particular, Shared Ownership) — as any of his predecessors, thereby continuing to fuel a crisis that has reached breaking point.

Brexit: the killer of all it touches

Beyond the blithely unrecognised evils of neoliberalism and the devastating and ongoing austerity that cannot be dealt with without some sort of increase in taxes, Starmer also has a blind spot when it comes to Brexit and its ills, even though Brexit is responsible for almost everything that has gone wrong in Britain over the last eight years.

Just the day before the election — again, totally unprovoked — Starmer made a point of declaring that “the UK will not rejoin either the EU, the single market or the customs union within his lifetime”, a deranged, counter-productive promise — again, seemingly aimed at his beloved far-right target voters, as well as disgruntled traditional Labour working class voters who switched to the Tories in 2019 and are now queuing up to laud Nigel Farage — which must be undone if Britain is to stand any chance of economic recovery.

Starmer can’t be so stupid as to have not noticed that British trade with the EU has been gutted by Brexit, and that EU trade with the UK is now becoming so unpalatably tied up in red tape and xenophobia that lorries don’t even want to come here to deliver the copious amounts of everything that are necessary because we are unable to feed ourselves. However, just as significantly, he and Reeves cannot for a moment imagine that their promises of “growth” and “investment” are not completely meaningless while Britain remains an isolated, essentially pointless country on the edge of Europe, completely unattractive to foreign investors because we stupidly cut ourselves off from frictionless trade with our 27 nearest neighbours.

Brexit has been damaging in other fundamental ways too, of course, as the succession of post-Brexit governments led by Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak have demonstrated; firstly, via a shameful notion that post-Brexit Britain had become a tabula rasa, a blank slate on which arrogant inadequate people like Jacob Rees-Mogg could seriously propose a swift and all-consuming bonfire of countless EU laws, to be replaced, without any parliamentary scrutiny, by people like himself; and secondly by vile anti-immigrant sentiment, whipped up via two particularly malignant home secretaries, Priti Patel and Suella Braverman, to not only make the very act of being a refugee illegal, but also to make sending asylum seekers on a one-way trip to Rwanda the prime focus of government policy, enthusiastically embraced by Rishi Sunak as his premiership began to flounder, and including the truly outrageous decision to pass a law that purported to override a Supreme Court ruling that Rwanda was not a safe destination.

Suella Braverman laughing hysterically, and entirely inappropriately, during a visit to the UK’s proposed “migrant camp” in Rwanda on March 18, 2023, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak seemingly emerging from a coffin while announcing the Tory government’s shameful ‘Stop the Boats’ policy on March 7, 2023, and then-home secretary Priti Patel smirking at a press conference in Rwanda, announcing the Rwanda plan, on April 14, 2022.

While the public — clearly — are not as cruel and heartless as this trio of British Indians, whose parents were themselves immigrants, and Nigel Farage has now made clear that the number of miserable and irredeemable racists in the country may be no more than the 14% of those who voted for Reform yesterday, it remains to be seen if Labour are prepared to take the necessary steps to thoroughly repudiate this horrible and inhumane expansion of the “hostile environment” first enacted by Theresa May.

On the campaign trail, the only distinction between Labour and the Tories that I could see was that Labour promised to drop the Rwanda scheme (probably because it was, in any case, legally doomed), but they need to do far more than just drop it. They need to address the huge backlog of unaddressed asylum cases (around 70% of which, on average, lead to confirmation that those seeking asylum are in fact refugees), they need to do away with all the offensive rhetoric about “illegal migrants”, and they need to establish safe routes to enable refugees to come to the UK without risking their lives in smuggler-controlled small boats.

All of this requires courage — to take on the right-wing and far-right media — but it is not only morally required; it is also necessary to address the shortage of workers in the UK in so many parts of the economy.

If anything in particular has become clear over the last few years about the motivations of Keir Starmer’s Labour Party, it is that they are constantly seeking not to alienate anyone except their base (who, shamefully, they attack ruthlessly), in what seems to be nothing more than a desire for power rather than having vision and beliefs that are inviolable, and that ought to be declared openly and with confidence, however unpopular they may be with certain people and organisations.

The unavoidable juggernaut of extinction

On the gravest issue of all — climate change — this cowardice, this fundamental lack of self-belief is the ultimate test for Starmer and his cabinet (as, it should be noted, it is for all governments in the west). It will take a brave leader to stand up and tell the electorate that he or she has uncomfortable news — that catastrophic climate collapse, caused by our own promiscuous burning of fossil fuels, is now so advanced that we are close to making the earth uninhabitable, and in the very near future, and to follow up by stating that he or she is going to address this through a revolutionary deconstruction and remaking of capitalism to solely prioritise survival, but also, it must be said, to create an entire new green economy dedicated to mitigation.

On climate collapse, politicians are either stupid, corrupt or cowards. Boris Johnson, memorably, finally realized the truth after a briefing at the time of the COP Summit in the UK in late 2021, but was too corrupt and cowardly to seize the moment that he was offered to do something worthwhile in his otherwise miserable narcissistic life. Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, however, were both irredeemably stupid.

I can’t tell whether Starmer and his team are, in contrast, capable of grasping the enormity of the environmental challenges that we all face. I understand that those who deal in power and self-preservation are all too often trapped in a bubble of delusion, and I fear that Keir Starmer is, quite startlingly, incapable of rising to the occasion.

Under pressure — presumably from Ed Miliband, the shadow secretary for energy security and net zero, who undoubtedly grasps reality more than his colleagues (as was the case with Alok Sharma and Chris Skidmore in the Tory years) — Labour announced in September 2021 a £28bn a year green investment pledge, but abandoned it in February this year, blaming the Tories for “crashing the economy.”

This was a convenient explanation, but what had clearly spooked Starmer more than anything else was a miserable campaign in July 2023 by cynical Tories and far-right, climate change-denying provocateurs in Uxbridge, in Boris Johnson’s old seat, to successfully defeat the Labour candidate in the by-election on the basis of a concocted froth of anger about the expansion of ULEZ (the ultra-low emission zone) introduced by London’s Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan, who, ironically, was only following Boris Johnson in implementing it, more or less as part of ongoing efforts in cities around the world to tackle the pollution caused by car drivers.

In response to the by-election loss, Starmer cynically turned on Khan, publicly calling on him to “reflect” on the impact of the ULEZ extension in what was nothing less than a pathetic and cowardly attack. It was a horrible sign of Starmer’s slipperiness — his absolute refusal to let any kind of principles stand in the way of perceived political expediency — and it was, sadly, no surprise that, having joined Sunak in his pea-brained defence of motorists’ “rights” (which then led to a full-blown repudiation by Sunak of Britain’s legally-binding commitment to net zero targets), the watering down of Labour’s green pledges soon followed.

Unsurprisingly, Starmer kept Ed Miliband under lock and key throughout most of the six-week election campaign, only letting him out on Monday this week (July 1) to make some woolly promises about “tak[ing] the lead on global efforts to tackle the climate crisis, filling a ‘vacuum of leadership’ on the world stage and proving Rishi Sunak’s U-turn on net zero has been a ‘historic mistake’”, and it remains to be seen if Starmer and Reeves can be persuaded to recognise that there is nothing more important than climate collapse.

Starmer’s dull but dangerous authoritarianism

One other reason for doubting that Starmer will seize the occasion involves another hideously draconian aspect of the recent years of Tory hysteria and authoritarianism — the assault on the right to protest, again initiated by Priti Patel and hammered home further by Suella Braverman, in which it has become almost impossible to engage in any kind of moderately disruptive climate protests — for example, stepping off a kerb to slow walk and slightly inconvenience traffic — without being arrested, and, in many cases, receiving a prison sentence.

In the last raft of super-draconian laws, Braverman made it “illegal to conspire to disrupt national infrastructure”, and, in the days before the election, numerous Just Stop Oil campaigners were arrested at a public meeting, and in their homes, on the basis of suspicions that they were planning to disrupt airports, even though, as I explained at the time, they are “only trying to raise awareness that we’re rapidly making the planet uninhabitable through our fossil fuel addiction”, and are not asking the government to do anything more than they promised to do at the UN’s Paris Summit in 2015, which aimed to keep the rise in temperatures since the industrial revolution to well below 2°C, and preferably 1.5°C, to keep the planet habitable, and whose commitments were meant to be legally binding.

Starmer has an opportunity to undo all of these outrageous assaults on the right to protest, but on this point, almost more than the catalogue of weaknesses outlined above, I fear that he will be particularly intransigent, because, before he became an MP and climbed the Labour Party hierarchy, waiting for his opportunity to assassinate Jeremy Corbyn, he was the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), essentially the country’s chief prosecutor, and he is deeply untrustworthy when it comes to civil liberties.

In 2011, when riots erupted across the country following the police assassination of Mark Duggan in Tottenham, Starmer presided over the subsequent response, hunting down everyone involved via CCTV and interrogations, and setting up night courts to prosecute them all as swiftly as possible — as I described in my song ‘Riot’, recorded with The Four Fathers, when I contrasted this response to the treatment of the bankers who crashed the global economy: “They hunted down those who stole a bottle of water while the bankers all walked free.”

As someone who has always, and will always celebrate the necessity of tolerating troublemakers as a hallmark of democracy, I’m particularly concerned by the “robust” but achingly dull authoritarianism that emanates from Starmer and Reeves, who strike me as the kind of tiresome law and order conformists who, while lacking the hysteria of Priti Patel and Suella Braverman, may well be even more punitive towards protest than their predecessors, without concerted opposition from civil liberties groups.

The blood of Gaza on Starmer’s hands

My last area of concern involves Britain’s foreign policy under Starmer. No one must ever forget that, despite being a human rights lawyer, Starmer is so infected by rabid Zionism that, just days after the deadly attacks by Hamas and other militants in Israel on October 7, 2023, he publicly declared, on a radio show, that Israel had the right to cut off food, water and fuel to the civilians of Gaza, even though that is very evidently a war crime. He later tried to back-pedal, even, absurdly, denying that he had said it, despite the incontrovertible evidence establishing otherwise, but it set the tone for his unforgivably uncritical support of Israel, honed over the long years of inventing an antisemitism scandal to topple Jeremy Corbyn, which, as noted above, has been so successful in promoting the false notion that criticism of the State of Israel is antisemitism that it has been used throughout the west, since October 7, to suppress any and all criticism of Israel, even as it engages in what is quite clearly the genocide of the Palestinian people.

Keir Starmer’s notorious defence of Israel’s “right” to to cut off food, water and fuel to the civilians of Gaza, even though that is very evidently a war crime, on a banner at a pro-Palestinian protest.

Yesterday, Starmer paid a price for his support for Israel’s genocide, as Labour lost four seats to pro-Palestinian candidates, and, as noted above, Andrew Feinstein seized a sizeable chunk of Starmer’s majority on a platform of condemning him for his complicity, but Labour under Starmer remains a deeply troubling haven for genocide apologists and collaborators, especially as so many of Starmer’s shadow cabinet, both the front bench and junior ministers, are members of the pro-Israel lobbying group Labour Friends of Israel.

In addition, Starmer’s Labour government are also, more generally, warmongers, fully committed to almost the only club left that Britain is a member of — NATO — which, to anyone not brainwashed by the relentless propaganda of the last two and a half years, provoked Russia into invading Ukraine in February 2022, and is now engaged in a confected revival of the Cold War in which war has once more become the main purpose of western European economies, paranoia is rampant, nuclear bunkers must be built, and Putin must, apparently, be crushed, even though that is impossible, even though the extent of the slaughter of Ukrainians in our proxy war is sickening, even though it risks nuclear annihilation and World War 3, and even though it is, frankly, none of our business to be trying to claim that we have the right to destroy entire countries just because we don’t like the way their leaders operate.

We should have learned this from the various illegal wars that followed the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, including our wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, but apparently we learn nothing from history, and are therefore doomed to repeat it, with Keir Starmer a fully paid-up member of this club of ignorant, self-righteous belligerence.

My apologies if this has been a roll-call of worries, rather than a simple celebration of  the end of 14 years of uniquely disastrous Tory rule, but I don’t live to provide comforting fairy tales, and I believe that being forewarned is to be forearmed. I fully suspect that Starmer and his government will face unrest if they don’t make and deliver some bold promises about genuinely transforming Britain for the better in the coming days and weeks, but I also believe that we need to know that they are deeply suspicious, dull, hectoring authoritarians, of the kind that interesting people have fled from throughout my entire life in search of something more rewarding.

We need courage now — shining, righteous courage — not miserable conformity and cowardice, and while I doubt that Starmer and his cabinet will be willingly brave, they need to wake up to the fact that they don’t have a choice. Bravery is the only option for the times we are living in, and that doesn’t involving mouthing empty soundbites about “growth” and “investment”, and trying to make sure that everyone who criticizes them from the left is silenced.

* * * * *

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer (of an ongoing photo-journalism project, ‘The State of London’), film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose music is available via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (see the ongoing photo campaign here) and the successful We Stand With Shaker campaign of 2014-15, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here, or you can watch it online here, via the production company Spectacle, for £2.50).

In 2017, Andy became very involved in housing issues. He is the narrator of the documentary film, ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’, about the destruction of council estates, and the inspiring resistance of residents, he wrote a song ‘Grenfell’, in the aftermath of the entirely preventable fire in June 2017 that killed over 70 people, and, in 2018, he was part of the occupation of the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden in Deptford, to try to prevent its destruction — and that of 16 structurally sound council flats next door — by Lewisham Council and Peabody.

Since 2019, Andy has become increasingly involved in environmental activism, recognizing that climate change poses an unprecedented threat to life on earth, and that the window for change — requiring a severe reduction in the emission of all greenhouse gases, and the dismantling of our suicidal global capitalist system — is rapidly shrinking, as tipping points are reached that are occurring much quicker than even pessimistic climate scientists expected. You can read his articles about the climate crisis here.

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, The Complete Guantánamo Files, the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

26 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    My analysis of yesterday’s General Election in the UK, which, after 14 years, swept aside the Tories, and ushered in a Labour government under Keir Starmer, with a huge but disproportionate majority that didn’t reflect the number of votes received (less than Jeremy Corbyn in 2017 and 2019), but rather the collapse of the Tories, finally undone after years of cruelty, incompetence and corruption, and facilitated by the sudden rise of Nigel Farage’s far-right Reform UK Party, which helpfully split the right-wing vote.

    Wonderful though it is to see the back of the Tories, and also to see noticeable successes for the Green Party, the Liberal Democrats, and a number of independents including Jeremy Corbyn, power is now in the hands of Starmer and his cabinet, including his Chancellor Rachel Reeves, who secured victory despite having almost no policies that distinguish them from the Tories.

    I discuss my many concerns, criticising Labour’s adherence to neoliberalism, and urging it to be bold on re-nationalisation (especially of water), and expressing my shock that Starmer has expressed such opposition to any kind of rapprochement with the EU, even though Brexit has done more to damage the UK than anything else over the last eight years, wrecking trade, and leading to a disgraceful rise in racism, which, in the hands of the Tories’ parade of leaders in the years since, led to a morally repugnant fixation on making it illegal to be a refugee, and seeking to send asylum seekers on a one-way trip to Rwanda.

    I hope this anti-immigrant hostility will be abandoned, and I also hope that other draconian Tory innovations — in particular, an attempt to ban all meaningful protest, through the criminalisation of climate activism — will be ditched, although on this particular point I fear that Starmer, as the former Director of Public Prosecutions, has troubling authoritarian impulses that may not augur well for civil liberties.

    I also urge boldness — true boldness — on climate collapse, and end by expressing my fears for foreign policy under Starmer, most noticeably because of his uncritical support for Israel and its ongoing and unforgivable genocide in Gaza.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Cathy Teesdale wrote:

    Sadly I fear the same. Good to see the Greens getting 4 seats (I wish it were 400) & JC rightfully holding onto his seat too, but oh boy the state we’re in!

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Cathy. Good to hear from you. I’m at least reassured that the absolute freak show of horror that was so much of the post-Brexit Tory years has gone, and that, at the very least, elements of the Labour establishment will be approachable, but it really is a uniquely challenging time for them to take power, and I’m really not sure that they have the necessary capacity as human beings to take it on. We have – what? – two years max before catastrophic climate change starts collapsing everything, and yet they just don’t seem to get it.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Tony Sleep wrote:

    I don’t think we’ll find out what Starmer’s Labour really is for maybe a year. It’ll take them that long to begin to excavate the wreckage. Everything so far has been sales pitch, aimed at displacing the Tories without frightening the horses. Personally I am not optimistic because the reality of Labour control of London councils and the GLA has been gruesome. But that can wait…
    Right now, where we are is as you say: because the Tories lost so spectacularly. But there is a reckoning there, which will continue to play out with destructive consequences.

    Since Cameron chose to appease the Eurosceptics and the UKIP threat with an advisory referendum, the Tories have charged off down the Brexit cul-de-sac of lies, wishful thinking and unrealistic promises. They divided the country into Brexit believers and sceptics. Now all the Tory Brexitists have gone, either left of their own accord or been dumped by the electorate. Cue Reform who have split what used to be the Tories, whom they view as traitors for not delivering on the fibs and fantasies. The split in the Tories is now a split in the UK.

    There’s a moral there somewhere, something like ‘don’t tell lies, you’ll only get in worse shit when you fail to deliver on the impossible’. But there is no admission of fault nor reconciliation in sight, and Starmer will continue to be held hostage by the dynamic. His constructive ambiguity only works in opposition. And that is the reality that Labour have inherited – not just over Brexit, but net zero, immigration, public services, etc etc etc. And let’s not forget what the left does best: fighting each other over canonical righteousness and forgetting all about the proletarian cannon-fodder.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Good to hear from you, Tony, and thanks for your thoughts. I wonder if the public will give them that much leeway. A year is a long time to keep deferring action when everything is so broken. Having said that, this evening we’re all feeling a bit weirdly relaxed round at mine now that, suddenly, the monstrously negative monsters conjured up by Brexit are no longer in office. It’s been such a long time that we’ve had to put up with menacing psychopaths.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Natalia Rivera Scott wrote:

    I don’t know a lot about UK politics, only the things that had to do with Julian’s imprisonment, but I know it’s been hard these past years and how painful it is to see your county suffer or enraging when people vote against it … like here.

    I hope better days come for the UK, as better days are definitely not coming for my country.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    I hope so too, Natalia, but it will only happen with massive redistribution and a proper green awakening, and I’m not sure most non-revolutionary human beings (which would include all, or almost all politicians) are even capable of understanding that.

    But at least we have a bit of time. We’re getting so much rain that we’re massively losing crops, but we should be able to adapt. It’s much more alarming to be suffering heatwaves and droughts and – from what I hear – the prospect of imminent and extremely severe water shortages for the whole of Mexico City. Are you OK?

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Natalia Rivera Scott wrote:

    It’s been worsened in the news, Andy. We have water, but we are too many and people don’t care about taking care of the water, saving water. We don’t have eco friendly culture … we will all run out of water in the future and it’s very anguishing and frightening. Thank you for asking, Andy.

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    I’d been meaning to ask since I saw the stories last week, Natalia. I’m glad to hear that the siuation is somewhat exaggerated, but not that there’s no vision to resolve it. It seems pretty clear to me that, in the west, governments don’t really care about the death tolls in the rest of the world, although they will care when their food supplies are threatened.

    I do, however, feel that some serious awareness is growing in the west. Here in my part of London, I don’t know anyone who didn’t vote Green, especially all the young people, and I simply can’t see that a new government pretending that climate collapse – and Gaza – aren’t significant is tenable.

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Natalia Rivera Scott wrote:

    Andy, well, here the new president has always sold herself as a climate scientist, but in 6 years as governor of the capital and mayor before she did absolutely nothing for the environment. The party’s policy is not believing in clean energies … the majority of people vote for this party so it’s very hopeless and sad.

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, I saw the media all queuing up to rave about the significance of a climate scientist being elected, Natalia, but without seeming to acknowledge that, even with good intentions, political leadership is often a straitjacket, as “pragmatic” realities prevent any kind of bold action.

    I am so sorry that the climate predicament is so grave in countries that face such an uphill struggle to mobilise the people. I know it’s bad everywhere, but at least in Europe the hope still remains that some government somewhere might be persuaded to take the leap into the possibilities of a post-fossil fuel future. It would genuinely be transformational, but all I see in general is that, when radical change is embraced, it’s only via far-right monsters like Javier Milei in Argentina, or Trump in the US.

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Nick Jewitt wrote:

    Agree with all your perspectives Andy – thanks.

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you so much, Nick. I’m grateful that my concerns had some resonance for you. Hopefully, Starmer’s Labour will recognise the necessity of engaging meaningfully with those demanding drastic change, but I’m deeply troubled by what, above all, appears to be their dull rigidity. They are timid, at a time when the very last thing we need is timidity.

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    Pam Hardy wrote:

    Thanks, Andy, am feeling more marooned in the Atlantic as a truly unprincipled isle that has no way to tether itself to the human race.

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    I completely understand, Pam, although I do feel that getting rid of the Tories has at least bucked the trend of the general far-right drift in the west, although only because, for eight years, since Brexit, we’ve had to suffer the far-right in power, with the most abominably cruel and arrogant people, as ministers, using Brexit as an excuse for institutionalised inhumanity.

    The big questions now, however, are how much this post-Brexit cruelty and indifference has permeated Starmer’s Labour Party, and how much it can be resisted. Although the Rwanda plan has gone, and we’ll hopefully see the closure of the Bibby Stockholm, there’s little other reason for good cheer with a genocidal, pro-NATO Zionist in charge, and with not even a murmur from Starmer yesterday, during his dull opening speech to the nation, of climate collapse.

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    A good analysis by Owen Jones of the significance of the revolt against Labour by the left and the young, focusing on the victories by the Greens, by Jeremy Corbyn, and by other independents:

    I was particularly taken by his analysis of Carla Denyer’s victory in Bristol Central: “As one local journalist reported, Labour threw ‘the absolute kitchen sink’ at Bristol Central because it feared that if the Greens won there, it would set an example that other voters would follow at the next general election. Look to the dozens of seats in which the Greens came second behind Labour. These are largely urban areas with often diverse and young voters. Many of them are private renters, with a high proportion saddled with student debt, many in insecure work. The Greens came a solid second in Bristol’s other four seats, with more than 14,000 votes in Bristol East. They were runners-up, too, in seats in London, Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester, Merseyside and Cardiff.”

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    Excellent analysis by the Electoral Reform Society of what this Parliament would look like with a fair distribution of seats via PR: Labour with 236 seats instead of 411, the Greens with 42 seats instead of 4, the Lib Dems with 77 seats rather than 71, and the government as a coalition between Labour , the Lib Dems and the Greens. Yes, Reform would have 94 seats and the Tories would have 157, but they wouldn’t be in the majority, and we can safely bet that most of those Reform MPs would end up discredited.

  18. Andy Worthington says...

    Genuinely surprising and positive news, as Keir Starmer appoints the respected international human rights lawyer Richard Hermer KC as Attorney General, who has a history of being critical of Israel’s occupation. Unlike Starmer, in October Hermer told LBC that Israel’s siege on electricity, water and food in Gaza was almost certainly in breach of international law. As he described it, “Sieges, per se, of military personnel might not be contrary to international law, but it is almost impossible to conceive of how a siege that deprives a civilian population of the basic necessities of life is in compliance with international law.”

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    More genuinely surprising and positive news, as Keir Starmer appoints James Timpson, the businessman known for rehabilitating former prisoners, as the new minister for prisons, parole and probation. As Clive Stafford Smith says, “Timpson has spoken more sense about prisons in the last 24 hours than the Tories have in the last 14 years.”

  20. Andy Worthington says...

    Cathy Teesdale wrote, in response to 3, above:

    I agree Andy, where’s the vision, and integrity, and we’re fast running out of time and simply can’t afford any more rearranging of deckchairs on the Titanic.

  21. Andy Worthington says...

    Climate change will be their biggest test, Cathy. Otherwise, as you say, it’s all rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic. However, we can at least be reassured now that ministers’ doors are open to climate scientists rather than the Tufton Street climate change deniers who had so clearly captured the Brexit Tories.

    This from the Guardian yesterday:

  22. Andy Worthington says...

    Asif Rana wrote, in response to 18, above:

    Andy, let’s see.

  23. Andy Worthington says...

    Absolutely, Asif. It means nothing unless Starmer solicits and accepts Richard Hermer’s legal opinions about Israel’s behaviour over the last nine months, but it’s impossible not to be struck by the appointment of someone who so clearly not only articulated the correct view of Israel’s actions the week after October 7, but did so in direct contravention of the irresponsible and legally wrong position taken by Starmer himself at the same time. It therefore appears very much to be a mea culpa on Starmer’s part, but, as I say, that won’t mean anything unless Starmer directly solicits and accepts advice from Hermer that leads him to publicly state his opposition, on legal grounds, to what Israel has been doing.

  24. Andy Worthington says...

    Cathy Teesdale wrote:

    Could KS really be a Trojan horse with lots of surprising goodies inside? There didn’t seem much evidence before, with all the flip-flopping, authoritarianism, neoliberalism etc. But I’d so love it if that was all just a canny ruse to get elected & he swiftly flips over to the good 🤞🏼🙏🏼
    Thanks for sharing those 2 bits of surprising good news – cheering!

  25. Andy Worthington says...

    It’s so hard to know, isn’t it, Cathy, but the news of those two appointments yesterday surprised me so pleasantly that it was like a door opening that I hadn’t considered before. I’m sure there’ll be disappointments ahead, but it’s definitely already reassuring that this is a serious government that wants to make some genuine effort towards improvement.

    Suddenly, as well as the Tories instantly receding into irrelevance, all of Starmer’s flip-flopping, the antisemitic witch hunt and the authoritarianism can be seen as the means to an end, and all that counts now is what they actually say and do on a daily basis from now on. I suddenly at least find myself prepared to be pleasantly surprised, and to view Starmer less as someone fundamentally untrustworthy, and more as a serious man who wants to make a genuine difference.

  26. Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, John Helmer, Andy Worthington July 9/10, 2024 - Gorilla Radio is dedicated to social justice, the environment, community, and providing a forum for people and issues not covered in the corporate media. says...

    […] Andy Worthington is an English journalist, activist, author, photo-historian, filmmaker, musician, song-writer and principle of The Four Fathers band. His book titles include: ‘The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison’, ‘Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion’, and ‘The Battle of the Beanfield’. Andy’s articles appear at his website,, where I found his latest, ‘Despite the Landslide, Labour Have No Vision and Only Won the UK General Election Because the…‘. […]

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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