The cowardice of Keir Starmer

Keir Starmer is a coward. During Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday Starmer had six questions for Rishi Sunak, not one of which related to the topic which dominates the news headlines and which it’s no exaggeration to say threatens the outbreak of actual world war three. But it still wasn’t important enough for Starmer to raise the matter at PMQs, because what is truly, really important and the sole priority for Labour’s dissembling and spineless leader is that at all costs he avoids the right wing media saying unkind things about him in case that prejudices his chances of winning the next Westminster general election.

There’s a very consistent pattern with Starmer. He is ruthless in one respect, absolutely any policy or position that opens him up to criticism from the right is dropped more quickly than you can say Keir Starmer is a shameless charlatan. I’ve lost count now of all the policies that Starmer has done a U-turn on. He’s dropped the commitment to abolish the hideously cruel two child benefit cap. He’s backtracked on Labour’s environmental promises. He’s scrapped his promise to nationalise the rail and water companies in England, those in Scotland are already publicly owned. Gone is the commitment to nationalise the profiteering energy companies. You can forget about the abolition of the House of Lords, and the federalism which way back in 2014 Gordon Brown vowed was on the cards. There will be no taxes rises on the wealthy and Labour says it will allow any development of new oil and gas fields authorised by the Tories to go ahead. Yet Labour could stop those right now simply by saying that it would block them once it gets into power. This would make the energy companies think twice about investing millions in projects that would be prevented from ever turning a profit.

On Wednesday there was news of yet another betrayal. Starmer has U-turned on his previous commitment to introduce a Scottish style right to roam in England following criticism of the plan from landowners’ groups and the right wing Countryside Alliance, the group which believes that the only people with the right to use the countryside are middle class Ruperts with shotguns looking to blow buggery out of the local wildlife. It’s official, Keir Starmer and his increasingly misnamed Labour party have aligned themselves with the upper middle class Get Orf My Land brigade who are determined to keep the English countryside free from working class types who can’t afford an Aga and a Land rover.

Starmer’s terror of being labelled even vaguely left wing is fully on display in his mendacious and spineless response to the current crisis in the Middle East. He merely joins in the chorus of those who say that Israel has a right to defend itself whenever anyone points out the worsening humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza where over 6,500 Palestinians have now been killed in the Israeli bombardment of the blockaded territory which is rapidly running out of fuel, food and water and where innocent civilians caught up in the violence have nowhere to hide or to run to.

Of course Israel has the right to defend itself, no one is saying it doesn’t. The point however is that no state has the right to defend itself from those who commit crimes against humanity by committing war crimes of its own. This remains true even when the state’s citizens have suffered a cruel and horrific terrorist attack. The attack by Hamas on Israeli citizens was indeed dreadfully cruel and horrific and cannot be justified no matter how egregious the provocation. But that still does not give Israel the right to break international law in response.

No less a person than the UN secretary-general, António Guterres has described Israel’s bombardment and blockade of the Gaza Strip as “collective punishment of the Palestinian people” and as such are “clear violations of international humanitarian law”. Israel has the right to defend itself, but it does not have the right to inflict collective punishment on Palestinian civilians or to violate international law. To do so merely continues the hideous cycle of hate and retribution and drives even more Palestinians into the arms of Hamas or Islamic Jihad, virtually guaranteeing new generations filled with hatred who seek vengeance.

Starmer’s failure to address this escalating cycle of hate is a dismal failure of moral and political leadership. He was previously recorded saying during an interview with LBC that Israel had the right to withhold power and water from Gaza and has spent the days since denying that he meant what we all heard him say. He was then accused by furious leaders of a Cardiff mosque of “gravely misrepresenting” a meeting with them at the weekend and using photos of the visit to distract from the remarks he made to LBC.

He has also issued a diktat to local Labour constituency parties forbidding them from even discussing the current crisis. Starmer is more afraid of right wing criticism than he is of World War III. He will not even call on all parties to the conflict to agree to an immediate ceasefire. He will only do so when the Americans do so first.

All Starmer can bring himself to say is: “It’s clear that the amount of aid and essential utilities getting into Gaza is completely insufficient to meet the humanitarian emergency on the ground.” No shit, Sherlock.

Starmer is now facing a growing rebellion within his own party. some 25 Labour councillors hasve resigned from the party in the past fortnight. In addition 15 Labour party officials in Scotland have resigned in protest and now over 150 Muslim Labour councillors have come together to demand that the party’s leadership calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

Shebab Khan, a political correspondent for ITV news has claimed on Twitter that multiple Labour MPs are telling him that a couple of shadow cabinet members are considering resigning over Keir Starmer’s handling of the Gaza situation.

There is likely to be 18 months of a Starmer government between the next Westminster general election and the following Scottish Parliament election. He has already been revealed as a liar and a coward who panders to the basest right wing prejudices while wrapping himself in a British flag. Tony Blair managed to hide his moral bankruptcy before he was elected. Starmer can’t even do that much, and he will have nowhere to hide once in power. He is a godsend to the Scottish independence movement. Any Labour revival in Scotland will be very short lived indeed.



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