Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Keir Starmer, “Victory of the Thermidorian reaction” or the best candidate, whose stand for unity is based on left-wing values?

with 6 comments

Starmer appeals to “a broad set of left-wing values”.

Keir Starmer, at present the front-runner in the Labour Leadership contest, has got both support and criticism.

The Daily Mail, New Left Review, the Express, Counterfire, the Morning Star, are hostile to the MP for Holborn and St Pancras.

In an often interesting interview about the future of Labour for a Socialist Europe Urte Macikene of Red Flag nevertheless says,

If Long-Bailey is elected, it will be as the continuation of the rightwards moving trajectory of compromise and conciliation, whereas Starmer represents the victory of the Thermidorian reaction.

Despite often vitriolic criticism from those who claim the Corbyn mantle it is no secret that some on the radical left back Keir Starmer.

It is hard to beat Paul’s summary.

Starmer’s appeal is across the Party.

Steven Bush, in the New Statesman,  sums up why Labour supporters are moving towards Keir Starmer.

One of the many mistakes in analysing the Labour membership, both in a derogatory fashion by Corbynsceptics and in a triumphalist one by Corbynites, has been to see the average Labour member as ideologically committed or particularly cult-like. The average Labour member is not that ideological. They have a broad set of left-wing values, but they are not committed to any particular strand of Labour thought.”

These are his values,

In the latest twist  in the campaign Rebecca Long Bailey is reported saying this,

Rebecca Long-Bailey praises Tony Blair’s record on education and criticises Jeremy Corbyn’s election campaign

The ‘I’.

Seen as the most left-wing contender for the leadership, Rebecca Long-Bailey is trying to win over centrist activists

Labour leadership contender Rebecca Long-Bailey on Wednesday night praised Tony Blair and criticised Jeremy Corbyn’s election campaign in a pitch to win over centrist activists.

The pro-Corbyn shadow Business Secretary broke with the hard left as she celebrated New Labour’s record on education and said the outgoing leader had tried to be a “knight in shining armour”.

Asked what she admired about Mr Blair, Ms Long-Bailey told ITV’s Peston talk show: “One of the main mantras was about education and it was about aspiring and achieving in society, and certainly that’s the legacy that his government left.”

Ms Long-Bailey spoke about how she felt in the lead up to the election result: “I think perhaps I didn’t want to believe that it was going to be as bad as it was, but certainly on election night I was stood in my kitchen with my husband and my mum and dad had come round to look after my little boy before we went to the count, and I saw the numbers come up on the screen and it was literally as if somebody had pulled the ground away from under me. And I know that many of our members and MPs felt the same.”

She also refused to back a call from Richard Burgon, a candidate for deputy leader, to give Labour members a vote every time the Government is considering whether to go to war. She said: “It’s interesting, I’ve not seen the details of that yet… Clearly in matters of war decisions have to be taken very quickly.”

The Salford MP is seen as the most left-wing contender for the leadership but is trying to set out a “big tent” approach to unite the party.

One of the best critical summaries of the merits and otherwise, of the candidates, is offered by Workers’ Liberty, in Solidarity,

Rebecca Long-Bailey has challenged the other candidates to support the commitments to public ownership in the 2019 manifesto. Richard Burgon has argued for a new pro-public ownership Clause IV in the party constitution.

Keir Starmer has backed the 2019 manifesto’s plans for higher taxes on the rich and come out for re-establishing UK-EU free movement. Dawn Butler has written in the Guardian about scrapping anti-trade union laws, though on inspection what she means is pretty fuzzy.

Even rising challenger Lisa Nandy, who some see as the most plausible leadership candidate for a right-wing reaction in the party, has made mostly left-wing arguments. She was the first candidate to defend free movement.

Evidently wanting to move away from her “Leader’s Office continuity” image, Long-Bailey has said that she would widen the range of the Shadow Cabinet (presumably meaning she would bring in figures like Yvette Cooper).

The Labour leader elections continue to be muddy politically.

There are no standouts left candidates, certainly not ones without major problems politically. Workers’ Liberty conference voted by a big margin to back no candidate for leader, not yet anyway, and that still seems right to me.

We decided to quiz and press candidates on the fundamental question of democratising the party. Long-Bailey and Burgon have come out for “open selection” of MPs, but that’s pretty much it. Long-Bailey has made comments on paper about the compositing process at Labour conference which strongly implied she wanted to prevent delegates being stroppy about policy and causing difficulties for the leadership.

All of them talk as if policy is and should be something declared by the leader from on high. The idea of respecting and carrying out what conference decides, the notion that the party should controlled by its members, seems to be on the radar of none.

This still leaves the fact that Keir Starmer is  for many people in the Labour Party, including sections of the left, the best candidate, whose stand for unity is based on left-wing values.



Written by Andrew Coates

February 7, 2020 at 1:01 pm

6 Responses

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  1. I do not offer views on whether the Peoples Kier offers us a “Thermodorian” reaction, but it does make me think he has somewhat of the pinkish complexion of a freshly served lobster…..

    David Walsh

    February 8, 2020 at 9:25 am

  2. Because I’m not a Marxist, because it doesn’t work, what exactly is Thermodorian reaction?

    Dave Roberts

    February 8, 2020 at 11:53 am

    • For most people Thermidor is the date when the Terror ended during the French Revolution.

      For Trotskyists it’s the time when Stalin gained complete power in the 1920s.

      “THe Thermidorian Reaction, Revolution of Thermidor, or simply Thermidor refers to the coup of 9 Thermidor (27 July 1794) in which the Committee of Public Safety led by Maximilien Robespierre was sidelined and its leaders arrested and guillotined, resulting in the end of the Reign of Terror. The new regime, known as The Directory, introduced more conservative policies aimed at stabilizing the revolutionary government.

      Consequently, for historians of revolutionary movements, the term Thermidor has come to mean the phase in some revolutions when the political pendulum swings back towards something resembling a pre-revolutionary state, and power slips from the hands of the original revolutionary leadership. Leon Trotsky, in his book The Revolution Betrayed, refers to the rise of Joseph Stalin and the accompanying post-revolutionary bureaucracy as the “Soviet Thermidor”.”

      Andrew Coates

      February 8, 2020 at 1:01 pm

  3. As somebody born in this constituency I can only rejoice:

    Andrew Coates

    February 8, 2020 at 5:24 pm

  4. He’s leader already?

    Dave Roberts

    February 8, 2020 at 8:43 pm

  5. I thought lefties didn’t believe in leaders?

    Steven Johnston

    February 10, 2020 at 10:08 am

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