The Spectre of Starmer Keeps Haunting Me

The sinister and cynical careerist who seems to have haunted me for years is about to make the UK even more vulnerable to fascist takeover.

The Spectre of Starmer Keeps Haunting Me

The UK general election is looming: it takes place on July 4th, to be exact.

By the early hours of July 5th, as the results become apparent, British establishment media coverage will offer us presenters and pundits who, with clipped enunciation, declare this a rousing victory for Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour party, and a vindication for his group within Labour who spent so many years opposing Jeremy Corbyn's Scandinavian-style social democracy, which will be announced as well and truly dead and buried; a "failed experiment" that, we will be told, proved unpopular; too left-wing; too radical and unrealistic. Politicians appearing on networks will confirm that Labour has moved out of the "dark days" of Corbynism and electoral "wilderness," into a bright future of better days in Britain, with change afoot.

No mention will be given to the fact that - in defiance of the "expert" establishment - Corbyn was selected as Labour leader by party members in a landslide in 2015 and, in just two years - again in defiance of establishment "experts" - had led the party to a 2017 election result that presented Britain with the biggest swing to Labour since the Second World War (and this was after his peers had unsuccessfully tried to oust him within that time, constantly sabotaged his tenure, and smeared him in the media). No mention will be made of the fact that one of those who undermined Corbyn was Starmer, whose European Union "remainer" politics is what polluted the party's culture and conference, where Corbyn himself retained such a naive, almost endearing yet ultimately fatal faith in the party political democracy that made him leader (twice) that he effectively overshadowed his populist and progressive policies with, instead, promises of convoluted democratic processes about the EU in contrast to Conservative leader Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson's simple vow to "Get Brexit Done" in the run-up to another general election, in 2019.

That, in 2019, was the only significant shift from the Corbynism that was about a fortnight away from taking power two years before, in 2017, and it is what sealed its fate (alongside the effective exploitation of anti-fascist, anti-racist Corbyn's longtime support for Palestine to sickeningly weaponise antisemitism in a smear campaign aided and abetted by an establishment media whose phones were taken by Johnson, an actual anti-Semite allowed to hide in plain sight the whole time).

As we know, Johnson beat Corbyn with little difficulty - the latter's previously-reinforced "Red Wall" was bulldozed, and we also know what followed: the Covid-19 pandemic where Conservatives were prepared to let people die for continued profits, gifted Covid contracts to friends to further fill their coffers, gaslit the public with precautions they themselves flouted (increasing confusion and conspiracy theories in the process), rebranded unfettered capitalism as The Cost of Living Crisis™ (much like they had with The Credit Crunch™ as though these are natural occurrences they have no control over), and ramped up a racist police state and attack on civil liberties, leaving those "Red Wall" voters who had apparently suffered party political amnesia and voted Conservative, for the first time in many cases, shocked (shocked!) that Tory politicians could ever behave this way in power. And few have apologised, or taken any responsibility for, their voting choice then, and what it did to Britain in opposition to Corbyn's progressive policies that were promising much-needed positive change beyond that Brexit smokescreen.

A white man in a white shirt, sleeves rolled up, wearing glasses and clip mic, gesturing with hands.
Owen Smith.

Meanwhile, the careerist professional politicians in Labour who rued the day Jeremy Corbyn was ever even on the ballot for leadership as part of their traditional "pity lay" for leftists in the party - and had in 2016 unsuccessfully attempted to oust the members' choice with former Pfizer lobbyist Owen Smith, backfiring spectacularly and resulting in the largest leadership election majority of any Labour leader in history for Corbyn - finally, finally, got their man: establishment darling Sir Keir Starmer.

A white man in a white shirt, sleeves rolled up, wearing glasses and clip mic, gesturing with hands.
Owen Smith again? Actually, it's Sir Keir Starmer.

With Corbynism out of the way (with no formal successor to Corbyn made clear or inspiring the membership), more Labour members voted for nobody than for Starmer, who still attempted to co-opt elements of Corbynism just enough to convince a few, and scrape through. But I knew of him long before this. I knew who he really was. And it haunted me for long enough.

While Starmer was making a name for himself with the McLibel documentary, I was busy making guerrilla documentaries challenging the Blairism he so admires, the invasion of Iraq, and the attack on civil liberties, including the terrible murder of the innocent Jean Charles de Menezes by police forces who Starmer, as Director of Public Prosecutions, chose not to prosecute. Then, a few years later, I was part of the G20 protests in London, where innocent bystander Ian Tomlinson was assaulted by police just a few feet from me, and died. While in London, I not only attended the peaceful vigil for him, but I would also visit the memorial for Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell tube station, wondering who Starmer was courting favour with to allow such acts to be excused. Little did I know that Starmer, as Director of Public Prosecutions, would also reject calls to convict the policeman who killed Ian Tomlinson.

A person in a pinstripe jacket with pin badges and dark glasses, in front of the Jean Charles de Menezes memorial

Starmer would continue to rear his ugly head, haunting me - but haunting the lives of others far more.

To capture footage and interviews for my documentaries, I frequently flew out of the airport nearest to me: the ill-fated Robin Hood Airport. As humble as it was, it made headlines after one disgruntled passenger, Paul Chambers, joked on Twitter about blowing up the place for being closed, resulting in his arrest by anti-terror police at his place of work; his house searched; his mobile phone, laptop and desktop hard drive confiscated; his job terminated - despite airport personnel themselves clearly taking it as a distasteful joke rather than a credible threat (famous comedians even rallied in support for him; Stephen Fry offered to cover his legal expenses). Sources told The Guardian that staff at the Crown Prosecution Service had been in favour of dropping the case, to the point of informing Paul Chambers - via his solicitor - that they would not oppose the final appeal, but had then been overruled by the Director of Public Prosecutions: Sir Keir Starmer. Admin and finance supervisors at car parts companies like Paul Chambers seemed to be worthy targets of anti-terror police forces, while the far right continue to promote hate and assassinate politicians.

A woman with fair hair amongst protesters outside a prison.
Kate Wilson being interviewed by me under the name of "Jane."

As part of my documentary filmmaking on Blair's Britain, I turned attention to the disgrace of detention centres, interviewing activists demonstrating outside Lindholme Prison (at the time detaining immigrants) in Doncaster, with one activist speaking to me about their campaign, under the pseudonym "Jane." Years later, I was astonished to see her - by her real name Kate Wilson - on news reports that she was sickeningly deceived into a relationship by one Mark Kennedy, who was an undercover police officer (one of many infiltrating left-wing groups). Amidst this "Spycops" scandal, Starmer ordered his MPs to abstain on the Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill that promised to allow public authorities, including MI5 and the Home Office, to authorise agents and informants to commit crimes while undercover, including murder, torture, and sexual violence. (Corbyn was one of thirty-four Labour MPs to defy Starmer's order.)

A woman with fair hair outside a courthouse flanked by activists holding banners.
Kate Wilson campaigning against "Spycops."

Of course, this is aside from Starmer's regular day-to-day track record, like wanting to utilise the Fraud Act against the tiny minority who wrongly claimed social security payments so that they could be thrown in prison for ten years. Now, as he's headed into No. 10 Downing Street, Starmer has written for The Telegraph (or "Torygraph" as it has been known), to further condemn social security as "handouts from the state" that lack "dignity," while himself claiming vast amounts of expenses and freebies that amount to more than all other Labour leaders since 1997 combined.

Labour Means Business: Business as Usual

They've successfully smeared and purged leftists from their party, thrown out the pledges Starmer used to seize the leadership, and further courted favour with the capitalist class. After all, what those now in full control of the Labour party wanted was a shift - away from Corbynism's mass mobilisation of the working class that filled town squares and stadiums in their thousands for his rallies; away from the lines outside polling stations never before seen, of inspired young people voting for something: a genuine alternative to the capitalist status quo. Starmer and his allies hated that, even feared it. They prefer a lower turnout (where the working class are uninspired, leaving a smaller minority of conservative voters to fight over) and/or a reversal, to the politics defined by 2020: elections driven by desires to cynically vote against someone, rather than for something. They prefer this, because it reduces choices back to the "lesser of evils" and revolving-door state politics, where power always wins and, importantly, capitalism continues with its evils, lesser or otherwise.

One only has to glance at polls, for what they're worth. This election is not about support for Starmer, or his ideas (what few he dares to reveal certainly do not inspire an electorate faced with an ongoing pandemic, a strained and de-funded National Health Service, a punishing cost of living, and a climate crisis, to name a few monumental issues). The British population either loathed the Tories, or wanted to "Get Brexit Done" with no comprehension of what Tory policy would be beyond Brexit and are now embarrassed to admit it. Now, it seems like everyone you speak with wants the Tories out of power. "Tories Out" is the new "Get Brexit Done," that sole mantra of the Tories at the last election that effectively drowned out Corbyn's impressive and costed manifesto. The tragic irony of this is that a significant amount of the electorate who did vote Tory to "Get Brexit Done" haven't enjoyed much the Tories have actually done, including Brexit itself getting done, and despite their perceived victorious switching of their masters "away from Brussels and instead to Westminster," as desired, have learned little and are now prepared to switch back from Pepsi-Cola to Coca-Cola but what they'll end up with...will still be cola. It's bad for us.

And this is what is so scary about this spectre.

Like Barack Obama's failure to actually deliver "change" contributed to the rise of Donald Trump as Obama's people ensured Bernie Sanders and The Squad were sidelined, Sir Keir Starmer's false claims to deliver "change" has the potential to be absolutely devastating for the UK. With the left-leaning alternatives all but destroyed, fascist Nigel Farage - likely to finally become an MP at the eighth attempt, after years of platforming by an establishment media craving controversial click-bait to increase revenue - will be presented as the only alternative to "Labour/Tory, Same Old Story." Farage's Reform party are holding increasing influence on a Conservative party in turmoil and on the brink of disastrous defeat, and Farage is poised to exploit this opening. Nothing will fundamentally change under Labour. Austerity will continue, the cost of living will become unbearable, and the culture wars will be reignited. Starmer, then, will likely lead to Farage actually entering and occupying No. 10 Downing Street.

If the defeat of Corbynism that the establishment will celebrate at the end of the week has taught us anything, it is that this is a rigged game. Late capitalism will inevitably turn towards authoritarianism to sustain its system of supposedly endless profits, endless growth, endless extraction of resources, no "leader" can save us, and no state can liberate the people, since it inherently retains power over us through the illusion of "representative democracy," a contradiction in terms. Only through direct democracy - where we literally decide things for ourselves - can we achieve positive change; grassroots movements, mutual aid, and organising through horizontal methods, rejecting hierarchy, are crucial.

To vote is to take part in this rigged game - as the capitalists wish us to, in order to maintain the circus events of election coverage and televised political debates; the illusion of choice. Our participation is preferred in order to continue to legitimise their system, and keep the machine running. It also consumes our time, our energy, our thoughts; it takes us away from organising in our communities and creating genuine change from the ground up. Our thoughts, and our energies, are precious and powerful. The spectres haunt us, looming all around the world, and our time is running out. We'd better get busy organising. Now.