Saturday 10th of June 2023

keir starmer has returned western imperialism to the core of UK labour policy……..

Two years in, the Labour leader’s war on the left has shifted to ideological tests that even Pope Francis and Amnesty International would fail

Middle East Eye – 16 May 2022

The local authority election results earlier this month in the UK were as bleak as expected for Boris Johnson’s government, with the electorate ready to punish the ruling party both for its glaring corruption and rocketing high-street prices.


BY Jonathan Cook


A few weeks earlier, the police fined Johnson – the first of several such penalties he is expected to receive – for attending a series of parties that broke the very lockdown rules his own government set. And the election took place as news broke that the UK would soon face recession and the highest inflation rate for decades.

In the circumstances, one might have assumed the opposition Labour Party under Keir Starmer would romp home, riding a wave of popular anger. But in reality, Starmer’s party fared little better than Johnson’s. Outside London, Labour was described as “treading water” across much of England.

Starmer is now two years into his leadership and has yet to make a significant mark politically. Labour staff are cheered that in opinion polls the party is finally ahead – if marginally – of Johnson’s Tories. Nonetheless, the public remains adamant that Starmer does not look like a prime minister in waiting.

That may be in large part because he rarely tries to land a blow against a government publicly floundering in its own corruption.

When Johnson came close to being brought down at the start of the year, as the so-called “partygate scandal” erupted with full force, it was not through Labour’s efforts. It was because of relentless leaks presumed to be from Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s former adviser turned nemesis.

Starmer has been equally incapable of cashing in on the current mutinous rumblings against Johnson from within his own Tory ranks.

Self-inflicted wounds

Starmer’s ineffectualness seems entirely self-inflicted.

In part, that is because his ambitions are so low. He has been crafting policies to look more like a Tory-lite party that focuses on “the flag, veterans [and] dressing smartly”, as an internal Labour review recommended last year.

But equally significantly, he has made it obvious he sees his first duty not to battle for control of the national political terrain against Johnson’s government, but to expend his energies on waging what is becoming a permanent internal war on sections of his own party.

That has required gutting Labour of large parts of the membership that were attracted by his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn, a democratic socialist who spent his career emphasising the politics of anti-racism and anti-imperialism.

To distance himself from Corbyn, Starmer has insisted on the polar opposites. He has been allying ever more closely with Israel, just as a new consensus has emerged in the human rights community that Israel is a racist, apartheid state

And he has demanded unquestioning loyalty to Nato, just as the western military alliance pours weapons into Ukraine, in what looks to be rapidly becoming a cynical proxy war, dissuading both sides from seeking a peace agreement and contributing to a surge in the stock price of the West’s military industries.

Broken promises

Starmer’s direction of travel flies in the face of promises he made during the 2020 leadership election that he would heal the internal divisions that beset his predecessor’s tenure.

Corbyn, who was the choice of the party’s largely left-wing members in 2015, immediately found himself in a head-on collision with the dominant faction of right-wing MPs in the Labour parliamentary caucus as well as the permanent staff at head office.

Once leader, Starmer lost no time in stripping Corbyn of his position as a Labour MP. He cited as justification Corbyn’s refusal to accept evidence-free allegations of antisemitism against the party under his leadership that had been loudly amplified by an openly hostile media. 

Corbyn had suffered from a years-long campaign, led by pro-Israel lobby groups and the media, suggesting his criticisms of Israel for oppressing the Palestinian people were tantamount to hatred of Jews. A new definition of antisemitism focusing on Israel was imposed on the party to breathe life into such allegations.

But the damage was caused not just by Labour’s enemies. Corbyn was actively undermined from within. A leaked internal report highlighted emails demonstrating that party staff had constantly plotted against him and even worked to throw the 2017 election, when Corbyn was just a few thousand votes short of winning. 

With Brexit thrown into the mix at the 2019 election – stoking a strong nativist mood in the UK – Corbyn suffered a decisive defeat at Johnson’s hands.

But as leader, Starmer did not use the leaked report as an opportunity to reinforce party democracy, as many members expected. In fact, he reinstated some of the central protagonists exposed in the report, even apparently contemplating one of them for the position of Labour general secretary.

He also brought in advisers closely associated with former leader Tony Blair, who turned Labour decisively rightwards through the late 1990s and launched with the US an illegal war on Iraq in 2003.

Instead, Starmer went after the left-wing membership, finding any pretext – and any means, however draconian – to finish the job begun by the saboteurs.

He has rarely taken a break from hounding the left-wing membership, even if a permanent turf war has detracted from the more pressing need to concentrate on the Tory government’s obvious failings.

Flooded with arms

Starmer’s flame-war against the left has become so extreme that, as some critics have pointed out, both Pope Francis and Amnesty International would face expulsion from Starmer’s Labour Party were they members.

The pope is among a growing number of observers expressing doubts about the ever-more explicit intervention by the US and its Nato allies in Ukraine that seems designed to drag out the war, and raise the death toll, rather than advance peace talks.

In fact, recent views expressed by officials in Washington risk giving credence to the original claims made by Russian President Vladimir Putin justifying his illegal invasion of Ukraine in late February.

Before that invasion, Moscow officials had characterised Nato’s aggressive expansion across Eastern Europe following the fall of the Soviet Union, and its cosying up to Ukraine, as an “existential threat”. Russia even warned that it might use nuclear weapons if they were seen as necessary for its defence.

The Kremlin’s reasons for concern cannot be entirely discounted. Two Minsk peace accords intended to defuse a bloody eight-year civil war between Ukrainian ultra-nationalists and ethnic Russian communities in eastern Ukraine, on Russia’s border, have gone nowhere.

Instead, Ukraine’s government pushed for closer integration into Nato to the point where Putin warned of retaliation if Nato stationed missiles, potentially armed with nuclear warheads, on Russia’s doorstep. They would be able to strike Moscow in minutes, undermining the premise of mutually assured destruction that long served as the basis of a Cold War detente.

In response to Russia’s invasion, Nato has flooded Ukraine with weapons while the US has been moving to transfer a whopping $40bn in military aidto Kyiv – all while deprioritising pressure on Moscow and Kyiv to revisit the Minsk accords.

Nato weapons were initially supplied on the basis that they would help Ukraine defend itself from Russia. But that principle appears to have been quickly jettisoned by Washington.

Last month, US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin declared that the aim was instead to “see Russia weakened” – a position echoed by Nato former Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. The New York Times has reported that Washington is involved in a “classified” intelligence operation to help Ukraine kill senior Russian generals.

US officials now barely conceal the fact that they view Ukraine as a proxy war – one that sounds increasingly like the scenario Putin laid out when justifying his invasion as pre-emptive: that Washington intends to sap Russia of its military strength, push Nato’s weapons and potentially its troops right up against Russia’s borders, and batter Moscow economically through sanctions and an insistence that Europe forgo Russian gas.

The existential threat Putin feared has become explicit US policy, it seems.

Fealty to Nato

These are the reasons the pope speculated last week that, while Russia’s actions could not be justified, the “barking of Nato at the door of Russia” might, in practice, have “facilitated” the invasion. He also questioned the supply of weapons to Ukraine in the context of profiteering from the war: “Wars are fought for this: to test the arms we have made.”

Pope Francis, bound by formal Vatican rules of political neutrality, has to be cautious in what he says. And yet Starmer has deemed similar observations made by activists in the Labour party as grounds for expulsion.

The Labour leader has clashed head-on with the Stop the War Coalition, which Corbyn helped found in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. The group played a central role in mobilising opposition to Britain’s participation, under Blair, in the 2003 illegal invasion of Iraq.

Stop the War, which is seen as close to the Labour left, has long been sceptical of Nato, a creature of the Cold War that proved impervious to the collapse of the Soviet Union and has gradually taken on the appearance of a permanent lobby for the West’s military industries.

Stop the War has spoken out against both Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and the decades-long expansion by Nato across Eastern Europe that Moscow cites as justification for its war of aggression. Starmer, however, has scorned that position as what he calls “false equivalence”.

In a commentary published in the Guardian newspaper, he denied that Stop the War were “benign voices for peace” or “progressive”. He termed Nato “a defensive alliance that has never provoked conflict”, foreclosing the very debate anti-war activists – and Pope Francis – seek to begin.

Starmer also threatened 11 Labour MPs with losing the whip – like Corbyn – if they did not immediately remove their names from a Stop the War statement that called for stepping up moves towards a diplomatic solution. More recently, he has warned MPs that they will face unspecified action from the party if they do not voice “unshakeable support for Nato”.

Starmer has demanded “a post 9/11” style surge in arms expenditure in response to the war in Ukraine, insisting that Nato must be “strengthened”.

He has shut down the Twitter account of Labour’s youth wing for its criticisms of Nato.

In late March he proscribed three small leftist groups – Labour Left Alliance, Socialist Labour Network, and the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty – adding them to four other left-wing groups that he banned last year. Stop the War could soon be next.

Starmer’s relentless attacks on anti-war activism in Labour fly in the face of his 10 pledges, the platform that helped him to get elected. They included a commitment – reminiscent of Pope Francis – to “put human rights at the heart of foreign policy. Review all UK arms sales and make us a force for international peace and justice”.

But once elected, Starmer has effectively erased any space for an anti-war movement in mainstream British politics, one that wishes to question whether Nato is still a genuinely defensive alliance or closer to a lobby serving western arms industries that prosper from permanent war.

In effect, Starmer has demanded that the left outcompete the Tory government for fealty to Nato’s militarism. The war in Ukraine has become the pretext to force underground not only anti-imperialist politics but even Vatican-style calls for diplomacy.

Apartheid forever

But Starmer is imposing on Labour members an even more specific loyalty test rooted in Britain’s imperial role: support for Israel as a state that oppresses Palestinians.

Starmer’s decision to distance himself and Labour as far as possible from Corbyn’s support for Palestinian rights initially seemed to be tactical, premised on a desire to avoid the antisemitism smears that plagued his predecessor.

But that view has become progressively harder to sustain.

Starmer has turned a deaf ear to a motion passed last year by Labour delegates calling for UK sanctions against Israel as an apartheid state. References to it have even been erased from the party’s YouTube channel. Similarly, he refused last month to countenance Israel’s recent designation as an apartheid state by Amnesty and a raft of other human rights groups.

Last November, Starmer delivered a fawningly pro-Israel speech alongside Israel’s ultra-nationalist ambassador to the UK, Tzipi Hotovely, in which he repeatedly conflated criticism of Israel with antisemitism.

He has singled out anti-Zionist Jewish members of Labour – more so than non-Jewish members – apparently because they are the most confident and voluble critics of Israel in the party.

And now, in the run-up to this month’s local elections, he has flaunted his party’s renewal of ties with the Israeli Labor party, which severed relations during Corbyn’s tenure.

Senior officials from the Israeli party joined him and his deputy, Angela Rayner, in what was described as a “charm offensive”, as they pounded London streets campaigning for the local elections. It was hard not to interpret this as a slap in the face to swaths of the Labour membership.

The Israeli Labor party founded Israel by engineering a mass ethnic cleansing campaign, as documents unearthed by Israeli historians have confirmed, that saw hundreds of thousands of Palestinians expelled from their homeland.

Israel’s Labor party has continued to play a key role both in entrenching illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied territories to displace Palestinians, and in formulating legal distinctions between Jewish and Palestinian citizenship that have cemented the new consensus among groups such as Amnesty International that Israel qualifies as an apartheid state.

The Israeli Labor party is part of the current settler-led government that secured court approval last week to evict many hundreds of Palestinians from eight historic Palestinian villages near Hebron – while allowing settlers to remain close by – on the pretext that the land is needed for a firing zone.

Israel’s Haaretz newspaper concluded of the ruling: “Occupation is temporary by definition; apartheid is liable to persist forever. The High Court approved it.”

Labour’s ugly face

The ugly new face of Labour politics under Starmer is becoming ever harder to conceal. Under cover of rooting out the remnants of Corbynism, Starmer is not only proving himself an outright authoritarian, intent on crushing the last vestiges of democratic socialism in Labour.

He is also reviving the worst legacies of a Labour tradition that cheerleads western imperialism and cosies up to racist states – as long as they are allies of Washington and ready to buy British arms.

Starmer’s war on the Labour left is not – as widely assumed – a pragmatic response to the Corbyn years, designed to distance the party from policies that exposed it to the relentless campaign of antisemitism smears that undermined Corbyn.

Rather, Starmer is continuing and widening that very campaign of smears. He has picked up the baton on behalf of those Labour officials who, the leaked internal report showed, preferred to sabotage the Labour Party if it meant stopping the left from gaining power.

His task is not just to ensnare those who wish to show solidarity with the Palestinians after decades of oppression supported by the West. It is to crush all activism against western imperialism and the state of permanent war it has helped to engineer.

Britain now has no visible political home for the kind of anti-war movements that once brought millions out onto Britain’s streets in an effort to halt the war on Iraq. And for that, the British establishment and their war industries have Sir Keir Starmer to thank.




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british imperialism murderous exploitation…..

Conservatives like to paint a sanitized picture of British imperialism, but the empire was built on murderous exploitation. Modern Britain is finally coming to terms with the crimes on which its global power rested.


In June 2020, as Black Lives Matter protests swept across the United States, campaigners in Bristol tore down a statue of the infamous British slave trader Edward Colston and dispatched it into the dark green waters of the city’s harbor. Eighteen months later, in January 2022, a Bristol court acquitted four of those activists of illegally removing the Colston plinth and causing criminal damage to public property.

According to the academic David Olusoga, a professor of public history at Manchester University, the verdict signaled a “landmark” moment in the UK’s “tortuous journey” toward acknowledging its role in the transatlantic slave trade — a key pillar of Britain’s imperial infrastructure for more than three hundred years. An English jury has decided that the real offense was the existence of the statue itself, Olusoga told the BBC after the verdict was announced, “not that the statue was toppled in the summer of 2020.”

There are other, less vivid indications that Britain is in the midst of a minor cultural reckoning with its imperial past. In July 2014, research by the polling company YouGov revealed that 59 percent of people in the UK felt “more proud than ashamed” of the British Empire, while 19 percent felt “more ashamed than proud” and a further 23 percent didn’t identify with either sentiment.

In March 2020, YouGov published another poll. This time, just 32 percent of Brits viewed the empire as a good thing, historically, compared to 37 percent who thought it was “neither something to be proud nor ashamed of.” The anti-empire bloc stayed the same at 19 percent.

A Profitable Enterprise

As Kojo Koram argues in his excellent, panoramic new book, Uncommon Wealth, and Sathnam Sanghera affirms in his slightly less excellent but still highly engaging Empireland, imperialism wasn’t something Britain did in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries and then casually left behind in the twentieth. To a significant extent, empire built the modern British state, and the legacy of empire runs through every aspect of contemporary British society, from its class system and its immigration regime to its constitution and even its plush, secluded country mansions.

Koram is a legal academic and researcher at the Birkbeck School of Law in London. He argues that, through empire, Britain pioneered early forms of laissez-faire capitalism, outsourcing, and public-private partnerships. The Royal African Company (RAC) is one notable example of this long-standing trend in British political economy.

Founded in 1660 as a mercantile trading body by the Stuart family and the City of London, the RAC mined gold off the west coast of Africa before charting slave ships to Britain’s mushrooming colonial plantations in North America. The company is thought to have transported up to two hundred thousand people across the Atlantic between 1670 and 1730, forty thousand of whom died without ever reaching American shores.









biolabs in ukraine and the greater picture of the USA conquering the HEARTLAND...….




iraq poo too….

Former US President George W. Bush made an embarrassing gaffe, perhaps a Freudian slip, when speaking on the importance of democracy and threats to democracy from abroad, and taking aim specifically at Russia. 

“Russian elections are rigged,” he said. “Political opponents are imprisoned or otherwise eliminated from participating in the electoral process. The result is an absence of checks and balances in Russia and the decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq. I mean of Ukraine.”

Then Bush brushed the mistake aside and said, “Iraq, too,” insinuating that Russia was somehow involved in Iraq – which is obviously not true. 










the julian of our times….

no shame george…...

Vovan and Lexus, Russian pranksters known for trolling Western politicians, celebrities, and other public figures, revealed Tuesday that they had tricked George W. Bush into speaking with them. The former president played an instrumental role in the second wave of NATO’s eastward expansion, and the first Euromaidan crisis in Ukraine in 2004.

The United States didn’t keep its word to Moscow on NATO’s eastward expansion due to shifting circumstances, and the Bush administration always wanted to see Ukraine join the Western alliance, George W. Bush has revealed in a candid interview with Vovan and Lexus.


“I wanted [Russia] on the fringe of NATO, I wanted Ukraine into NATO”, Bush, who served as US president between 2001 and 2009, told the pranksters, who posed as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in a portion of the interview that aired Thursday at a Russian educational forum.


“I thought for a while that Russia would be more cooperative. And then [Vladimir] Putin changed dramatically”, Bush said.

“I felt that Ukraine needed to be in the EU and in NATO”, he added.

Asked to address Russia’s oft-repeated argument that James Baker, US secretary of state under George H.W. Bush, had promised Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev not to expand the bloc eastward in 1990, Bush Jr. suggested that such promises were irrelevant because they were made a long time ago.


“Listen, times change. Baker was the secretary of state with my dad, which was years ago, and so, uh, the United States must be flexible, adjusting to the times. And that’s why you’re trying to show our support for your country now”, he said.


Asked whether he agreed with the sentiment that the conflict in Ukraine was really a confrontation between the West and Russia, Bush answered curtly “Yeah”.

As for the argument that the US recognition of Kosovo in the 2000s on the grounds of its right to "self-determination" from Serbia paved the way for Russia’s recognition of the Donbass republics, Bush appeared briefly stumped, before assuring that “if you prevail, or when you prevail, a lot of these various issues are gonna be off the table”.


“Your mission is to destroy as many Russian troops as you can, and the question is, will you continue receiving the help you need. And I certainly hope so”, Bush said. He added that it was “very important” for the US to “continue to lead” in assisting Ukraine in achieving its goals.


George W. Bush presided over the second wave of NATO's post-Cold War expansion, welcoming Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia into the bloc in 2004. Between 1999 and 2020, 14 nations of the defunct Warsaw Pact, the former Yugoslavia, or the ex-USSR itself were absorbed by NATO. At its Bucharest summit in 2008, the alliance recognised Ukraine and Georgia's "aspirations" toward eventual NATO membership.


Vladimir "Vovan" Kuznetsov and Alexei "Lexus" Stolyarov are a Russian comedy duo that has spent more than a decade trolling politicians, celebrities, royals, and other public figures around the world.

Their YouTube channel was taken down in March after they released videos of intimate conversations with British Defence chief Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel, revealing the true extent of covert UK military support for Ukraine, and the possibility of seizing Russian tycoons’ properties in London and handing them over to members of Ukraine’s political elite.










a fake labour leader…..

When Keir Starmer first presented himself as a candidate for the leadership of Britain’s Labour Party in 2019, his pitch was perfectly calculated to appeal to a demoralized membership, traumatized by a landslide general election defeat and exhausted after four years of internal civil war.

Starmer told Labour members exactly what they wanted to hear. He promised to pour oil on troubled waters, retaining the bulk of the left-wing policies adopted under Jeremy Corbyn (while jettisoning any trace of anti-imperialism), but with slicker media presentation and, at long last, an end to Labour’s factional warfare.

Today, Starmer’s leadership campaign stands out as one of the most brazen swindles in recent British political history, which is quite an achievement in itself. His tenure as Labour leader has seen him try to end the party’s faction fights simply by driving its left wing out altogether.

His predecessor Corbyn remains shut out of Labour’s parliamentary group with minimal chance of being readmitted, while hundreds of thousands of those who Corbyn inspired to join Labour have quit. The Starmer leadership has dropped popular Corbyn-era policies like public ownership and, to add calculated, egregious insult to injury, wheeled Tony Blair once more out of his crypt to front official Labour propaganda.

How did this charlatan manage to hoodwink his way to the leadership of the Labour Party and, quite possibly, a future stint as Britain’s prime minister? This is the central question that Oliver Eagleton, an editor at New Left Review, asks in The Starmer Project, the first significant book-length examination of Starmer’s politics and his previous track record.

The book isn’t a theoretical account of Starmerism: it’s a sharp and penetrating work of muckraking journalism that paints a distinctly unflattering (but not unfair) picture of its subject. The only thing to regret, perhaps, is that it didn’t arrive sooner.

Starmer’s Back Catalogue

One reason Starmer was able to take Labour members for such a ride is that despite leaning heavily on his past record as a human rights lawyer in his campaign, he did not have to worry about that record being subjected to serious scrutiny at the time. Fittingly, then, the most devastating chapter of The Starmer Project assesses his tenure as director of public prosecutions (DPP) — Britain’s top prosecutor — from 2008 to 2013.

As DPP, Starmer presided over draconian crackdowns in the wake of student protests and the 2011 riots. He hounded suspected welfare fraudsters, who were a tabloid folk devil and political obsession in those years, even though the sums lost to benefit fraud were always dwarfed by Britain’s industrial-scale tax avoidance. Importantly, Starmer also came into close contact with his American counterparts.

As Britain’s director of public prosecutions, Starmer presided over draconian crackdowns in the wake of student protests and the 2011 riots.

For Eagleton, Starmer’s time as head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) came to mark a turning point in his personal and political trajectory. After a youthful dalliance with the softer end of British Trotskyism — he coedited Socialist Alternatives, a magazine published by the Pabloite sect of the same name which ran for five issues — he embarked on a career as a progressive young lawyer in the 1980s. He joined the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers (and eventually become its secretary), supported print workers in the brutal 1986 Wapping dispute with Rupert Murdoch’s News International, and became a barrister the following year.

Starmer also worked with Helen Steel and David Morris, defendants in the so-called “McLibel” trial. The longest libel trial in English legal history, the case — which dragged on for nine years — saw Steel and Morris sued by McDonald’s over a pamphlet criticizing its environmental practices. With Starmer’s pro bono assistance, the pair succeeded in substantiating at least some of their claims and reducing the fast-food giant’s compensation demand. By this time, however, the young Starmer’s previous sympathy for grassroots protest politics was already giving way to a pronounced “emphasis on legislative fixes,” as Eagleton notes.

Serving the State

In 2003, Starmer was appointed to monitor the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), which had replaced the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) as part of the Good Friday Agreement. The PSNI’s early years were fraught, with the Nationalist community justifiably skeptical that there had been anything more than a cosmetic rebrand of the Unionist-dominated, sectarian RUC. But Starmer was full of admiration for the PSNI, hailing its “utter commitment” to maintaining human rights standards, and rejecting an appeal from Sinn Féin for a formal ban on the use of plastic bullets and tasers against children.

Appointed as DPP in 2008, Starmer’s reputation as a principled human rights lawyer lent the CPS “a progressive veneer” and “complemented the modernizing ethos of the Blair government.” But the CPS did more to change Starmer than the other way around. After David Cameron’s Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition took power in 2010, he struck up a cordial working relationship with the new government’s ministers as they pursued an agenda of swingeing cuts to Britain’s welfare state and public services.

The Crown Prosecution Service did more to change Starmer than the other way around.

Another friendly relationship Starmer forged in these years was with Eric Holder, Barack Obama’s attorney general. Eagleton recounts how Starmer “made a number of transatlantic trips” to meet Holder and subsequently endeavored to extradite several suspects sought by the US Department of Justice. One was Gary McKinnon, an autistic hacker who broke into US military computer systems, seemingly in search of information about UFOs. For four years, Starmer “worked doggedly” to extradite an “increasingly depressed and suicidal” McKinnon to the United States, allegedly reacting “with fury” when the home secretary Theresa May finally blocked his extradition in October 2012.

Starmer also sought to serve up Julian Assange to the US government, only for Assange to hole himself up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. When Assange’s lawyers asked Swedish prosecutors to question him in London about the sexual assault allegations he was facing, Starmer’s CPS stepped in and advised them not to do so. Sweden later mulled dropping the case, citing the passage of time and mounting costs, only for the CPS to urge them to keep it open. Starmer appears to have been in consultation with Holder throughout, meeting him in Washington days after Assange had an extradition appeal rejected.

Providing Cover

His service to the British security state was no less unquestioning. Detainee Binyam Mohamed had his penis and chest slashed with razor blades at a CIA black site in Morocco, with MI5 playing an active role in the interrogation by supplying his torturers with “detailed questions” and “discussing the timescale of his detention.” When Mohamed, later released from Guantanamo Bay without charge, supplied evidence that British agents had been involved, Starmer decreed that this was insufficient to prosecute. His office also halted an investigation into a torture case at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan on the same grounds.

Starmer’s CPS was similarly lethargic when faced with cases of police brutality. When officers from the Metropolitan Police shot dead innocent Brazilian electrician Jean Charles de Menezes in 2005, the Met concocted “a series of falsehoods” to cover its back. No charges were brought until the police narrative was exposed as a sham at a 2008 inquest, after which the de Menezes case was sent back to Starmer for reconsideration. Again, Starmer appears to have been little troubled by the new evidence brought to light at the inquest and merely reaffirmed the earlier decision not to bring any charges against de Menezes’s killers.







the heartland explained...


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the bourgeois labour….

The Britain Project Is the Latest Incarnation of Zombie Blairism



Since Keir Starmer was elected party leader in April 2020, most of the Parliamentary Labour Party have been at pains to remind the wider membership that, above all else, he is a bona fide election winner. Starmer is, his supporters insist, a nailed-on certainty to reclaim 10 Downing Street for Labour after over a decade in opposition. After he was first elected leader, former Blairite luminaries immediately went public with their congratulations. Tony Blair himself tweeted his praise via his charitable foundation, saying that Starmer had taken on “the responsibility of providing a coherent and effective opposition” and looked forward to him transforming Labour into a “serious and effective candidate for government.”

Yet just over two years into his leadership, there are strong indications that the picture is not all rosy. In public, Blair and his longtime aide Peter Mandelson remain supportive of Starmer and his purge of the Left of his party. However, behind the scenes, Starmer appears to have lost the support of the Blairites. In private, doubts have been growing for some time about Starmer’s much heralded electability. Blair had already said as much out loud in May 2021, after Labour lost the Hartlepool by-election, a seat which Labour held twice under Jeremy Corbyn. Writing in the New Statesman, Blair said Starmer was “sensible but not radical.”

Blair’s New Statesman article has been, until now, the clearest sign yet that Blair et al. no longer believe that Starmer has the magic touch. That is until a few weeks ago, when the Britain Project was created. Its exact purpose remains unclear, except that it seeks a more centrist alternative to Starmer’s Labour.

Not a Party, but . . .

The Britain Project identifies on its own website as a “non-partisan political collaboration.” It aims to build what it calls “a broad coalition in the centre ground.” Established by a former Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate and an ex-Timesjournalist, the Britain Project would seem at face value to be the purest distillation of Third Way centrism in the twenty-first century. But the Britain Project is more intriguing for what it doesn’t reveal than what it does. From the website, it’s unclear whether it is a political party, a think tank, or a charitable foundation. Hard facts about the organization are few and far between: it “launched,” as far as one can tell, on January 20, with unclear funding sources.

For an organization which seeks a top-to-bottom transformation of British politics, the Britain Project has not created great waves — indeed, thus far it has barely made a ripple. For an organization that boasts such “luminaries” as Rory Stewart, Trevor Phillips, and David Gauke, the Britain Project has made no great pronouncements and has barely made a noise since it started four months ago. And despite having Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook accounts, its internet presence is minimal.


On the surface there is little to suggest Blair’s involvement with the project. Multiple centrist politicians and hangers-on from the Blair years decorate its personnel page, though he himself is nowhere to be seen. Yet tellingly, on the same day the Britain Project launched, Blair gave a speech at the Global Center for Health Innovation that wasn’t so much a blessing as a laying on of hands. “The Britain Project is a group working across party lines,” said Blair. “It will organize a conference in May” — now in fact slated for June 30. “We want this conference to be an opportunity for people to come together and set out a broad direction for the future of Britain.” It can be no accident that the speech is reposted on the Britain Project website in full.

The Britain Project is truly remarkable; a brand new political party (if indeed it is one) can be founded, receive the blessing of Tony Blair, and receive virtually nil attention from the mainstream media. It may yet turn out to be the latest forgettable attempt to breathe new life into the moribund corpse of the Third Way, but Blair’s involvement would suggest the architects of the endeavor have more serious ambitions for it. So what are we to conclude?

First, this is the strongest indicator yet that Blair and Mandelson have lost faith in the Starmer project and his much vaunted electability. Indeed, even faced with the Tory government’s bungling response to COVID-19, which left Britain with one of Europe’s highest death rates, and the warmest media reception any Labour leader has received since Blair himself in 1994, Starmer has failed to catch a wind with the public. The public haven’t rated him as doing a good job since January 2021. For comparison, Neil Kinnock led Margaret Thatcher by 15 points midway through her third term, but still lost the subsequent election.

Second, and more intriguingly, these developments hint at the possibility that Labour’s Blairite wing hasn’t just lost hope in Starmer but is now looking beyond the role set for him; namely, to purge Labour’s left faction and remove all socialists from parliamentary politics. The project’s creation would indicate that Starmer’s attempts to persuade right-wing billionaires and powerful institutions that the ruling elite’s interests are safe in Labour’s hands have all been for nothing. Even having suspended Jeremy Corbyn from the parliamentary party, and kicking numerous Jewish left-wing activists out of Labour altogether, Starmer has failed to convince the Blairites that this is now a party that can be depended on to protect the interests of capital.

A Newer, Even Worse New Labour?

Perhaps the most significant conclusion we can draw from the Britain Project’s creation is the glimpse it gives us into what a Third Way centrist formation may look like in the next decade. The concept of “a broad coalition in the centre ground” exhibits the same old paternalistic qualities of New Labour, though Blair’s speech also gives this a harder, darker, meaner edge. For the former prime minister, the NHS needs to be “completely rethought” and taxpayer money needs to be saved by using AI and automation to wipe out well-paid admin jobs. Crucially, Blair does not rule out privatization of the NHS, urging against risk aversion “even in an area as politically delicate as the NHS.” Pensions must likewise be “rethought” for the next generation, says Blair, highlighting the high cost of pensions. He also calls for a system of biometric identification to combat illegal immigration.

With such reactionary policies in mind, perhaps the project’s real ambition is to push Starmer to the right, and even further away from the “progressive” rhetoric on which he won the 2020 leadership contest. Clearly, there are some in Blair’s coterie who would love the Britain Project to stand apart from Labour, providing their country’s answer to Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche vehicle. The French president was reportedly even invited to the June 30 conference. Yet such candidacies don’t seem viable in Britain’s electoral system, with the harsh logic of “first past the post” already having doomed similar recent splinter efforts such as Change UK.

New Labour’s real achievement was to entrench neoliberal hegemony in the British political system by taking over an existing party while sweetening the pill with some light-touch interventionist policies such as tax credits to top up falling wages. New Labour told the ruling elite that they would pursue Thatcherite policies in government without disastrous consequences. This, in short, is why Blair is still venerated by many of the key institutions of British public life, not least the BBC and Civil Service.

However, among the British public itself, there is precious little enthusiasm for a return to the much vaunted glory days of 1990s Third Way centrism, characterized by the triple bonanza of deregulation, privatization, and marketization. Without a significant toehold in the British electorate, the Britain Project looks set to wither on the vine like Change UK. But electoral success, of course, is never the real purpose. Starmer has their support, for now, because he is achieving Blair’s life’s work: ridding the Labour Party of socialism and returning to the party that the ruling elite loves the most, a party which will achieve power and do nothing with it. The electoral left has nothing to fear from the Britain Project. What Starmer has to fear from it is another matter.







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