Keir Starmer, young voters, and a dying Labour

Keir Starmer, young voters, and a dying Labour

The UK is will soon mark 11 years of Tory rule, while the party’s only plausible competition, Labour, dwindle into irrelevance with every statement made and lack of action taken by clueless leader, Sir Keir Starmer.

Starmer is the latest in a short line of 21st Century Labour leaders: Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband, Jeremy Corbyn. If we discount the short 2010 and 2015 premierships of Harriet Harmen, Starmer seems to fit the aesthetic profile of any Labour leader. Straight? Check. White? Check. Male? Check. However, he falls short at of a personality trait crucial to any leader’s continued success: a backbone.

Each Labour leader has, for better or worse, had a memorable legacy. Blair’s is very much concerned with his debated war crimes, Brown oversaw the 2008 Climate Change Act, Miliband behaved like Moses with his ‘EdStone’ commandments and Corbyn inspired a youth revolution.

Keir Starmer’s legacy is on track to be one of pandering to the Conservative Party and their anti-progression agenda. Although they are a political party meant to offer an alternative to the policies and ideas pushed by the Tories, Keir Starmer seems to instead be guiding Labour towards self-destruction.

Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock and Dominic Cummings are perhaps the three names best-associated with the mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic. One played truant from Cobra meetings regarding the then-imminent global crisis, one brazenly broke the law, and the other went on a lockdown road trip despite masterminding the ‘Stay at Home’ message.

These three men, all guilty of negligence, should be easy pickings for Keir Starmer. Demanding their resignation would be all too easy with the evidence available. Instead, Starmer has done next to nothing. The leader of the Labour party failing to hold Tories accountable for their hypocrisy and illegal activities could be considered strike one on his embarrassingly long rap sheet.

The intense furore surrounding George Floyd’s death and the subsequent protests against institutional racism marked a historical period in global history that Starmer found himself on the wrong side of. When Bristol locals pulled down the now infamous statue of slave trader Edward Colston, Starmer’s response was one of weak solidarity with anti-racism overshadowed by a condemnation of all involved: a sentiment echoed by Priti Patel (one person no Labour Leader wants to find themselves agreeing with). This was strike two.

Whilst on the subject of Priti Patel, it would be irresponsible not to mention her passion project, and the most unjust piece of legislation in recent memory, the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. The bill not only gives the police increased power in shutting down protests, which happens to be a very undemocratic notion, it also, like so many pieces of British legislation, disproportionally affects Black people.

Starmer described this quality of the bill as “concerning”. Although this can be considered a criticism, it’s hardly the passionate response to injustice that one would expect of a supposedly progressive party like Labour. His labelling of the bill as concerning wasn’t a demonstration of backbone but rather a whimper. For that reason, this is strike three.

How many strikes until you’re out of the game that is the Labour leadership? In Keir Starmer’s case, he seems to be immune to all accountability. There is a plethora of other mistakes at his hand such as not opposing the invasive Spy Cops bill, refusing to consider defunding the police, and failing to a stronger stance against the police after their violent displays at the Sarah Everard Clapham vigil.

Even when he does flirt with accountability, he lacks sincerity. This was made apparent last weekend when he apologised for visiting a church led by a pastor with homophobic views. The apology, arriving in the form of a short tweet, carried the hollowness of most of his other statements regarding social issues.

Starmer’s behaviour seems to be driving away voters, specifically young ones: an issue that could spell the end of Labour’s chances at any future general election victory.

Jeremy Corbyn was, for most young Labour voters, a beacon of change and hope. He conveyed a sense of genuine compassion for the issues faced by so many of us. As Corbyn very much pandered to young voters, Starmer had to follow in his predecessor’s footsteps and show that he too would prioritise the often politically neglected Gen Z. Instead, he chose to alienate them.

Our entire generation (more or less) is inherently passionate about social issues whether it be Black Lives Matter activism, women’s rights, trans rights (of which Starmer has a poor record), and ultimately pushing conversations forward. Keir Starmer has made the mistake of showing little or no interest in tackling these issues, instead mirroring the sentiments of the Tory party, which happens to a historically anti-Labour notion.

It’s not specifically only young voters that have been turning away from the party during Starmer’s tenure. A recent poll shows that the ‘Red Wall’, a set of constituencies that typically vote Labour, are changing their voting intentions and leaning right towards the Conservatives.

It’s impossible not to consider that, perhaps if Keir Starmer had endorsed activists and criticised the continuously flawed leadership of Boris Johnson, Labour wouldn’t be losing voters and the prime minister wouldn’t be seeing his approval ratings going up.

Instead, he is leading Labour down a path of further election defeat and one of dwindling power. Ultimately, he is playing into the Tories hands, so much so that some believe he is doing it on purpose. All the hope that Labour offered young voters a mere couple of years ago is being sacrificed in Keir Starmer’s appeasement of Johnson’s government.

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