What Does Keir Starmer Stand for?

Image Credit: Rwendland via Wikimedia Commons

Joshua McCormack discusses the electoral prospects of the UK Labour Party, and considers the factors that might be contributing to a recent decline in membership.

The UK Conservative Party are bound for electoral destruction. Plummeting polling. An endless tide of resignations and scandals. Lurching between leaders, desperate to find someone who can reverse their failing fortunes. But there is an air of inevitability about their fall now. Blood in the water. As things stand, it would take nothing short of a political earthquake to unseat the heir apparent, Labour's enigmatic leader, Keir Starmer.

Starmer grew up in Leeds, England, and became the first member of his family to attend university, studying Law and Leeds University and Oxford. As a lawyer, he dedicated himself to criminal defence with a strong focus on human rights advocacy.

Of all the positions he held before becoming an MP for Labour in 2015, his role as Human Rights Advisor to the Northern Ireland Policing Board (NIPB) is arguably of most relevance to the people of Ireland. A role which, hopefully, instilled in Starmer an understanding of the complex socio-political environment that is Northern Ireland – a crucial insight for any would-be Prime Minister to have.

Under the Jeremy Corbyn leadership of Labour, he served as the Shadow Secretary for Exiting the EU and the Shadow Immigration Minister.

In 2019, the Conservative Party, helmed by Boris Johnson, dealt Labour a historic defeat, shattering their Red Wall – strongholds labour constituency in Northern England; many of which hadn't voted Conservative in decades. Having brought the party its worst defeat since 1935, Jeremy Corbyn resigned, triggering a leadership contest which saw the party spurn Corbyn's natural successors on the left of the party, to choose the moderate Starmer.

Since attaining the leadership, Starmer has encountered the same criticism: that he stands for nothing. The average voter doesn't have an inkling towards the policies that guide him. Naturally, this is a perception that Starmer rejects and is, at least ostensibly, trying to change. Like many politicians, he advocates for fixing the economy, fighting climate change, and breaking down barriers… hardly new ideas, and certainly not ones that offer hints towards his political core. But all these criticisms miss an important truth: Starmer doesn't need to show his hand. 

Since attaining the leadership, Starmer has encountered the same criticism: that he stands for nothing.

The conservative party is imploding. Why would Starmer alienate potential voters by tethering the Labour Party to a particular voting block? A floating ideology suits his purpose fine: getting elected. It's entirely possible, and indeed probable that Starmer harbours radical ideas, but don't expect him to reveal his cards before the crown is his.