Labour isn't working. And on Keir Starmer’s watch, it never will, says Mark Dolan


Tax cuts for the rich the scrapping of a cap on bankers bonuses and no extra windfall tax on energy firms - there are plenty of headlines from Friday’s budget that could hand labour the next election. But be careful what you wish for. You have to hand it to this new daredevil partnership of Truss and Kwarteng, for having a set of policies that will look and sound terrible on the doorstep, and which Keir Starmer will be crowing about crowing about when he makes his keynote speech at the Labour Party conference on Tuesday. But Truss and Kwarteng are not stupid. They've decided in there a few short days in office to be the opposite of labour. And the opposite of Kia Starmer. They are willing to soak up the negative press and the bad headlines because their budget is geared towards firing up the economy, and boosting national income, so that we all win.

A bigger, more productive and wealthier economy has the means with which to help the poorest in society. It's like a business which is growing, is able to invest and hire more people and give staff pay rises. Buy an new HQ. A business that's shrinking, living off the company overdraft will be laying people off, cutting wages and dying a slow death. You help people by being strong, not by being weak. So this new government is for growth, labour is not. This government is for low taxes, labour is not. This government is pro fracking and exploiting our fossil fuel reserves for the short to medium term, so we are not reliant on tyrants like Vladimir Putin for our energy. Labour is not. This government is pro aspiration, and pro capitalism, labour is not. It appears that right now, we have have our first prime minister since Blair in the 2000s and Thatcher in the 80s that actually believes in something and she's going to put it into action. After 12 years of treading water and a disastrous overreaction to the panic to the pandemic, we now have a Conservative government that has some ideas, some policies and will see them through. Come what may.

Truss is gambling not just the economy on her taxcutting bonanza, but her own political future too. At last, some courage in politics. Who knew you had to elect a woman, to get a politician with some balls. Which takes me to Sir Keir Starmer,

Mr middle ground, Captain vanilla, an eye-catchingly mediocre politician. The labour right find him too left wing and can’t forgive him for supporting Corbyn, and the left see him as a Corbyn traitor or a red Tory. He’s neither fish nor foul. They say you can't please all of the people all the time, well Starmer doesn't please any of the people, any of the time. His main selling point appears to be that he's not lots of other people. He's not Boris Johnson and now he's not Liz Truss.

They say you can't please all of the people all the time, well Starmer doesn't please any of the people, any of the time, says Mark Dolan
They say you can't please all of the people all the time, well Starmer doesn't please any of the people, any of the time, says Mark Dolan

But who is he? Well he's the duplicitous political schemer who served in Jeremy Corbyn's shadow cabinet.

Jeremy Corbyn, a man who effectively sided with Russia during the Salisbury attack. A man who threatened to bankrupt the country by nationalising everything that moved and who presided over a labour party that was so antisemitic, some of the most talented jewish MPs left Parliament. He presided over a party so toxic that the highly talented BBC journalist Laura Kuenssberg had to attend the 2017 Labour Party conference with a bodyguard.

And the hard left are the nice people by the way – do keep up. That was Corbyn’s Labour Party and Keir Starmer campaigned for Jeremy Corbyn to become prime minister, which in my view would have been a clear and present danger to our economy and our national security. Don't forget, Corbyn has always wanted to scrap nuclear weapons and refused to say when leader of the opposition that he would use them if we were attacked. Britain would have been poorer and less safe on his watch, and yet duplicitous Starmer wanted him as PM. Why? Political expediency. Starmer is not stupid, in fact he's an incredibly bright lawyer and I've got no doubt a nice man too. But everything he does is a political calculation, not born out of principle or conviction. Clement Attlee, Tony Blair, John Smith, Neil Kinnock, these were transformative leaders of the Labour Party. It’s my view that starmer will say anything to get power. We don’t really know what he believes, because neither does he. But what bothers me most about, Starmer is not his political expediency, which is far from unusual in Westminster. It's his judgement. His judgement in effectively calling for a second referendum as shadow Brexit secretary. Starmer was the architect of labours response to Brexit. It enraged the red wall and lost labour the election. Love them or hate them, it's pretty clear what this new government and Liz Truss stand for. Growth and aspiration.

Starmer hasn’t taken a risk in his life, which is why I don't think he will ever win a majority at a general election, says Mark Dolan
Starmer hasn’t taken a risk in his life, which is why I don't think he will ever win a majority at a general election, says Mark Dolan

This Labour Party stands for: whatever you want to hear, or at least right on voters in Islington in North London. If this was a true reinvention of new labour, I would take it seriously. But I don’t buy it. I'm not sure his heart really is, in bringing back an aspirational Labour Party, and one which is financially prudent – prudent being a catchword of Blair and Brown. Not when he won’t condemn the strikes which threaten to derail Britain’s economic recovery. And they've announced that they will re-introduce a 45% tax rate on highest in earnings. A cheap political gimmick that produces scant dividends for the Treasury and which sends the wrong message about Britain's attractiveness for highfliers. If you think that view is wide of the mark, remember that for almost the entire duration of the last labour government, the top rate of tax stayed at 40%. Keir Starmer is not Tony Blair, he is Tony Blur, Mr vague, a grey, sanctimonious pious figure whose judgement was wrong on Brexit, wrong on Corbyn and most egregiously wrong on Covid. Don't forget, Starmer called freedom day in July of last year reckless, when Britain led Europe out of Covid restrictions. He called it reckless. I said at the time it would be reckless not to do it. and I was right. Cases fell and since then, mask mandates, vaccine mandates and lockdowns are looking like the most failed public health measures in history. It's pretty clear that if Starmer had been prime minister we would have had more lockdowns, more economic damage and we would have lived under an even more authoritarian state.

When Boris Johnson made the appalling mistake of having three national lockdowns – for which I will never forgive him - we needed opposition from Keir Starmer, but to steal a line from the majestic dan Wootton, he was the leader of no opposition, waving these disastrous policies through, which have left the country in the mess, we are currently in.

The only opposition we had, was from 100 or so Tory backbenchers, who threatened their careers by voting against their own government’s plans. That's what political courage looks like. Starmer may think he's bringing back new labour, but you can't make a soufflé rise twice. A soggy bottom is a more likely outcome. And a final thought on Keir Starmer's judgement – he just seems to have got every big call wrong – Corbyn, Brexit and Covid. But add energy to that, as he today announces plans to spend billions on sustainable green energy, between now and 2030. And not a squeak from him about nuclear. Why? Because his bonkers membership don't like nuclear, even though it's patently a long-term answer for this country. Germany under Angela Merkel scrapped nuclear in 2011 – how’s that working out for you then? Now I'm all for a bit of wind, wave and solar, and in time they will be good, but Germany has invested half a trillion in renewables over 10 years and they face a winter energy crisis. Renewables are currently unreliable, expensive and have created the mess, in which we find now ourselves. Another expensive experiment, like lockdowns. Again, it's a question of judgement. I think the Labour Party shouldn’t underestimate Friday’s bold budget and it’s positive aspirational message about Britain. God knows it’s risky, but political courage is very often rewarded. And a great mark of leadership. Fortune favours the brave. Starmer hasn’t taken a risk in his life, which is why I don't think he will ever win a majority at a general election. But even that's a worry, because a hung parliament could lead to something worse - a Britain-hating coalition of hell, made up of labour and the SNP, with a few Corbynite MPs holding the balance of power. With that, you could see the break up of the United Kingdom via Indy Ref 2, and hung parliaments forever, as a result of proportional representation, legislation on which, the smaller parties would insist. There will be a lot of talk about change for this country, at Labour Party Conference this week.

Ignoring the fact, that we may already have that change, the change Britain needs, the transformative new government, in the form of our new prime minister, Liz Truss.

Labour isn't working. And on Keir Starmer’s watch, it never will.