Summer is finally here. But Starmer must be feeling hot under the collar for a different reason. Under his leadership, the party is lurching from crisis to crisis.
Following the disastrous defeat in Hartlepool, the Chesham and Amersham by-election saw Labour receive just 622 votes. Although always unlikely to win this Tory-turned-Liberal seat, this is the worst that the party has ever performed in a by-election!
Now, further pain is expected in the upcoming Batley and Spen by-election, taking place next week on Thursday 1 July.
Held by Labour for 24 years, Labour only narrowly held onto the constituency in 2019. This time, the Tories are expected to take the seat.
Support from the local Muslim community, who usually back Labour, is falling. George Galloway, also running in Batley and Spen, is capitalising on this.
But this is not just a local phenomenon. Nationally, this same picture of declining support amongst Muslims is repeated. In one recent poll, 37% of British Muslims said that their view of Labour had become more unfavourable in the past 12 months.
With Muslim voters' opinions set to be a decisive factor in the Batley and Spen by-election, Survation polling has found that Muslim voters are not fond of Keir Starmer - his net favourability is negative.— Novara Media (@novaramedia) June 21, 2021
Most surprisingly, 7% of Muslim voters still have not heard of him. pic.twitter.com/fcW7TlUuI1
The question of Palestine, and the shameful response from Starmer towards the recent bombing of Gaza, is cited as a reason for this.
Similarly, there is a perceived failure by the leadership to speak out against Islamophobia, with a majority saying they did not trust the party to effectively tackle it.
In short, Labour is losing trust from one of its key bases of support.
At the same time, youth support for Labour is rapidly dropping under Starmer. From the height of the so-called ‘youthquake’ under Corbyn, a recent poll by YouGov of 18 to 24 year-olds paints a dismal picture.
Support for Labour amongst this demographic has fallen from 56% in 2019 to just 21% – most likely shifting to the Green Party, who have seen a parallel jump of 23 percentage points.
Young people face precarious work and low pay; have huge student debts; are unlikely to ever own a home; and face the existential threat of the climate crisis.
For all these reasons, there is a revolutionary mood amongst young people everywhere. Their turn away from Labour under Starmer is a damning indictment of his leadership.
Under Starmer, Labour is also seeing growing discontent from the organised working class. A recent survey by the bakers’ union revealed that 55% of its members would not vote Labour if an election was held tomorrow. When asked if they would be more likely to vote Labour if the party changed its leader, however, 60% said yes.
A recent survey of members in the Bakers, Food, and Allied Workers’ Union (@BFAWUOfficial) has revealed the anger felt by trade unionists towards the right-wing #Labour leadership. Ian Hodson (@IanBFAWU) discusses the way forward for Labour. #StarmerOuthttps://t.co/PLLUU3znNH— Socialist Appeal (@socialist_app) June 16, 2021
Starmer’s antics of cosying up to big business donors is leading to a breakdown of trust amongst trade unionists. If the leadership continues down this road, union disaffiliations could ensue.
Of course, this is precisely what the Blairite right wing are hoping for: to break the link between the party and the unions, and make Labour a ‘safe pair of hands’ for capitalism.
Instead of addressing this haemorrhaging of support, the leadership’s main concern is continuing its war on left-wing members.
Several CLPs have been bureaucratically shut down. Many members – including Howard Beckett – remain suspended after months in limbo. And recently, two supporters of Socialist Appeal were expelled (‘auto-excluded’) as part of this wider purge.
The first is Alex Falconer: vice chair of Truro & Falmouth CLP; a 2019 Labour conference delegate; and a Labour member since 2017.
The second is Josh Cole-Hossain of Norwich South CLP: a member since 2017; a prominent activist in the city, involved in the BLM and Palestine solidarity movements; and a prospective candidate to be a CLP delegate to this year’s Labour conference.
These comrades have been told by the Labour bureaucracy that their support for Socialist Appeal is incompatible with Labour Party membership. Meanwhile, ex-Tories such as John Bercow are welcomed into the party with open arms! This hypocrisy speaks volumes.
Rather than attacking the Tories, Starmer’s Labour is attacking its own dedicated members. That is because the right wing’s aim is not to win elections, but to drive out the left and return the party to Blairism.
The base of Labour’s support is the working class, young people, and the oppressed. It is the interests of these layers that the Labour Party is supposed to represent and defend. Instead, with its flag-waving and appeals to big business, it is currently alienating all three demographics.
This situation cannot continue. Unless the right wing is kicked out, and Labour is fundamentally transformed into a vehicle for socialist policies, then the party is ‘heading over a cliff’.
But Starmer and the right wing won’t go without a fight. The left must therefore organise to drive out Starmer and the saboteurs.
Grassroots Labour activists and trade unionists are already calling for Starmer to go. We urge rank-and-file members and left-led unions to join the Starmer Out campaign: to mobilise so that we can remove the right wing – starting with Starmer at this year’s Labour conference in September.
As Unite’s Howard Beckett recently put it:
“We have to mobilise right here and now, and let all of society know that we reject him [Starmer]. We reject his leadership, or so-called leadership. We want Labour back for socialism, and we demand it immediately.”
Beckett is totally correct. We need a socialist Labour Party that is capable of taking the fight to the Tories and the capitalist system they represent. But Starmer and the right wing stand in our way.
We must fight to remove the right wing and transform the party along socialist lines. But to do this, we must urgently build the Marxist tendency within the labour movement. We urge you to join us in this task.