Keir Starmer has offered a warm welcome to recent Tory defector Christian Wakeford. Meanwhile, socialists are being purged from the party, and Jeremy Corbyn has not had the whip restored. Labour should be appealing to workers, not Tories.

Keir Starmer has offered a warm welcome to recent Tory defector Christian Wakeford. Meanwhile, socialists are being purged from the party, and Jeremy Corbyn has not had the whip restored. Labour should be appealing to workers, not Tories.

Last week, Christian Wakeford, Tory MP for Bury South, crossed the aisle in Parliament and joined the Labour Party.

Despite voting against the interests of the working class on multiple occasions, Wakeford was welcomed with open arms by Labour leader ‘Sir’ Keir Starmer. 

Wakeford’s abysmal voting record includes supporting the recent £20-per-week cut to Universal Credit, which is predicted to send 800,000 people into poverty; and endorsing the recent Nationalities and Borders bill, which would allow the government to strip British citizens of their freedoms without informing them.

The former Conservative MP has also expressed his pride in supporting the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts bill, which would further criminalise protests and restrict trade union rights.

With this toxic mix of flag waving, racism, and disdain for the working class, Wakeford will no doubt get along swimmingly with the rest of the Blairites in the Parliamentary Labour Party. 

Writing on the wall

Boris earthquake

Wakeford, like many of the 2019-intake of Tory MPs, won his so-called ‘Red Wall’ seat on a pledge that these northern areas – suffering from long-term chronic underinvestment – would be ‘levelled up’ by the Tories.

With inflation soaring, and energy and food prices starting to spiral out of control, however, the government is offloading Britain’s deepest ever economic crisis onto the backs of the working class. The promise of ‘levelling up’ is therefore starting to sound like a sick joke. 

The swathe of scandals and sleaze surrounding Boris Johnson are only adding fuel to the fire, expressed in the catastrophic collapse of the Tory vote in recent polls.

No doubt Wakeford – like many of his fellow Conservative backbenchers holding onto slim majorities – can see the writing on the wall. His defection to Labour is therefore not in the ‘national interest’, as he claims, but in his own personal interest, to protect his career. 

Right-wing hypocrisy

If the history of the Labour Party teaches us anything, it’s that the right wing will bend over backwards to accommodate Tories.

Over the last couple of years, Keir Starmer has happily embraced Tory MPs and racists (not at all mutually exclusive categories). Before Wakeford, for example, former House of Commons Speaker John Bercow was warmly welcomed into the party by the Labour leadership.

Genuine class fighters and socialists, meanwhile, are being purged from the party for apparently not ‘sharing Labour’s aims and values’.

Socialist Appeal supporters have been banned; our paper has been proscribed; and Jeremy Corbyn MP, whilst allowed back into the party as a member, has not had the whip restored – meaning he will not be able to stand as a Labour candidate in the next general election.

Red Tories

But what, under Starmer’s leadership, are Labour’s ‘aims and values’?

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves gave a clear indication of the party’s politics and priorities in a recent interview with the Financial Times, in which she proudly stated that Labour is now unashamedly ‘pro-business’ and committed to ‘fiscal discipline’.

This confirms the rightward lurch taken under Starmer, with the right wing aiming to convince the ruling class that the Labour Party is now a safe pair of hands for British capitalism; in the words of Tony Benn: “a harmless alternative to the Conservatives”.

Similarly, ‘Sir’ Starmer has attempted to outflank the Tories when it comes to flag-waving patriotism and ‘tough’ rhetoric on ‘law and order’.

In the midst of a cost of living crisis, with a Spring of Discontent and intense industrial battles on the horizon, it is clear that the Labour Party has no real answers to the issues facing the working class.

Whose side are you on?

While Labour are currently polling higher than the Tories, this has far more to do with the burning hatred towards Johnson and his unscrupulous clique of liars and crooks, than it has to do with any genuine support for Starmer’s policies (or lack thereof). 

Over half of the population (52%) still see Keir Starmer in an unfavourable light. And this mistrust towards the political establishment will only continue to bubble away under the surface, as further scandals and crises come to light.

Large layers of workers and youth are already drawing the conclusion that capitalism cannot provide them with a future, or even with basic necessities: things as simple as food on the table, or a roof over their head.

These are the people that the Labour Party should be appealing to – not big business bosses, bankers, and Tory politicians.