Saturday 15 July 2023


 Just under a week ago, I published a blogpost that shared the insights of an Open Britain newsletter that struck me as having insights that needed sharing. 

Here is a link:

Yesterday, this week's newsletter from Open Britain had a similar feeling of importance. Phrases such as 'We're drifting into a new British dark age - and it feels like there's little individuals can do about it' and 'thirteen years of the Conservative's near-total failure to govern' seem to me spot-on. 

Thanks to EDRi20 - European Defenders of Digital Rights for this image

Most of the newsletter is taken up with an assessment of what the Labour Party under Starmer are offering - a pros and cons examination. It seems to me this study by Open Britain is helpful in highlighting a few promising ideas that Labour offered in May this year - although there is absolutely no guarantee that any will be acted on if and when Starmer is the prime-minister. It also nails the

concerns that are only too evident in the Labour Party's performance under Starmer's leadership.

Here is the newsletter:

"Dear Rob,

Even if you’re not glued to UK political news 24/7 like we are, it’s clear that Britain is in bad shape. From incomes to the NHS to housing to trust in government, we’re reaping the consequences of failed leadership across a myriad of policy areas.

Making matters worse, the government has barricaded itself off from public opinion with anti-democratic legislation. We’re left to suffer the state’s ineptitude and corruption with little democratic recourse – whether that be protest, judicial review, or even voting without barriers. We’re drifting into a new British dark age – and it feels like there’s little individuals can do about it. 

After thirteen years of the Conservative’s near-total failure to govern, it’s obvious that we need a fundamental change in leadership. Unfortunately, our outdated FPTP voting system leaves us with a two-party tug of war for political power. The question that remains is: Can Labour – the only real alternative under FPTP – gaze beyond the fatal limitations of the status quo?

We have seen a few promising ideas floated from Labour, particularly in the tentative national policy platform floated in May. These include: 

  • Abolishing or reforming the House of Lords;
  • Banning ex-ministers from taking political lobbying jobs, as well as potentially blocking MPs from holding most second jobs; 
  • Floating ideas about increasing the powers of devolved governments; 
  • Cracking down on foreign money in politics; 
  • The creation of a new independent integrity & ethics commission 
  • Reducing the voting age to 16. 

There are, however, still a number of concerns we’ve heard voiced about Starmer’s Labour Party: 

  • Labour frontbench MPs accepting shady donations from shell corporations, American private healthcare interests, gambling firms, climate sceptic organisations, and evangelical christian groups; 
  • A top-down selection process that has notably excluded women, minorities, and the left-wing of the party – experts warn of a “stifling monoculture” that undermines party democracy; 
  • A rejection of Proportional Representation by central leadership, despite widespread support among members and trade unions; 
  • Concerning attacks on political pluralism, expelling members like Neal Lawson for urging progressive cross-party cooperation; 
  • Unwillingness to commit to reversing most of the Tories anti-democratic policies, including the Policing Act, Public Order Act, Judicial Review Act, or the Elections Act; 
  • Starmer having a similar stance on climate protestors to Suella Braverman; 
  • Constant U-turns – 14 policy walk-backs in three years according to Politico

It’s not an easy calculation to make. It seems that there is appetite in the UK for serious change, but it remains unclear whether Starmer’s Labour is the appropriate vehicle for it. Given a lack of real political options, we find ourselves at a strange crossroads. We also can't forget that there will be a temptation for Labour (if they win the next GE) to simply focus on the short term economic crisis – ignoring larger scale democracy issues. 

We're keen to know what you think about the future of British politics. In your view, where does the hope lie? Can campaigners and organisers like Open Britain make the case to Starmer that we need serious reform before it's too late – or will Labour opt to neglect constitutional issues and set themselves up for failure down the line? 

Fill out our survey and let us know: 

All the best,

The Open Britain team"

Read the 'Concerns about Labour' section again - and you can perhaps see why Steve Walker of Skwawkbox is so appalled by what has happened to the Labour Party once Starmer had lied his way into its leadership - through his deceitful adherence to the Ten Pledges associated with Jeremy Corbyn and his vision for Britain. Who can trust Starmer ever again? The personal pursuit of power corrupts. 

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