In a recent speech, Keir Starmer unveiled five ‘missions’ for the country that will “form the backbone of Labour’s election manifesto”: improving the NHS, reforming public education, securing high economic growth, being tough on crime, and turning the UK into a “clean energy superpower”.
Whilst no worker in Britain could dispute the need for such improvements, they are insufficient to address the crises we face. In fact, it is unlikely that Starmer’s Labour Party will even complete such ‘missions’.
Labour leadership have been increasingly eager to demonstrate their pro-business stance, with slogans as direct as “Labour is back in business”. This, paired with Starmer’s war on the left wing of his own party, makes clear that the current Labour Party are entirely subservient to the interests of capital, and that these five missions will bring limited reform at best.
Britain cannot become “clean energy superpower” while our energy sector remains in private hands. It is not in the interest of big corporations to pursue an environmentally friendly business model, as there is still too much profit left to be made in unclean energy.
Starmer has made clear – in the very speech in which he unveiled his five missions – that Labour will continue to pursue partnerships with big business. Any attempts at clean energy reform in this context will require compromises with the energy companies.
It would be far more effective to put our energy sector under state control, with an economic plan that ensured efficient provision of clean energy to every household in Britain. But Starmer is no socialist. Despite promising common ownership in his Labour leadership campaign he went back on this pledge over a year ago, clarifying on the Andrew Marr show that he would not nationalise the ‘Big Six’ energy companies.
Starmer’s pro-business approach also raises questions about his mission to achieve the highest economic growth in the G7. Again, the mission itself is not the issue so much as how he expects a Labour government to achieve this.
In his speech, Starmer talked about building partnerships with trade unions and partnerships with businesses. This provides good indication of how the Labour leader expects to manage the economy – like a mediator between the interests of the workers and the bosses.
There can be no true compromise between the interests of labour and capital. If Starmer truly believes such compromise is possible, and isn’t just trying to appeal to the votes of both owners and workers, then he is being naive.
He will have to pick a side, and recent history has shown that this will not be the side of the workers. Mere months ago, Starmer sacked Labour MP Sam Tarry from the party’s front bench after Tarry attended a Euston Station picket line.
Two of Labour’s new ‘missions’ are to improve the NHS and to reform our education system. Yet, as our nurses, ambulance drivers, teachers, and school support staff all take industrial action, they are finding a Labour Party that offers nothing for them: a party that has turned its back on our trade unions, and made clear it will govern in the interests of the private corporations.
Starmer lied his way into leading Labour, playing as left wing only as long as he needed to. Even if he is serious about these new ‘missions’, and Labour were to win a majority at the next election, that would only give us mild reforms and ‘reasonable compromises’.
We have had decades of such compromises, and it has left us with lower pay, higher debt, rising costs, and insecure employment. Labour’s new commitments promise no real change to any of these conditions.
Mia English, is Challenge’s News Editor