Will nobody thank me for doing a “fucking good job” complained education secretary Gillian Keegan on Monday as she presides over schools whose ceilings may collapse on students at any moment.
Only in the alien world of Tory ministers is the problem the lack of appreciation they receive. They think that instead of criticism, the awe-struck populace should be humbly thanking them.
What a shower they are, and how desperately we need to remove them. On the same day as Keegan’s contemptuous remarks, Labour leader Keir Starmer used a shadow cabinet reshuffle to drive the party even further rightwards.
He promoted a series of figures that are regarded as supporters of Tony Blair and the whole New Labour strategy of cuddling up to business. Starmer appointed Liz Kendall to oversee work and pensions.
She has a long record of supporting Tory attacks on benefits and won just 4.5 percent of the vote when she stood for Labour leader in 2015.
For most people the new assortment of Labour figures you wouldn’t recognise if you met them will be irrelevant. But Starmer uses these events to send signals of his personal pledges to the ruling class.
He underlines his determination to crush the left. He repeats an assurance that the embrace of big business is forever and he is not going to lurch leftwards if he is in Number 10.
Lisa Nandy has shown only a flicker of difference from Starmer, and right wing trade union leaders like her. But the smidgen of difference was enough for Starmer to demote her. Meanwhile the party’s left is reduced to begging.
“Starmer promised to unite the party and build on Labour’s anti‑austerity course set after 2015, with transformative policies. Yet this shadow cabinet is perhaps the most Blairite since Blair,” said left group Momentum.
And its conclusion was, “Now more than ever, we need real Labour values.” But Starmer represents “real Labour values”.
He is a strongly right wing version of them, but all Labour leaders have bent to the demands of bankers and bosses. All have accepted that the British state has to be defended and that capitalism must be nourished.
The Tories have the smell of the grave around them. There is a very widespread feeling that under this government, nothing works, and everything goes wrong.
But the Starmer alternative does not offer any break from the fundamentals of Conservative rule. The revival of struggle in the workplaces in the summer of 2022 was a big boost.
We need another reset and a revival of the fightback now.