by Martin Odoni

One of the great problems New Labour always had from the day it rebranded itself was its over-regimentation. This took its most damaging form in the Tony Blair years when he was almost disturbingly determined to make sure that no member of his party drifted away from his preferred message. This could lead to backtracking far more embarrassing than simply saying, “Well, I differ slightly from my colleague on this,” would ever be.

Perhaps the most pathetic extreme forms of this were when Labour members were caught with their metaphysicals down and the spin machine would come up with something that rhymed to cover it. For instance, Cherie Blair, shortly before her husband stepped down, was seen and heard saying Gordon Brown had told a lie during a tribute speech. The spinners somehow thought they were fooling the human race by arguing that she had not said, “That’s a lie,” and instead said, “I must get by,” which in this context did not even mean anything, let alone persuade anyone.

And what was the point? Everybody knew by this time that Blair and Brown could no longer bear the sight of each other and were barely on speaking terms. Why pretend?

Now, remember yesterday me mentioning that centrist gaslighters like James “No’Brain” O’Brien have a bad tendency to pretend that what was said was not what was said?

Old habits, and all that; Blair’s ideological stepson, Herr Keir von Stürmer, Führer of the Labour Party, has made his most notorious speech yet, summed up by the media as, “I am more conservative than the Conservatives.” Now, this is not what Herr Stürmer said word-for-word, and many of his fellow right wingers in the party are turning into outright verbatim-Nazis i.e. they will not tolerate any suggestion that what he said matches the media summary of it unless you can produce evidence that he did say it word-for-word.

Well sorry, chaps, but if you are one of them, you are making yourselves look both silly and pedantic. It is quite easy to see why the summary is a completely fair conclusion to draw. What Starmer was saying was that the Tories were not living up to their own principles, and the he wants to pursue them.

“I didn’t say I’m a Tory except I did except I didn’t mean it except I did mean it except it doesn’t mean I oppose Labour’s core aims and values except it does.”

“We must understand there are precious things – in our way of life, in our environment, in our communities – that it is our responsibility to protect and preserve and to pass on to future generations. And look, if that sounds conservative, then let me tell you: I don’t care… Somebody has got to stand up for the things that make this country great and it isn’t going to be the Tories.

“That in the end is one of the great failures of the last 13 years. A Tory party that in generations past saw itself as the protector of the nation and the Union has undermined both. They’ve taken an axe to the security of family life, trashed Britain’s reputation abroad, and totally lost touch with the ordinary hope of working people. The Conservative Party can no longer claim to be conservative. It conserves nothing we value – not our rivers and seas, not our NHS or BBC, not our families, not our nation.”


Starmer is saying quite explicitly that the way the Tories are now operating is a desertion of conservatism. Defending the nation, protecting the union, caring for Britain’s reputation abroad etc. Starmer is quite genuinely saying that these are ‘conservative values.’ Whether you agree with that or not, that is what he is saying. And he is also indicating that they are values that he wishes to see revived. So he is pursuing conservative values that he thinks the actual conservatives are not. Therefore, he is saying he is more Tory than the Tories. QED. There is no escaping it.

Being Starmer of course, he was really just rambling in generalities once again, committing to nothing specific and offering no coherent policy platform. If Blairite-descendants think that gets him off the hook, they can think again, because he still said what he really did say, and in any event, he has not committed to any anti-Tory policies either.

After years of being blackmailed with accusations of, “If you don’t vote Labour, you’re a Tory-enabler,” I can only take a certain redeeming pleasure at the sight of all those online Red Tories now having their favourite cheap line confiscated. For it is now, “If you do vote Labour, you’re voting for someone more conservative than the Conservatives.” Herr Sturmer has just made it very difficult for them to deny it.

And you know what? If Starmer does not like it when his allies are poorly-regimented enough to tell the world that he did not say what he did say, and thus are being too left wing for him, here is a thought: He can always purge them.