by Martin Odoni

That the Labour Party needs to win back support in the doubtfully-named ‘Red Wall’ is hardly a secret. Without the backing of lost seats in its former Heartlands across the north of England and Wales, it seems like only a total inversion of British politics, of the type seen in the USA in the 1930s, would be the sole path back to power i.e. by moving further to the right even than the Conservatives and stealing Tory Heartland seats.

North and north-west England before the 2019 General Election. More a red splodge than a red wall, but it was also far less permanent in a lot of places than the mainstream media wanted us to think

Unfortunately, yet another in the very long list of failings in the current Labour Party leader has been exposed this week. Plans were leaked of what Keir Starmer will be using in the next few months as his substitute for a Local Elections strategy. It really is just about the most basic and unimaginative scheme imaginable. He aims just to sound and act all patriotic. Given we are in an era of Brexit, some might argue that this may be just the right time to try appealing to the lowest common denominator. But really, they brainstorm for a strategy and all they come up with is this?

I have no doubt that Starmer wrapping himself up in the Union flag and singing a couple of verses of Rule! Britannia before opening his speech to the party conference will appeal to some people. Maybe even a few in the ‘Red Wall’. But I have to say, he risks seriously under-estimating the intelligence of the voting public if he thinks this is all he has to do to lure them. That down-the-nose perspective is what is irritating.

What is disturbing is that it is the most standard Conservative tactic in the book. Appealing to patriotism and letting it spill over into xenophobia is a kind of ‘default’ setting for the Conservative Party, especially when running low on ideas. Consider Save The Pound under William Hague, when he simply could not think of anything else he could campaign about that might appeal to people. The tactic comes from one of the Tories’ ugliest instincts; they are always seeing everybody beneath them on the social scale as a stereotype of one sort or another. It seems that Starmer thinks everybody ‘beneath’ him is a stereotype too, a stereotype English football hooligan who heads abroad to insult foreigners and pick fights with opposing fans who dare not speak English as a first language. Starmer seems to think that is the average of working class behaviour. Indeed, ‘Sir Keir’ keeps demonstrating a lot of Tory-like qualities, and while he might lure back a few voters from the Brexit Party and some UKIP (remember them?) defectors, he is as liable to alienate yet more of his party’s natural supporters by patronising them with displays of Donald-Trump-like flag-kissing.

Is this really appealing?

I certainly struggle to see the Scots or the Welsh, whom Labour desperately need back, finding a picture of Starmer apparently dressing to fit in at a National Front open-air rally particularly romantic.

As for the English, well, my expectation of the average intelligence of Britain’s largest kingdom has much declined in recent years. The English are also far likelier to see themselves as proudly ‘British,’ overlooking imperial connotations therein, than the Scots or Welsh, and so some of them might well be drawn in by such sights. But for all that, I would still like to believe most Englishmen by far are not that gullible.

And yet, with this path the Red Tories at the top of the Labour Party are choosing, the English will need to be that stupid, if the country is to get rid of Boris Johnson any time soon. Starmer wants to be a cheerleader like Johnson. He wants to beat Johnson on Johnson’s strongest ground, a ground where intelligence and coherence are weaknesses, and being loud, obnoxious and un-listening are super powers. The rigid, grey, robotic Starmer will really struggle to fulfill that role.

How sadly this all reflects on the country. The Labour Party, who only fifteen months ago looked to ambitious programs of reform and renewal, and wished only to discuss the issues, now depends on an assumption that the population are so stupid that they will vote for anyone who dresses up as John Bull, and now treats issues like a side-detail unless they can be used for cheap point-scoring? And still Starmer and his cronies do not seem to realise that this means they are offering nothing the Tories do not already offer. So why not just keep voting for the Tories? many are bound to ask.

This is exactly why Jeremy Corbyn emerged back in 2015 – because all the centrist candidates for Labour leader were saying exactly the same things as each other, and only Corbyn offered anything more than Toryism in a red tie.

They are literally making exactly the same mistakes all over again six years on. Why? Because it appears they are too scared to admit to themselves that they have compromised far too much over the last forty years. There is so much more they could accomplish in Government, if only they had the guts to fight for it, not against it.

If you think this is untrue, pause and ask yourself the question below; –

If they fought half as hard against the Tories as they do against the left wing of their own party, there would never be a Conservative Government again.