Decent, capable, reserved, but Starmer has yet to show that victory will inspire him.


The time of healing comes after sadness.

Acceptance after failure comes.

And even after the messiest breakup, a desire to move on finally comes, but that’s not anything to rush into, as Keir Starmer says. The eventual split of the United Kingdom from the EU still sounds like a bereavement to us, however long we have known it was coming. But in the Labor Party, there was no time for mourning.

The opposition was pressured by a ticking parliamentary clock to either opt for the only kind of Brexit agreement available or face the electoral repercussions.

Starmer actually invited a weeping widow to proceed by encouraging his party to accept the agreement when the body was barely cold. Amid some bloody arm twisting, the rebellion in Parliament went beyond the usual suspects. Apart from that, many of Starmer’s natural supporters are dismayed. What happened to the hero of the Second Referendum struggle, the man who said he would accept the restoration of freedom of movement? Now it seems to be the attitude of the Labour Party that there is no need to cry over spilt milk.

Starmer indicated that, when he came to power, he would not attempt to rewrite the deal. That was far more surprising for some than the vote itself.

The former Momentum specialist, Laura Parker, turned Starmer’s cheerleader, tweeted that she was “beyond words.”

Others have had plenty, though. A senior Labour MP says, “It’s all tactics, no strategy,” “Keir and his people are not political and they are making more and more missteps because they have no analysis of where they ultimately want to go. “Yet what the party considers painful or confusing is always much simpler for voters, as with Labour’s decision to expel Jeremy Corbyn over his reaction to damning results on anti-Semitism.

Too many are clearly fed up after four endless years of battling over Brexit; an Opinium poll shows that even Remainers preferred MPs to vote by a 50 percent to 19 percent margin for the agreement, with Labour voters breaking along similar lines.

But the pledge of the Tories to only “go through” with Brexit has also resonated with individuals who are tired of dealing with confusion, or who just no longer care.

And, at best, we face years of haggling over problems that this skeletal agreement has left unanswered.

Britain can’t actually agree to leave it behind as much as the pandemic can, but that’s not necessarily what Starmer intended.

The Labour Party will have a lot to figure out, but at the end of the discussion, as his shadow cabinet colleague Rachel Reeves said, the aim is to “stop re-litigating the past and start thinking about tomorrow”; to deal with reality as it is, not contemplate what should have been. Her boss is less interested in turning his back on Europe than in the recent history with his party’s constant divisions and poisonous specters.

When Deborah Mattinson, the UKThinks pollster in the party leader’s office, whose deep observations into ‘Leave’ areas are increasingly closely read, asked her focus groups late last year what animal Boris Johnson looked like, the response was a cow. He was seen by voters as sad, wandering here and there, always with someone else hot on his heels.

Starmer, though, was an eagle who circled high in the sky. Of course, that is better than being a sheep; eagles are strong birds.

Yet they are considered aloof and calculating as well, hovering out of control forever. Who would really know what an eagle is thinking? To confuse political pragmatism, or a willingness to do what it takes to win, with a lack of conviction is a rookie mistake.

He explained that it was worse than that, as Tony Blair used to joke when pressed to drop all the stuff he said just to get elected: he really believed it. He did not drop Clause IV or attempt to change education because it did well in the polls, but because his instincts were really those.

It was and is often the opposite of pragmatic, especially in European politics, but where Blair compromised with voters, it was generally for a specific reason: pragmatism with a specific purpose in mind, to win support in exchange for explicitly defined progressive gains. He was willing to take the party outside its comfort zone, at least in the early days,


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