Sir Keir Starmer has had a strong start to his Labour leadership, although, there are a group of Labour voters who are dissatisfied with their current leader.
Starmer has a momentous task ahead of him. He has to try and make Labour electable again and, along that road, he has to make walk on a very thin line. That caution has frustrated many Jeremy Corbyn supporters who feel that their party are losing their way. The reality is that Starmer must tread down a different path to their former leader.
Corbyn was a dead man walking when he went into the December General Election. Door-to-door market research found that many people had no trust in the former Labour leader, as reported in The Guardian.
A lot of the public saw him as a terrorist sympathiser and a Marxist. While he was neither of these things, an effective media smear campaign had worked its ugly magic. The people's minds were fixed. Much like the anti-European Union stance of Brexiteers, the anti-Corbyn opinion didn't necessarily have a lot of substance but it did have a lot of emotion behind it. People hated him.
Corbyn should not have been given another chance to get into power. While he paraded around universities and won the hearts of many young people, older Labour voters were forgotten about. They were allowed to take the negative smear campaign on board. Not enough was done to combat those allegations. The party were living in fantasy land as young British people lapped up everything that Corbyn had to say. Sadly, they are only a small part of the population.
Younger people, particularly students, could question the attacks against Corbyn. Twitter was full of support for Corbyn. But what about regular readers of certain outlets? Some people's main source of news came from their daily newspaper. Social media was prevalent, too. The dichotomy between Facebook and Twitter audiences is also quite striking.
While Twitter is tailored to a younger, more liberal, audience, Facebook has a significantly larger user-base. Regular anti-Corbyn Facebook adverts helped to reinforce the message of certain newspapers. There was enough evidence for Labour to see progress with Corbyn but that was because they largely ignored the glaringly obvious opposition. The result: a resounding victory for the Conservatives. So step forward Starmer.
Some Corbyn supporters are upset with his successor's more central political stance but they need to accept it. Much of the world is ensconced in populism and the Left is simply not fashionable. You can carry on endlessly preaching from that side of the spectrum but it isn't going to make you electable.
Corbyn was mercilessly attacked by a small elite group who were terrified at the prospect of drastic societal change. They were mortified at the prospect of a different financial model to free market capitalism and the idea of the ethical Left becoming mainstream. The working-class need scapegoats for when the going gets tough; anything but questioning the strict capitalist financial model.
Of course, there were no guarantees that the Corbyn project would have succeeded but those spinning the vicious narratives were determined that it wouldn't have the chance to succeed or fail.
It's hard to be too critical of Corbyn. He was a genuinely nice, honest and principled man. You don't get too many of those in politics. But both he and his team didn't do enough to combat the storm that they faced. They were consumed by it. If you promise radical change then you should expect an overwhelming assault from those at the top of the establishment. Labour let that assault define their leader and define their movement. And now there is Starmer.
Labour know that Starmer offers them a much more realistic shot at power. In return, they have to compromise some of their ground on the Left. Both Corbyn and Starmer are smart but the latter is more politically smart. Corbyn didn't want to play the game or sing to the tune of a particular demographic. The fact is that there are not enough Left thinking members of the electorate to win a General Election; Starmer needs to attract people from the other side. Admittedly, that should be easier when Brexit isn't acting as Boris Johnson's political shield! Still, Starmer's reaction to the toppling of the Edward Colston statue was a good example of trying to appeal to a both sides of the spectrum.
He was quick to condemn those responsible for defacing the statue in the way that they did before then admitting that it should have been removed a long time ago. Finding a balance. Playing the game. He wouldn't give his blessing to lawless acts but was also articulate enough to explain why Colston should not have been on display in the middle of Bristol.
Those on the Right would be satisfied that he isn't bowing down to anarchy. Those on the Left would be content that he had illustrated Colston's history in the slave trade and accepted that his statue shouldn't be standing in 21st century Britain. Some were disappointed that he condemned the actions of vandalism but condoning Far Left actions isn't sensible for a multitude of reasons.
Corbyn was annihilated last year. The Left was annihilated with him. It might be nice to nod your head and pretend you are getting somewhere but, the truth is, it's delusion. Left wing politics is still very much alive but it has taken a beating and it needs to get real. In populism, the new Left is the centre.
Put differences aside
Starmer is not a monster, he is just different. A little more corporate. A little more polished. Corbyn was heralded as a modern day Jesus by many on the Left but that doesn't make Starmer the Antichrist! He is a genuinely sensible alternative to the Prime Minister.
People can vote for the Conservatives, Labour or any other political party. The point of this is to get behind a functioning democracy. A landscape where there are two parties capable of winning a General Election will only push whoever is in charge to do better. A weak Opposition can scream and shout but the Government in charge can do whatever they please.
It is unfortunate that Corbyn wasn't given a fair trial and the bias towards him arguably undermined the status of our democracy. But that is the way it is. Do you want to win an argument or an election? Starmer has the potential to do both but it's much easier to win an argument when you're in power.