The Utterly Useless Keir Starmer 119

Ministerial resignations should be the least of the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic procurement corruption scandal. Ministers, MPs and their corrupt mates who benefited from these contracts should be in the dock and looking at lengthy periods of imprisonment. This blog was ahead of mainstream media in breaking details of some of these contracts which simply beggared belief, like the £250 million contract for PPE awarded to Ayanda Capital.

The truly terrifying thing is that the corrupt award of these contracts to Tory contacts with zero experience of medical procurement, or even of basic shipping logistics, has not been found to be illegal. In March 2020 the Cabinet Office declared that the Covid emergency allowed procurement safeguards to be suspended under the Public Contract Regulations 2015 section 32 (2) (C) – “direct award due to extreme urgency”. To the Tories, that simply removed all tendering, pre-qualification and price checks and allowed them to just give out massive contracts on the old boy, you scratch my back, system, totaling tens of billions of pounds. The use of inexperienced companies – plumbing suppliers, American jewellers and private investment firms being just a few examples – to provide vital PPE must have been a factor in consequent shortages and excessive deaths, particularly of healthcare staff.

I understand emergencies. If established suppliers of medical equipment had been granted huge orders without proper scrutiny I would not have much objected. But what we have instead seen, stinks (and we should never forget that the procurement emergency arose in the first place because the Tories had stupidly run down the national emergency stockpile for a pandemic).

I do not think it impossible that courts may yet find that the ability to offer “direct award due to extreme urgency” does not exempt ministers from all duty to ensure that companies awarded contracts were suitable and capable, or exempt ministers from the need to eschew corrupt patronage. But for the moment, all the High Court has decided is that Matt Hancock broke the law in not publishing details of awarded contracts within thirty days. That is like getting Al Capone on tax accounting – far worse crimes lie beneath. But for now it is what the legal system has given us.

Yesterday we were faced wth the stunning spectacle of the so-called Leader of the Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer, refusing to call for Hancock’s resignation over the Covid-19 procurement debacle. That is not, Sir Keir gravely told us, what the public want to see.

Indeed, with Starmer as Labour leader, the public of England and Wales appear resolute in wanting to vote Tory, so presumably Starmer will not oppose them in that either? Starmer appears not only to have misunderstood “Opposition” in his job title, he clearly has not grasped “Leader” either.

Do you recall when the Blairites told us that once Labour eschewed all nasty thoughts of regulating extreme libertarian capitalism it would romp ahead in the opinion polls? Corbyn was duly smeared and jettisoned, and it took Starmer once elected about five minutes to show that he had simply lied in pretending to share Corbyn’s interest in social justice. The Labour Party has now been dressed in the Union Jack, has pandered to anti-immigrant racism, has embraced the hardest of Brexits, has become an unequivocal cheerleader for Israel, and declared itself primarily concerned with the interests of businessmen, yet still Labour polls worse than under Corbyn. This despite a bumbling, incompetent and corrupt Tory government whose only achievement is measured in death toll.

The Labour Party under Starmer is simply useless. I have not the slightest idea why it believes itself to exist. With the super patriotic Knight of the Realm as his second, Boris Johnson could bumble on for many years to come, while Tories just get richer and we all get poorer.


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119 thoughts on “The Utterly Useless Keir Starmer

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  • RogerDodger

    That about sums it up, Craig. Utterly depressing. But when I try to put it to my left-liberal, Guardian-reading friends that Labour under Starmer hasn’t traded ‘principles for power’ so much as ‘principles for nothing’, it’s quickly back to ‘Corbyn was anti-Semitic and unelectable’ as if they were reaching for a comfort blanket.

  • Jennifer Allan

    From the Good Law Project – Which persuaded the High Court “that Matt Hancock broke the law in not publishing details of awarded contracts within thirty days.”. It’s an absulute disgrace that UK Governments can use literally £billions of public money to quash any legal challenges.

    “Tomorrow, the High Court will hear our application for a cost capping order in our judicial review of Government’s decision to award huge PPE contracts to questionable counterparties.We have been forced to apply for the order, which would cap the costs of both sides, after Government revealed it planned to spend an eye-watering £1 million defending the case. If we lose, Good Law Project would be liable for these enormous costs. And Ayanda and Pestfix – the fortunate VIP lane recipients of vast contracts to supply PPE much of which we now know to be unusable – are also asking for huge and, we are advised, inflated sums in costs. We are a small not-for-profit, funded by donations from members of the public. We cannot bear this kind of existential risk. “

    • Squeeth

      If the government can plead force of circumstance, will unemployed people be granted the same privilege when they are being persecuted by the dole office?

  • Josh R

    The other day, I read a post on another forum which provided quite an effective slap of reality:

    “How is it possible that the failing test & trace system cost £22 Billion in just a few months, while the entire cost of building the Channel Tunnel over 5 years cost £16 Billion in today’s money?”

    Useful bit of perspective….

    • Josh R

      But then once you’ve got away with murder (Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc. etc.), then a bit of daylight robbery is a walk in the park.
      After all, they got away with the bail outs Scot-free and goodness knows what else ever since, so why should they be bothered 🙁

      • Tom Welsh

        Exactly. When the British people insouciantly watched HMG rape Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and other countries, with the consequent millions of deaths, they apparently did not expect a similar process to be turned against them.

        But why on earth not?

      • Antiwar7

        You got that right. They got away with all their war crimes, including the supreme one: the war of aggression, because of disinformation and later hiding the issue.

        Wars of choice, with their _inevitable_ mass killings, mass rapes, and mass economic ruin, should always be the main topi: front and center. Everything else pales in importance.

      • BrianFujisan

        indeed Josh R

        All of it made possible by the Propaganda Crimes of the BBC / Sky News.

        Then there is also the ‘Highway Robbery’ of £1Billion of Venezuelan Gold

        Like the Tories, Starmer makes me feel Nauseous.. Scotland needs her independence Fast.

  • laguerre

    I am not at all sure that Starmer really does understand the Red Wall mentaility. He seems to be frightened by the focus groups, but he himself is a Londoner, and his constituency is in London. If he were more in touch with the North, he might get somewhere. That is, if he has not already been nobbled, as I suspect, by foreign interests. If Johnson can be run by his fiancée, so can Starmer.

    • Shardlake

      As a cohesive quartet of nations we are lost. I am of the view (as an English person) that Scotland must seek its own deliverance from these brigands without waiting for Westminster to approve or consent to another referendum. I know little of Scottish politics, but what I am persuaded is that Scotland will be better off without the corruption we in England are having to endure with our current government and no effective official opposition. I know there is controversy between Sturgeon and Salmond and I sense Sturgeon’s days may be numbered given what I have read and from the erudite contributions to this website. Starmer is more in touch with the Friends of Israel group than he is with the needs of the people, north or south, who have supported the Labour Party all their lives and he is looking more toward furthering affiliations with the USA; hence his stance on the extradition of Mr Assange and his support for Judge Baraitser in the lead-up to the extradition hearings.

      • paul

        The fly in the ointment is that our elected representatives, largely, believe we must wait for consent and approval.

        Short of chartwells being put in charge of the house of commons catering, I can’t see many of them changing their minds.

      • laguerre

        It is not even a question of Scotland (though what you say is right). Starmer seems to understand Labour in London needs, but not those of the North. Andy Burnham would be better for that. As a Londoner of northern family, I feel there is no appreciation of what needs to be done to recover the Red Wall. It can be done, with leadership. But all he seems to do is panic reaction to the focus groups.

  • Tom Welsh

    The main difficulty at present is that none of the existing political parties is fit or competent to rule. Not only are they lacking in almost all the necessary skills and experience, but they also do not represent their “constituents” – the voters of the UK. Instead, they mostly represent their own interests and those of their friends.

    And why on earth should it be otherwise? Just because an ambitious person with an exalted view of his or her entitlement succeeds in going through the election masquerade, why should anyone expect that person to be instantly transformed into an altruistic angel?

    It’s the same in the USA, only rather more so because the quantities of money and power in play are far greater.

  • Antiwar7

    Just like the Democratic Party in the US: where progressivism goes to die.

    It prevents Medicare for All, lies about $2000 stimulus checks, and supports every war.

    • Antiwar7

      It transformed at the same time, too, in the 1990’s: Tony Blair for Labour in the UK, Bill Clinton and Al Gore and the DLC for the Democratic Party in the US.

  • William Bowles

    And Craig, you need to add the Labor Party itself to the list of useless. One man does not a party make and in spite of all the protesations of ‘what a good and honest man Corbyn is’, he still put the Labour Party well ahead of his own (alleged) convictions and I say alleged because when push came to shove, Corbyn was found wanting! The Party came first. Yet another case of ‘do as I say, but don’t do as I do’.

  • Royd

    I agree wholeheartedly with your view Mr Murray. Sir KS, LOTO, is proving to be world-beating at being useless. I believe he is in place to destroy any, and all vestiges, of what remains of socialism. He is not socialist – not one that I recognise anyway. If that is correct then he is proving to be far from useless I guess.

  • Kuhnberg

    To my regret, I failed to research Starmer at all thoroughly and voted for him to become leader. At the time I wasn’t particularly impressed by Long-Bailey and didn’t want to watch her – and Labour – being eviscerated by the Tories and the Corbyn-hating media. It never occurred to me that Starmer would abandon all the pledges he made to continue with Corbyn’s transformative program, which in hindsight looks increasingly like the country’s lost last chance at renewal. So much of what Starmer has been doing in the last twelve months has been more abhorrent than I could ever have imagined. The abandonment of his pledges, the wholesale sell-out to the demands of the Board of Deputies, the expulsion of principled left-wingers, many of them Jewish, in response to bogus charges of antisemitism, the burying of the leaked report, the reinstatement of those named in the report, the demotion of Long Bailey on a trumped-up charge, the withdrawal of the whip from Jeremy Corbyn, the ongoing persecution of the left-wing membership, the denial of party democracy at the constituency level, the embrace of cheap symbols of nationalism, and over and above all these things a complete abdication of his duty as opposition leader to oppose the appalling, lethal and corrupt Conservative administration and put forward policies to further equality and social justice – policies needed now, in the context of the pandemic, as never before. After all those betrayals, there is nothing further he could do, however shameful, that would surprise me.

  • Giyane

    ” I have not the slightest idea why it believes itself to exist. “

    We once bought a house which had about a dozen inbred bantam chickens with similar hairstyles to Sir Keir who were unable to crow, just screech. They would perch in a line on a metal bar in an outbuilding.

    This is what happens when a branch of a political party separates itself from its own kind and has nobody else to breed with.

  • chris

    dont think Sir Keir Starmer is quite that useless.
    he is, after all, a Trotskyist.
    and that fact may come in very handy in any future relations with the US
    should Biden and co stay in power for the next 8 years and Starmer becomes PM of the UK

    could be a great meeting of the minds……or not

  • OMG !!!!!!

    Cor, easy BILLIONS, it appears the corner shop at 11 Downing is just a gigantic front after all !! Including the 50k+ needless pensioners covid deaths, the blame lies squarely on the clique that denied corbyn at the GEs. From pompeo and mcnicol to mirvis and hodge, all of billy bunters eton mafia shenanigans will be to their account too, Mr Cozneffect will see to it.

  • John O'Dowd

    Truly the British state in the hands of these Tory crooks is a kleptocracy – and no-one, least of all Starmer’s shell of a Labour party, is either willing or able to hold it to account. They are not even trying to hide it anymore – and are throwing £millions of public money in legal costs to defend their criminality – thus compounding the felony.

    We in Scotland really need to get out of this catastrophic polity fast!

    • Johny Conspiranoid

      “We in Scotland really need to get out of this catastrophic polity fast!”

      Its a moot point whether formal independance would get you out of it.

  • 6033624

    PMQs are an open goal on a weekly basis that Starmer seems unwilling to even kick a ball towards. He has failed in his duty to make more of the astounding level of government corruption. Even IF the people don’t want to have Hancock resign he should STILL be calling for it, this is a nasty government of backhanders and when I can see that then the government has failed in its duty too.

    After pushing for a second referendum against the policy at the time of ‘respecting the vote’ Starmer then dropped it again after being the driving force behind Labour’s defeat. Now, what’s left of their membership and support can have only one reason to vote for them ie there’s no one else. And that’s the long and short of it. Labour voters won’t vote Tory nor waste their time voting LibDem, no matter how awful Labour is it’s still seen as either a better or more viable alternative. It’s like band members fighting over the name of the band because it’s not the talent that matters, it’s the brand.

    Having lost Scotland, having lost the Red Wall they are in danger of losing what little they still have. If there was an alternative party for working class voters they’d already be finished.

  • Goose

    The only positive thing about Starmer is the fact he should make winning Scottish independence a whole lot easier. Who in Scotland can hold up this current manifestation of the Labour party as a future antidote to the despised Tories?

    That is, if the SNP don’t self-destruct first due to their own factionalism and sneaky independence opponents among their ranks.

  • BW

    Starmer comes across like someone being operated

    At a certain point you might have said you knew what he stood for, pro-EU, a stickler for legal process, vaguely wrapped in whatever you interpret social democracy to mean.

    His only authority comes from re-ordering Labour back to being a centre-right party with a bare minimum of prominent left wing figures for posterity. This authority doesnt transfer from a largely invisible internal struggle, what the wider public are seeing is simply the shell of a politician with almost no identifiable assets

    • Goose

      His membership of the pro-globalism, capitalism promoting Trilateral Commission is inconsistent with his professed beliefs in the leadership campaign. A Conservative politician would be one thing, the leader of the Labour party? Suppose his ‘leadership’ of the party of the unions will give them something chuckle about over their canapés and Dom Perignon at Davos.

      His relatively short political career and atrociously illiberal record as DPP should have been a warning. Starmer’s ‘uselessness’ is probably no accident, but rather by design. What utter fools Labour members were in falling for his carefully crafted, left-wing pitched, hugely expensive leadership campaign. With his personal wealth recently estimated at over £14m, does this look like the man of the working classes?

      • Johny Conspiranoid

        “What utter fools Labour members were in falling for his carefully crafted, left-wing pitched, hugely expensive leadership campaign.”

        Its because they don’t understand how collective lying works.

      • BW

        Yes Starmer planted himself very effectively at Corbyn’s side, never committed himself to the more activist end of the movement but maintained the appearance of a party loyalist while many others either openly (Phillips) or not so subtly (Watson) worked to undermine Corbyn.

        Phillips avowal to stab Corbyn in the front is starting to look quite charitable compared to Starmer’s slow stalking

  • Mary

    Leaving aside the corruption involved in the PPE contracts for a minute, we must not forget the destruction of OUR NHS, started under the Tories by Lansley and Cameron (originally by Thatcher and Redwood) and continuing to this day.

    The mantra is: Destabilize. Demoralise. Dismantle.

    Some of the background –

    The History of Privatisation – first in a series of articles by John Lister
    MARCH 2, 2020

  • James Dickins

    One silver lining of Starmer’s uselessness – at least if one shares the opinions of Craig Murray – is that it further hastens the demise of the Scottish Labour Party and the arrival of Scottish independence. I can’t imagine Keir opposing that anyway; he doesn’t oppose anything, apart from the left (and centre-left) of the Labour Party – which he fights with a ferocity as uncontrolled as it is imbecilic.

    • Goose

      They could be about to pick Anas ‘dull as dishwater’ Sarwar further compounding their problems. No doubt at London HQ’s (Starmer and Evans) insistence, in that pair’s attempt to recreate the magic of the Blairite Jim Murphy years. /s

      Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake… His rival, candidate Monica Lennon, is the only person talking anything like sense about another referendum. But don’t bother telling them… not that they’d listen anyway.

  • Goose

    The term Tangentopoli comes from the words tangente, meaning ‘kickback’ or ‘bribe’ in Italian, and poli, from the ancient Greek word polis, meaning ‘city’.

    It is commonly translated in English as ‘Bribesville’

    The term Tangentopoli accordingly came to denote a system based on tacit agreements whereby entrepreneurs paid bribes to politicians as an informal ‘tax’ to obtain public contracts, and politicians then used the money to fund their political parties.

    Mani pulite was a nationwide judicial investigation into political corruption in Italy held in the 1990s, resulting in the demise of the so-called “First Republic” and the disappearance of many political parties. Some politicians and industry leaders committed suicide after their crimes were exposed.


  • laguerre

    After reading the comments, I am more convinced of the idea I presented above. The factors involved in Starmer’s behaviour are likely to be :

    1) Starmer is a boy of modest origins. He doesn’t have the self-confidence of the public school boys, let alone those of Eton.

    2) He is a Londoner through and through, and represents a London constituency. He has no idea of what goes on in the North. At least Blair represented a northern constituency, even if he was not there that much, and Corbyn had knowledge of the Midlands. Every time I go north, it’s like going home (Londoner born of Northern origins), but the friend I visit in Durham is an Essex boy, and it’s like he’s in a foreign country. Starmer’s reaction to the Red Wall focus groups is simply panic: we have to obey them, but with no air of understanding.

    3) He is tributary to the Friends of Israel through his wife. Those people today are mainly Tory, and very London, even apart from whatever influence the foreign government of Israel may have.

    Yeah, Starmer’s leadership does look wrecked.

    • Goose

      He entered parliament in 2015’s GE when Ed Miliband was leader. Miliband was widely viewed as left-wing and seen as a problem for the establishment after doing a U-turn by refusing to support Syrian intervention in 2013’s big vote. We now know Starmer most definitely isn’t left-wing, so why did he give up his legal career to join a political party heading in a direction he disapproves of?

      He’s either been ‘sent in’ and is operating under the orders of unknown ‘others’in the UK establishment. Or he’s just a deeply naive and impressionable person; an empty vacuous shell of a leader who has no guiding principles or vision. Or maybe, as many fear, he has a wholly right-wing reactionary vision and a commitment to the status quo that simply dare not speak its name. Hence the policy void the party has become over the last year.

      Neither would make him or any party he leads worthy of serious consideration.

      • laguerre

        “Starmer most definitely isn’t left-wing,”

        That’s true, he’s centrist, but he’s afraid of the right-wing, and therefore does their business.

        • Goose

          I don’t see much evidence he’s a ‘centrist’ or social democrat. A true centrist would genuinely seek compromise, this guy is acting more like he and Evans are on a mission to purge the left , they are waging all out war. He’s sacked left-wing shadow cabinet members over minor indiscretions, and all his appointments are purely of the Blairite right. We’re told he’s even seeking Mandelson’s counsel.

          I honestly think he’s a right-winger, who behaved like the right’s ‘sleeper agent’ while in Corbyn’s cabinet, waiting to be ‘activated’ when in post as leader. Scummy thing to do.

          • Goose

            Johnson purged the Brexit wets who wanted a much softer Brexit deal.

            I don’t think left-right had much to do with it tbh. Johnson himself was never seen as being on the right previously. This is a guy who once wrote a Telegraph column that spoke out in defence of Snowden’s leaking, based on the public’s right to know.

          • Goose

            Corbyn was weak, and likely simply too old when he became leader.

            Ageist maybe, but fighting the Labour right would’ve been no easy task even for a much younger person. These New Labour people were as vicious and scheming as they are politically vacuous and principle free. It was widely reported that at the parliamentary Labour party meetings, Corbyn would suffer a stream of foul abuse and invective, yet never replied in kind.

            The problem goes far deeper than Starmer, most of the parliamentary Labour party are middle class, time serving scoundrels, who’ve hijacked what was once the party of radical ,progressive change, and no doubt many were just as happy as those scheming HQ staffers when the electorate gave Labour a black eye in 2019.

      • Johny Conspiranoid

        “He’s either been ‘sent in’ and is operating under the orders of unknown ‘others’in the UK establishment. Or he’s just a deeply naive and impressionable person; an empty vacuous shell of a leader who has no guiding principles or vision. Or maybe, as many fear, he has a wholly right-wing reactionary vision and a commitment to the status quo that simply dare not speak its name. Hence the policy void the party has become over the last year.”

        None of these things are mutually exclusive and all of them would work well together.

  • Bayard

    Almost 250 years ago, in 1783, Britain was also under a deeply corrupt Tory government. However, the Whigs, under Charles James Fox were trying to reform the governance of the East India Company, which was, at the time, extremely wealthy and influential. The Whigs got the bill through the Commons for a first reading, but when it came back for the second, the Tories simply bought enough votes to defeat it. A “shopping list” survives of 69 seats and what it would take, in the form of titles, government offices (probably sinecures) or good hard cash, for those MPs to vote against the bill.
    Since we are back to those days in terms of corruption, I wonder if there is a similar “shopping list” with Sir Kier at its head.

  • Republicofscotland

    What can you expect from a millionaire knight of the realm, he has more in common with the Tories, than he does with Labour, his appointment was a million miles away from what one could say was a socialist Labour leader.

    • laguerre

      Being a “millionaire knight of the realm” doesn’t mean much these days. I guess I’m a millionaire, cos I own two houses, one for the ex-wife, one for me. He got the knighthood through his former job.

      • bevin

        “He got the knighthood through his former job.”

        True enough: he did exactly what was asked of him: whitewashing police killings and ensuring that Assange was not able to deal with the spurious Swedish assault charges against him. Showing that he was a safe pair of hands fit to be entrusted with the important job of stabbing Corbyn in the back.

        • laguerre

          Starmer was Director of Public Prosecutions from 2008 to 2013. In that role he was a civil servant, not a political agent, which he did not become until elected to parliament in 2015. Civil servants don’t have the choice of decision, whatever I may feel about his decisions since becoming leader of the Labour party.

  • Brian c

    Tory Lite, Mandelson Heavy, the ruling class has its Labour party back. Sir Second Referendum has zero chance of making it to Downing Street, but that is not his purpose.

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