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Sir Keir Starmer, the Trojan horse currently functioning as Labour Leader, has taken another giant lurch to the right in copying Tory sloganizing. Featuring once again in the Torygraph, Starmer tries to appeal to the wealthy elite by regurgitating their language. An earlier speech, and a previous foray into that bastion of the far right press, committed Labour to pride over patriotism; it was his first steer in the wrong direction. The far Right espouse ‘British Values’ and embrace ‘patriotism,’ but this is not a wholesome support of inclusion, it’s the devisive rhetoric of white supremacist ‘othering’ with the selective exclusion of certain groups in a dangerously warped coloniolist belief in British Empire superiority. Starmer’s latest affront to traditional Labour beliefs, claims a new support for ‘Family Values,’ as if the Party had never championed the vital protections needed to safely provide for a family during the past decade of brutal Tory cuts, deprivation, rampant child poverty, reliance on food banks, homelessness: the impact of Tory austerity.
Just as with ‘British Values,’ once again the Tory concept of ‘Family Values’ is damaging, exclusionary and certainly not worth emulating as a political ideal. With Starmer choosing to write another piece for the Torygraph, he is sending a message to their right wing readers, that he is ready to align Labour with the callus Tory abandonment of family. The Canary Article entitled, “A sociologist just slammed Starmer’s new paywalled Telegraph article,” takes aim at Labour Leader Sir Keir’s poor judgement. They say, “Keir Starmer has once again written an article for the right-wing Telegraph. And once again, it’s behind a paywall. But this time, he and the Labour Party have a new catchphrase. And already a sociologist has pulled apart this new, decidedly worrying, slogan. Starmer in the Telegraph. Again. Starmer has a habit of writing for the Telegraph. He has, to date, not seemed bothered by the fact people have to pay to read his five articles. In his latest piece, the Labour leader has taken aim at Boris Johnson.”
On one of Starmer’s arguments he would maintain the support of the Labour membership regarding increases in Council Tax, But beyond that the Labour Leader’s principals are a lot less clear as with empty Tory slogans. The Canary say, “BBC News reported that the Tory government is changing the council tax rules. It will allow local councils to increase bills by up to 5%. The government has changed this figure in the past. For example, in 2020/21 it reduced it to 4% from 5% in 2019/2020. The Labour leader isn’t happy about this. He wrote in the Telegraph that: It is absurd that during the deepest recession in 300 years, at the very time millions are worried about the future of their jobs and how they will make ends meet, Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak are forcing local government to hike up council tax. Fair enough. But it was something else Starmer said that caught the eye of a sociologist.”
Sorry, what…? The Canary say that, “Gayle Letherby noted a new catchphrase from Starmer, who said in the article: ‘Under my leadership, Labour will be the party of the family. That starts with helping families through the current lockdown and protecting family budgets’. Letherby took issue with the phrase ‘the party of the family’. She Tweeted: ‘Starmer has declared that Labour will become ‘the party of the family’ (in an article for the Telegraph behind a paywall).” I take issue with the word ‘become,’ as if Labour has neglected this duty! Letherby’s concern: “Just what does he mean by family and who does this include/exclude? Historically, and to date, there has been a hierarchy of ‘family’ She continued, saying that the ‘hierarchy of family’ translated to: the most valued being heterosexual, white, able-bodied, married, financially secure, not too many children, not too few children, father as breadwinner… against which other family forms have been found wanting, even defined by some as ‘unnatural’, ‘abnormal’.”
According to the Canary, “she noted that: This focus also excludes MANY people who do not live, either by choice or circumstance within a family. Indeed. Because the idea of a ‘family’ in 21st century UK is completely diverse. What is a family? Figures for 2019 show that in the UK there were:
• 2.9 million lone parent families; of these, 14% were lone parent fathers.
• 8.2 million people who lived alone; a rise of a fifth in 20 years.
• 212,000 same sex couples living together, up 40% since 2015.
• 297,000 “multi-family households” that consist of two or more families. Moreover, 16.3% of families with children were cohabiting (not married). Also, in 2018/19, one in seven adoptions were to LGBTQI+ couples. So, Starmer calling Labour the ‘party of the family’ seems a bit odd. Because aside from excluding millions of people living on their own, ‘family’ is a word with a now-sweeping meaning. But why did he say this? Blue Labour rearing its ugly head?”
The Canary report, “Letherby noted that: I’m old enough… to remember [Margaret] Thatcher’s focus on ‘family values’ which translated as traditional (Victorian) patriarchal, middle and upper class (so called) morality. Yes Victorian values; when poverty, exploitation of children and abuse within households was rife.” That was ‘Thatcher, bottle snatcher,’ whose brutal Tory regime loved children so much she took away their school milk; how family supportive is that? They say, “Starmer’s use of the phrase may well be playing into this ‘traditional’ right-wing idea. The Canary has repeatedly written about his seeming affinity with the Blue Labour movement. It noted that the ideology is: a concept founded by Maurice Glasman based on socially conservative values of ‘family, faith and flag’ but more socialist economic policies. It is rooted in the values that Glasman perceived existed in the party pre-WWII.” We do not need to regress any further than we have already.
The Canary wrote in May 2020 that: “Starmer is not the biggest socially left-wing liberal going: his muted support for trans rights has been criticised, and during the leadership election he didn’t sign a pledge card committing to expel ‘transphobic’ members. Moreover, he’s come out recently and said Labour should be ‘proudly patriotic’.” They point out that, “he even got a front page in the Telegraph. So is this more of the same from the Labour leader?” They claim he is, “Misunderstanding working class people Possibly. The idea of Labour being ‘the party of the family’ seems to build on this narrative. It’s one that may well be trying to win back so-called Red Wall, working class voters. But in doing so he’s excluding millions of people. Moreover, by doing it in the pay-to-read Telegraph, he’s intentionally speaking to middle class, right-wing Tory voters. So, Starmer is just playing into socially conservative narratives, as opposed to challenging them.”
The Canary ask, “As Letherby said: just who is doing the research for Labour now? Whoever it is I’d advise a quick chat with any sociologist before proceeding further with an agenda likely to be limited, limiting, judgemental and open to easy critique before it begins. Happy #SocialistSunday everyone. Indeed, happy Socialist Sunday; a sentiment unlikely to appear on Starmer’s Twitter timeline any time soon.” Starmer is a fool if he thinks buying into the toxic Tory slogans of ‘devide and rule’ will do anything more than fragment and destroy the Labour Party, but perhaps that is the conscious choice of this Captain of Capitulation? If that is his intention he is doing an amazing job as a Tory Trojan horse, gutting the progressive Left with arbitrary suspensions, alienating the Unions and large swaths of the CLP membership and gaining a stack of ‘No Confidence’ votes right across the country. All of this is discreetly hidden by the fawning right wing press as Starmer remains the perfect patsy, but check out the Canary…
The Canary were not the only ones to point out serious problems with Starmer’s divisive emphasis on family and where he sought right wink readership. In the Left Foot Forward Article entitled, “It’s time to reclaim family from the right,” Sian Norris insists that, “The Right doesn’t get to define ‘family,’ Labour’s promise to be the party of family can present a radically different offering to all kinds of families across the UK. Growing up in a gay household in the 1990s, I was, according to the Conservative Government’s Section 28, living in a ‘pretended family relationship.’ The State didn’t recognise my family, only caring about the father, mother and 2.4 kids model. So when the New Labour Government of the early-00s swept away anti-LGBTIQ legislation including Section 28, unequal age of consent and a ban on gay adoption, it felt like this was a party for the family, families that looked like mine.”
Norris says, “In a piece for the Telegraph, Keir Starmer told readers that Labour will be the ‘party of the family.’ The comments provoked a backlash, not least because the term ‘family’ is now almost always accepted on far and religious right terms to mean anti-LGBTIQ, anti-abortion, anti-sex education and pro-smacking. As someone who has spent a lot of time researching the far and religious right’s attitudes to family (in fact, I’m writing a book about it), I understand the uneasy reaction to Starmer’s comments. For decades now, the far and religious right have sought to hide their reactionary and sometimes violent views under the moniker ‘family rights’. Take, for example, the World Congress of Families, a far right organisation designated as a ‘hate group’ by the Southern Poverty Law Centre. While claiming to be ‘for’ the family, WCF pushes an anti-LGBTIQ and anti-feminist agenda. Then there’s CitizenGO, linked to WCF via board members, who claim to be ‘pro family,’ while pushing an anti-LGBTIQ agenda.”
In the US far Right religious ‘Right to Life’ groups fight to preserve the existence of a group pf cells while enthusiastically supporting the Death Penalty, dispite inequality of sentencung and instances where judicial mistakes are made. This is above and beyond the groups identified by Norris who points out that, “These are two of many examples,” saying, “they’re examples that demonstrate the urgency for the Left to reclaim the family narrative from a reactionary far right. So what would it mean for Labour to reclaim ‘family’ from the right? It means being a party dedicated to equality, that supports parents of whatever gender or relationship status to care for their children through welfare, early years education, and a commitment to making sure that parents are supported to have a real choice when it comes to work, flexible working and caring.”
Norris reports that, “This is urgent. The welfare cuts instigated by Conservative austerity have led to an increase in child poverty in what surely counts as an anti-family move. The cuts to child tax credits, which limits the benefit to two children, has forced women to abort a wanted child because they simply cannot afford to support a larger family. A left idea of family means recognising that care isn’t solely about parent and child. It will focus on providing support to carers of any dependants, including parents, siblings and partners, both through direct benefits and by creating a National Care Service. A commitment to family would lead with chucking out hostile environment policies such as the income threshold for non-EU nationals to be allowed to marry and make a home together. Anti-immigrant policies have split lovers, parents and children apart, violating the human right to family and creating a hierarchical system where British nationals have greater rights than those migrating to the UK.”
Norris says, “It, of course, prioritises equality for LGBTIQ couples and families. Equality goes beyond marriage rights and builds a safer and more equal society for all family relationships. This has to include the right for LGBTIQ couples to access IVF without having to jump through impossible hoops to have a wanted baby.” Labour must continue to fight for the removal of the two child policy and the vile rape clause; this has exaserbated child poverty and prompted some women to abort healthy babies they feared they could not afford to raise. But, in support of pro choice Norris says, “in a real rebuke to the far right, a left definition of family rights means the choice not to have a family at all, so decriminalised abortion which gives women control over their own fertility and full bodily autonomy. Similarly, making Labour the party of family would mean ensuring women (and men) always have a real choice to leave an abusive or dangerous relationship, that again involves a strong welfare state and a fully-funded refuge network.”
According to Norris and certainly by most progressive lifestyle standards, “Of course, Labour has always been the party for the family. That’s why it’s so frustrating to see the concept of family rights co-opted by the right. After all, Labour is the party that, as mentioned above, recognised that my family wasn’t ‘pretend’. It’s the party that introduced radical pro-family economic policies such as Sure Start, child tax credits, and with women MPs who persuaded male-dominated ministries that family-centred policies mattered and should be central to any government agenda.” Sian Norris, who “is a writer and journalist specialising in women’s and LGBTIQ rights, has her book on the far right’s assault on reproductive rights, scheduled for publication by Verso in 2022. When Starmer talks about Labour being for the family, he isn’t (or shouldn’t!) be offering a dog whistle to those who believe family is a private, domestic household matter where a patriarch has ultimate authority.”
Norris says that, “Family is about society, it’s care and welfare and education and work and choice. It’s time we reclaim family from the right’s narrative. Let’s make sure Labour continues to be the party for the family by offering everyone security, human rights, support, care and autonomy, no matter what the family looks like and who is part of it.” In a similar vein Jeremy Corbyn tried to detoxify the relentless Tory attacks on his patriotism. As a ‘Peaceful Patriot of the Planet,’ just like Jeremy, I don’t subscribe to the classic flag waving brand of patriotism. In an attempt to reframe the concept to suit socialist ideals Corbyn Tweeted: “Patriotism is about supporting each other, not attacking somebody else. It’s about loving your country enough to make it a place where nobody is homeless or hungry, held back or left behind.” In response to the hardship of lockdowns and the disgraceful gaps in Tory support for the most vulnerable, ordinary people have done an extraordinary job of volunteering and donating that puts the Tories to shame.
There are multiple glaring examples of cruel Tory policies that demonstrate hostility towards the families of the working poor. In another Left Foot Forward Article entitled, “With the economy crashing, the two-child benefit limit is crueller than ever,” Alison Thewliss points to one of the worst. It is blindingly obvious that, “Large families need a better safety net,” but she says that, “Seven Secretaries of State have come and gone at the Department for Work and Pensions since the two-child limit and associated rape clause appeared in the UK government’s budget in 2015. Not one of them has felt it appropriate to annul or amend legislation that restricts entitlement to families, and in some cases, puts women at increased risk. That Tory ministers have continued to ignore calls from cross-party MPs, charities, religious organisations and women’s groups to do something about this pernicious policy tells a frightening story; that they will feebly submit to party dogma before giving consideration to the weakest and most vulnerable in our society.”
Thewliss elaborates, “For those unfamiliar with it, the two-child limit restricts financial support through tax credits and Universal Credit to the first two children in a family. Where a third or subsequent child is born on or after 6 April 2017, they are deemed ineligible for support. Where a third or subsequent child is conceived as a result of rape, the Government ask that, in order to claim an exemption, the mother must disclose details of the assault and must not be living with the child’s father. Rightly so, charities and women’s rights groups have poured scorn on this approach, saying it risks retraumatizing victims and stigmatising children. The wafer-thin evidence base in which this wicked policy is grounded is slowly being chipped away thanks to the coordinated efforts of civil society. The Tory government have previously claimed the two-child limit was designed to level the playing field, and that families who receive benefits should have to make the same financial choices as those in employment.”
Thewliss reveals that, “The inconvenient truth for the Tories, however, is that DWP statistics have consistently shown that the majority of affected households are those where adults are in work. This anomaly was of course raised with Ministers, and it was emphasised that the policy was failing in its stated aims, but no action was taken.’ Otherwise stable working families are now facing unemployment and hardship they could never have anticipated. Most recently, in the context of the pandemic and the resulting economic upheaval, analysis has shown that the two-child limit is playing a significant role in women’s decisions to terminate pregnancies. The study, conducted by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) in December, included testimony from 240 women who had had abortions during the pandemic and who already had two or more children. Chillingly, the majority said that “the policy was important in their decision-making around whether or not to continue their pregnancy”.
Thewliss says that, “Of course, the impacts of such a policy are not only financial. Indeed, BPAS’ research showed that many women felt great sadness or regret as a result of the circumstances in which they felt forced to end their pregnancy. As the Church of England and representatives of Jewish families have repeatedly pointed out, many cannot make that choice, and face poverty as a result. A situation where policies devised by the state are fuelling this mental and emotional turmoil for women is completely indefensible. As has been said countless times by critics of the two-child limit, women and families cannot prepare for unforeseen circumstances. The policy is based on the notion that parents know all the financial challenges that may present themselves as their children grow up; a fanciful suggestion at the best of times but completely absurd and irrational in the context of the Coronavirus crisis.”
Thewliss, the SNP MP for Glasgow Central and the party’s Treasury spokesperson asks, “What parent could reasonably predict that they would lose their job as a result of a pandemic, or be excluded from lifeline financial support by the UK Government? For many, these outcomes are completely out of their control. People have a right to expect that the state will go some way to protecting their livelihoods in their time of need. Social security should be a safety net, and far too many people are falling through it on the Tories’ watch. The two-child limit has always been a cruel and malevolent policy that has no part in a modern, progressive society. In the context of Covid-19, the misery and trauma it inflicts on women and families across the UK is greatly amplified. With new, more virulent strains appearing, and pressure on the NHS mounting, it is unlikely that we’re going to be out of this any time soon. It is incumbent on Ministers to recognise that this policy is making an already difficult situation much worse for many, and I will continue to make the case for it to be repealed in full”.
Where were Tory ‘Family Values’ when football reto had to take to the pitch to shame this delinquent PM into providing meals for hungry school children? How did that negligent act of cruel dereliction of duty fit into the Tory ‘lev-up’ agenda? The British public must stop drinking the poisonous Tory Party propaganda dichotomy. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it’s not a giraffe! Do not allow Starmer’s Svengali tactics to continue destroying the progressive Left with divisive Tory slogans; oust this dangerous Tory Trojan horse ASAP! There is copious and still mounting evidence of serious corruption not just in the Covert 2019 Rigged Election, that has yet to be Investigated, but also in the multiple inapropriate instances of innacointable squandering of public funds including public money paid to the fake Charity, ‘Integrity Initiative’’ to create and propagate a defamatory smear campaign to deliberately sabotage the Labour electoral campaign. In a functioning democracy this is enough to remove the Tories from power. DO NOT MOVE ON!