Politics

I wore a red rosette in my pram

And Keir Starmer has a right to make his point in the Daily Mail, says Kaye McIntosh.

I’ll take my lead from the elderly Labour people I knew in my childhood, not some idiot who thinks Mail readers are evil…

‘To defeat the Tories, you must become Tory’. It probably sounded good in the tweeter’s head. But even on Twitter, misquoting Batman really isn’t a persuasive argument that Keir Starmer is evil. Apparently Corbynistas think writing in the Daily Mail is a betrayal, disgraceful –  pandering to racists. (Those are just the comments I can mention – there’s a lot more than I’m not allowed to say without using asterisks). And they wonder why Labour lost the last two elections… Except they don’t, it was all an elite plot/the biased mainstream media/because people are sheep and don’t know what’s good for them.

Of course, arguing on Twitter is a fool’s game. But occasionally I feel obliged to point out not everyone agrees with whatever nonsense some Corbynista posts. They still haven’t given up, despite losing two elections and the leadership. The pursuit of ideological purity remains more important than letting the grown-ups sort out the mess they’ve made. Even saying that children should return to school in September is beyond the pale, if the article is in ‘an evil Tory rag’.

I wore a red rosette in my pram. My parents were Labour activists – my mother used to drive miles around the farms of West Yorkshire to get the vote out (there was one elderly supporter who always got a lift to the polling station from the Tories – she liked tying up someone who would otherwise have been providing a taxi service for an actual Conservative voter). I thought the Red Flag was a nursery rhyme. I was dandled on the knee of people who had been dandled on Keir Hardie’s knee. Who gave a lifetime of hard work – and years on dull committees – to get Labour into government and actually doing Labour things. You know, like investing in the NHS or public transport or state schools. Or creating homes for the homeless, or making sure people get a real living wage, rather than subsidising poor employers with Universal Credit.

None of this makes me more important than anyone who supported Corbyn. (I was going to say Labour, but I’m not sure his fans do support the party rather than the person.) But it does mean I know a thing or two about the history of the Labour movement, and the people who built it. And I know they would have seen the leader writing in the Mail as A Good Thing.

They would also have been ashamed to see their party, that was founded to give ordinary working people a voice, riven by anti-Semitism (and yes, it is anti-Semitic to claim Labour MPs are in the pay of Israel, however much Corbyn supporters deny it). The elderly Labour people I knew in my childhood served in the Spanish Civil War and World War II. Some of them helped to liberate concentration camps. I’ll take my lead from them, not some idiot who thinks Mail readers are evil.

I resent being lectured by people who reject the idea that Labour needs to reach beyond The Canary.  At least I had one small success – a reply from a tweeter who sounded genuinely surprised at the claim that the party needs to talk to not only those who deserted them last time but millions more. ‘Good idea’ he responded. Amazing.

Photo credit: Keir Starmer on Sky News

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Kaye McIntosh

Kaye McIntosh is a freelance journalist and the former editor of Health Which?, Pregnancy & birth and WI Life.

4 Comments

  1. Well said Kaye. Corbyn was a protester. But to lead a party into victory you need to be a persuader. Starmer is a persuader. You only win elections if you persuade people who didn’t vote for you last time to vote for you this time. Blair understood this. So does Starmer. Corbyn and his supporters never did.

    1. Very true. Corbyn supporters preferred telling anyone who expressed anything short of adoration to feck off and vote Tory. They did

  2. A very interesting and thought provoking article, Kaye. Labour now appears to be two parties – the Corbyn party and the rump of the old moderate Labour party under Sir Kier Starmer.
    As a lifelong Labour supporter I voted Tory at the last election because I was horrified at the idea of a Corbyn led government.
    In these deeply divided times people and politicians are too quick to say what they are against – but few say “this is what I believe in”.
    Corbyn sat on the fence for too long. He is against Israel, against capitalism, against privatisation, against Brexit, against social mobility, against nuclear weapons, against Britain, against our armed forces — it’s an endless list. He was a deeply unpleasant rabble rousing student agitator who never grew up.

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