Monday, July 15, 2024
HomeCulture WarBefore you vote for Starmer, remember his lockdown mania

Before you vote for Starmer, remember his lockdown mania


THE Conservatives appear eager to lose power on July 4 – and their traditional supporters are not sufficiently worried by the prospect of a Labour government under Sir Keir Starmer.

Rishi Sunak’s fateful visuals, getting his suit soaked in the rain as he called the general election, speaking outside Belfast’s Titanic museum – an open goal for anyone to ask him if he was captaining a sinking ship – looked like acts of self-sabotage. D-Day. National Service. Asking Welsh people if they are excited about the Euros, for which their country did not qualify.

So, are the Tories trying to lose power?

I ask because the man running their election campaign is the Australian strategist Isaac Levido, who led them to a landslide in  2019. How can such humongous PR disasters happen on his watch?

I am not suggesting that Mr Levido is deliberately sabotaging the Conservative election campaign. I am suggesting that some Tories may be either subconsciously or consciously sabotaging themselves, despite having extremely experienced and resourceful operatives around them.

Why are so many Tories so keen to stand down after the next election? More fruitful gigs would certainly await many of them in the corporate world, no doubt. Are they hoping to relieve themselves of public accountability after their disastrous 14 years in office?

Whatever the reason, it’s bad news for Britain because Starmer, who many seem to have already accepted as Britain’s next leader, is a menace. Put aside his support for Net Zero madness and more devolution (just what the UK needs more of). Just remember how this man behaved during covid.  

When Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, in 2020 and 2021, repeatedly imposed deadly, useless, sadistic, disproportionate lockdowns on this country, followed by crippling social restrictions, it was never enough for Starmer, who wanted the lockdowns to be harsher and longer. If Johnson hesitated to restrict the lives of his people after the first lockdown, Sir Keir would complain about ‘dither and delay’. When Johnson wanted to loosen restrictions, it was always ‘too early’ and ‘reckless’ for Starmer and his Labour colleagues.

Moreover, whilst the Tories initially dismissed critics of these quack measures, Starmer went further. He publicly called for critics of the covid response, so-called anti-vaxxers, to be ‘dealt with’ and ‘criminalised’. Two years ago his Labour social media team lionised an NHS worker who left a man sobbing in a car park, preventing him from being at his dying wife’s bedside, under the excuse of ‘the greater good’ pretext of stopping covid.

Perhaps the most revealing insight into Sir Keir’s mindset was when he got the Peggy Mitchell ‘get outta my pub!’ treatment by Rod Humphris, the left-leaning, until then lifelong-Labour-voting landlord of The Raven in Bath – then still restricted by covid rules, as all pubs were – over his support for lockdown.

This was a significant moment. Until then, Johnson was being criticised for his conduct during covid for the wrong reasons – such as ‘dodgy PPE contracts’ or ‘He locked down too late!’ (utter nonsense, see how Sweden and Japan fared without lockdowns).

Now, for the first time, Starmer was being scolded, publicly and on TV – for his support for covid restrictions – by someone who was able to articulate why the measures were disproportionate and futile. Humphris cited the ONS statistic that in 2008, England and Wales had a higher age-and-population standardised death rate than it did in 2020, instantly demolishing the terrifying mantra suggesting overall deaths in 2020 had reached unprecedented heights.

Starmer, barely able to look Humphris in the eye – parried him off with some irrelevant remark about the fact his wife worked in the NHS (so what?). He later dismissed Humphris’s grievance in a media interview, without attempting to rebut or counter any of his points. Then Labour’s social media account accused Humphris of espousing ‘misinformation’ without citing what specifically he had said wrong.

Sir Keir made it clear that day that there’s no getting through to him, and that he does not care for debate. While Tories can be persuaded, or incentivised by reason and leverage from critics, Labour ideologues cannot be.

Starmer, a statist, will always have a greater inclination towards the nuclear option, in any area of policy. What if he, a committed Nato enthusiast, would wish for us to join the US in a full-on military confrontation with Russia? If he was intolerant of dissent during a public health scare, how tolerant do you think he’d be of his critics in a time of war?

But the good news is there’s no Starmer-mania. Left-wingers regard him as two-faced. His vague slogans about ‘change’ inspire no one.  His use of the Union Flag imagery fools no one into thinking he’s a patriot.

To win, Starmer needs the Tories to carry on shooting themselves in both feet, as well as further advice from Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson. 

The question is whether the folks on the right, many of whom opposed covid restrictions (some later than others), who want to remove the Tories by abstention, or by voting for Nigel Farage’s Reform UK party, because the Tories have betrayed them, are making the mistake of their lives. I have news for these people: The Tories have always been betraying you, since before you were born. Unless we get well beyond the inflection point that Farage has claimed, this is a beggars-choosers situation.

Politicians should be ranked not from best to worst, but from bad to worst. They should not be judged so much on the good things they do, but rather on the bad things they don’t do. That is the pragmatic position to take.

I am not praising Sunak or Johnson – but it is true they ended the most strangling covid measures in July 2021 when most leaders in Europe and the Anglosphere were intensifying them, which eventually broke the endless cycle of restrictions, easing of restrictions, manufactured panic and reintroduction of restrictions.  Sir Keir would have been every bit as restrictive as, say, Justin Trudeau in Canada, Dan Andrews in Australia or New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern, for whom just a year ago he expressed his total admiration.

Arguably those hellish limits might have become the new normal had not England broken that cycle.

That’s why I still think that the Tories are the least-bad British political party with a serious chance of winning.

There are many like Henry Getley, who wrote in these pages yesterday, so disillusioned that they think voting is no longer a useful endeavour.  I’d urge anyone who agrees with him to snap out of this mentality. For this is one of those occasions where their vote can make a significant difference.

And if they do, they really need to ask themselves whether the risk of ‘voting Reform and getting Labour’ is worth it – unless perhaps they live in Clacton-on-Sea; and how different is Farage from other establishment politicians. Although in February he admirably called for a public inquiry into covid vaccine harms and asked why we were lied to, this came very late in the day. At the time, like the majority of politicians, commentators and celebrities on the mainstream circuit, he advised people to get the vaccination. No one was more adamant on this score than Charlie Mullins, former owner of Pimlico Plumbing, now welcomed in Reform UK’s arms

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Harry Dougherty
Harry Dougherty
Harry Dougherty is a journalist and writer.

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