Keir Starmer has said that Labour must be “patriotic and proud about it”, months after leftists in the party disavowed a similar proposal as “Fatherland-ism”.
Mr Starmer, who took over as party leader from socialist Jeremy Corbyn in April 2020, told former Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan that he would take the advice of globalist-centrist former party leader Tony Blair, who had said that Labour needs a “total deconstruction and reconstruction”.
Starmer acknowledged that the party had lost Labour voters, costing it four General Elections in a row, saying on Morgan’s Life Stories on Tuesday in comments reported by the i newspaper: “We’ve got a huge job… we need to make the persuasive argument about why Britain would be better under Labour, we need to be patriotic and proud about it.”
The Labour leader made the remarks following a humiliating defeat to the Conservatives in the by-election in Hartlepool, a Labour stronghold that has voted for the left-wing party since the north-east England constituency was formed in 1974. Last month, Hartlepool became the latest brick in the “Red Wall” of traditional Labour-backing industrial areas of Britain to turn Tory Blue.
2019’s General Election saw the greatest upset to Labour control in the north of England, with the Conservatives breaking through to working-class Labour voters by promising to deliver Brexit, while then-leader Corbyn and his party was pushing for a second referendum.
While Starmer might hope that a veneer of patriotism could win back working-class, socially-conservative voters who felt disenfranchised, isolated, and patronised by the party which since Blair had been led by the liberal metropolitan elites with a globalist and progressive agenda, the left of his party may not be inclined to engage.
Tories Now Party of Working Class, Brexit Helped Win over Traditional Labour Voters: Report https://t.co/FvTxmANost
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) June 25, 2020
A leaked strategy report to Labour from February revealed a similar approach, including reinforcing a sense of left-wing patriotism, with one recommendation noting: “The use of the flag, veterans, dressing smartly at the war memorial etc. give voters a sense of authentic values alignment.”
Those on the left of the party condemned the proposals, with Clive Lewis MP claiming at the time: “It’s not patriotism; it’s Fatherland-ism. There’s a better way to build social cohesion than moving down the track of the nativist right.”
In April, a group of Labour councillors in local government and candidates were caught in a WhatsApp group chat saying that they thought flying the Union Jack was “chilling”, a “move from the Fascist playbook”, and is used to “push non-inclusive agendas”.
Insiders talking to The Guardian in May in the fallout of the Hartlepool loss appeared to expose that Labour’s attempt at flag-waving was largely an empty gesture, foisted upon those lower down in the party hierarchy ignorant of the concept of national pride.
Labour was said to have been “obsessed” with the local party “getting a flag”, one organiser said, adding: “There was no fleshing out what the flag means, or what policies have changed because we’re now patriotic. It was just: bung a flag up.”
Voting intention for the Tories remains strong, with a YouGov poll from May 28th putting the Conservatives at 43 per cent — 14 points ahead of Labour.
Rise of the Rejoiners: Labour MP Admits Majority of Party Lawmakers ‘Desperate to Rejoin’ EU https://t.co/cTTd5igpxd
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 8, 2021
While the fall of the Red Wall was a pivotal moment for Labour losing the working class, the first crack appeared in April 2010, when then Prime Minister Gordon Brown exposed what Labour truly thought of Britain’s salt-of-the-earth voters and their concerns.
During a tour of northern constituencies, an elderly female voter confronted the prime minister with her concerns over high taxes, and uncontrolled rising immigration and the impact it was having on her local community. Displeased with the encounter, Brown got into his car and having forgotten he was still fully mic’ed-up, was caught calling the voter a “bigoted woman”.
“She said she used be Labour. I mean it’s just ridiculous,” Mr Brown continued.
The audio clip went viral, and the following month, Labour lost the first of four successive national elections.
‘Bigoted Woman’: Two Words that Killed the UK Left and Led to Brexit, Ten Years Ago Today https://t.co/Jl02z04gVQ
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 28, 2020