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Dennis Skinner’s 1981 dismantling of Kinnock about standing for what’s right without fear carries a message for Keir Starmer

Vintage footage of former Labour MP and ex-miner Dennis Skinner taking down centrist idol Neil Kinnock carries a message current Labour leader Keir Starmer badly needs to take on board.

When Kinnock boasted at a 1981 Tribune conference fringe about his supposed bravery in continuing when he claimed he was on a left-wing ‘hit list’, Skinner laid some working-class truth on him:

Those who know and care what politics is really about – life and death for millions – don’t worry about incurring the wrath of opponents. They know being in Parliament is a privilege – and consider being on political hitlists as nothing more than a sign they’re doing the job right of standing up for those who face real hardship and conflict.

They don’t tip-toe down the middle of every road in terror of taking a position someone might not like.

It’s a message Keir Starmer, whose approach to opposition has been to avoid actually opposing whenever possible, badly needs to take on board.

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16 comments

  1. Yet anyone around in the House of Commons at the time will know that Dennis had a far mellower style and was happy to discuss matters with people like Kinnock and even in the early years, Tony Blair, in the interests of what he saw as the greater good of the party

  2. I am still trying to get my head round Keir Starmer. I think about what Maxine Peake said that getting the tories out is the most important thing. Labour seem to tiptoe around the tories at the moment, is it because they got a big majority in the last election ? It happened the last time the tories were in, people hated Thatcher and were always complaining about the government .Yet the tories were in for eighteen years, admittedly had John Major for six of those years as PM. Lets face it the tories are considered the party that look after the economy, they are the grown ups and ultimately they run the country. (ludicrous I know ) Really dont know how things will go with the covid business. Is keir Starmer just another tory lite ? or is their passion in him for the cause ? I am waiting and seeing. with any luck before I die Labour will come back in power, hopefully proper labour.

    1. If ever there was a chance to demolish the trope around managing the economy, now is that time, yet Starmer remains silent. In fact he’s just like Brown, desperate to out Tory Tories.
      The “economy as a household budget” trope, populised by Thatcher, has been blown out of the water by Covid-19. Starmer should be talking to those who have just suffered a decade of ideological austerity and instead of generating righteous anger, and pointing out how our response to Covid-19 was seriously blunted by cuts, Starmer is appealing to middle-class liberals and promising to be coalition 2.0.
      You have Boris Johnson of all people, splashing money around with abandon. He talks about paying the money back in the future and promises no return to austerity…..He honestly sounds like Corbyn, while Starmer sounds like Cameron. The money borrowed in the last 6 months makes Corbyn’s spending plans sound like peanuts.

    2. “tiptoe around the tories at the moment….”

      He’s telling us everything we need to know about his modus operandi:

      He’s a liberal, a centrist neoliberal who believes in Top-Down managerialism, that winning elections is like mounting a saatchi-saatchi advertising campaign (if you see Sid, ask him to vote for the competent conservatives, the Labour Party), and that Corbyn was wrong because quite a lot of what the billionaires’ press petition for daily is pretty much ok (well, once David Rockefeller’s trilateral-billionaires rubber-stamp it).

      Sir Keir Rodney Starmer’s leadership will destroy Labour, collapse the membership and disappoint millions of non-voters.

  3. It’s fascinating: one of your related posts is “Senior Shadow Cab member “I blame Starmer for northern problems,” posted on 18th May 2019.

    The BTL comments at the time are revealing. Those of us who saw what Starmer (and Watson & co) were up to were poo-pooed by the trolls SteveH, RH and other EUphiles; some of them are still in denial.

    The truth is that the Labour Party is being led by a block of wood crossed with Machiavelli, devoid of all principle, all honour and all charisma, someone who makes Brutus look like a Julius Caesar loyalist.

    The dagger that Sir Steer Calmer used to assassinate Corbyn was the 2nd referendum/PV, brilliantly assisted by the largely middle-class, professional, youthful and naive membership base of the Labour Party who objectively allied themselves with the old right-wing trade union factions to engineer a disastrous result first at Labour conference and subsequently at the GE in December 2019. Disastrous that is for the young, the old, the sick, the low paid etc. and not at all disastrous for those whose primary objective was to remove Corbyn at any cost, the ruling class, the Tory Party, the press and yes, their allies in the PLP led by Starmer, Watson and co.

    Corbyn and his team witnessed all this evolving around them but they were increasingly isolated and powerless after the Starmerites had worked out a way of driving a wedge between them and the mass membership.

    Never in its entire history has the Labour Party been so hollowed out by cowards and traitors and their naive dupes, of which the aforementioned trolls are supreme examples.

    Skwawky saw this coming, anyone with the faintest iota of political/marxist education or just plain common sense could see it coming.

    Enough recriminations: we now need to get on with the business of rescuing whatever we can from this goddamn almighty mess.

    1. Starting with single slates in every NEC and Union Election
      That takes sacrifice for the greater good
      Time for JC,JMc and Swawkey to bite the bullet

    2. “ The truth is that the Labour Party is being led by a block of wood crossed with Machiavelli, devoid of all principle, all honour and all charisma, someone who makes Brutus look like a Julius Caesar loyalist….”

      Just beautiful labrebisgalloise. And the rest of it too. Thanks.

    3. labrebisgalloise 30/09/2020 at 7:31 pm

      …… but that’s not the way Jeremy tells it during two recent long format interviews. Unlike you he was prepared to accept (somewhat belatedly) the democratic will of the membership.

    4. Thought extract from above is worth repeating “Those who know and care what politics is really about – life and death for millions – don’t worry about incurring the wrath of opponents. They know being in Parliament is a privilege – and consider being on political hitlists as nothing more than a sign they’re doing the job right of standing up for those who face real hardship and conflict.” 🌹🌹🌹

      1. … and this, with which i agree 100%
        ” They don’t tip-toe down the middle of every road in terror of taking a position someone might not like.” 🌹🌹🌹

  4. Craig Murray……

    Your Man in the Public Gallery: Assange Hearing Day 20

    Tuesday has been another day on which the testimony focused on the extreme inhumane conditions in which Julian Assange would be kept imprisoned in the USA if extradited. The prosecution’s continued tactic of extraordinary aggression towards witnesses who are patently well informed played less well, and there were distinct signs that Judge Baraitser was becoming irritated by this approach. The totality of defence witnesses and the sheer extent of mutual corroboration they provided could not simply be dismissed by the prosecution attempting to characterise all of them as uninformed on a particular detail, still less as all acting in bad faith. To portray one witness as weak may appear justified if they can be shaken, but to attack a succession of patently well-qualified witnesses, on no basis but aggression and unreasoning hostility, becomes quickly unconvincing.

    https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2020/09/your-man-in-the-public-gallery-assange-hearing-day-20/

    1. I thought this bit was telling: “Lewis said that the conditions of Hamza’s incarceration directly breached undertakings made by the US government to the UK magistrates’ court and High Court when they made the extradition request. The US had stated his medical needs would be fully assessed, his medical treatment would be adequate, and he was unlikely to be sent to the ADX. None of these had happened.”
      Once upon a time the Guardian would have been all over that.

      1. The Guardian has never been a ‘Socialist’ newspaper; always liberal in more ways than one.

      2. The Guardian has no honour and no shame. It is now gradually being uncovered that Julian Assange’s situation is a result of bad faith actions by the Guardian and certain staffers/journalists, who wanted to take personal advantage of the Wikileaks materials. This has all been documented by the writer Jonathan Cook, who’s extensive writings on this can be found on the Counterpunch website. He has also written on there about how the Guardian aided the anti-Semitism allegations as well.

  5. Julian Assange……..it is not just MSM that has never taken up the torch; where is the Labour Party (part of the problem?)

  6. Dennis Skinner……..providing another taste of ‘white privilege’. No McNasty, this is the class struggle.

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