+With our attention dominated by the Johnson story, here’s a few headlines from the last two days you may have missed (courtesy of The Daily Climate):
‘Heat wave blankets NC, raises risk of health effects’ [NC = North Carolina]
‘Italy's worst drought in 70 years in photos’
‘Australia flood, boosted by climate change, making history in Sydney’
‘Heat, drought and wildfires: Torrid spell torments Portugal’
‘Global dismay as Supreme Court ruling leaves Biden’s climate policy in tatters’
‘Biden administration pushes more ocean drilling amid record oil and gas profits’
‘Europe calls gas and nuclear energy 'green'’
‘The world is turning back to coal’
There’s still time to stock up on baked beans and toilet paper.
+I’ve just read Oliver Eagleton’s The Starmer Project: A Journey to the Right. The title suggests a project, but the content suggests a somewhat different story—of someone who just seems to drift into cosy relationships with establishment figures. Is this a result of an inchoate personal development, or something which has been abetted, if not constructed by other, shadowy figures? Some people are born with projects and others have projects thrust upon them. In Eagleton’s telling it seems Starmer’s ‘journey to the right’ is largely self-inflicted (so to speak) with, in his earlier legal career, receiving little but regular nudges in the Right direction. He was not, in other words a hand-picked candidate from the off. On his way Starmer is well served by a healthy cynicism, which is fully revealed in a lengthy chapter called ‘The Politician’ which describes in detail Starmer’s manoeuverings over Brexit. Starmer’s most egregious display of cynicism of course came later, with his ‘Ten Pledges’ during the Labour leadership campaign in 2020, all of which he ditched.
Come page 186 Eagleton lists four components of Starmer’s ‘project.’ They are ‘1) a ‘values-led’ non-antagonistic electoral strategy; 2) an unsparing crackdown on the Labour Left, seen as more dangerous than the Conservatives; 3) an Atlanticist-authoritarian disposition, combining intervention abroad with repression at home, and 4) a return to neo-liberal economic precepts, overseen by Blairite leftovers’ (emphasis added).It’s the fate of top politicians to leave office believing that their work is unfinished. Think Thatcher, Blair, Brown—and now, laughingly perhaps, Johnson. So Eagleton’s use of the phrase ‘Blairite leftovers’ caught my eye. This is where the project takes on a capital ‘P.’ Of those whose work was unfinished, I suspect Blair feels the loss most grievously, and at the relatively youthful age of 69 is determined the good work should continue.
I had hoped there might be some reference to Starmer’s membership of the Trilateral Commission, and perhaps more analysis of the influences and connections he has made with corporate economic interest groups. It could be that this area of Starmer’s ‘project’ is still fairly opaque (all of a pattern with Starmer’s decision not reveal his financial backers’ identities in the leadership race until it was all over) and maybe Eagleton didn’t want to be accused of ‘conspiracism’ since any mention of things like the Trilateral Commission or the Bilderberg Group—which welcomes David Lammy this year) can set all sorts of hares racing. Suffice to say I am now quite prepared to accept that Starmer is a wholly owned appendage of the Atlanticist-Corporate-Military nexus and is doing his damndest to bash the Labour Party into this round hole. Plus ça change.