Paul Mason is a Journalist, Broadcaster and longtime Labour Party member. he tells Punching Up his opinion on Starmer, election prospects and the Tories.
The polls are looking better and better for the Labour Party. With the next general election in 2024, looking forward to the future with a possible Labour government has started to take over UK politics.
Paul Mason says, “We are starting to appeal to people who vote Tory. There’s no route to a decisive, transformative government unless you appeal to those who trusted the Conservatives in 2017 and 2019, from that perspective, what Starmer has achieved is great.” However, Paul’s optimism has to be taken with a pinch of caution: “It’s come at a price though. I’d describe that as a lack of enthusiasm.”
“What’s missing so far is a narrative, a sort of three-word slogan, a picture that sums up what Labour is offering. That’s partly to do with Labour’s classic problem, that it doesn’t really know what it wants.”
Since Keir Starmer replaced Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party has taken more of a centre-left and quietened stance, but Paul believes that this could benefit the Labour Party in the long run.
“I think there’s been a suppression of hope and a suppression of enthusiasm in the Starmer years, but that enthusiasm didn’t win it for us in 2019,” he says. “In fact, it did quite the opposite.”
Starmer has drawn a number of criticisms of him being, frankly, dull (Punching Up being one of those). However, Paul has been publicly supportive of Starmer, and says, “I think Starmer will be incredibly effective as a Prime Minister. Governing is a hard thing and I’m convinced that Starmer will do it well, that’s why I backed him to become leader – because I saw how badly inept Corbyn and a lot of the people around him were.
“Winning the election is still going to be tough because a lot of things can go a lot of things can still go wrong for the Labour Party.
“That’s why I think Starmer remains so mono-focussed on a few missions: The NHS, clean energy, safe streets, free healthcare, high growth, and good schools. It’s the enthusiasm bit that I think he needs to work on. “
Labour’s diminishing connection to the picket lines
In recent months, we have seen a plethora of strikes. From junior doctors and nurses to postal workers and rail staff.
The Labour Party have traditionally been closely affiliated with trade unions and strike action. However, Starmer has made an effort to move away from this, which Paul sees as a mistake.
“We’ve seen these movements on the picket lines against the Tories, but they are fully prepared to do it against Labour too. Especially as Labour has stood aside and started this thing about not going on picket lines. That creates a distance between the workers and the Labour Party, and I think that is unhealthy.”
Paul sees a path to incoming criticism if Labour makes it into Downing Street. He says, “If Labour gets a majority, then a lot of those MPs will be new, I’m trying to become one, they will bring pressure from local people who want certain things.
“Once you’re in power you’re a sitting target for interest groups.”
As a staunch Labour supporter and advocate, Paul is obviously biased against the Tories and the current crop of Tories especially. He struggles to see a path to re-election for Rishi Sunak and his crew:
“You can’t eat anti-woke politics, it doesn’t put food on the table, it doesn’t make fish fingers any cheaper. That’s what politicians actually deal with, the price of food, the price of petrol. They don’t deal with issues of people being outraged over trans rights, so that (anti-woke) side of Conservatism is illusionary.
“The other delusion is ‘bring back Boris’. If you split the difference between social liberalism and nationalism and base it on a lie, that’s what you get. Obviously, we know now that Brexit was meant to free up Britain to rule the world which proved to be an illusion.”
Paul doesn’t see Sunak in either of these branches, so what does that leave him with?
“I’ve no doubt that Sunak is a competent person, even though he’s been helped to his position by rich benefactors throughout his career,” Paul says. “Conservatism has turned into a utopian ideology, and so, they are stuck in a bit of a hole.
“They’re going to trigger a recession because of the belief in austerity. I cant see any way back for them.