Keir Starmer: The Labour Party Leader

Eletto leader del Partito Laburista nel 2020, Starmer si è proposto di risvegliare l'entusiasmo degli elettori di sinistra nel Regno Unito. Il 4 luglio saprà se ci è riuscito.

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Born in London in 1962 to an NHS nurse and a factory worker, Keir Starmer was named after Keir Hardie, a founder of the Labour Party and its very first leader. A former human rights lawyer who was knighted in 2014, Starmer voted ‘Remain’ in the Brexit vote, but then held the position of Brexit Secretary in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet. As Labour leader, he has placed emphasis on unifying the Party, whose reputation has been damaged by infighting under its former leader. During his campaign, Starmer achieved important backing from key figures in Momentum, the left-wing grassroots organisation that supported Jeremy Corbyn, as well as the backing of Unison, one of Britain’s largest trade unions.

CONTROVERSY

Starmer has pledged to deal with controversies that have plagued the Party, particularly the accusations of anti-Semitism that alienated the Jewish community. He supports the official investigation into the charges, yet reiterates that the only way for Labour to win in 2024 is to come together, to listen to the British people and appeal to as many of them as possible. 

21st CENTURY SOCIALISM

Starmer wants a welcoming environment in Britain where no one feels excluded, least of all because of their social background, their country of origin or their age. He believes that funding is desperately required for social services and that early investment in people saves a fortune long-term. This is more crucial than ever in times of crisis. The absence of youth services, for example, has meant more teenagers are on the streets and in potentially serious trouble, as Starmer explains:

Keir Starmer (English accent): There have [has] been massive cuts for youth services. Poor housing is a massive issue. What happens when kids get to be fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, is... they won’t stay in a one-bedroom flat in the evening, they’ll go out onto the streets, [and] then they’re subject to all sorts of pressure. We need more things for people to do. Sport needs to be more available. It costs a fortune to put someone through the criminal justice system; if you put that money into funding in the first place, you would do better for everybody around.

EDUCATION AND WORK

Starmer advocates the abolition of tuition fees, but there must also be options for kids who are not academic to develop other skills, he says. 

Keir Starmer: I think we put too much emphasis on going to university. We need to open our schools up a bit, if you want to encourage people to have different careers, they need to be exposed to it. Climate change is probably the number one threat now: if it’s bad for the environment, it’s bad for the economy, and I also think we need to pay young people properly when they start work instead of treating them as if they’re cheaper commodities.

POLITICAL BEINGS

Teenagers are not opting out of politics, Starmer believes; on the contrary, younger teenagers have the maturity to make political decisions that affect their futures. 

Keir Starmer: In my experience, young people are very political, but what they don’t find very attractive is the whole party machinery. So the challenge is not to get young people to change, but it’s for us to change the party. I also think that we’ve got to get serious about giving sixteen and seventeen-year-olds the vote because to say, “Get involved, but you can’t vote”, is just completely wrong.

ANTI-SOCIAL MEDIA

Britain needs politicians, but the style of politics today and the negative attention that politicians receive, puts off many serious-minded young people. Starmer says this begins with social media. 

Keir Starmer: Social media is a fantastic thing, but also a complete nightmare because of bullying. The media generally has got to change because too few people own our media and they put their messages in it. One of the worst aspects is, it puts people off doing things in public life. I know lots of people who say, “I don’t want to go into politics because I don’t want to be exposed in that way”, and so we don’t get the best talent. 

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