There's two pretty obvious golden rules which Keir Starmer is following. This thread sets out what those two rules are - and why they're both very important (and no: neither rule are as portrayed by many on here at all).
Rule 1: Don't fall into Tory traps.

Because of the support they've gained among working class voters, and because of the culture wars they're desperate to intensify, the Tories wish to portray the Labour leader as follows:
- That he's unpatriotic

- That he won't deliver 'the will of the people'

- That he wants to divide the country at a time of massive national crisis

- That he's just another woolly London liberal

- That Labour haven't changed under him at all
So his positioning, naturally, avoids all those traps and counters the Tory narrative.

Folks: we just lost an election by twelve points. We have our lowest seat numbers since 1935. OF COURSE we have to show we're different now. That's basic, elementary stuff.
How are we showing we're different?

- By being led competently

- By asking serious questions but not dividing the country

- By moving on from Brexit

- And by reaching out on the concerns of all those lost voters (who Starmer's critics seem to think somehow don't exist)
Abstaining on the overseas operation bill actually meets both the 'don't fall into Tory traps' rule - and the second rule, which I'm about to explain.

It means the Tories can't successfully portray us as 'unpatriotic' or 'against the army' (they'll try to, but without success).
And the second rule?

- Don't do gesture politics when there's nothing in it for you. Politics is about making a difference and actually getting things done.

This all goes back to a previous thread of mine, here:

Corbyn rose to the leadership after he opposed the Welfare Reform Bill, while so much of the PLP abstained. The optics for the latter were atrocious... it's just that no, the PLP DID NOT support welfare reform at all.

They abstained because they wanted to amend the bill.
This latest collective abstention? No, Labour don't suddenly support torture or anything like it. It's because Labour want to try and amend the bill - and deal with the torture point in so doing.

Will it succeed? Probably not. That's the reality of an 80-seat Tory majority.
In the face of 80-seat majorities, if the opposition wants to achieve anything at all, it HAS to abstain on bills like these and seek to amend them.

But let's think back to Corbyn. On welfare reform, what did he actually achieve? Nothing whatsoever.
In fact, on very many issues, his leadership achieved nothing whatsoever - because achieving something tangible, something fundamental, only happens by winning government first.

Gesture politics from opposition says to the public that you're opportunistic and you won't listen.
It says to the public that in the face of a massive defeat, and a decade of almost constant defeat, you're just the same as you always were.

And gesture politics, as well as achieving nothing, also antagonise sections of the electorate you can't afford to alienate.
It antagonised working class voters, who've moved en masse to the Tories.

It also antagonised Jews. While achieving nothing, literally nothing, to help Palestine or Middle East peace. So what on Earth was the point?
There's this almost comical assumption on the left that if we just keep shouting into the ether about, for example, Israel/Palestine, this makes a difference.

It doesn't. And since the collapse of the Oslo peace process, it never has. The situation there is worse than ever.
Corbyn, rightly, opposed Tory austerity with all his might. So - did he stop it? Nope. The Tories won yet again - and for all Rishi Sunak's currently trying to bail the country out, he can't keep doing so forever. There's gonna be a huge bill to pay off at some point.
A quite massive part of the reason why Corbyn failed to stop all those things he opposed from actually happening is: the public could not take him seriously as a leader.

It MUST take Starmer seriously as a leader if we're ever to achieve anything at all.
And in the deeply flawed British parliamentary system, effective leadership requires united parliamentary parties... and united parties mean: collective responsibility.

That's why the three MPs have been sacked. It's because they defied the party whip. Simple.
It's not because Labour now 'supports torture' (it quite categorically does not and it never will). It's because they defied a three line whip.

That was their choice. They're perfectly entitled to make it - but they also knew what the consequences would be.
So no: they're not martyrs. And their actions have done precisely zero to stop the Bill coming into force - so again, what was the point?

Of course principles matter. They always matter. But when a point of principle makes literally no difference to the outcome...?
And when a point of principle means the government can use the same narrative about your party which just got it crushed at the last election...?

It requires being much smarter, much shrewder, and picking the battles you can win. Which in this bill, come later.
The Tories, incidentally, are having massive problems coming up with effective attack lines against Starmer. Absurdly, they're trying to portray him as just the same as Corbyn. Which the public will just laugh at - because it's literally unbelievable.
All this is part of the short term aim of getting Labour a hearing.

Medium term aim: show that you're competent and hence, better than the alternative.

Long term aim: once you've done that, THEN announce the policies - and show why they're better too.
We're currently kinda between the short and medium term aims. The longer term one comes later. That's just sensible, responsive politics. For all those crying foul, my reply is:

"Your way of doing politics got us crushed. Remember that line about the definition of insanity?"

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More from @shaunjlawson

17 Oct
At his very successful town hall, Joe Biden was asked whether the Democrats will pack the Supreme Court if he wins the Presidency and they win the Senate.

You might've expected him to dodge the question outright. He didn't. What he said instead was very interesting.
Basically, he's giving the Republicans enough rope to hang themselves with. The unseemly, cynical haste with which they're rushing through the nomination of someone bought and paid for by the (not) Christian (not) right will be used by Biden as justification to pack the court.
He's not said that yet, of course. He said he was waiting to see what happens (ie. whether Barrett is confirmed) - but will make his position clear before election day.

What will that position be? "We will not allow the Affordable Care Act or Roe v Wade to be struck down".
Read 17 tweets
17 Oct
Now then, Rosie Duffield. And this whole sad, sad issue. Which, online at least (but offline too) is pitting one group of people who are oppressed (trans people) against another, larger group of people who've been continually oppressed. Women.
If there isn't room in the Labour Party for both women and trans people - if both women and trans people don't feel welcome, or that they're being heard and understood - then something is wrong. VERY wrong.

Just as something is VERY wrong on this platform over all of this.
An awful lot of people, naturally, are bewildered onlookers. People who don't have a bone of hate in their bodies - but who don't understand how everything they were taught at school about male and female biology and sex was apparently wrong... because other people say so.
Read 35 tweets
16 Oct
Here's what a credible media would be asking the Prime Minister:

- Why did you lie to the British people at the election? How was that election legitimate given you won it because of that lie?

- Why have you ignored your own scientific experts? How many will die as a result?
- Why are you imposing massive fines on ordinary people while your advisor gets away with it?

- Why did your advisor avoid council tax?

- Why have you spent billions of public money on a track and trace system that doesn't work and is run by your cronies in the private sector?
- The polls suggest Joe Biden is heading for a landslide victory. He's already said he won't give the UK a free trade deal if we have no deal with the EU. What are you going to do about that?

- Do you think a nation of 67m is more powerful than one of 330m and a bloc of 445m?
Read 4 tweets
16 Oct
From my book last year.

Where was the media? What the hell was it doing?
Seriously. How can you spend an entire referendum campaign ignoring anything that actually matters and obsessing with everything that doesn't - and then spend the shambolic years afterwards doing the exact same thing, again?
In the campaign, there was:

- No mention of the impact on Northern Ireland
- Nonsense that we could be like 'Switzerland' or 'Norway'
- No mention of what a customs union even was
- No mention that we can't have tariff-free access AND leave the single market
Read 5 tweets
15 Oct
This is very very good.

unherd.com/2020/10/why-do…
This resonated in particular:

Since 2008 the number of American men under 30 reporting no sex has nearly tripled... [in an] increasingly winner-takes-all sexual marketplace generated by the retreat of monogamous norms and an increasingly polygynous, app-dominated hookup culture"
"While it’s important not to slip into victim-blaming rhetoric that sees the problem as women’s sexual freedom, the challenges facing unattractive, low-status men seem hardly to register on Bates’s radar".

Indeed. And it's not just a challenge there either. It's emotional too.
Read 11 tweets
15 Oct
This is a really interesting discussion. Kudos to both Grace and Aaron for that. 👍

But there are questions and doubts in my head. Aaron refers to the first one here: is there some limit we face in terms of debt, or isn't there?
There isn't if you control the world's reserve currency, like the US. There probably hasn't been while the UK economy was a safe haven from the euro, and one of the four or five strongest economies in the world.

But now? After the disaster of austerity and with No Deal Brexit?
Grace talks about power relations. Ratings agencies have absurd, unaccountable amounts of power... but won't the UK automatically face problems, big ones, if the agencies downgrade us?

At a much much lower level, Uruguay would be screwed without its investment grade rating.
Read 27 tweets

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