The Labour Party’s Latest Somersault on Workers’ Rights Shows its Ideological Bankruptcy
The Labour Party has once again executed a slick political somersault, abandoning its supposed principles with the agility of an Olympic gymnast. The latest backflip concerns Labour’s policy on workers’ rights. Party leader Sir Keir Starmer has reportedly diluted his pledge to increase protections for people working in the ‘gig economy’, no doubt kowtowing to the party’s wealthy donors in the business community.
This is hardly surprising coming from today’s Labour Party, which has all the ideological backbone of a jellyfish. The text agreed at last month’s National Policy Forum, which will form the basis for Labour’s 2024 manifesto, waters down previous commitments made just last year. Instead of the bold abolition of the gig economy promised under the left leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, Labour will now merely ‘consult’ on the issue should they attain power. The notion they would stand up to big business interests on behalf of workers is laughable.
Even more pathetically, Labour has rowed back on a promise to provide basic employment rights like sick pay and protection against unfair dismissal from an employee’s first day in a job. Workers will now have to complete a probation period before being granted such rights, no matter how anodyne. So much for being ‘for the many, not the few’.
Labour’s Identity Crisis: Workers’ Rights U-Turn Reveals Ideological Weakness
The explanation for this latest capitulation is obvious – Labour wants to prove its pro-business credentials in order to woo corporate donors. The party leadership refers to this as the ‘smoked salmon and scrambled egg’ offensive, seemingly unaware of how elitist and ridiculous this sounds. They are desperately trying to shed Labour’s image as a socialist party inimical to free enterprise and wealth creation.
The party’s so-called National Policy Forum, which cooks up the thin gruel later served as Labour’s manifesto, has also confirmed bosses will retain their divine right to hire and fire employees as they please. The last nod to the socialist origins of the party has been erased.
With Labour’s leading lights schmoozing big business at £50,000-a-head conferences, buttering up the wealthy with promises of low taxes and minimal regulation, is it any wonder the unions are in revolt? But Sir Keir and his Blairite outriders care not a jot for the workers. Their eyes are fixed upon the glitz and glamour of London’s business elite, salivating at the prospect of donations and directorships.
The text agreed last month at Labour’s national policy forum will be published in the run-up to Labour’s annual conference in October and will form a menu from which it picks its manifesto pledges.
Passages seen by the FT showed that Labour has diluted its 2021 pledge to create a single status of “worker” for all but the genuinely self-employed, regardless of sector, wage or contract type. The policy was aimed at guaranteeing “basic rights and protections” for all workers, including those in the gig economy.
The document, seen by the Financial Times, also confirmed businesses will retain the right under a Keir Starmer Government to fairly dismiss workers on the grounds of capability, conduct or redundancy.
From Principles to Pragmatism a journey of cowardice.
The party also clarified its position on probation for new recruits, confirming a future Labour government would continue to allow companies to dismiss staff during a trial period.
Asked about these reports on Sky News, the shadow schools minister Stephen Morgan said he could not comment.
Instead, he stressed Labour will be “pro-worker and pro-business”, adding that more detail will be set out in the party’s manifesto ahead of the upcoming general election.
He said: “Labour set out its five national missions. That has been approved by our national policy forum in July.
“Obviously we will set out more detail in our manifesto, but the Labour Party can be pro-worker and pro-business.
The Labour Party Sinks Deeper into the Quicksand of its Own Making
The Labour Party has a rich history of ideological abandonment and betrayal. Under Tony Blair, it eagerly discarded Clause Four and embraced the free market with the zeal of a religious convert. Now under Keir Starmer, it has ruthlessly purged the left and seeks to demonstrate it can outdo even the Tories competing for pro-business approval.
Principles are routinely cast aside, promises casually broken, and history quickly forgotten – such is the nature of today’s Labour Party, its founding purpose hollowed out long ago. With every new policy pronouncement, Labour sinks deeper into the quicksand of its own making.
A party without beliefs is no party at all. In trying to appeal to all, Labour appeals to none. It has no ideological red lines it will not eagerly erase. It has no core ideology it will not readily abandon. Labour now exists only to attain power, by any means necessary. But should it gain office, what then?
Its policy slate is blank, and its think tanks are emptier still. The Party founded to represent the interests of the working class now openly sneers at such people as ‘deplorables’. It is left with nothing but empty slogans and vacuous promises. When vested interests apply even modest pressure, these too collapse.
Labour has forfeited any solid ideological ground on which to stand. It stands as a melancholy, inconsequential remnant of its former self – a party that was once great, now sunk up to its neck in the quicksand of its own creation.