Sir Keir Starmer has refused to commit to his leadership election pledge to abolish the House of Lords.
In his usual weasley worded fashion, much favoured by the barrister he is, Sir Keir Starmer moved from his pledge made in his Leadership election campaign to abolish the hose of Lords to now. reviewing and changing that undemocratic house.
Asked on Sunday whether he stood by the promise made in 2019, the Labour leader would only say the institution “needs change”.
But during his leadership campaign, Sir Keir Starmer made 10 pledges – including a commitment to “abolish the House of Lords” and “replace it with an elected chamber of regions and nations”.
Asked about the policy on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show in light of reports that the Conservative Party has been offering peerages to wealthy benefactors as a “reward” for large donations.
“We certainly need change in the House of Lords. What I’ve done, Andrew, is I’ve set up a commission to look at the future of the UK, including the institutions such as the House of Lords. Gordon Brown is leading that and I’ll look at it,” he said.
When asked if he had abandoned the promise to abolish the chamber which votes on all government legislation, he said: “I’ve said we need to change the House of Lords – I stand by that. I’ve asked Gordon Brown to look into exactly what those changes should be.”
The pledge to abolish the House of Lords is not the first to be abandoned by Sir Keir Starmer after winning the Labour leadership election.
The former shadow Brexit secretary laid out a platform similar to the party’s 2017 manifesto during the election – including commitments to bring utilities into public ownership and introduce tax increases for the highest earners and corporations.
Asked on the same programme whether he had ditched a Labour manifesto promise of banning MPs from holding second jobs, Starmer said he agreed with the “principle” of the plan but avoided saying he still endorsed it.
Starmer goes full Tory: Labour would not nationalise big six energy firms
Instead, he said Labour would advocate nationalisation only when it would deliver improved value and services for taxpayers.
“When it comes to common ownership, I’m pragmatic about it,” he said. “Let me spell it out. What that means is that where common ownership is value for money for the taxpayer and delivers a better service, then I’m in favour of common ownership.”
During his Labour leadership campaign, one of Starmer’s 10 key pledges was that “public services should be in public hands, not making profits for shareholders. Support common ownership of rail, mail, energy and water.”
The shadow business secretary, Ed Miliband, suggested on Newsnight earlier in the week that the party was about to renew its commitment to common ownership of energy and other public resources.
“We haven’t changed that commitment,” Miliband said. “If we’re going to make this green transition, then public ownership is the right way to go.”
“Wait for the conference, but Keir Starmer said in his leadership campaign he was in favour of public ownership in those areas. We haven’t changed that commitment,”
He added: “If we’re going to make this green transition, then public ownership is the right way to go. We don’t resile from those commitments.”
Obviously, Starmer does not agree with the former Labour leader Ed Miliband or the 2019 manifesto he stood on to be elected let alone his personal pledge of public ownership where he appeared to ditch his 2020 leadership pledge to “support common ownership of rail, mail, energy and water”.
He was shown one of his 10 pledges during his leadership election which said “public services should be in public hands, not making profits for shareholders. Support common ownership of rail, mail, energy and water”.
“I don’t see nationalisation there,” he said.
“When it comes to common ownership I’m pragmatic about this. I do not agree with the argument that says we must be ideological.”
But he did not say what form common ownership would take if it was not nationalisation.
“I’d be pragmatic about it, and where common ownership is value for money for the taxpayer and delivers better services then there should be common ownership,” he added.
Starmer is again out of tune with members and voters.
Public ownership of gas and electricity was always a cherished aim of the Labour Party. For years under privatisation, the swindling of the consumer has gone hand-in-hand with outrageous profit-taking by the corporate giants, to the loss of the public purse. Far from helping customers through keen competition, the main effect of energy privatisation has been – like austerity – a redistribution of wealth from the have-nots to the well-to-do.
What a pity, therefore, that Labour will no longer make this an aim of the party, it will continue to allow monopoly capitalism to stamp its heel on the most vulnerable with every price hike.