Starmer’s Corporate Council: Selling Democracy to the Highest Bidder
Sir Keir Starmer’s shameless courting of big business at the Labour conference should concern anyone who cares about democracy.
In his keynote speech prior to the conference proper, the ever-flexible Starmer boasted of creating a “partnership” with business leaders, he told the special forum in Liverpool: “If we do come into government, you will be coming into government with us.” His message was clear – you scratch our backs, we’ll scratch yours.
This smacks of the same corporatism that has infected our politics and corrupted democracy through lobbying for years. Pretending that giving boardrooms a direct line into government is good for the public is a make-believe. Experience suggests the opposite. Crony capitalism enriches the few at the expense of the many.
But Starmer marches blithely on, betraying Labour’s roots to bow before corporate power while ignoring the lessons of history. The ardently pro-EU leader has form in ignoring the democratic will of the people. So why should he worry about bypassing pesky things like elections or accountability?
It is the same arrogant mentality that led New Labour to embed the power of big finance in Britain. Or that saw David Cameron cosy up to media moguls before it backfired spectacularly.
Handing direct influence to vested interests is an affront to voters. We see where it leads today – with working people’s concerns marginalised while corporations reap the rewards.
Rachel Reeves’ proposed “advisory group” of business leaders and economists compounds the offence. This politburo would apparently vet government policy, though nobody voted for its members. It is Labour bowing before corporate power, not championing the vulnerable.
This advisory group which is being labelled as a business council will consist of some of the market’s most avaricious players: Aviva, Lloyds, Fidelity, Phoenix and Blackstone. This is far more than lobbying. This is outsourcing democracy to economic vampires who will be able to wield direct influence over policy to protect their interests.
This so-called council are slated to wield substantial influence, allowing them to scrutinise government policies and determine what will or won’t impact the market. Have no doubt, it’s going to be a case of what the market wants the market gets, irrespective of the democratically elected members of parliament. No wonder there’s talk of getting rid of the Lords, Starmer has already found a replacement chamber.
The rationale cites preventing market shocks like those under Liz Truss. However, while pretending stability is a virtue for the markets reality has proved other. History shows us that regularly disrupting markets maximizes profits for these giants. Expecting fair counsel from oligopolies fixing prices is naïve fantasy. This scheme sacrifices self-governance to unaccountable corporate rule.
Consumer champion Martin Lewis said he was “shocked” that a buy-now-pay-later company had been able to sponsor a fringe event in Liverpool and was “given a platform to argue against the planned regulation” of the sector. For business, the comparatively small size of Labour’s policy teams has offered a chance for companies to influence the policies the party adopts.
A New Labour, Old Thatcherism
Of course, Starmer’s New Labour insists compromise was inevitable against resurgent Tories. But craven appeasement of forces they once opposed should seal Labour’s doom, but it won’t.
As Labour’s hollowed-out shell loses principles, purpose and voters it becomes indistinguishable from the Tories. On the other hand, the Tories themselves have exhausted their reserves, having sold out and grown ineffectual, ultimately eroding their credibility, if they ever had any. The stench of decay and corruption pervades their party.
Starmer’s clique has heralded this government-by-boardroom coup as “pragmatism.” it’s not!
Reeves for all her giddy smiles, hobnobbing with her former banking colleagues from the 2008 mortgage crash cannot disguise the wretched submission to Mammon. While Starmer spits on Labour’s socialist heritage by letting profiteers dictate legislation. The party now kneels before markets and bankers, not the people.
The fact of the matter is that when you have to ask permission from a council of global corporate entities before implementing government policies, the very essence of democracy erodes, giving way to what can only be termed a “Corporatocracy.”
How quickly Labour forgets. Just a decade ago, the Tories rightly lambasted Gordon Brown for bowing too readily before the false gods of the free market. Labour’s devotion to market orthodoxy and light-touch regulation left the UK vulnerable to the 2008 financial crisis, bringing the economy to its knees.
Yet now Sir Keir Starmer wishes to prostrate his party once more at the altar of unfettered capitalism. Has collective amnesia infected Labour’s top ranks? Or are they simply devoid of principle, always chasing the fickle winds of fashionable dogma?
Either way, it is depressing to witness. New Labour’s poodle-like obedience to the whims of the market led to that economic calamity just 13 years past. Britain is still recovering today, with stretched public services and ongoing austerity.
But the Pied Piper Starmer wants Labour to dance again to the tune of market fundamentalism. This, despite the cost of living crisis engulfing households nationwide. A crisis driven by the shameless profiteering of energy firms and supermarkets.
Rampant corporate greed is driving inflation skywards. And the Bank of England’s solution? To push interest rates ever upwards, worsening mortgage pain for millions. We are trapped in an economically illiterate doom loop.
This is Labour’s pact with the devil – signed in blood to chase votes. But such deals destroy integrity. Starmer’s “new” Labour is a spectre of Blairism, serving elites through Thatcherite economics with a human face. It capitulates to the altar of greed.
The Tories claim there is no alternative to this folly. But history teaches us otherwise. Prevailing orthodoxy is often wrong. Labour once understood that markets require sensible regulation to curb their worst excesses. Starmer’s lack of ideological understanding and advection for socialist economics leaves us with unbridled capitalism that only puts the vulnerable at real risk.
You really don’t have to ponder the motivations of behemoths like BlackRock and Goldman Sachs jumping on board this goose of golden eggs. A company that is among the most prominent shareholders in both the energy and banking sectors. What, you might wonder, is their vested interest in a market plagued by instability, except market volatility brings increased opportunity to profit in a shorter amount of time, that’s how they work.
British businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs hold enormous promise as they grow and prosper.— Rachel Reeves (@RachelReevesMP) May 23, 2023
But under the Tories a lack of confidence in the UK economy is sending too many of them abroad.
Labour will strengthen our economy and get more businesses listing in Britain. pic.twitter.com/2FTin2AZpj
The advisory group cements Labour as handmaiden to the rich, the electorate of this country a mere afterthought. The New Labour pact with the forces of greed seals the party’s metamorphosis into an enabler of elites. Starmer and Reeve’s ‘grand economic plan is simply Thatcherism with a human face.
These proposals confirm the party’s wholesale surrender to the forces of neoliberalism.
Of course, the high priests of New Labour insist they had no choice. Compromise was inevitable to compete with the growing church of neoliberalism, they sermonise. But duty should have compelled them to fight for the light, not join opponents revelling in darkness simply because it proved expedient to business.
Polls and focus groups cannot substitute for moral courage. But Labour’s high command trusts only numbers on screens, not truths etched in hearts. And so the supernatural communion between leader and base frays beyond repair. The dejected faithful drift away, leaving Labour a tomb haunted by great spirits of the past, when it once was a mighty voice for the working class.
This is Labour’s pact with the devil – power in exchange for its soul.
The Faustian bargain complete, all that remains is for Starmer to start trumpeting the beneficence of inequality and why sweatshops lift living standards. Workers’ expectations sink lower as both parties compete in pandering to boardrooms. The race to the bottom begins…