From hotshot lawyer to head of the Crown Prosecution Services (CPS), Keir Starmer is perhaps not the first person many would associate with the British Labour Party. But the party’s shift in ideological stance under former Prime Minister Tony Blair opened the door for the highly polished Starmer to become the leader.
Joining Lowkey on today’s episode of “The Watchdog” is Oliver Eagleton, author and assistant editor of the journal, The New Left Review. Eagleton knows Starmer well; his 2022 biography, “The Starmer Project: a Journey to the Right,” forensically dissects both Starmer’s background and his rapid ascension to the top of the party and details the Labour Party’s ideological shift from social democracy to neoliberalism.
Today, Eagleton highlights the 60-year-old politician’s questionable relationship with Washington during his time as Director of Public Prosecutions, stating:
Starmer developed a close relationship with the Obama administration…he went over to Washington and had a series of meetings with Eric Holder, head of the DOJ [Department of Justice] who, at the time, is the guy most famous for developing the legal infrastructure around the Obama administration’s drone program.”
Starmer has played a key role in the prosecution of Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange. As head of the CPS, he used every weapon in his arsenal to keep the Australian publisher in the country and under constant surveillance, even threatening Swedish prosecutors who wished to drop their charges against him – the entire pretense underwriting Assange’s detention.
“Swedish prosecutors had grown tired of the case, [it was]consuming a lot of resources, and they want to drop it. Again, the CPS intervenes and says ‘no, no, no, you must keep the case going,’” Eagleton told Lowkey; “The exact form of words that they used were: ‘don’t you dare get cold feet.’”
Eagleton was unimpressed by Starmer’s political history or his ideological consistency. “He is just sort of a political chameleon or a blank canvas, and he can sort tack right or tack left, depending on who he is listening to at that moment,” he said. What we do know is that the leader of the Labour Party pushed for tougher sentences for a whole range of crimes and demanded more police presence in working-class communities.
Before wrapping up, Oliver Eagleton makes a fundamental distinction between Keir Starmer and Tony Blair as leaders of the Labour Party.
Many have compared Starmer, both in outlook and in tone, to Tony Blair. Yet Eagleton says that this is, if anything, unfair to Blair, noting,
Blair’s politics were, for all their faults, forward-looking and upbeat and optimistic…whereas Starmer is something very different, the whole line of verve of Blairism, the vitality is gone, and instead you have this grim sense of just regressing back to the point before the 2010s, when these different populist challenges emerged.”
Watch the whole interview here, exclusively at MintPress News.
The MintPress podcast, “The Watchdog,” hosted by British-Iraqi hip hop artist Lowkey, closely examines organizations about which it is in the public interest to know – including intelligence, lobby and special interest groups influencing policies that infringe on free speech and target dissent. The Watchdog goes against the grain by casting a light on stories largely ignored by the mainstream, corporate media.
Lowkey is a British-Iraqi hip-hop artist, academic and political campaigner. As a musician, he has collaborated with the Arctic Monkeys, Wretch 32, Immortal Technique and Akala. He is a patron of Stop The War Coalition, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Racial Justice Network and The Peace and Justice Project, founded by Jeremy Corbyn. He has spoken and performed on platforms from the Oxford Union to the Royal Albert Hall and Glastonbury. His latest album, Soundtrack To The Struggle 2, featured Noam Chomsky and Frankie Boyle and has been streamed millions of times.