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Standing against the poster boy for our broken political system

Updated: Dec 6, 2019

I wrote the following opinion piece for Sunday's Telegraph and will focus my campaign to hold 'Squirmy' Starmer to account: If you can't get past the paywall, the original article is below:

Keir Starmer: The poster boy for our broken political system

Watching Keir Starmer squirm on the hook of his own ambition could almost make you feel compassion for Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary, but it shouldn’t! With his eyes fixed on the prize of his party’s post-election leadership, Starmer has made a ruthless choice. If the contradictions of his twisted positioning make him wriggle under the public glare of national television, it is no more than his shocking duplicity deserves.

Setting his principles aside, sensible-looking Starmer has committed himself to act as bait for voters unable to swallow the corduroy Marxism of Labour’s current leader, Jeremy Corbyn. The result isn’t just pitiful, but shameful. A man who belongs to the Blairite tradition of New Labour, he’s thrown away his integrity and beliefs for the pursuit of power. His presence at the front of Labour’s radical campaign is a daily demonstration of everything that’s wrong with our broken political system.

We are right to mock Starmer’s attempts to explain Labour’s absurd policy of renegotiating yet another deal with the EU before offering voters the chance to vote it down. Starmer’s problem is that, thanks to the Internet, he can’t edit out the gap between his past statements and his present behaviour.

Starmer knows exactly how ill-advised it is to call for a second referendum. In early 2018, he told students that his experience as a human rights lawyer in other countries had shown him how corrosive to democracy it was to ignore a vote. “I think it’s absolutely right,” he said, “that if we do have a referendum we abide by the result”. Now he is the poster boy for Labour’s second referendum. How things change.

Lodged in the safe seat of Holborn & St Pancras with a majority of 30,509, Starmer knows he doesn’t have to worry about consistency and integrity, or even the corrosion of democracy. Like too many others of our complacent political class, he thinks he is untouchable.

That’s why I’m standing for the Brexit Party against him. As an immigrant from a country where the ruinous failure of democracy has led to violence replacing the ballot box, I too understand the stakes. The difference is that I’m prepared to say what I mean and stand up for what I believe.

The Brexit Party and the Conservatives have accepted that we face a common enemy in Corbyn’s Labour party, and a common goal in achieving a real Brexit rather than more dither and delay. But the last three years have revealed far wider cracks in our political system. That’s why the Brexit Party is also calling for constitutional reform, including a fairer voting system that reflects people’s real preferences.

We need a strong democracy to face the challenges and opportunities ahead and we can start right now by challenging unaccountable, unprincipled MPs.

The current system may keep Starmer and others like him safe in their seats come December 12, but now is our opportunity to force them to answer hard questions. In the campaign, I’ll endeavour to expose the awkward distance between his record and the policies he now defends. Until the votes are cast, it’s our turn to make unreliable politicians squirm.

-Hector Birchwood

Brexit Party Parliamentary Candidate for Holborn & St Pancras

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