Sir Keir has failed, like his last three predecessors have, to realise that no political party that promises tax rises ever wins a British general election. Labour remains a Corbynist party, albeit one with a new leader, argues Paul T Horgan

There have been numerous articles marking Sir Keir Starmer's first 100 days in office. The majority of these have failed to recognise that Sir Keir has not made any significant policy reversals from Labour's disastrous manifesto of last December. In fact he is piling a new Corbynist one on, in the form of a wealth tax. He has failed, like his last three predecessors have, to realise that no political party that promises tax rises ever wins a British general election.

However Labour's travails since it entered opposition over a decade ago, and certainly since 2015, hide an important question. What is the point of the Labour Party?

The quick answer is that it is, as Tony Blair's Clause IV states, 'a democratic socialist party'. Blair's clause then went on to fudge what democratic socialism actually meant by contrast to its predecessor that talked about common ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange. He replaced this with the concept of standing for 'the many, not the few', which has been amplified by some to make Labour a party of social hate against an economic minority seen as too wealthy. This also provides fuel for numerous left-wing conspiracy theories which bleed into the anti-Semitic. But Labour also portrays itself as a defender and advocate for numerous 'fews' in the form of sexual, ethnic, and religious minorities, finding to its cost for the last decade that if the party champions minorities, it does receive a minority of the vote.

If the point of the Labour Party is actually 'the fews, not the many', this will not win elections, especially if the party runs on a platform of economic and and cultural revenge disguised as social justice.

The modern Labour Party disowns its New Labour period. When asked who was the best predecessor, Sir Keir swerved and nominated Harold Wilson. This is significant.

Wilson initially faced a Prime Minister who was fighting in the trenches of Flanders when Wilson was born. The Conservatives were rocked by scandals and a parlous economy. They seemed tired and old to an electorate that now had new voters who had not known life before the Second World War and also may never have known a time when there had not been a Conservative government. The public were less deferential, impatient for change, and wanted new and younger faces at the top. Wilson won a slim majority in 1964 and a landslide in 1966.

Exclude the 13-year period of New Labour as a 'Red Tory' heresy and all that is left is Attlee's six years of postwar austerity and state regulation, Wilson's six years in the swinging sixties, and a crisis government with a wafer-thin majority in the mid-to-late 1970s, when the unions dictated who ran the country and how it was to be run. This exclusion also means that 1966 was the last time Labour won an election with a good majority. And yet this exclusion seems to be orthodoxy amongst large parts of Labour. In her maiden speech earlier this year Zarah Sultana, who holds Coventry South with a majority of 401 votes, complained of 'forty years of Thatcherism'. For her argument to hold water, the only conclusion is that most British voters have not wanted socialist governance for over half a century.

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While Corbynists could argue that Labour was slightly less than 2,500 votes away from forming a government in 2017, this is not a credible statement. There are always marginal seats. Governments are not formed by electoral votes, but having the requisite number of MPs in the Commons to command a majority. There is no precise correlation between campaigning and an increase in votes. A Labour-led decapitation campaign in the Prime Minister's Uxbridge seat saw him increase his majority by 50% last year.

Corbyn only managed to make his party recover in 2017 from the depths of Miliband's disaster in 2015 up to the depths of Brown's failure in 2010, and little more. This was against a government and party thrown into disarray by the U-turn over Brexit imposed by the referendum, plus also an inept campaign led by Mrs May whose election manifesto threatened the homes of every granny in the land. While Corbyn's achievement in gaining seats was cast at the time as a victory, it was as much a defeat as Neil Kinnock's 1992 reduction of the Conservatives three-digit majority to about twenty.

There is already no point to Labour in Scotland. It is now down to one Commons seat and is the third-largest party in Holyrood, having been overtaken by the Conservatives. The SNP have conflated Scottish independence, anti-Brexitism, and socialism such that Labour are irrelevant.

Labour usually gain office when the public tire of the Conservatives or the party is seen as exhausted after years in power. Conservatives have a rest in opposition for 5?6 years before coming back refreshed and recharged for more multi-term government. Blair's achievement was to challenge this norm and seek to govern Britain for longer than one-and-a-bit terms before being consigned to over a decade in opposition. For this he is now vilified.

However Blair could only do this by watering down Labour's red-in-tooth-and-claw socialism. His reforms were predominantly cultural and social rather than the economic and political ones of Margaret Thatcher, which vindicates Sultana's complaint. Blair and Brown spent more money than the Conservatives, enacted more socially permissive legislation, but did not move economic power from free markets to the state. The revenue gained from taxing free markets financed New Labour's spending right up to the point of the worst global crash in almost 80 years, which like its predecessor, led to a coalition government. After this, Labour lost the intellectual argument.

Labour's policies are constricted by the ebbs and flows of the market, as well as being stolen by an expansionist Conservative government, unless Labour advocate vote-losing policies of increased taxation and state control. Like in the late 1950s, the party seems to be in a holding pattern until older voters die off and are replaced by younger voters who are more progressive, but that seems a Micawberish way to win an election and does not vindicate socialist ideology. The Conservatives are actually better at replacing their supporters than Labour and have increased their vote at every election since 2001, as well as having their voters better distributed.

Sir Keir has yet to reject the policies that saw Labour fall to a defeat worse than that in 1935 as that year's results were an improvement on the meltdown of 1931, and direction of travel is also important. Labour remains a Corbynist party albeit one with a new leader.

Being ideologically-driven, Labour will need a new majoritarian intellectual argument to present to the British voters that is more sophisticated than their brain-dead default 'get the Tories out', the divisive one of alleged social and economic oppression, or the dishonest oft-repeated threat of NHS privatisation. At present it is not clear what this is to be. And if this is not clear, then apart from perpetual opposition holding the Conservatives to account and just waiting in hope for them to eventually alienate a critical mass of voters, what is the point of Labour?

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