Beleaguered Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has doubled down and insisted he and his party are patriotic, despite mounting evidence that the public does not see his party as a patriotic force.
His comments were made in a discussion on the Sky News programme Sophy Ridge on Sunday, where he alluded to a leaked Labour report that called on the party to reconnect with lost Red Wall voters by making use of the flag and support for British veterans.
Starmer said: “Yes, I’m patriotic – that was one of the issues that was in this report that was leaked – of course I’m patriotic. I want to be prime minister of this country because I want this country to be even better than it is now.”
His claim to patriotism will ring hollow to many, especially in light of recent revelations that he once boasted about his support for the abolition of the British monarchy.
He went on to defend the patriotic chops of his party in general, saying: “Actually, the whole Labour movement is very patriotic, we are in politics to change our country for the better, you can’t be more patriotic than that, and I’m very, very comfortable with it.”
But his boasts clash with the reality, with just 9% of Labour supporters declaring themselves “very patriotic” in a recent poll – less than a quarter of the number of Tories who did.
And only 4% of Leave voters – who the party disproportionately lost in 2019 – view the party as a very patriotic force.
His remarks come at the end of a week where London’s Labour mayor Sadiq Khan faced condemnation for a new panel of unelected “diversity commissioners” who will hold sway over the representation of British heritage in London’s public spaces.
One of the commissioners, Lynette Nabbosa, wrote an article last October claiming that “the UK seems to be the common denominator in atrocities across the world.”
Reform UK leader Nigel Farage, who has won huge political victories in years past by siphoning support away from Labour in their traditional northern heartlands, warned Sir Keir about the threat posed by Sadiq Khan’s radical plans for the London landscape.
If Starmer “cannot rein in Khan, his identity politics, his willful adoption of cancel culture,” said Mr Farage, “then the Labour Party will lose by even more votes at the next election than Jeremy Corbyn did at the last.”
Khan may just be the most prominent example of Starmer’s growing crisis in the culture wars, but there are arguably even worse examples within the party. A recent paper by the party’s external governance officer called for Britain to pay reparations to former members of the British Empire and suggested that convicted rapists should be given the right to vote.