Starmer’s Sacking of Those Who Voted With Their Conscience Shows His Authoritanianism
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer has sacked Nadia Whittome as she defied a three-line whip to vote with her conscience against the overseas operations bill. The bill has been called a British “license to commit war crimes”.
Presented behind a smokescreen “protection against vexatious litigation”, the Tory bill will allow British troops to become immune to prosecution for war crimes and atrocities carried out in foreign theatres of war such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
Nadia Whittome was amongst three MPs sacked following their refusal to abide by the Starmer line to abstain. Whittome, alongside Beth Winter and Olivia Blake, were threatened in advance that their careers as parliamentary private secretaries would be over if they voted with their conscience.
The hypocritical Starmer had previously criticised Whittome’s saying from the Lark Hill retirement village care home earlier this year for speaking out about PPE shortages. The opportunistic Labour leader stated “no one should be sacked for speaking out.”
Those rebelling against the imperialist bill came from the Socialist Campaign Group and included Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott, John McDonnell and Rebecca Long-Bailey.
“I have grave concerns that, as it stands, the overseas operation bill the House of Commons is discussing today defies and undermines international law.”
Whittome meanwhile was rightfully unrepentant for her decision. Speaking to Peston, she stated that the bill was “anti-veteran, anti-human rights, and would effectively decriminalise torture – and that’s why I voted against it.”
The move by Sir Keir Starmer to sack Whittome, Winter and Blake will come as no shock to those who remember the eagerness with which he dispensed with socialist Rebecca Long-Bailey. Nor will his falling into line with the hard-right and again backing Conservative Party policy surprise those who noted his authoritarian career at the CPS or actions since becoming the so-called leader of the Labour Party.
Writing on Twitter earlier this year, the independent journalist and co-founder of Declassified UK Matt Kennard highlighted concerning interactions between Starmer and the apparatus of the state.
Kennard noted a meeting between the Labour leader and then Director-General of MI5 Sir Jonathan Evans in April of 2013, a year after Starmer made the decision not to prosecute the security services over their role in torture during the “War on Terror”.
Quite how proper such a meeting was is open to debate.
It was in 2010 that Starmer said the CPS had decided there was “insufficient evidence” to prosecute an MI5 officer for any criminal offence arising from the interview of Binyam Mohamed in Pakistan on 17 May 2002. His statement came despite the Court of Appeal ruling that Mohamed had been subjected to “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by the United States authorities” as part of which the British Intelligence services had been complicit. Evans said he was “delighted” by the decision.
The court of appeal decision overruled then foreign secretary David Miliband as the New Labour government was accused of engaging in a cover-up. Home Secretary Alan Duncan was forced to deny that government lawyers had forced the judiciary to water down criticism of MI5.
Two years later it was also decided that MI6 had nothing to answer over the Mohamed case, with the CPS stating that “there is insufficient evidence to prove to the standard required in a criminal court”. This decision on Starmer’s watch came even though officers “knew or ought to have known that there was a real or serious risk that Mr Mohamed would be exposed to ill-treatment amounting to torture” over the information provided to the United States.
In 2009 he refused to prosecute the police officers responsible for the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes, in 2010 he did the same in the case of Ian Tomlinson. That same year, after massive student protests swept the country following the coalition government’s announcement of plans to treble student fees, the protesters were met with the expected brutality of the state. Starmer’s role was to announce new powers to crack down on protest, implementing new guidelines that encouraged the prosecution of the protestors including those who came to a protest “equipped with clothes or mask to prevent identification [or] items that could be considered body protection”.
In 2013 the CPS applied pressure to Swedish authorities to ensure that maintained the false prosecution of Julian Assange to keep him confined to the Ecuadorian embassy.
For his services to the state, Starmer was made a knight of the realm in 2014.
Starmer’s time at the CPS was marked by his assimilation into the right-wing state apparatus of Blairite Britain. The willingness with which he dispenses with those who stand for human rights, as in the prior case of Rebecca Long Bailey, show that Starmer is more than the stooge that many feared. Instead, as previously proven with his backing of war criminals at the CPS, Starmer has an authoritarian streak. Couple this with his appeals to base nationalism and the Labour Party leader may be a far more dangerous individual than anyone had anticipated.