Promises to abolish the House of Lords: Who is Keir Starmer?

Keir Starmer, leader of the main opposition Labor Party in England, has promised to abolish the House of Lords, the upper house of the parliament, in his first term if he is elected prime minister.

By Stephen McWright Published on 8 Haziran 2024 : 21:09.
Promises to abolish the House of Lords: Who is Keir Starmer?

Labor Party leader Keir Starmer will certainly become prime minister in the UK's July elections. There are seven critical turning points in Starmer's adventure, from a lawyer defending the right to worship the Celtic priest who claims to be the reincarnation of King Arthur, to becoming prime minister.

Since British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's early election decision on July 4, 2024, the world's eyes have turned to Labor Party leader Keir Starmer. According to polls, Starmer, the leader of the Labor Party, who is at least 20 points ahead of the Conservative Party, may become the prime minister at number 10 Downing Street in less than a month. The two most frequently asked questions, both by the public and the media, about Starmer, who entered politics only nine years ago, are: 'Who and what does Starmer actually stand for?'

Sir Keir Rodney Starmer (born 2 September 1962) is a British politician and barrister who has served as Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Labour Party since 2020. He has been Member of Parliament (MP) for Holborn and St Pancras since 2015, and was previously Director of Public Prosecutions from 2008 to 2013. He ideologically identifies as progressive and as being part of the centre-ground.

Many definitions are used about Starmer, such as 'boring, lacking charisma, opportunistic, lucky, rigid, pragmatic, socialist lawyer, realist, Corbynist, Blairite, opaque and unshakable'. Starmer presents himself as a politician who aims to end intra-party wars and pull the Labor Party to the center-left by building a bridge between the "hard" left-wing and members standing more in the center.

So how did Starmer, who has identities such as worker's child, human rights lawyer, attorney general, knight, and MP, come to the brink of becoming the British prime minister? One way to answer this question may be to look at seven turning points in Starmer's life.

Not a socialite, a worker's child

Starmer brings up the fact that he comes from the working class at every opportunity to refute the claim that he has a privileged background because he was knighted. Born in London in 1962 and raised in Surrey, Starmer's father is a factory worker and his mother is a nurse who spent most of her life fighting a serious illness. Starmer is named after Labor Party founder Keir Hardie. He is the only child in his family to go to university. After studying law at Leeds University, he is doing his master's degree at Oxford University. The fact that most prime ministers in the British political scene are Oxford graduates reinforces the idea of ​​a grassroots, socialite ruling elite that is detached from the people.

'Socialist lawyer'

The McDonald's case, in which Starmer represented two environmental activists free of charge while working as a human rights lawyer, is one of the important turning points of his career.

Starmer took the file, which turned into the longest libel case in British history, lasting ten years, and earned the nickname McLibel (McLibel), all the way to the European Court of Human Rights. Activists faced libel charges in 1997 after McDonald's distributed a pamphlet about employee pay, animal cruelty, environmental damage, and other irregularities. The activists, who partially won the case but were found guilty of some elements, refused to pay compensation. McDonald's company lost a great reputation after the case. One of Starmer's interesting cases was his defense of the right of Druid priest Arthur Uther Pendragon, who claimed to be the reincarnation of King Arthur, to worship at Stonehenge. Druids (Celtic priests) are part of a movement known as modern paganism.

A left-wing knight

Starmer, who defended the homeless, asylum seekers, tree dwellers, anti-hunters, miners, laborers, and trade unions, was appointed as the Attorney General of the United Kingdom in 2008, causing surprise in those around him. What really confuses people is why Starmer accepted this appointment. The appointment of someone who has devoted his career to defending the rights of disadvantaged groups to a position where he uses the power of the state will cause reactions.

Starmer also heads the Crown Prosecution Service, which employs around 6,000 people and prosecutes half a million prosecutions a year. After serving as attorney general for five years, Starmer was knighted and became Sir Keir in 2014.

Entering politics with Ed Miliband

Ed Miliband, the leader of the Labor Party at the time, included Starmer on his candidate list for parliament. While Starmer was elected as a member of the House of Commons in the 2015 elections, the defeat of the Labor Party resulted in Milliband's resignation from the leadership. Years later, when Starmer became head of his party, he showed his loyalty to his old friend by appointing Miliband as shadow climate minister.

Corbyn years, shadow ministry

Starmer's political career took off when Jeremy Corbyn became head of the Labor Party in 2015. Starmer, appointed by Corbyn as shadow Brexit minister, campaigns for Britain to remain a member ahead of the EU referendum. At the time, Corbyn was criticized for not doing enough to ensure Britain remained a member of the EU. After Boris Johnson became prime minister in 2019, Starmer diverged from Corbyn by calling for a second referendum on Brexit.

The new target is the Labor Party leadership

Following Labour's massive defeat in the 2019 general election, Starmer runs for the leadership at the beginning of 2020. Starmer makes a series of promises that please the hard left wing of the party, such as 'nationalizing the railways, post office, energy and water management' and introducing high taxes on the rich. After being elected leader, Starmer made a u-turn on many of his promises, including free movement within the EU, education reform, and social security, and made a staff change in the party bureaucracy. Corbyn's party membership is suspended following a human rights organization's report that the party led by Corbyn has "serious flaws" in anti-Semitism. Today, Starmer's own voters criticize him for not being able to take a strong enough position against Israel on the Israel-Hamas war.

Last kick to Corbyn

Corbyn, who announced that he would enter the July elections as an independent parliamentary candidate, was expelled from the Labor Party two weeks ago. Starmer said that "the days of Corbyn influencing Labor Party policies are behind us" and signaled that he was drawing a road map closer to the center of politics. It is still a mystery to many people what kind of policy Starmer, who said he would bring the Labor Party to power with the slogan "Change", will follow as prime minister.