inequalityWe don’t need to escalate 
You see, war is not the answer 
For only love can conquer hate’

Yesterday I had the misfortune to experience just how accurate the statement, ‘repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth’, is. 

I spent an hour in the company of an elderly person, who ‘gets all hers news’ from the Daily Mail and GB News. Rather than bore you with all the details selected lowlights were Labour summarised as tax and spend, and quite useless. On Brexit, despite the individual being unable to name any positives it was still a good thing. Saving the worse to last, we had Israel and Islamophobia; basically Israel should be allowed to exterminate all Muslims. 

In summary the person was a genuinely unpleasant idiot. 

But, were they, really? Or, are they just a bit dim, and easily influenced. I side with the latter, a frightened oldie being cynically manipulated by extreme right media. Something like this never ends well…. 

What does concern me about Labour, is that they are the beneficiary of how useless and out-of-touch the Tories are, rather than popular in their own right. Within this, Labour, especially their frontline team, seems convinced that to win they have to be Tory lite. Within this there seems to be ongoing miscalculations. 

‘Or, are they just a bit dim, and easily influenced. I side with the latter, a frightened oldie being cynically manipulated by extreme right media’

One of these miscalculations is the latest Tory defector, Natalie Elphick.. 

It is rumoured that her discontent with the Tories centre around being denied a ministerial job. A cabinet source said Elphicke was enraged at being rejected: ‘I know she is very bitter about the fact she was not made a minister. She wants to be housing minister and she is bitter about it.’ 

Apparently, she was originally considered for a government job first by Liz Truss when she became PM in 2022 but was not in the end given a post. Elphicke then made clear her ambition to become a minister under Rishi Sunak, but again was unsuccessful. 

Her judgement does, at best, seem poor. In 2021, she was one of several MPs suspended from the Commons and told to apologise for being found to have tried to influence a judge presiding over her former husband’s trial. 

Robert Buckland, the former lord chancellor and justice secretary, said that she also came to see him on the eve of her husband’s trial and lobbied him to interfere in the hearing of the case, when, ‘She was told in no uncertain terms that it would have been completely inappropriate to speak to the judge about the trial at all.’ 

Putting aside her husband, the ‘naughty Tory’ and her defence of him, she simply isn’t Labour, Reform would seem to be a more appropriate place for her to land.  

One of her constituents said, ‘She’s done nothing at all for Dover. Moving across now – I don’t know what is in it for her, really. But it’s a shame Keir has done it, because I support Labour and I will support Labour but I think it’s a wrong move. 

‘she simply isn’t Labour, Reform would seem to be a more appropriate place for her to land’

‘Put it this way, I think she’s slightly to the right of Genghis Khan. Neil Kinnock said Labour is a broad church, but it has walls. There are limits. And I think they should have looked at those limits.’ 

A councillor in nearby Folkestone, said; ‘Natalie Elphicke is a toxic, divisive figure who has no place in the Labour party’. As well as people ‘horrified at the decision‘, Folkestone and Hythe Labour party drew up a statement declaring it was ‘shocked and appalled‘ by Elphicke’s admission, and has called on counterparts in Dover and Deal to apply to Labour’s ruling body to have Elphicke’s membership application rejected.  

How she gets on with her new colleagues will be fascinating; her new colleague, shadow secretary Rachel Reeves, once told her to ‘f*** off‘ following controversial comments about English football icon Marcus Rashford over his campaign against child poverty, suggesting he should stick to football. 

She was heckled by union members at a local protest in support of sacked P&O staff, and was heckled for failing to vote against fire-and-rehire rules, she denounced ‘militant unionism‘. She has generally voted against fewer obstacles for access to abortion. She was a member of the hard-right ‘Spartan’ European Research Group, and has consistently voted to make it easier to remove someone’s British citizenship. 

On immigration, in 2022 she penned an article for the Mail on Sunday with the headline, ‘When will The Left admit this is no refugee crisis … but simply illegal immigration.’ Last year, in the Daily Express, she warned, ‘‘Don’t trust Labour on immigration, they really want open borders.’ said an article she wrote for only last year.  

I don’t believe she has changed her views, it is more the case that she no longer believes that Labour challenges this venom. 

Rather than this defection signalling the time is up for the Tories, it highlights how weak British democracy has become, with very little difference between the two main parties. 

‘it highlights how weak British democracy has become, with very little difference between the two main parties’

Her parting statement, in which she lauded Boris Johnson’s Conservative party for occupying the ‘centre ground’, suggesting that this is where she feels Starmer has moved to. 

When you look back at what Starmer campaigned for when he sought to become party leader, he’s gone from promising a programme of nationalisation, tax increase for the rich, scrapping tuition fees and lauding free movement, to welcoming a hardcore Tory MP into the party. Given the state of the Tory party, he, perhaps didn’t need to  osmose into a Tory tribute act. 

It will be interesting to see how a future Labour government develops, but I can’t help thinking it is going to disappoint. The Labour MP and former Tony Blair adviser  Jon Cruddas described as Starmer’s team as ‘the most right-wing, illiberal faction in the party‘.  

Amongst other policy victims of Starmer’s Tory lite conversion is the trashing of the £28bn a year green investment fund. In addition, it is reported that other policies, such as workers’ rights are to be watered down, suggesting that his government will not be dealing with the issues impacting British society.  

Discontent was already apparent in the recent local elections, as support for Green and leftwing independent candidates surged, allowing them to capitalise on discontent with Starmerism. To be alienating left-wing voters before taking government is something that should be of great concern to Starmer. Elphicke’s defection appears to highlight how far away from their traditional policies Labour have moved, and how little focus the party now has for the millions of progressive British voters. 

Now wonder the Tories are enjoying Starmer’s own goal. One former cabinet minister said: ‘Natalie has earned her place in history by being the only defector ever to cause more embarrassment to the party she defected to than to the one she left.’ 

‘Amongst other policy victims of Starmer’s Tory lite conversion is the trashing of the £28bn a year green investment fund’

Another area of concern for Starmer should be the events on Gaza and the impact this has, and will continue to have on the electorate. In short, could this be the equivalent of Blairs Iraq ‘moment’. 

Clearly there are differences;  in 2003 Labour was in-power, not opposition. Whereas Blair wanted Britain directly involved in overthrowing Saddam Hussein, Starmer, like the UK government itself, is largely on the sidelines of the Gaza conflict. Blair liked to lead from the front. Starmer is more cautious. And anti-war feeling today is focused more on humanitarian issues than on actual deeds by British politicians. 

There are, however, similarities. Blair’s Iraq policy cost Labour 20% of its vote in 2005. Opposition to him became personal, accelerating his departure and opening British politics to a Conservative comeback under David Cameron. Iraq also contributed to Labour’s long eclipse in Scotland, and boosted the LibDems. Over time this led to the Corbyn years, and still undermines both Blair’s reputation. 


In last week’s local and mayoral elections, where >20% of the electorate was Muslim, the Labour vote fell on average by nearly 18%, according to a survey of 930 wards by Prof Will Jennings, of Southampton University.  

The net result, in terms of seats captured by Labour, was a significant underperformance. Starmer and his advisers should heed this warning. His interview in October, when he said that Israel had the right to withhold power and water from civilians in Gaza, is at the root of this. He may well have been misunderstood and tried to restate his policy, but last week’s elections show that that issue hasn’t gone away. 

Readers may have noticed that I have rarely commented on the situation in Gaza.  

Clearly the whole thing is dreadful. What has been interesting to observe is how the hard-right in this country, along with their fawning media, quickly took control of the narrative and therefore the subject. They deliberately combined Israel and Judaism, meaning that any anti-Israel sentiment and comments were quickly labelled anti-Semitic. This is both disingenuous and deliberately mis-leading.  

Whatever rights Israel may have had have quickly diminished in-line with their conduct in Gaza. They are now a country being accused of war crimes and genocide, led by politicians that are endorsing the illegal, violent expropriation of land to such as extent that America, traditionally their most steadfast friend and protector is threatening to withdraw support. 

‘Whatever rights Israel may have had have quickly diminished in-line with their conduct in Gaza’

It was interesting to observe the aggressive reaction of the far-right Israeli cabinet to President Biden’s warning that the US would withhold arms should Israel invade Rafah.  

It isn’t only the US threatening sanctions against Israel; Turkey has suspended trade with them, Belgium is calling for EU sanctions on imports from Israeli-occupied territories. The response to this from israel was perhaps best summed-up by a Haaretz headline: ‘Israel is already becoming an international pariah. Do Israelis care?’ 

Whilst there is international support for a ceasefire and the release of Israeli hostages, alongside a long-term peace plan to dismantle illegal settlements and an eventual return to Israel’s 1967 borders,. Israel’s PM, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his supporters are contemptuous of such ideas. It has become a mainstream view in Israel that the country has no choice – for security reasons – but to keep control of the occupied territories and flout UN resolutions demanding it withdraw. 

Israel’s continued pursuit of the war means that the majority of Palestinians face either the threat of imminent death, forcible expulsion or else the loss of land and livelihood, with little option but to go into exile. 

To Gaza we can add Israel’s occupation of the West Bank where settlers, despite sanctions from the US, EU and UK, continue to attack Palestinians. The expansion of illegal outposts in the West Bank, the political base of Israel’s far right, is backed by the area’s local authorities. There is a clear need to for stronger sanctions to deal with this issue 

The Israeli PM clearly sees the military campaign as a way to revive his re-election. Internationally, he is betting on Trump, who considers settlements legitimate, returning to power.  

Israel is, if it isn’t careful, going to be joining the ranks of Iran, Russia, China, and North Korea as a rogue state. 

The other danger is that hard-right politicians use her actions, and Islamophobia for their own evil ends. 

‘No, you can’t disguise 
Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies’ 


  1. A law of propaganda often attributed to the Nazi Joseph Goebbels 

‘The marriage between Natalie Elphicke and Labour becomes more bewildering by the day. Surely the natural home for her was Reform.

Perhaps she is a stool pigeon sent by Sunak to sacrifice herself as a saboteur of labour’s electoral campaign. More likely is the fact that Labour have moved so far right that she is feeling at home there.

There is almost a case for prosecuting Starmer under the trade descriptions act so far has he moved from his leadership election promises.

Which brings me onto Brexit, where Starmer was once a firm remainer. Now, rather than having the courage of his convictions and persuading former Labour voters who had been seduced by Brexit of his case, he has done a U-turn: no return to the single market, or even the customs union.

Statistics show that he was right the first time. The ­economy is £140bn worse off because of Brexit, and trade has reduced by C.15%. Labour is struggling to explain how it can finance some unambitious public spending plans, yet Brexit has reduced the exchequer’s potential tax revenue by C.£40-50bn.

Given these numbers it seems to defy logic how Labour can criticise the Tories’ handling of the economy without mention of Brexit, which is at the centre of their economic failure. And with recent reports of the impact of the delayed barriers on normal trade, the worst has yet to come.

As Starmer becomes a closet Tory, it appears that Suella Braverman is becoming a closet socialist. She has unexpectedly joined a long line of children’s charities and expert reports who have been pointing out for almost seven years now that the two-child benefits limit – which prevents families claiming tax credits or universal credit for a third or subsequent child born after 2017 – is plunging ever more families into desperate circumstances while failing to achieve what its author George Osborne said it would, which is incentivise work.

What the policy definitely has done, however, is help ensure that 43% of families with three or more children are now living in poverty.

Scrapping the two-child limit would take almost half a million children out of poverty, at a cost of about £2.5bn by 2024-25. This is money that the shadow chancellor, Rachel Reeves, claims she doesn’t currently have. What concerns me here is their priorities; Reeves also doesn’t have the money to raise defence spending to 2.5% of GDP either but Labour is promising to do that as soon as funds allow.

Braverman’s interest in this is more closely allied to her desire to be the next leader and appeal to right-wing pro-natalist Tory MPs who see falling birthrates as an existential threat to the west’s survival, and want the welfare state reengineered to support bigger families rather than discouraging them.

This could lead to a future Labour government being squeezed on the two-child policy between a hard-right culture war party which a rejuvenated Tory party could be if led by Braverman, and its own disappointed critics on the left, over a position many Labour MPs already feel uncomfortable defending.

It’s all so confusing, left, right, right, left, who knows anymore?

Lyrically, we start with Marvin Gaye “What’s Going On”, which still sounds so relevant. We finish with “Little Lies” by Fleetwood Mac, chosen because it’s a great tune and I could find one called great big lies! Enjoy!


Philip Gilbert 2Philip Gilbert is a city-based corporate financier, and former investment banker.

Philip is a great believer in meritocracy, and in the belief that if you want something enough you can make it happen. These beliefs were formed in his formative years, of the late 1970s and 80s

Click on the link to see all Brexit Bulletins:

brexit fc

Leave a Reply