WHEN I read back in November that the Labour Party would abolish the House of Lords if elected at the next general election, my first reaction was surprise. Had Keir Starmer – a politician yet to meet a policy he wasn’t willing to immediately U-turn on – finally found a position he was willing to fully commit to? After all, abolishing Westminster’s unelected second chamber had only been Labour Party policy for over a century. Wasn’t this moving a little too fast?

Alas, it was all rather short-lived, following the distinctly unsurprising reveal that Starmer was already planning to walk back abolishing the House of Lords in favour of mild reforms instead.

Despite Labour being home to some genuinely good politicians, of which I do not count Starmer to be among, as an arm of the British establishment itself it will always be resistant to any real change in the UK. No longer an outsider to the privileges of Westminster, the party is closer now to the politics of entrenched conservatism than Keir Hardie.

READ MORE: Labour isn’t working for Scotland, and under Keir Starmer it never will

That’s not to say Labour wouldn’t be preferable to the Conservatives. Of course they would be. But that’s the equivalent of being forced to chow down on some bugs a la Matt Hancock in the jungle, and picking the lesser of two weevils.

And so while Gordon Brown prepares today to publish his constitutional report and recommendations for a better Britain, I’m left with the distinct impression that it just doesn’t matter.

Assuming that any of Brown’s recommendations have any merit to them, and I’m sure that some will, there’s still no guarantee that they will even be adopted by the Labour Party – not while some are being watered down before the report has even been published. One party spokesperson said of Brown’s report that “this is a very impressive and comprehensive piece of work, and we will be welcoming the recommendations” – a statement that sounds more like a placating parent pinning a report card to the fridge than a promise of change.

The National: Gordon Brown

British Labour are, unfortunately, incapable of any truly meaningful change, and Starmer’s watering down of plans to abolish such an affront to democracy as an unelected chamber of lords and baronesses packed with Tory party donors and cronies only reinforces that.

Assuming that Labour can even maintain their lead over the Tories for the next two years – a lead built more on the reckless and destructive behaviour of the Conservatives than any real faith in the Labour Party – Starmer intends to frame the next election as a choice between the “failure of a Tory government” and “a fresh start with Labour”. That in itself is one of the big reasons the UK is in such a state. The lack of choice in UK elections, both in terms of alternative parties and the possibility of them even being elected, has left the UK democratically stagnant. A move to a proportional voting system would partly remedy the disenfranchisement rife in the UK, but instead Starmer wants to double down on the mythos of Labour and the Tories as great beasts destined to spend eternity duking it out.

The National: Sir Keir Starmer

Proportional representation is Labour policy now. But that’s no guarantee that Starmer would have any intention to follow through on that. And should the case for a functioning electoral system be absent from Brown’s report too, it would discredit the entire endeavour.

Meanwhile, Starmer has dismissed Scotland’s democratic movement for a referendum on independence by claiming that areas like the cost of living crisis or restoring public services must take priority over another plebiscite. And if those crises are ever resolved, whatever new ones have popped up will then become the de facto means for opposing a vote. And on and on that will go.

The British state is in a death spiral. It will always be facing back-to-back crises until there is a significant intervention; the kind of change that independence offers and Keir Starmer does not.

READ MORE: Keir Starmer: 'Scotland should have change - but within the Union'

Maybe the most telling moment of the past week, however, was to be found in a piece written by Starmer for The Guardian. Starmer quotes the old axiom that “if you work hard, you can achieve whatever you want”, before warning for the first time in living memory, that we are in danger of breaking that promise. But that promise was always a lie. The hardest working people I know are also some of the poorest.

Worse still than repeating it though, is the fact that Starmer not only believes it to be true, but also believes that it has still yet to be broken, even as we drag ourselves through one of the bleakest, most turbulent winters in memory. Starmer doesn’t have real solutions to the problems caused by the British state because Labour, in their current form, are as much a part of it as Britain’s unelected monarchs and parasitic aristocrats.

In the end, it doesn’t matter what Gordon Brown recommends today. Because change, real change, won’t be an option at the ballot box when the next UK General Election comes around.