STEPHEN GLOVER: Keir Starmer isn’t as honest as he’d like us to think… and he’s not a winner
Imagine if Tony Blair were Labour leader now.
I mean the fresh-faced, engaging Prime Minister who hadn’t been written off by many for misleading the country about the true dangers posed by Saddam Hussein. He would have slaughtered Boris.
When that version of Blair declared in 1997 that he was ‘a pretty straight sort of guy’, most people were prepared to believe him.
It took voters years to realise that he was about as straight as a corkscrew.
The early Blair was able to see off the Labour Left, define clear policies, and successfully portray the Tories as a bunch of crooks.
He was an outstanding communicator who persuaded the electorate that he was likeable, trustworthy and competent.
Admittedly such gifted leaders — I write as an inveterate critic of Blair — don’t emerge often.
The moraliser always has further to fall when exposed as a hypocrite. The best thing that can be said about Boris Johnson is that he doesn’t pretend to be better than he is
Imagine if Tony Blair were Labour leader now. I mean the fresh-faced, engaging Prime Minister who hadn’t been written off by many for misleading the country about the true dangers posed by Saddam Hussein. He would have slaughtered Boris.
Labour could hardly expect more of them to keep on rolling off the production line. But they might have reasonably hoped to do better than they have with Sir Keir Starmer.
Several of the Labour leader’s shortcomings were evident during an interview he gave on Radio 4’s Today programme two days ago.
This was meant to be his chance to lay out his stall before today’s local elections. Yet he came across as robotic and evasive.
When asked whether he thought defence spending should be increased, he replied that his party would ‘consider’ any new proposals.
Hy het gesê: ‘I think the Government needs to come back and Parliament needs to look at the proposals they put before us and we will take a view on it.’ That’s brave of him!
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss recently suggested that, in a world made much more dangerous by Vladimir Putin, Britain should spend more on defence. Although a member of the Government, she is prepared to stick her neck out. The leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition is not.
On taxation Sir Keir was all over the place.
He wouldn’t say whether Labour would undo the recent hike in National Insurance, which it has robustly opposed.
He had some vague ideas about how £12 billion a year might be found if the increase were reversed.
He might plunder ‘stocks and shares and dividends’. Or he might claw back the £11.8 billion lost to ‘fraud and bad contracts’ during the pandemic.
But even if this money were recoverable, it would be a one-off. Sir Keir seemingly believes that the missing £11.8 billion can be clawed back year after year.
Met ander woorde, he hasn’t thought it through. Two years after Sir Keir’s election as leader, Labour doesn’t have a taxation policy.
On ITV’s Good Morning Britain yesterday, he created further confusion (and alarm in some quarters) by apparently being open to an increase in the top rate of tax.
For the second day running, Sir Keir struggled to answer questions about the event at Durham Miners Hall, which took place at a time when almost all indoor socialising was banned
Last night a picture emerged of what may have been his official car (hierbo) in Durham that evening. This raises the prospect that his police protection team might be able to provide bombshell testimony, in the same way that officers are being asked for their recollections of ‘Partygate’ events in Downing Street
Despite the mess, I submit that we may be sure of one thing.
Although under this Government the overall rate of tax is higher than for more than 70 jare, under Labour it would be higher still — possibly significantly so.
Sir Keir’s championing of a windfall tax on energy companies shows where his heart really lies. Such a tax would make foreign investors think again.
Who wants to do business where you can be clobbered by an unexpected levy? There are other countries in which to operate.
Ag, I hear some people say. Sir Keir may be vague on policy, and keen on taxing people and businesses, but at least he is straight and honest — unlike the Prime Minister. But is he?
To an extent, I was once taken in myself. A former Director of Public Prosecutions could surely be relied upon.
Whatever his shortcomings in the charisma department, Sir Keir appears solid and dependable — a more trustworthy companion in a trek across the Gobi Desert with a half- empty water bottle than Boris Johnson.
Ek wonder, wel.
The leader of the Opposition presents himself as a sensible and moderate man, but in the recent past — the elections of 2017 en 2019 — he moved every muscle to secure the election of an anti-American, anti-Nato, hard-Left enemy of capitalism under whose leadership Labour welcomed anti-Semites. I mean Jeremy Corbyn.
Many of us embrace causes in our youth which we grow out of.
But Sir Keir’s Corbynista past was the day before yesterday. There’s no evidence that he was a half-hearted cheerleader for Corbyn.
Is he entirely sincere in the part he is currently playing of a responsible Social Democrat? Will the real Sir Keir Starmer stand up?
And that brings me to ‘Beergate’.
I don’t think his critics would be so exercised by his apparent double standards if he hadn’t perched sanctimoniously on his high horse, accusing Boris Johnson of ‘dishonesty’ and ‘lying’ over his alleged partying.
But Sir Keir’s Corbynista past was the day before yesterday. There’s no evidence that he was a half-hearted cheerleader for Corbyn
The moraliser always has further to fall when exposed as a hypocrite. The best thing that can be said about Boris is that he doesn’t pretend to be better than he is.
Largely as a result of this newspaper’s efforts, it has been established that Sir Keir Starmer and some 30 officials had some kind of meal, during which beer was drunk, while supposedly working in a building in Durham on April 30 laas jaar.
Despite previous denials, Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, die entrepreneur en liefdadigheidskampvegter het glo met haar sakeman-kêrel, Mike Dickman, getrou.
The meal appears to have been in contravention of Covid regulations at the time — which Sir Keir backed enthusiastically.
Tot gister, he had maintained that the eating and drinking marked a break in the proceedings before he and his industrious officials returned to the grindstone, even though it was past 10pm.
Now the story has morphed so that we are asked to believe that the assembled company ate while they worked.
It has been reported that £200 worth of Indian takeaway curries were ordered.
Is Sir Keir asking us to accept that he and his officials toiled away — rather than socialised — as they grappled with naans, chutney and bottles of beer? It’s unbelievable.
The rules were, natuurlik, thoroughly stupid, but the Labour leader has excoriated the PM for less — namely, not eating a cake when he attended an impromptu birthday party in the Cabinet Room at No 10 which had been injudiciously organised by his wife.
I don’t imagine Beergate will finish off Sir Keir, not least because Durham Police are stubbornly refusing to reopen the case.
Very oddly, Sir Keir repeatedly refused to say on Tuesday’s Today programme whether they had been in touch with him again. They haven’t. Why didn’t he simply tell the truth?
Although I suspect he’ll survive, this incident may open people’s minds to the possibility that the leader of the Opposition isn’t quite as honest as he would like us to think he is.
Not entirely straight, óf, in the policies he espouses or in his account of his own behaviour. An unusually opaque man.
I expect the Labour Party will do well in today’s English local elections. It could win the next General Election.
But if it does, it will be because the Tories contrive to lose it. Sir Keir is not a winner.