Keir Starmer looks like an armadillo. That would be my response to the popular focus-group question: if this or that political leader were an animal, what would they be? I have to be cautious about this, since I don’t wish to enter individual abuse. I entered into a little difficulty when Ed Miliband became Labour leader, when I called him a panda due to the fact that I believed he catered the worst instincts of the celebration members. Little did I understand then that he was simply John the Baptist leading the way for JC.
So I don’t indicate it in a negative method when I say that Starmer is a well-armoured, compact, defensive unit. His political style is to provide little away and to defend against attacks from natural predators such as Boris Johnson.
The analogy is prompted by an evaluation of Left Out, the exceptional book about Labour’s Corbyn years by Gabriel Pogrund and Patrick Maguire. The book “leaves you wishing to understand Keir Starmer much better”, as Helen Lewis of The Atlantic commented. “He is an enigma who runs by dropping policy bombs … without instruction against anybody.”
She is right. As far as I know, Starmer is never rude about his associates in private. Anyone who understands him is encouraged that he had a low viewpoint of Corbyn, however he kept it to himself. Any attempt to generate a criticism of Corbyn or his inner circle was met a blank face, an unclear smile and a vigorous proceeding of the conversation.
Lewis believes that Starmer may be “someone who simply proceeds with things without monologuing like a Bond bad guy”. As she states: “Someone who doesn’t require to tell you how creative they are while doing something creative is a political reporter’s problem.”
He has actually been smart. He has been sure-footed given that he became leader less than 6 months ago. There was a risk that his defensive management campaign, with its stress on celebration unity, would equate badly into in fact leading the opposition. He was paradoxically helped by the coronavirus crisis, which wiped the political slate clean.
The Corbyn years were quickly forgotten– the events of Neglected might as well have actually happened in another nation. Rather, Starmer made his own mark by supporting the federal government in concept while chiding it more in disappointment than in anger for mishandling and slow.
The Majority Of Boris Johnson’s tried counter-attacks have bounced off Starmer so far. The prime minister attempted to call him an IRA sympathiser a few days ago, due to the fact that he had actually been a loyal member of Corbyn’s shadow cabinet. But that was in another country, and no one thinks Starmer supports terrorism.
Yet the Labour leader does have rifts in his armour that the Conservatives will look for. His record as Director of Public Prosecutions was never utilized versus him by his challengers in the leadership election, however there is a low level of background sound about it on social media. None of it is warranted, however it reminds me of the meme about Gordon Brown, that he “offered the gold”, a reasonable policy decision that was nonetheless held versus him ever after.
Starmer’s weakest flank is his recent support for a 2nd EU referendum, and Johnson will have more luck reminding Leave citizens of it. The Labour leader has attempted to enhance his defences. He stepped around the trap marked “complain about breaking international law in order to get Brexit done” at Prime Minister’s Concerns today. He asked all 6 questions about the problems individuals were having getting coronavirus tests. And yet, as Matt Chorley of The Times commented on this week’s bout in the Commons: “Johnson still loses, however Starmer never rather manages to win.”
Separately, Starmer taped clips for TV news, in which he handled the federal government’s intent to break international law by prompting Johnson simply to get the promised EU trade deal done. This is good defensive politics, however Chorley mentioned: “Very carefully sitting things out might be a strategy if you are close to power, but Labour require to gain 124 seats for a bulk of simply one. You do not scale a mountain from the layby.”
Starmer has actually done an exceptional job to pull Labour back to level pegging in the opinion surveys, mainly by appearing earnest and competent. However he may be susceptible, as the arch-Remainer of the last election, to a strong attack from the Conservatives for having wished to stop Brexit.