• Development Intelligence

The Ups and Downs of Being Keir Starmer

Having bumped along for some years not really getting any clear distance ahead in the polls, Boris and partygate breathed new life into the Starmerbot. From an anaemic and persistent 5% lead – nowheresville in opposition terms – Boris singlehandedly pushed the Tories down and thus Labour up into a comfortable double digit lead. Then Liz Truss did her thing and literally old Keir needed to do nothing to accelerate that poll lead giving him historic highs that only St Tony of Blair ever dreamed about.

So on the face of things, the Labour Party right now is pretty chipper and, of course as all oppositions do, demanding an immediate General Election. The truth here though is that Sir Dreary Dull actually doesn’t want a General Election just about as much as Nicola Sturgeon doesn't want #indyref 2 anytime soon. Because why would you want to take over now when all around you is chaos and be forced to have your fingerprints all over the unpopular spending cuts and tax rises that are inevitable? Far better to allow the Tories to take all that pain and then ride across the horizon at the next General Election with the usual ‘hopey changey’ messaging singing “things can only get better”.

The truth is the Starmerbot really wanted Boris to win the Tory leadership because that would give him an open goal to kick at for the next two years. Saving that, Penny Mordaunt would have done as her clueless leadership would have delivered another Truss situation on steroids. Unfortunately, the Rishi/Hunt dream team is now in control and this presents a much more serious challenge.

First of all, they are more likely to be pretty competent and that strikes at the very ‘Starmer schtick’ that is his proposition. Confronted with a succession of Tory clowns surrounded by chaos, the whole Stamerbot messaging has been about his dull competence. Confronting the Rishi/Hunt quite possibly competent duo will make his USP much less effective. After months of the new dynamic duo at the top of government, the Tories are going to look more organised, the markets more calm and the difficult financial medicine going down voters’ throats without much opposition.

The second problem Sir Dreary Dull faces is that much of what Rishi’s government will foist upon us old Keir will be in agreement with. There are shades of the early Covid era when Johnson's government were doing many of the right things and poor old Keir just had to clap what the government was doing, after clapping for the NHS every Tuesday evening of course. It's very difficult to look like a dynamic opposition if there isn't much for you to oppose.

Then of course Sir Dreary has his own problems. He has the unions in full anti-Tory government strike mode where it is electoral suicide for him to support those strikes. Meanwhile, everything he does is paid for by the union barons who want him to tack Left at every juncture. And then he still has his own band of loony Left muppets on his backbenches who will pop up from time to time to cause trouble. Add to that, the Labour Party is in dire financial straits which means for financial survival he will most likely have to bow to at least some of the union leaders’ demands to some degree.

Just 24 hours ago with Boris 2.0, or even Mordaunt 1.0, things looked a little easier. After the fun and ease of running His Majesty's Opposition to Boris and Truss, now it's all going to get a lot trickier.