Just say NO!

June 18, 2020

by Martin Odoni

What is there left to say about Keir Starmer? After yesterday’s Prime Minister’s Question Time, in which Boris Johnson put up his most hapless, obviously-deceitful and jittery performance yet, but somehow managed to come out on top overall, Starmer has hit rock-bottom already.

It is quite difficult to describe how sore my forehead became as I repeatedly bashed it heavily onto my desk in work as I was listening to PMQs on the radio. Despite my wish for a left-wing Labour leader, I do want Starmer to kick seven layers out of Johnson, simply because that is how much I despise Johnson and the psychopathic modern Tory Party. But somehow, it just never happens. Oh sure, Starmer has won several rounds of PMQs so far, but against an opponent as ignorant and hapless as Johnson, Starmer should win every round, and by a knock-out.

This round was almost like looking at an Escher painting, because everything that appeared to be as low as it could go somehow ended up above everything else. Everything about Johnson’s performance was as bad as it has ever been. He was waffling aimlessly, he was talking much too quickly, he was twitchy and thrashed about, and his voice was full of defensive anger and, insofar as is possible for such fruity tones, getting somewhat shrill. The Escher effect was that the worse Johnson performed, the more he got the better of Starmer, who seemed utterly thrown by a tactic so basic he should be embarrassed.

The tactic? Johnson merely started answering questions with a question of his own. Did Starmer not agree, with the current stage of the Coronavirus lockdown, that it was time to reopen schools?

The hapless squeaker strikes again

Here, Starmer, I have a breakthrough suggestion: TRY TELLING HIM THE TRUTH.

It is hard to believe how utterly Starmer’s brain seemed to freeze at this. He responded, reasonably enough, that the point of PMQs is for the Prime Minister to answer questions, and for the Leader of the Opposition to ask them. But every time he tried to press Johnson on other questions, the same question was thrown at him, and it left Starmer looking more flustered and mousily-ineffectual than ever. This was bizarre, as it was pretty obvious that Johnson’s own counters were born of empty, imagination-free despair. But they still flummoxed Starmer. As he is a politician, it should probably come as no surprise, but at no stage did it seem to occur to him that if Johnson’s repetition was bogging things down, he could simply try – get this! – answering the question.

Indeed, in answering, Starmer would not even have to lie. He could have simply answered, “No, I am not satisfied that it is safe to re-open the schools yet.” That would be an entirely reasonable position to take, especially given the general appalling mishandling of the pandemic crisis by Johnson’s gang-of-thieves over the last three months, and probably a true reflection of Starmer’s own feelings. Why should anyone trust the Government’s wish to ease the lockdown on schools so early?

But no, Starmer instead just repeated that if Johnson was fed up of being Prime Minister and wanted to swap places, he had only to say so. That might have been mildly amusing, but his delivery was reminiscent of Theresa May at her robotic worst, while repeating it just sounded stale, and wasteful of his own questions.

Am I being unfair to Starmer, given he is still quite new to the job? Maybe. But after the mass media’s, clearly-orchestrated, chorus declaring Starmer to be the Second Coming, and the Resurrection on the Third Day, and the revival from the Pit Of Hades of ‘quality forensic Opposition’, all rolled-into-one, I think the whole country is entitled to expect a lot better than this, if only because of the asininity of his opponent. Starmer’s behaviour, associations and interests as Labour leader have been alarmingly right-wing in leanings, as I have already highlighted. He has effectively tried to bury all discussion of the appalling conduct of the Labour Right during the Jeremy Corbyn leadership, as itemised in the leaked dossier from April, and he has restored Tory-sympathising saboteur-MPs such as Wes Streeting and Jess Phillips to the Shadow Cabinet.

After years of being deceitfully smeared and mistreated by the right wing of the Labour Party, left wingers such as myself reserve the right to be demanding, especially if Starmer wants us to overlook his insalubrious early conduct. He needs, and should easily be able, to clobber Johnson to Kingdom-come every time they duel in the House of Commons. If he will offer the left nothing else, than we demand that he deliver us Johnson’s head on a metaphorical spike every time, and every time he fails, we will let him experience what his allies put his predecessor through. In truth, Starmer has drawn more PMQs than he has won, and now he has actually managed to lose one, when his opponent’s performance – nothing to write home about on a good day – was at an all-time low.

The Labour Right would not tolerate seeing that from Corbyn. So why should the Labour Left tolerate seeing it from Starmer?