Tuesday 10 May 2022

Limping ever onwards


To the pleasant surprise of many, including myself, it turned out that gambling on Keir Starmer being as unprincipled as Boris Johnson was a very bad bet indeed. I’m not the only one to have underestimated Starmer on this occasion. One can nit-pick about what happens in the event of the ‘Barnard Castle’ loophole – a police investigation which concludes that there was probably a minor breach but issues no fines. And one can hypothesise that all Starmer has done is to accept, in advance, that which would have been inevitable in any event if a fine were issued; but it looks as though he has managed to seize the initiative and put himself ahead of the story. Had he waited – as apparently some of his aides wished – until a fine/no fine decision had been taken by the police, he might have missed an opportunity to draw a clear line between himself and the PM, and been beset by reporting on this issue for the whole of the next 6-8 weeks whilst a police investigation which appears to be even more painfully slow than that into the shenanigans at Downing Street takes place.

It's a gamble, of course – but, in the event, a rather better bet than the one which the Tories took in demanding that Starmer be investigated, and it turns the focus right back onto Johnson and those around him. The PM won’t resign; that would require a degree of self-awareness and a sense of shame or embarrassment, none of which he possesses. And his MPs seem determined to demonstrate their own lack of principle and the backbone which would be needed to dislodge him. He’ll simply limp on until the next crisis (more fines? Sue Gray?) in the hope that something will turn up. It isn’t quite what Macmillan meant by “Events, dear boy. Events.” Nor is it the “finest hour” to which his hero referred. It’s a good example of an utterly dysfunctional semi-democracy in inaction though.


CapM said...

It was entertaining to hear one right wing commentator after another metaphorically frothing at the mouth or literally being lost for words at Starmer's gambit.
Whatever combination of principle and pragmatism the gambit consists of it blindsided them as they clearly thought the only move Starmer had was for him to do as Johnson would.

A case of those commentators being deep in the Johnson dark or blinded by the light shining out of it

John Dixon said...

"It was entertaining..." It was indeed. I'm half expecting one of the bright sparks behind the demand that Starmer be investigated to come up with something along the lines of "It's easy for him to take the moral high ground on a hypothetical situation which he knows will never happen." They may have shot themselves in both feet, but there are other appendages through which they could yet discharge a bullet or three.