Starmer needs to step up

Andy Burnham has found his voice in opposition to the approach Johnson and Sunak have taken to the north; it’s long past time for the man who wants the keys to No 10 to do the same, on a much bigger scale.

During much of this global pandemic, the UK hasn’t had a coherent opposition, a national voice setting out clear principles. They also haven’t had any semblance of strong leadership since our Prime Minister is an opportunistic news columnist who has spent his life shirking any responsibilities that came his way.

So there’s been a vacuum of a coherent voice; we’ve had bluster from Boris Johnson, and caution from Keir Starmer. The mayor of Manchester has filled this void the past week, having what political observers of developments throughout the pandemic across the pond might call a “Cuomo moment”. A regional leader filling the void of national leadership or opposition, by speaking bluntly and telling it how it is. And he’s done a bloody good job of it, and I hope he sticks to his guns.

Which brings me to the leader of the opposition. He’s moving in the right direction in terms of actually proposing something, but his lack of experience in doing politics is shining through. You need backbone to survive as leader of the Labour party; with pressure from various factions within the party and a media onslaught if you even remotely challenge the established order of things. Abstaining on bills that hand unaccountable power to security forces, and still taking the political hit for “not backing our security forces” is useless: make a coherent argument for why you are VOTING AGAINST the Spy Cops bill, abstaining is worse than voting for it. If the 2010–2015 Labour years taught us anything it’s that conceding every ground of battle to the right will mean no one bothers to vote for you.

Keir Starmer is in prime position to keep shifting to genuine opposition, and to start proposing alternatives. He needs to do it, he needs to stand up for the things a human rights lawyer or a remotely soft left leader with principles would. The British public accept Starmer as a credible candidate for Prime Minister; they will listen if you put forward an argument, and you can, and you can win that argument. Step up Keir Starmer, kick the Labour party into gear, into attack mode, your country needs you to.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Toby Lipatti-Mesme

Insightful and innovative UK journalism and commentary, from Toby Lipatti-Mesme.