The search for Keir Starmer’s personality.

However inconvenient it is to us, the fact is lots of people in this country LIKE Boris Johnson. The jibes and idiosyncrasies that happen to irritate me (and probably you) are received as entertaining and refreshing by a fast swath of the British electorate. People call him “Boris” and sympathise with him. This may, in the end, be Keir Starmer’s biggest challenge.

Politics is often a likeability contest. In the last election Jeremy Corbyn’s policy ideas were far more in tune with the public’s views than Johnson’s, but Johnson won, because Corbyn wasn’t liked, and Johnson was more (but not that much) liked. That’s a gross oversimplification of that election but the overarching point is sound.

Keir Starmer is well on his way to persuading a majority of the public HE could plausibly be Prime Minister, and this has been the case for months. His weakness is that come a Johnson V Starmer general election, Johnson will bluster and lie his way out of culpability for his sins, and paint Starmer as a boring dud in a suit “talking down Britain”, and it could just about work.

Starmer is right to contrast his seriousness with Johnson’s silliness, but by no means will that be enough on its own. Starmer must have a personality, must have something to hit Johnson back with, rather than looking like a shifty smooth talking career politician, which is where his approval ratings indicate this is heading.

We need to sell Keir Starmer, the sincere, kindly, lawyer. Not Keir Starmer, the soulless, two faced, killjoy. Starmer will warm up and hopefully relax in public given time, rather than the defensive and occasionally hostile responses to questions we often see now.

Starmer would do well to take a leaf out of Joe Biden’s book. He should talk more about his working class roots, talk about how and why he understands ordinary people’s concerns, and make himself the voice of reason, but the voice of reason with a soul and likeability.

If Starmer can do this, he neutralises his Achilles Heel, and takes the fight to Johnson.

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

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Toby Lipatti-Mesme

Toby Lipatti-Mesme

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

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