The official blog of The Social Democratic Party.

Starmer – not a charmer yet

Keir Starmer has quickly become a favourite of the commentariat, but his establishment centrism is perhaps not as appealing as they think.

By: Rod Liddle

Sir Keir Starmer is getting an awful lot of favourable press at the moment, often in places where one might least expect praise for a soft-left Labour leader.

The commentariat is delighted with him on a number of counts.

First, that he is not Jeremy Corbyn. Second that he purged most (although by no means all) of the lunatics from the opposition front bench. Third, that he is polite and forensic at PMQs. The commentariat rather likes polite and forensic. And fourth, he does not quite seem to actually hate Tories and consider them subhuman. All well and good, then.

But none of this is translating into a visible rise in the opinion polls for his party. Indeed, Labour has been polling slightly below the level at which it rested at the end of the 2019 general election campaign, which was not a notable success for the party. In recent polls Labour has been 16-20 percent behind the Tories with some outliers putting the gap at 26 per cent. Much though the commentariat might like him, then, Starmer has not yet revived his party, even slightly, in the mind of the electorate.

There are plenty of caveats. These are very strange times and the daily cut and thrust of politics is both absent and an irrelevance to most people. He has not been in the job very long and for obvious reasons not been afforded much of a platform to lay out his vision, if he has one. A recent YouGov poll asked how he was performing as leader and the biggest tranche by a mile was those who answered “don’t know” – 44 per cent. “Don’t know – would you run that name by me again please?” That is only partly down to Starmer.

But be all that as it may, is it possible that our elite is once again wrong about the qualities which appeal to ordinary voters? There was a certain populist edge to the Corbyn-McDonnell Party, much of which – on the economic side – was rather attractive to working class voters.

Starmer is incapable of populism. He’s a conventional, establishment, liberal, centrist. And capable as he may be, I’m not convinced that it is a position from which to win votes.

A long way to go before the next election, I grant you. But I suspect the commentariat is overstating Starmer’s appeal.

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All Comments (12)

  • Labour needs sensible policies as part of a defined strategic approach. Being against everything Conservative is not a strategy; define what good looks like across the country; listen to your traditional base but push hard on values without having to appeal to the wide diaspora of liberalIst ‘ten percenters’. You’re there to govern a nation, not a minority but you will never appeal to everyone.

  • Agreed, Had Labour really wanted to make a change, and begin to re-plug the ‘Red Wall’ The obvious option for leader was Andy Burnham… Who’s been doing a terrific job during his time as Mayor of Manchester… Can connect with average voters, And didn’t have any real Corbyn, or indeed Brexit, stink on him.

  • As an ex Labour party member I will never again vote for Labour. Many activists left in droves by the shenanigans of MPs and the expulsion of many left wing socialists. The final straw was the sabotage of the last general election 2019 by the 5th columnists MPs and staffers. Starmer is the frontman for Blair, Mandelson and the globalist corporations running the capitalist system.
    All politicians irrespective of party will do the bidding of the capitalist class yet we continue with this pretence of voting in a system of fake democracy.

  • These are incredibly dangerous times where the old certainties are collapsing and are not being replaced by anything new and progressive. Covid 19 has helped to push the economy into a deep recession where thousands are already loosing their jobs. The problem is that Starmer belongs to the age of old certainties such as believing that the state can be the saviour of their working class voters. Surely what is needed is a new social contract that involves all sections of society.

  • A complete analysis of Next Labour, Rod.

    Their problem is that the Corbyn/MacDonald years have shown that it’s still a party of one trick ponies. Diane Abbott, David Lammy et al, are hangovers of Benn, Livingstone, Hatton & Skinner, they’re ruled by identity politics.

    But this has proven to be a divisive issue, as you Rod have many times pointed out.

    Douglas Murray takes it on head on, bringing BAME, race, religion, sexuality & trans into any political argument is based on the “demoralisation of society”.

    The Lib-Dems are frequently dragged into this virtue signalling & it muddies their convictions. So glad the SDP are still there to take the middle ground.

  • the SDP could be the real opposition to the horror show that is the Johnson/Cummings Government Labour nor the Lib Dems cut it, Johnson doesn’t fear Starmer anymore than He did Corbyn

  • I don’t see Labour in Government happening for many Years if ever the Party will not be forgiven for betraying the working class when Blair was Premier, the modern Labour party despises everything British regards People who voted for Brexit as cretins, and holds a contemptuous attitude for aspiration and for curbs on mass immigration, I joined SDP out of protest at the LibLabConSNP regime in Westminster and hope to see the SDP progress as a credible Government and to end the failed continuous Labour Tory Government’s over the last 30 Years

Family, Community, Nation.