By Ryan Robinson

Last month, Keir Starmer provided confirmation that he’s failing as Leader of the Labour Party. From Hartlepool falling to the Conservatives, to Sadiq Khan barely squeezing past an unknown Shaun Bailey, the British people made their feelings clear at the ballot box.

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I must commend Starmer though. Leading Labour to an even worse position than Jeremy Corbyn did after the 2019 general election is quite some feat. And to manage this during a time when Boris Johnson has driven Britain to more Covid deaths than any other European nation, makes Starmer arguably the worst Labour leader of the 21st century. 

Good Morning Britain’s Susanna Reid was right when she said: “At least you knew what Corbyn stood for.” While this sounds like Starmer’s lack of ideals is his problem, it goes far beyond that. He’s had no general election yet (and hopefully never will), so the focus hasn’t been on his policies or ideas. Instead, attention has been specifically on him. Fundamentally, we’ve seen his personality and character (or lack thereof). His qualities in these departments were epitomised by the fact that a footballer (Marcus Rashford) has managed to make a bigger fool out of Johnson.  

Starmer’s attempts to ridicule Johnson, whether it’s at PMQs or talking to the media, have been a total waste of time. They’ve not only fallen flat but he’s also shot himself in the foot, and helped Johnson out along the way. 

In April, Starmer spent days blabbering on about Johnson’s flat refurbishment. At PMQs, he asked, “Who initially – and Prime Minister, initially is the keyword here – who initially paid for the redecoration of your Downing Street flat?” 

Oh no, Starmer is repeating a word. I bet that struck fear into Boris. Not to mention the content of his question. Does anybody actually care about Boris’s flat redecorations? Coronavirus just killed over 127,000 people, and Keir Starmer is getting worked up about a few thousand pounds that the Prime Minister may or may not have spent on his flat. It’s safe to say that this man has no character, no judgment, and no sense of what the British people want from a leader.

More recently, Starmer decided to appear on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories. In doing so, Starmer again displayed a total lack of judgment. Did he seriously buy into the idea that people care about the personal lives of politicians? Sure, we might take an interest. But is it going to affect how I vote? You’d hope not.

After all, Boris Johnson – a man who’s had multiple affairs and an unknown number of children – is running the country. If that doesn’t convey the message that no one cares, then I don’t know what does.

At this point, Starmer should start making plans for his successor. Inevitably though, he won’t have the good sense for that. People go on about his “intelligence” (including Tony Blair), but I’m yet to see it. Sure, he might be book smart (he’s a lawyer after all), but that doesn’t mean that he has the necessary common sense to prevail in this role.

By looking at recent Labour leaders, we can see how Starmer slacks in comparison. “Oh, Jeremy Corbyn” chants at Glastonbury may seem trivial, but they showed Corbyn’s ability to build genuine support. Meanwhile, Blair was elected as Prime Minister three times. So far, Starmer has shown that he lacks any such electoral appeal or general popularity. And unfortunately for him, these are traits that a leader absolutely must have. 

So if Starmer isn’t Labour’s answer to Johnson, then who is?  

Right now, there are two obvious options. As the newly elected Shadow Chancellor, Rachel Reeves has the pedigree. She also stood up to Piers Morgan on live TV, which is always a positive. Far from boring an audience to sleep, Reeves’ unwillingness to be bossed about by such bullies makes her a strong leadership contender. 

However, Andy Burnham is the best option. Having recently won a landslide election to become Manchester’s mayor for a second term, he was labelled “King of the North” for supporting local councils during the pandemic. He also has a sound judgment, having said that Labour are gaining support where there is “authentic” representation. And this isn’t just talk, as he’s shown himself to be straight up when answering questions from the media. After being asked about his chances of running for Labour leader in the future, he replied by saying, “I’ve never felt I could be truly myself in Westminster politics”. Imagine Starmer saying something this honest. You can’t? Well, neither can I.

Though this response shows that he’s hardly a fan of Westminster, Burnham has a track record of putting duty first. Having stood for the Labour leadership twice before, in 2010 and 2015, he hasn’t let his doubts faze him. And on an encouraging note for Labour supporters, he’s also invited the party to “get in touch” (albeit in the “distant future”), should they want a new leader.

Regardless of who leads Labour next, they must have a strong personality in order to win.

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Last Update: June 23, 2021