Starmer’s honesty ploy and the Mail’s malicious amnesia…

DO you think the editor of the Daily Mail suffers from malicious amnesia? I only ask because to believe one day’s headlines, you must first forget what you read the day before.

The Mail has been running a demented ‘campaign’ about Sir Keir Starmer allegedly having a bottle of beer with a takeaway curry in Durham while working at a local meeting. All known about and the police weren’t interested, until the paper resurrected this zombie story in the run-up to last week’s local elections and flogged its sorry corpse back to life.

Day after day, the Mail went after Starmer, following pressure from one Tory MP. The aim was clear: to muddy the waters before the local elections, and to foster a sense that all politicians were as bad as each other, and thus to let Boris Johnson off the hook over Partygate.

This endless ranting ­ended with Durham police re-opening their inquiry into Labour’s curry night, an announcement made on the evening of the poll results, seemingly timed to deflect from the party’s decent, if not brilliant, showing at the polls.

As the Met Police had earlier suspended news of more Partygate fines to go alongside those already imposed on Johnson and Rishi Sunak until after the elections, you can’t help feeling the police are being awfully helpful to the Conservatives.

Yesterday, Starmer, who denies breaking Covid-19 restrictions, said he would resign if he was fined. And that’s when the Mail’s malicious amnesia struck again.

On the twelfth day of Beergate (oh, god, can’t we get away from shoving ‘gate’ on every scandal ­­– Watergate happened 50 years ago), the Mail frothed that Starmer was “under intense pressure to say whether he would resign if he was fined for breaking Covid rules”.

He declined to comment that night, but yesterday, on the 13th day of Mail ranting, Starmer answered the question he was told to answer the day before by saying that he would resign if fined. And the Mail accused him “of putting deeply inappropriate pressure on the police”.

He answered the very question they demanded he answer, and then they were cross about his answer to the question they said he had to answer.

Guys, make your minds up.

There is a long and ignoble tradition of certain newspapers attacking Labour relentlessly. This is far from being something that only Jeremy Corbyn had to endure, although that’s an old story now.

What seems different here is that the Mail has gone on and on about so-called Beergate purely to distract from Boris Johnson’s sins over Partygate. This is not loyalty to the Conservatives but blind fidelity to Johnson, whatever he does and however he carries on.

The Downing Street parties, of which we will eventually learn more, occurred various times and 100s seem to have been invited – and they happened when Johnson was ordering everyone else to stick to the rules. They are not the same as a working curry night when such gatherings were allowed.

Yet the BBC has been happy to let the Mail set the political agenda by cravenly reporting every twist and turn of Beergate. That’s why the Mail pursued this story, to chuck mud until some stuck. Still, it’s not only the Mail as these cut-out-keep examples of hypocrisy from the Sun show…

That malicious amnesia is catching.

As for Starmer’s honesty ploy, it’s the noble thing to do on one level, but will that blubbery lack of moral fibre known as Boris Johnson pay any heed to such an upright ploy? Nope, not a chance.

Then again, perhaps we should be paying more attention to this headline from the Guardian yesterday: “More than 2m adults in UK cannot afford to eat every day, survey finds.”

That truly is shocking, and yet here we all are prattling on about beer and parties.

So long as Starmer stays, and mostly I hope he does, he needs to create good and positive reasons for people to vote Labour.

Just opposing this awful government – I’ve seen a few and this one is easily the worst – is not enough. He needs to provide attractive reasons to vote, to get people talking about Labour’s ideas. To show some ideological vim, rather than tutting from the touchline. And don’t tell me he needs to be more  like Jeremy Corbyn. That man is one of the reasons we are stuck with the horror show that is Boris Johnson.

One comment

  1. From across the Atlantic (and taking into account all the dodgy press over the past ?? 2 decades…) the Beergate story looks like sheer madness. Something a Social Studies teacher might confect for a fourth form class on press freedoms and their abuse. How is it possible for an entire country (the press, the BBC esteemed columnists like yourself) to remain schtum about this? If nobody can actually afford to say ‘Fuck off, I fancied a curry’ then we are closer to the current Russian ‘silent cowed majority’ than any kind of free society. It just beggars belief.
    It also makes me imagine what Trump might have said in similar situations (never mind fomenting a coup d’etat); what’s the big deal? everybody likes beer? everybody loves a curry, don’t they? And what the likely positive response would have been.
    Surely that would lend more credibility to Starmer than this legalistic meekness?
    I’m starting to despair, to be honest.

Leave a Reply