QUENTIN LETTS: Keir Starmer is barely meeting any real voters (2024)

By Quentin Letts for the Daily Mail

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Word came late: Sir Keir Starmer would visit a pub in Basingstoke. Comrade of the Camden commissariat to descend on working-class Hampshire hostelry.

Political sketch writers might not be welcome but this had the potential to be a step in Labour's long march to victory. Chairman Starmer would be getting down and wet with the grateful masses!

Or perhaps not. The Boozingstoke venue was a chi-chi joint – the Gabardine – a cheese and charcuterie bar with a drinks list more about Egyptian mint tea than foaming ale.

The menu offered brie paninis and avocado on wholemeal toast. There was no one inside apart from media types, spin doctors, the co-owners, and Theo Paphitis off Dragon's Den, plus a couple of tame politics students.

Man walks into bar and doesn't buy a drink. Worse, politician walks into bar and doesn't let a drop pass his prim lips. Doesn't even pull a pint for the snappers.

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer (centre) during a visit to Gabardine Bar in Basingstoke, while on the General Election campaign trail

During his campaign, Starmer has been kept inside his canopic jar, protected from view like King Tutankhamun's (pictured) intestines

There are two reasons politicians visit catering outlets. The first is to hear voters' concerns. The second is to be seen trying the same sort of food and drink that they consume. Ingesting something that the voters eat and drink has symbolic power.

It is, if you like, an act of communion. It says 'I have the same appetites as you'.

Sir Keir did none of that. Contact with the unwashed was almost non-existent, although a colleague did see him having a few words with two grannies in the street. Otherwise, this was a visit in a vacuum, as sterile as Elastoplast wound-healing ointment.

Read MoreEXCLUSIVE Labour's secret tax rise plans revealed: Official manifesto submission from group of MPs

Before Basingstoke, Sir Keir dropped a clanger during an LBC phone-in show with Nick Ferrari.

'We've been really clear,' said the Labour leader, 'we won't raise taxes on working people.' This sounded good but Ferrari is a sharp old sausage-dog and he asked Sir Keir what he meant by 'working people'.

After a small computer re-set, the nasal knight began 'well, a working person...'

Ferrari: 'Simon Cowell?'

Sir Keir continued with his definition: '... is someone who works for a living.'

Ferrari: 'I've got that.'

Sir Keir: 'And uses our public services.' Ferrari: 'So it is Simon Cowell!' Sir Keir, suppressing the urge to throttle his interviewer: 'The person I have in mind when I say working people is people who earn their living, rely on public services and don't really have the ability to write a cheque when they get into trouble.'

No-one with a few quid put by for a rainy day, an ISA, a deposit account at the bank, Premium Bonds or a pension would count as a 'working person'. Everyone else will be in for a tax beating under Labour's plans.

Before Basingstoke, Sir Keir dropped a clanger during an LBC phone-in show (pictured) with Nick Ferrari.

Theo Paphitis (pictured on a train to Hampshire with the Labour leader) was one of the few people in attendance at Sir Keir's visit to the Basingstoke pub

Sir Keir had the air of a man coming to terms with his apparently imminent landslide. 'I'm enjoying it,' he said of this campaign in which he is touring the country not meeting people.

He complained that when he became Labour leader in 2020 he was unable to meet the voters owing to lockdown. He's hardly meeting many more now.

Michelle from Reigate, Surrey, was first caller. She ran a private school for children with special needs. How were they meant to cope with Labour's tax raid on independent education? 'I do take this really seriously,' claimed Sir Keir before refusing to change his policy.

Michelle quietly concluded that he was guilty of 'blind ignorance'. Sid from Lincolnshire was assured that apart from the non-doms tax, closing of private equity loopholes and more windfall taxes, 'none of our plans require tax rises'.

Ferrari was sceptical. What about council tax? Pension and property taxes? Sir Keir insisted everything could be paid for by economic growth. 'It's all been costed,' he gassed.

As evidence of public opinion he mentioned meeting a lesbian couple in Staffordshire. It's at least the sixth time he has mentioned them.

And there had been a woman in Southampton this week. Apart from that, he has been kept inside his canopic jar, protected from view like King Tutankhamun's intestines.

Keir StarmerLabour

QUENTIN LETTS: Keir Starmer is barely meeting any real voters (2024)


Is Keir Starmer a socialist? ›

“I would describe myself as a socialist. I describe myself as a progressive”. These were Labour leader Keir Starmer's words in May 2024 shortly after his first speech of the election campaign. Labour's constitution defines it as a democratic socialist party.

Who supports Keir Starmer? ›

He also gained support from former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. During the leadership election, Starmer positioned himself in opposition to austerity, stating that Corbyn was "right" to position Labour as the "party of anti-austerity".

Is Keir Starmer's wife a lady? ›

What type of leader is Keir Starmer? ›

Political positions. Starmer's politics have been described as unclear and "hard to define". When he was elected as Labour leader, Starmer was widely believed to belong to the soft left of the Labour Party. However, he has since moved to the political centre-ground.

Is Keir Starmer's wife a lawyer? ›

Who are socialist countries? ›

Countries with constitutional references to socialism
People's Democratic Republic of Algeria3 July 196261 years, 354 days
People's Republic of Bangladesh11 April 197153 years, 71 days
State of Eritrea24 May 199133 years, 28 days
Republic of Guinea-Bissau24 September 197350 years, 271 days
8 more rows

What is Keir Starmer's constituency? ›

The Rt Hon Keir Starmer is no longer a Member, but was most recently the Labour MP for Holborn and St Pancras, and left the Commons on 30 May 2024. The dissolution of Parliament took place on 30th May 2024.

Is Starmer an English name? ›

English: habitational name from Starmore in Westrill (Leicestershire), from an Old English personal name Storm (genitive Stormes) + Old English worth 'enclosure'.

Who stood against Keir Starmer for Labour leader? ›

CandidateParty membersAffiliated supporters
Keir Starmer225,13553.1%
Rebecca Long-Bailey117,59822.3%
Lisa Nandy58,78824.6%

Has Sir Keir Starmer been married before? ›

Is the Labour Party socialist? ›

The Labour Party is a political party in the United Kingdom that has been described as being an alliance of social democrats, democratic socialists and trade unionists.

What political party is Keir Starmer? ›

Was Keir Hardie a socialist? ›

Scottish Labour Party

Hardie was a dedicated Georgist for a number of years and a member of the Scottish Land Restoration League. It was "through the single tax" on land monopoly that Hardie gradually became a Fabian socialist.

Did Winston Churchill like socialism? ›

Churchill was wary of socialist tendencies toward state planning and bureaucracy, because he consistently believed in both the liberty of the individual and of free markets. Paul Addison asserts, however, that Churchill was paradoxically supportive of trade unionism, which he saw as the "antithesis of socialism".

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