He’s only been in the job for five minutes but already the new shadow minister for Brexit has done more to present an effective opposition in regards to his brief than Corbyn and his entire previous shadow cabinet had been able to in the previous three and a half months. In his first time at the box, facing off against Davis, Starmer forced the government into what is in context a major concession on Brexit. His 170 questions regarding the UK leaving the European Union has been enough to get some Tory backbench support, leading May into having to allow there to be parliamentary discussion on the government’s negotiating position. May had been very keen to avoid having to consult parliament about anything pre-Article 50 (ironic given a major plank of the Leave campaign was around the sovereignty of the House of Commons), so Starmer’s work here has to be seen as a major success. We are used to Corbyn and McDonnell barking about how great an opposition Labour is providing – this is the first real example of such a thing in a good long while.
It reminds us all that the Tories, who seem so indomitable at present, have for the moment a very tiny majority. It seemingly doesn’t take much, particularly on Brexit where so many Tory MPs were Remainers, to get the government to change its position. You just need a decent shadow minister who understands basic parliamentary politics and the will to see it through.
People like Keir Starmer are almost certainly the future of centre-left politics (if indeed, centre-left politics has a future at all) post-Corbyn wreckage. It’s good to see him have such an early, big win on something, particularly in an area Corbyn and his mates had previously been screwing up on royally. A few more victories like this and Labour will take over from the SNP as the real opposition again.
Oldapo Odumeru says
Yes! My thoughts are reflected in your clear and succinct prose. I sigh with frustration every time Corbyn misses another opportunity to shine a light on the current governments shenanigans. Starmer’s “170 Questions” had the whiff of theatre about them, but in this case “so what?” If they achieve the aim of holding May, Davis (et al) to account, all to the good. Even my right-leaning brother thought IDS’s antagonistic comments regarding Starmer were childish and ridiculous.
matt (bristol) says
a) I thought I had understood from listening to Emily Thornberry this morning’s Today programme that the ‘170 Questions’ were co-authored by the Labour shadow cabinet together. She didn’t say which individual evolved the concept.
b) Starmer needs to be very careful; as a known, established media-proficient performer, in a prominent role during times when the shadow cabinet is widely believed to be thin on talent, as one of the sole remaining vestigial links between the Blair era and the Corbyn leadership, without an evidenced powerbase of his own he is going to be very very vulnerable to tall-poppy and possible-next-leader-oh-he’s-sacked syndromes.