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  • Alastair Cavendish

Labour's Leader's Lost

Things, the Labour Party theme song assured the public in 1997, can only get better. This optimism is misplaced. The elastic of misfortune and misery can always stretch out a little more. On the morning when your wife has left you, setting fire to your house as she departs, you may think, as you narrowly escape from the conflagration with third-degree burns, that your day is bound to improve. You continue to believe this while fielding telephone calls informing you that you have lost your job, your investments have failed, you have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and your only child has been kicked to death by an enraged impala on the shores of Lake Malawi. Somewhat preoccupied by all this new information, you wander uncertainly into a dingy backstreet, where you are robbed and repeatedly stabbed by a gang of desperate criminals. You fall painfully on the pavement and the lifeblood ebbs swiftly from your open wounds, while you call feebly for help, confident at this stage that you have surely reached the absolute nadir of existence. It is at this point that a stray dog of diseased and unkempt appearance takes advantage of your open mouth to direct a powerful stream of hot, reeking urine within.

The most recent torrent of dog piss in the dingy backstreet of my life has been Keir Starmer, who used to be called the Leader of the Opposition. Since he has neither led anyone nor opposed anything, his current title should perhaps be reduced to “the of the” or even “the Follower of the Complicity”. This secretion of the canine penis was infesting the lovely city of Bath on Monday, when he decided to inflict himself on some innocent drinkers in the Raven public house. The landlord, a Mr. Humphris, showed a proper concern for his customers by vowing to keep his establishment Starmer-free, and approached the Follower of the Complicity with a few well-chosen words about his abject failure to do his job. Starmer rudely barged into the pub anyway, and his masked goons assaulted (and technically battered) Mr. Humphris when he attempted to defend his licenced premises from being polluted by the rodents of the Labour Party. Eventually, Starmer scurried out, mumbling into his mask that the landlord whose pub he had sullied should “calm down”.

Needless to say, Mr. Humphris reacted quite reasonably to the abhorrent sight of someone whose vicious, cowardly conduct has caused great harm to him and many like him. I for one would like to see his robust reaction become more common. Why should any restaurant, café, or public house in the country welcome politicians who have done all they can to destroy the hospitality sector? Why should bar staff and waiters smile sweetly while serving those who have done everything possible to deny them a living? Let Starmer and his ilk drink furtively in laybys, from bottles wrapped in brown paper bags. Let them cower under hedges or sit windblown on park benches as they swig from their rancid cardboard boxes of plonk. They deserve a great deal worse than this.

The truly shocking aspect of this affair was that Starmer was able not only to barge into a public house where he was not welcome, but also to set his hired thugs on the man who had every right and every reason to refuse him entry. Even if Starmer did nothing illegal, his boorishness has reached a new low. Since when has it been customary for politicians to force their way into respectable hostelries against the will of the proprietor, while their uncouth minders manhandle the unfortunate publican? Did Jeremy Corbyn ever behave like this? Somehow, I think we might have heard all about it from the Daily Mail if he had.

In a sense, one must admit that Starmer’s achievement is impressive. It is given to few men to be a quivering, dithering milquetoast, with all the fortitude of a blancmange, and at the same time to conduct themselves with the brutal vulgarity of an East End gangster running a protection racket. We are all familiar with the bully who is also a coward, after all, we encounter him so often these days: the combination is part of the job description for covid marshals. I had always assumed, however, that the particular style of feebleness characteristic of Keir Starmer was incompatible with being a ruffian. When someone has the unctuous manner of a 1970s game show host, I tend to assume that this at least precludes overt hooliganism. Clearly, I was being naive. Starmer is even worse than I thought; the quintessence of aqua canis.

We should be shocked at this event, and remain shocked, and remember why we were shocked. Associating with civilised people, I have seldom seen anyone behave as Starmer did in Bath. The fact that a knight of the realm, a Queen’s Counsel, and a holder of high office should have the manners and morals of the Kray twins is not something I am inclined to shrug my shoulders and accept. It is perhaps the most disturbing example yet of the foul rudeness of politicians when dealing with the public. This discourtesy increases every week, and we should not stop noticing it. It is bad enough that the government has entirely forgotten its manners, and continually addresses us with the insolence of a stroppy teenager. I refuse to live in a country where you cannot leave the door open for five minutes for fear that Keir Starmer will burst in like some improbable combination of Mad Frankie Fraser and Alan Partridge.

Almost as disgraceful as the incident itself, however, was the manner in which it was reported, particularly by the BBC. The national broadcaster appears to have decided that it is complying with its remit to remain politically impartial if it is equally sycophantic in its relations with both major parties. This is not of the slightest use when the government and the Labour front bench are in joyful concord. Keir Starmer and Laura Kuenssberg give the prime minister the same bashfully doe-eyed glances, signifying that theirs is a love whose month is ever May, and the real opposition resides elsewhere. The BBC covered the incident in Bath, then gave Starmer the last word, allowing him, without a shred of evidence, to smear Mr. Humphris as a conspiracy theorist and a crank.

This, at any rate, is the Keir Starmer with whom we are all familiar: the slimy, unprincipled liar rather than the physically violent thug. What Mr. Humphris said was this: “You have failed to be the opposition. You have failed to ask whether lockdown was functioning. Do you understand? Thousands of people have died because you have failed to do your job and ask the real questions.”

Starmer’s response, direct to camera, in the absence of Mr. Humphris, with no possibility of reply, was as follows: “He profoundly didn’t believe that we should have had a lockdown. He didn’t believe there should be restrictions, and he queried to some extent, I think, whether there was a pandemic at all. Now, obviously, he’s entitled to that view. I’m afraid I profoundly disagree, and I think most people across the country would profoundly disagree.”

This is a crude and obvious straw man, a logical fallacy that any member of a sixth form debating society could recognise and refute. Starmer was unable to respond directly to Mr. Humphris with reason and logic because he has the reasoning powers of a boll weevil and the intellect of a pickled whelk. Instead, his henchmen responded by physically assaulting the landlord on his own premises, while Starmer gave some tame BBC journalist a wholly inaccurate version of what Mr. Humphris had said. Anyone who has ever expressed opposition to lockdown will recognise the lazy smears with which Keir Stalin has always replied to reason and evidence. Only the physical violence is new.

There may well be an action for defamation of character in this, as well as for the numerous offences of Starmer and his henchmen within the Raven. If Mr. Humphris were to undertake such an action, he might enjoy a good level of public support, financial as well as moral, from those of us who are not inclined to tolerate gangster politicians any longer. It would, at any rate, be interesting to see how Starmer would attempt to defend such an action. After all, it’s not as if he has any forensic ability, or knows any good lawyers.

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