Keir Starmer has slipped up in his assault on Tory ethical standards

The Labour leader should have focused on Tory rule-dodging rather than blundering into a minefield over MPs’ second jobs, writes John Rentoul

Tuesday 09 November 2021 16:05
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<p>Keir Starmer unwisely widened his attack on the government </p>

Keir Starmer unwisely widened his attack on the government

The problem with a hasty retreat is that if a politician changes from the wrong position to the right position, their opponents can shout about a U-turn as much as they like, but there is nowhere for the story to go.

The reason Boris Johnson reversed his decision to try to block Owen Paterson’s suspension was that it was a terrible idea and it would make him unpopular. Now he is not trying to pursue that terrible idea and, although he is unpopular, he is not as unpopular as he would have been if he had ploughed ahead with it.

This leaves Keir Starmer with a problem of how to drive home his advantage. The Labour leader could go on about how the prime minister’s first instinct was to do the wrong thing, as it was when Johnson and Rishi Sunak were “pinged” in July and thought they could get out of having to isolate.

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