Keir Starmer had one objective at Prime Minister’s Questions – and he succeeded

The Labour leader had to make the Tories look worse than Labour on standards, writes John Rentoul

Wednesday 17 November 2021 14:09
Comments
<p>‘That’s not an apology,’ said the Labour leader </p>

‘That’s not an apology,’ said the Labour leader

Keir Starmer had one objective at Prime Minister’s Questions today, which was to resist the common assumption that “they’re all the same”. This is what matters politically in the furore over MPs’ standards of conduct. Last time, in the MPs’ expenses scandal under a Labour government, blame was spread about equally between both main parties; this time, the crisis has been started by the prime minister’s initial misjudgement over a breach of the rules by Owen Paterson, a Conservative MP.

Hence Starmer’s echo of Tony Blair, when two years before the 1997 election, he drew attention to the disarray of John Major’s party on Europe. “There is a difference,” said Blair. “I lead my party; he follows his.”

This time, Starmer said: “Here’s the difference: when somebody in my party misbehaves I kick them out.” He was referring to the case of Claudia Webbe, the former Labour MP found guilty of threatening to throw acid at a friend of her partner.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in