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A complete and utter character

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A missing PR trick on tax

The narrative around Keir Starmer has been the same for ages: he’s a bore with an odd voice. He doesn’t inspire. He doesn’t make us laugh, which is apparently important for a Prime Minister.

Then he went 20% ahead in the polls and among the press opposed to him – most of it – there was a shift.

We better take this guy seriously, they decided. Which means: attempt to demolish him on spurious grounds.

For exhibit A I’ll take Dominic Lawson’s column in The Sunday Times last week.

Robo Starmer has only one mission: power.

The ruthless – no longer witless – Labour leader has proved he’ll say anything to get to No 10.

He’s still a robot mind you, just one born of sophistry, who is also possibly anti-semitic.

Robots can be anti-semitic? I guess that’s like dogs who are racist.

Lawson — I worked for him yonks ago and no-one said his problem was too much charisma — decides that Starmer is two-faced as well as boring.

“What a complete and utter lawyer,” he writes.

The press tends to like politicians of action who just say a lot of stuff, however mad. Hence Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.

People of character.

Boris, a complete and utter character, did win a fairly extraordinary General Election vote in 2019, but it seems very unlikely he would again.

The public’s appetite for a clown in a wig may have been satiated.

Last month Janan Ganesh in the FT noted that 18 months ago his profession (I prefer the word “trade”) had Sir Keir as a stone-cold loser.

Now he has that huge poll advantage, hacks are telling him he would be even farther ahead if only he listened to them by being brave and bold, which is probably terrible advice.

Ganesh writes: “In 1997, Blair was thought vague and tentative. He had to make do with just the 179-seat majority in parliament.”


For our Find Out Now poll today we asked 2000 people: what are the most and least desirable characteristics in a Prime Minister, and which of these characteristics they believe Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer to possess.

They value honesty and integrity highest. Humility is also good. Being a good laugh is not really what they are after in a PM.

You can see the full results below.

Press release of the day

How do we get to net zero? One way would be to give companies an incentive, such as a cut in their corporation tax bill, says this from the IoD.

Kitty Ussher, Chief Economist, said:“Corporation tax is the tool to shift the dial on net zero among SMEs. Because government policy has so far focussed on the larger emitters, only a very small proportion of SMEs currently have a plan to hit net zero. 

Stories that will keep rolling

1) Are traditional estate agents pulling ground back from Rightmove?

2) Does it matter if the London Stock Exchange shrinks?

3) Is Pearson’s digital revolution complete?

4) Should banks be ordered to help “mortgage prisoners”?


A nation that cannot feed itself

Tomorrow's Business

Gary Lineker 1, Tim Davie 0


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