‘I’ve seen grittier performances in the lost episodes of Crossroads’: HENDRY DEEDES says Keir Starmer struggles to shake off his Tim Henman image of politics
Back when Tim Henman was the lone standard-bearer of British tennis, his sponsors launched a plan to toughen up his image.
The soft-spoken, home county public school-educated darling lacked the steel necessary for an international sports star. Too stuffy, too proper, they thought.
The poor guys in Adidas marketing have tried just about everything: new clothes, a new haircut. They even suggested the old Henners stop shaving for a few days to look sturdier.
Even then, he appeared as menacing as a Hare Krishna monk.
An equally doomed project appears to be underway among Labor image-makers to give Sir Keir Starmer a more flinty makeover.
The poor marketing men at Adidas have even suggested old Henners stop shaving for a few days to look sturdier, and a similar doomed project appears to be underway to give Sir Keir Starmer a facelift. flintless youth.
In PMQs, the Leader of the Opposition began to adopt a more snarling and aggressive tone – all ‘go, go ahead’ and ‘face it’ attitudes.
Should he arrive in the Commons within the next few weeks sporting a Hells Angels jacket and a pair of Bovver (vegan) boots, we shouldn’t be too surprised.
The problem is that it stays so terribly wooden. I’ve seen grittier performances in Lost Crossroads episodes.
You can just see the vocal coach at Work with Kittens HQ: “Keir honey, let’s try one more time – but this time do you think we could inject some oomph into it?” You’re auditioning to be Prime Minister, not the voice of the speaking clock.
Yesterday Sir Keir chose to focus on ambulance wait times. He asked the House to imagine that someone somewhere in the country at the time was experiencing chest pain and needed urgent medical attention. (For some reason I remembered this story about U2 singer Bono telling an audience that every time he clapped his hands a child in Africa died. What did someone say? answered: “Well, stop doing it then!”)
Considering the beatings the Prime Minister inflicted on him the previous week, Rishi would probably have been happy to follow Sir Keir down a dark alley with a blindfold on.
Starmer asked the Prime Minister how long he thought the ambulance would take to reach them. Rishi smiled as if he was just following his opponent down that avenue.
Mind you, given the beatings the Prime Minister inflicted on him the previous week, Rishi would probably have been happy to follow Sir Keir down a dark alley with a blindfold on.
He pointed out that Starmer had opposed the government’s anti-strike bill – if Labor were in charge, on some days the ambulance wouldn’t even leave the hospital car park.
Sir Keir jumped to his feet as if he had had a Eureka moment. Classic Sunak – “Deviate, Blame Others, Never Take Responsibility!” Starmer said.
Bravely, he chose to continue with his imaginary tale of coronary distress, even though it was clear that his dramatic story failed to capture the bedroom in the way he had envisioned.
Just as the pub wore drones undeterred long after the last orders, Starmer continued
Tory MPs folded their arms and impatiently checked their watches. Even Labour’s home affairs spokeswoman, Yvette Cooper, began sneaking glances at her phone.
Yet, just as the pub wore drones undeterred long after the last orders, Starmer continued.
He relayed to the House the news that our patient was now “in bad shape — sweaty, dizzy”. So have most of us in the press gallery throughout this story.
Rishi has always refused to be drawn into the guessing game.
Eventually Sir Keir put us out of our misery by announcing that an ambulance could take up to an hour and forty minutes to arrive. In comparison to Sir Keir’s endless thread, it now seemed decidedly fast.
The result of their exchanges? Oh, just the usual back and forth of familiar insults. Starmer accused Rishi of “playing politics”. Rishi replied that the Labor leader was ‘the living example of political games’ and ‘in the pocket of his union paymasters’. In other words, lukewarm, knockout stuff. None of our fighters quite live up to their “tough man” bill, even if their spin-docs try to convince us otherwise.