The Big Debate – Keir Starmer’s first performance at PMQs. Good, terrible, okay, or both?

by richardhutton


Arthur Blair – politics journalist

This was an assured first outing, from Starmer.

Measured, probing, informed, courteous, calm, forensic, authoritative, and measured: a serious adult in the room, at last. At long last.

I actually cried. Me – a grown man – weeping real tears; at the thought we could have had someone like this as leader of the Opposition during the past few years.

Lost years, in many respects – when Trotskyite-Stalinists ruled Labour; and Momentum thugs roamed the internet: terrorising the good professionals of British journalism, by saying they were wrong about things.

All that on top of making a once great party unelectable – by virtue of their clandestine Brexiteering; and their general unwillingness to listen to the legitimate concerns about free-movement, that all normal people hold.

If only Starmer had been given a position of Shadow Ministerial significance – maybe had some input into Labour’s Brexit policies – how different everything would be.

Today, we saw the dawn of a new age, however. An era of credible politics, for sensible people only.

For instance, instead of saying that the government has been tardy with Covid testing, and needs to improve (as his predecessor was fond of doing); Starmer took a grown-up approach. Namely, suggesting that the government was too slow to react; and should aim to do better.

It was like watching Harry Potter wrong-foot Voldemort, combined with the most stirring speeches about cross-party compromise, from episodes of the West Wing.

I feel represented, for the first time since Change UK became insolvent. After a 5 year absence, Britain has an Opposition again – of the kind not seen since the unveiling of the Edstone.

Why, even Conservative politicians and commentators were effusive with their praise for Starmer – and no sensible person would ever question their sincerity.



Jolyon D’Isscorse – host of the Left Behind podcast 

The Starmer-cult may have found their messiah, but this was an underwhelming performance; with Sir Kier proving singularly unable to park his tanks on the government’s lawn.

Starmeristas won’t want to hear this, but their beloved leader lacks electability. Under any other person, Labour would be 20 points ahead of the Tories right now, given the state they’re in. This is the worst government ever!

It pains me to say it – I’m just as left-wing as he is, on some things – but I think it’s time for Keir Starmer to go. How many more of us must find ourselves politically-homeless before he does the decent thing, and resigns?

Believe me, I say this with no pleasure at all: I’ve been a lifelong Labour supporter, since 2012; and I support all the same causes as Starmer. Mostly. But we have to beat the Tories – for the sake of voters who depend upon us. And it’s just not working out, is it? 

I hate to say it, but I’ve not heard a single good word about Labour on the doorstep, since Starmer took over. Everybody I’ve spoken to says the same thing: Starmer is just not up to the job – and he’s only keeping the Tories in power. 

I believe Keir is a good man – and I want to see his programme enacted as much as the next socialist; but, if we are to achieve that goal, we have to consider Starmerism without Starmer.

Having principles is all very well, but if you can’t win power, you can’t make a difference to people’s lives. Unfortunately, Labour is now a party of protest.



Rosa Goldman – occasionally posts comments about politics on social media

It was neither particularly good, nor especially bad. I hope people don’t get carried away by hype from pundits with ulterior motives, and notoriously fallible judgement, just because they’re being told what they want to hear.

Also, that the Labour Left avoid repeating the mistakes of the Labour Right, by finding fault with everything; instead of being more objective.

Only time will tell if Starmer is good or bad overall, though, I think.