Starmer has already made three fatal mistakes

My teenage son, who cast his first vote of his life last week (for Labour), surprised me yesterday when he revealed that he had been paying attention to political developments in the past few days. “I think Starmer is doing a pretty good job,” he told me, which immediately made me worry that he might decide to copy his old man’s mistakes and pursue a political career.

But I agreed with him. Because it’s true. Our new prime minister is well settled in his new job. Who knows what concerns are expressed behind that famous black door in the privacy of a Downing Street flat? But from the observer’s point of view, Starmer looks comfortable, confident and seems to have a firm grip on the job of the nation’s director.

That is as good a start as anyone could hope for after the ructions on Thursday evening and the chaos in government over the last decade or so. Starmer looks and behaves like an adult, and having an adult in charge of the government feels like a whole new experience.

In the early days of any new government it is appointments rather than policy initiatives that catch the eye, which tell you which direction the new administration is headed. And at least some of Starmer’s new Ministers, especially those from outside his own MPs, tell us that this is someone who is in as much of a hurry to change the country as he was, as the leader of the opposition, who change his partner. The appointment of James Timpson as prisons minister and (Lord) Peter Hendy’s new role as rail minister strongly suggest that Starmer wants people to lead policy in areas where they have some expertise. OK, it still won’t happen but it’s encouraging nonetheless.

But already there are mistakes. That so many observers (including Labor supporters) refused to believe that the Prime Minister would continue to make David Lammy foreign secretary spoke volumes for those critics’ confidence in common sense and judgement. political Starmer. But the Prime Minister disappointed them and the rest of the country by elevating the Tottenham MP to one of the big four state offices anyway. Perhaps Starmer, having refused to appoint Emily Thornberry to the cabinet (another sensible move, incidentally) believed he could not afford to be seen snubbed by another MP in London.

Whatever the reason, we now have a foreign secretary who changes his mind in Moscow, Beijing and Washington on matters as basic as nuclear deterrence whichever way the political wind blows and takes any position – unilateral or hawk – will best advance his personal career prospects.

Before the general election and during the campaign, Starmer appeared to be moving towards a more positive stance on women’s rights, moving on visibly from the days when he criticized one of his own MPs for suggesting that only women do not have a cervix and even agree. with Tony Blair (though not his female colleague who said the same) that “men have penises and women have vaginas”.

If there were cynics who thought this was just a PR tactic, try trying to cross two opposing positions – “trans women are women” (as the Stonewall catechism tells us) and “women women have the right only. spaces” – they see themselves vindicated by Starmer’s decision to appoint Anneliese Dodds as minister for women and equalities.

Dodds is clearly unable to define what it means to be a woman, telling the BBC Women’s Hour last year that there are “legally different definitions of what a woman really is”. When asked again, she said: “I think it depends on what the context is.”

If the Minister responsible for protecting women’s rights can’t say what a woman really is, prepare for Starmer to appoint a transport minister who won’t be able to tell the difference between a Boeing 747 and a number 12 bus to Clapham.

But there is also a big misstep in the policy, and since it happened in the troubled area of ​​immigration, it can be taken as a foreshadowing of troubles further down the line. After scrapping the Rwandan scheme – which Starmer dismissed as not a hindrance at all, despite it not yet being operational by the time the election was called – the government announced that 90,000 illegal immigrants reserved for one. a route trip to sunnier climates will now be allowed to claim asylum in the UK. And as sure as eggs, most will be accepted as bona fide refugees desperate to escape the nicer weather, beautiful food and high culture that represents the hellhole of northern France.

This has already been criticized by the new shadow home secretary, James Cleverly, as “an effective amnesty”, and if, as is likely, it is seen on the beaches of Calais, we can expect a boom season for Channel crossings. summer. If the government has a plan to stop the boats, time is already running out to implement them.

Starmer has made a good start. But he cannot afford to make more ham-fisted or party-mandated appointments to key government roles. And he certainly cannot afford to let the public suspect that his government is going to take a “come, come” approach to illegal immigration. In the first months of a new administration, they are ready to forgive much. But the point when the honeymoon ends is what he needs to worry about.

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