October 07, 2020
You’re reading The Waugh Zone, our daily politics briefing. Sign up now to get it by email in the evening.
Is Keir Starmer Ready To End His ‘Constructive Opposition’?
Labour really stuck it to the government today. The country has a soaring R rate thanks to “a complete failure to tackle the spread of the virus”. Ministers took too long to set up test-and-trace. More cash should go to businesses “now at risk because of its incompetence”. While public health is the priority, people’s jobs must now be protected.
But guess what? The government under fire was Nicola Sturgeon’s, and the country in question was Scotland. Yes, it was Labour’s shadow Scottish secretary (and only MP north of the border) Ian Murray who was scathing today about the first minister’s handling of the pandemic.
Sturgeon certainly made a huge call in going ahead with her 16-day crackdown on hospitality in Scotland, itself the kind of “circuit break” that Boris Johnson has been pondering but so far has refused to commit to. And the criticism she faced just underscored that for any party in government, this is a really tough time politically.
Sturgeon’s huge advantage is that – unlike Johnson in England – her party is way ahead of Labour in the polls and her personal popularity is still very high. However, although both leaders have long taken comfort from the fact that most of the public back tough restrictions no matter where they live in the UK, patience with their performance may be starting to fray among both business leaders and battle-weary residents suffering local lockdowns.
But while Labour has long been critical of the Scottish government, Keir Starmer has stuck to his “constructive opposition” approach with their Tory counterparts in London. Until today, that is. The gloves really came off in Prime Minister’s Questions as Starmer hounded the PM over the 10pm curfew, test and trace and lack of help for local lockdown areas.
Johnson performed better this week, yet still had few answers to the direct questions on why he had not published scientific evidence for the curfew, why test and trace was still failing or why some areas were in lockdown when other (Tory MP areas) weren’t despite similar Covid levels. As ever the best PMQs are the unanswerable ones, and asking why the virus was still soaring in Bury, Burnley and Bolton (all seats taken by the Tories from Labour, note) despite lockdown exposed that perhaps Johnson is as baffled as anyone else.
As roadtested in his interview with me last week, Starmer also managed to turn the “Captain Hindsight” jibe back on Johnson. “The prime minister ignores the warning signs, hurtles towards a car crash, then looks in the rear mirror and says, ‘What’s all that about?’ It is quite literally government in hindsight.”
Now it’s true that for a long time Johnson’s effective response to criticism has been to say: well, what’s your alternative then? For months, Starmer has insisted he is not trying to “second guess” ministers, and has no alternative plan. Today, his spokesman said Labour did have a credible alternative, saying it would fix test and trace, was the first to call for 24 hour testing, to call for German-style clarity on criteria for lockdown/unlockdown and so on.
It may be that Gogglebox Labour voters have sparked this more confrontational approach. But it’s more likely that Starmer is once again doing what he did on Brexit, iterating his stance as he goes along while keeping that strategically patient eye on his big strength: an image of competence compared to repeated government failures that directly affect millions.
Starmer does know that this is a very tricky balancing act and that the public dislike carping. Given he wants to rebuild bridges with business and need to save jobs, he can’t call for tougher lockdowns without strong cause. Yet the sight of him at least trying to provide alternatives could pay off politically.
Next week’s vote on the 10pm curfew is already causing ministers a real headache precisely because Labour could for the first time oppose the government. But if he does go down that route, Starmer will have to make crystal clear what his alternative is to curfew. A 11pm closing time with matching shop alcohol sales (as in Northern Ireland as some ministers want)? A Scottish style firebreak closure of some pubs completely? 
Crucially, Starmer knows that Johnson is going to have to impose yet further tough curbs in some areas and that the PM is constantly in fear of being seen to blame the public for any sharp rise in hospitalisations and deaths. It’s not inconceivable he could just make the government squirm, then back it or abstain next week, while waiting for Johnson to make himself more unpopular with tougher curbs.
Most important of all, having overpromised things would be back to normal by Christmas, Johnson is now open to the Starmer charge that he really was asleep at the wheel when he should have been preparing this summer for a winter of discontent.
The PM said in July he was hoping for the best while planning for the worst. He still has a fair amount of goodwill, but If the public think he did the former and not the latter, he and his party really will be in trouble. And not just in Bury, Blackburn and Bolton.Related... Starmer Brushes Off Unite Union £150,000 Funding Cut To Labour Keir Starmer Demands Boris Johnson Justify 10pm Pub Curfew Ahead Of Crunch Vote Has Keir Starmer’s ‘Strong On Security’ Stance Found Its Limits On The Covert Sources Bill?
Related Stories
Latest News
Top news around the world
Coronavirus Disease

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Around the World

Celebrity News

> Latest News in Media

Watch It
Interim ‘Jeopardy!’ host Ken Jennings slammed for wheelchair tweet | Page Six Celebrity News
November 25, 2020
GF8JOA07ZpI
The one with the cast of 'Friends', then and now | Page Six Celebrity News
November 25, 2020
FLlqmbxCjnI
Bill Murray’s brother Ed, inspiration behind ‘Caddyshack,’ dies | Page Six Celebrity News
November 25, 2020
VEzPd5ot58g
7 Questions with 'Wild Irish Thyme' Star Jamie Dornan
November 25, 2020
bqZLJEd8Gxs
Why 'Selena' star Christian Serratos Chose to Lip-Sync Selena's Songs
November 25, 2020
FNz_Pal3qeo
'Time' Director Garrett Bradley on Covering Incarceration, Why Black Family Archives Are Important
November 23, 2020
m7j3n7dPFOI
Donald Trump Hits Golf Ball in the Water And Screams, 'I Hate This F***ing Hole!!!' | TMZ
November 26, 2020
OR2kQEO5Fbk
Tracy Morgan Hands Out Turkeys to Long Line of New Yorkers | TMZ
November 24, 2020
BW7UB1bkvxI
Chris Hemsworth Working On Body, Chris Pratt Pokes Fun | TMZ TV
November 24, 2020
2giqjWteb4Y
Matt James: Fun Facts About New "Bachelor" Star | E! News
November 26, 2020
af0K5AImuRg
Shawn Mendes' Best Bits From "In Wonder" Documentary | E! News
November 26, 2020
N8DORRu86Gg
Cheerleading From Home, Piercing Problems & Scream Hotline - "Nightly Pop" 11/25/20 | E! News
November 26, 2020
Q_92CTPGcGc
TV Schedule
Late Night Show
Watch the latest shows of U.S. top comedians

Sports

Latest sport results, news, videos, interviews and comments
Latest Events
25
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Swansea City - Sheffield Wednesday
25
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Middlesbrough - Derby County
25
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Bristol City - Watford
25
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Coventry - Cardiff City
25
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Millwall - Reading
24
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
QPR - Rotherham
24
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Stoke City - Norwich City
24
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Bournemouth - Nottingham Forest
24
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Preston NE - Blackburn
24
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Luton - Birmingham
24
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Wycombe Wanderers - Huddersfield
24
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Barnsley - Brentford
23
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Wolves - Southampton
23
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Athletic Bilbao - Real Betis
23
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Burnley - Crystal Palace
22
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Napoli - AC Milan
22
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Liverpool - Leicester City
22
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Leeds - Arsenal
22
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Inter Milan - Torino
22
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Roma - Parma
22
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Koln - Union Berlin
22
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Alaves - Valencia
22
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Sheffield United - West Ham United
22
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Udinese - Genoa
22
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Granada CF - Real Valladolid
22
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Verona - Sassuolo
22
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Cadiz - Real Sociedad
22
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Sampdoria - Bologna
22
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
SC Freiburg - Mainz
22
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Eibar - Getafe
22
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Fulham - Everton
22
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Fiorentina - Benevento
21
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Atletico Madrid - Barcelona
21
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur - Manchester City
21
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Hertha Berlin - Borussia Dortmund
21
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Bayern Munich - Werder Bremen
21
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Newcastle United - Chelsea
21
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester United - West Bromwich Albion
21
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Juventus - Cagliari
21
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Villarreal - Real Madrid
21
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Eintracht Frankfurt - RB Leipzig
21
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Sevilla - Celta Vigo
21
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Spezia - Atalanta
17
Nov
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE A: Group Stage
Spain - Germany
14
Nov
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE A: Group Stage
Germany - Ukraine
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester City - Liverpool
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Arsenal - Aston Villa
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Valencia - Real Madrid
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
AC Milan - Verona
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Bologna - Napoli
Find us on Instagram
at @feedimo to stay up to date with the latest.
Featured Video You Might Like
zWJ3MxW_HWA L1eLanNeZKg i1XRgbyUtOo -g9Qziqbif8 0vmRhiLHE2U JFCZUoa6MYE UfN5PCF5EUo 2PV55f3-UAg W3y9zuI_F64 -7qCxIccihU pQ9gcOoH9R8 g5MRDEXRk4k
Copyright © 2020 Feedimo. All Rights Reserved.