Keir Starmer's Labour are relying on Boris Johnson to lose the next election. But Tories will ditch him if he becomes a liability – Kenny MacAskill MP

Labour’s ahead in the polls and, perhaps more significantly, there’s a pattern to them – Boris Johnson’s unpopularity. But how does that help Labour?

Will 'not being Boris Johnson' be enough for Keir Starmer to lead Labour to election victory? (Picture: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
Will 'not being Boris Johnson' be enough for Keir Starmer to lead Labour to election victory? (Picture: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

There’s certainly merit in the old adage that it’s governments that lose elections. The corollary though is that oppositions have to look credible. In that, Labour seems to be failing.

Keir Starmer’s strategy seems to be that of simply being the other guy and indeed twice over. Firstly, he set himself out as not being Jeremy Corbyn and for sure the last Labour leader took a beating in 2019, but he had galvanised his party which showed when he came close to winning in 2017.

Whatever you think of Corbyn, he doesn’t deserve the contempt with which he’s being treated by a party he’s served diligently for years. Corbyn’s victimisation by Starmer and his acolytes may please the Tory press but it’s alienating many Labour activists.

Foot soldiers are important in politics as the breath of fresh air engendered by Corbyn to Labour showed. Many rallied to the cause yet are now leaving in their droves. Moreover, for the first time in my political life, many who’d be described as Left Labour loyalists are now leaving. They aren’t prepared to stomach it anymore and no longer see Labour as their only political home. Starmer will pay a heavy price for that.

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Secondly, Starmer seems to be modelling himself on President Joe Biden who managed to defeat Donald Trump, by not being “The Donald”, rather than what his own Democratic platform was.

For sure that worked, but only just and the Biden presidency already has the look of an administration that’s serving out its time and will demit office with little to show for it.

But the real danger in simply being the other guy, is what if the Tories simply get rid Boris? Tory grandees and Red Wall MPs won’t hesitate to remove him if he’s a threat to their power. Focusing on Johnson and failing to have a platform of your own’s inadequate. You’ve got to show what you’re for, not just who you’re not.

Kenny MacAskill is Alba Party MP for East Lothian

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