Monday 27 May 2024

"Sleepy Keir"

After another uninspiring Keir Starmer speech for the party faithful today, the same weird question was asked twice by right wing news outlets. Starmer was invited to comment on "reports" that he was "weary" and "sleepy" and might not be up to electioneering. As someone who spends more time than is healthy following the ins and outs of mainstream politics discourse, where on earth was this coming from? For his part Starmer - rightly - laughed off the claims. There has never been any suggestion that among the rumours that swirl about his person that laziness is one of his vices. Looking into it a bit further, these "suggestions" are talking points put forward by unnamed Conservatives. In other words, they are baseless. Baseless, but not pointless.

This is a straight import from the United States. Or, to be more accurate, a lift from the Donald Trump playbook. While scurrilous his charge of "sleepy Joe" jibe has a certain truthiness considering the frailty and occasional attacks of bewilderment that afflict Joe Biden. Though Trump has to be careful, considering he often exhibits evidence of cognitive decline. But in the British context, it's a crudity designed to contrast old man Starmer (61) to an energetic and youthful Rishi Sunak (44). It's pathetic stuff that's unlikely to shift the dial. Especially then the Tories are lighting the touch paper to their own meagre chances.

You can see how this is going to work. At every Starmer presser a Tory hack is going to ask the question. The number of times it's asked will power a right wing "people keep asking" round of talking points, that fuel further questions. The hope is that Starmer will explode in exasperation, or minions from the likes of GB News will find themselves barred from future events. This would occasion a cycle of "woe me the victim" bellyaching that right wing politicians and journalists distinguish themselves in.

The 2019 election was appalling for all kinds of reasons. Horrendous attacks from across the broadcast and print media. Dishonest attacks from the Tories and from inside the party itself. But this time, with a heavy defeat certain and the press largely on Labour's side, one can only expect Tory attacks on Starmer and the shadow front bench to get worse, more desperate and, consequently, more deranged and absurd. And to think we're only one week into the campaign.

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Anonymous said...

'Sleepy Keir' is particularly useless compared to the amount of confused centrist piss that got boiled in response to 'Keith' or when 'Sir Kid Starver' was trending on Twitter.

Rodney said...

This framing of Starmer as a tired old man could, in time, bear fruit for Wes Streeting (41) or Rachel Reeves (45).

It's probably mostly desperation but with the added benefit of laying the groundwork for moving Labour even further right in future.

Anonymous said...

Doctor Who did it first...!

Blissex said...

«"reports" that he was "weary" and "sleepy" [...] expect Tory attacks on Starmer and the shadow front bench to get worse»

Given this statement
“Starmer: I’m a socialist and progressive”

I guess the next Conservative advert will be a rerun of the one against Blair:

A confession of being a "socialist" by someone targeting affluent brexiter tory voters is perhaps the silliest thing that someone has done so far.

Anonymous said...

«But this time, with a heavy defeat certain»

Look at the polls of polls for 2017 and 2019:

Note how tory voters switch to BXP/RUK/LD as long as there is no election, and then just before the election they switch back to the Conservative to protect their property investments. Also note how sometimes polls change a lot just before the election day as undecideds/"shy tories" commit or realize that the election is for real and they should not vote for a third party.

Look at the current one:

What's notable is that until the October-November 2023 Starmer was getting little traction, and indeed New, New Labour was whacked hard in some by-elections. Since then few voters have switched to New, New Labour, but many more have abstained to protest that property prices have been going nowhere (and also against "inflation" I guess).
Now interest rates are still too high, but "inflation" allegedly has become normal.

Douglas Adams "The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy":

«"On its world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people."
"Odd," said Arthur, "I thought you said it was a democracy."
"I did," said Ford. "It is."
"So," said Arthur, hoping he wasn't sounding ridiculously obtuse, "why don't people get rid of the lizards?"
"It honestly doesn't occur to them," said Ford. "They've all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they've voted in more or less approximates to the government they want."
"You mean they actually vote for the lizards?"
"Oh yes," said Ford with a shrug, "of course."
"But," said Arthur, going for the big one again, "why?"
"Because if they didn't vote for a lizard," said Ford, "the wrong lizard might get in."»