Sir Keir has a credibility problem

Keir Starmer campaigned for Jeremy Corbyn
Keir Starmer campaigned for Jeremy Corbyn

Sir Keir Starmer keeps telling the country that he will not put up taxes on “working people”. Asked by Nick Ferrari on LBC Radio to say who they are, the Labour leader replied: “The person I have in my mind when I say working people is people who earn their living, rely on our services, and don’t really have the ability to write a cheque when they get into trouble.”

That makes it no clearer. We do not know at what income levels new taxes might be applied, and Sir Keir refuses to rule out higher taxes on wealth or assets like homes and pensions. Savers are apparently not “working people”, so are they fair game?

Recent polls have shown a distinct lack of faith in politicians to be honest with the public. Pollster Sir John Curtice found record numbers of voters saying they “almost never” trust governments to put country before party or politicians to tell the truth when in a tight corner.

This makes it incumbent upon our political leaders to be frank and transparent, and yet there is so much that we do not know about Labour’s intentions. Sir Keir himself often gives disingenuous answers to straight questions that feed cynicism.

He was asked whether he would use private healthcare to help a sick family member if treatment on the NHS was not available. He said he would not contemplate doing so even though Labour is planning greater collaboration with the private sector to bring down waiting lists.

It is hard to believe that he really thinks this, but Sir Keir is something of a closed book so it is difficult to know. Is he so ideologically opposed to private healthcare that he would let one of his children suffer to avoid using it or was this a position he adopted just for the debate?

Another oddity is the justification he gives for sitting in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet and supporting his attempts to be elected prime minister. Had the party won, would he have sat in the Cabinet? He told a caller to LBC that the question was “hypothetical” and “didn’t cross my mind because I didn’t think we would win”.

He also appeared to dismiss the idea he had signed off on Labour’s 2019 manifesto. “I was at the manifesto meeting because I was responsible for the Brexit section,” he said, emphasising that “it was Jeremy Corbyn’s manifesto.” There is a credibility issue here with Sir Keir. What we see is evidently not what we are going to get.