Starmer’s idiotic worship of the NHS has exposed him for what he really is

Sir Keir Starmer and meets staff at Bassetlaw Hospital in Nottinghamshire
Sir Keir Starmer meeting staff at Bassetlaw Hospital in Nottinghamshire this week - Stefan Rousseau/PA

Unlike Nigel Farage, Sir Keir Starmer has said remarkably little of note during this campaign. Multiple times he has stood beside a sign saying “CHANGE” with his Starmer resting expression – that of a man with excruciating piles lowering himself gingerly onto an inflatable haemorrhoid cushion. The most radical thing the Labour leader has done in the past month is wear a too-tight white T-shirt to seem cool during the England match. But Sir Keir Starmer KC is most definitely not “one of the lads”. He looked like the branch manager of a second-tier building society whose wife ran off with her Greek paddleboard instructor and is desperately trying to “get back out there”.

Sir Keir finds himself in an awkward position. In two weeks, he is poised to become the least popular candidate ever elected to be prime minister but, bizarrely, also the one with the biggest Parliamentary majority in history. This is either astonishing, depressing or astonishingly depressing, according to taste.

Rishi Sunak continues to be deeply unpopular, with only 20 per cent having a positive view of him (71 per cent negative) last month – a net “favourability score” of –51. That’s about as favourable as the dog who stole the sausages off the Euros barbecue.

Starmer is better liked than his rival, though he is still very unpopular – 34 per cent have a positive view of the Labour leader and 51 per cent think he’s rubbish (a net favourability score of –17). To put that in context, Sir Keir is roughly as popular as Ed “bacon sandwich” Miliband was at the time of the 2015 election. (Miliband, you will recall, led his party to its most stunning defeat since 1983.)

The coming landslide, then, is more a reflection of “disgust at the Tories than delight at what Labour has to offer”, according to polling company Ipsos. Tuesday’s “Don’t risk a generation of socialism” warning from the panicking Conservative hierarchy made me laugh bitterly. This column has been predicting since October 2022 that Tory voters feel so used and abused they could not care less if their party goes up in flames. In fact, they’ll have a whip-round for firelighters. (Fourteen years wearing the noise-cancelling headphones of power meant the Conservative government was deaf to their base, too arrogant and complacent to listen and change course.)

So Starmer and Sunak are not catnip to the electorate; more fox poo. That wily hound dog Farage is happy to roll in it and create a stink.

Under the circumstances, you can see why Starmer might be unwilling to set out post-election plans that could make people dislike him more than they already do. (If the rumoured tax on gardens comes to pass, all I can say is he’d better wear a cricket box to protect his lupins from 10 million pairs of secateurs.)

The one issue on which the Labour leader has been outspoken, impassioned almost, is his refusal to use private healthcare. During a leaders’ debate on ITV, Starmer said that, even if he had a relative stuck on the NHS waiting list for life-saving care, he would refuse to go private. “No, I don’t use private health. I use the NHS,” he averred piously.

For a moment, the mask lifted and you could glimpse the hard-Left ideologue beneath the bland, managerial facade. This is a man who says he would rather family members were left in pain in “our NHS” than dig into his own considerable means to ease their suffering (and shorten the queue for someone who can’t afford to pay), so long as the purity of his socialist principles went unviolated. What sort of human being thinks like that?

Not one that many Labour supporters identify with; 72 per cent told YouGov they would use the private sector to avoid long waiting lists if they could afford to. The Left’s time-honoured tactic of genuflecting to the sacred cow of the NHS doesn’t work anymore. Nor does shaming those (like Farage and Reform) who refuse to bow before this vast, hopeless, bloated bureaucracy with a below-average healthcare system attached.

Too many families have chipped in or taken out a loan to afford a new hip for Mum or Dad. Too many have paid £200 for a scan to accelerate the appalling, shameful and murderous wait for cancer treatment. Too many have had grim personal experiences in the NHS, or seen parents or friends suffer avoidable deaths, to keep the faith as Starmer so stubbornly does.

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting struck a far more pragmatic note on The Daily T podcast, admitting he had considered going private when he recently found a lump. Streeting, who was treated for kidney cancer three years ago, said, “I was actually terrified. If the NHS can do it within a month, I’m prepared to wait. If it’s going to take longer, for my own peace of mind maybe I should just go and pay for a scan, even though I knew – especially when you’re a Labour shadow health secretary – there’s a real risk of this becoming a media storm. But I think, like lots of people – well, health’s more important.”

What else was Streeting doing but criticising his leader? Ideology is not more important than health, as Starmer claims. Our future secretary of state yesterday signalled he is prepared to go further, saying that a Labour government will buy thousands of private beds to “unblock” a failing NHS and care system. There is “nothing Left wing”, says Streeting “about leaving working-class patients to languish in pain because of middle-class Lefty objections to using the private sector”.

Boom! Yet that inhumanity, the idiotic worship of the NHS by the metropolitan elite, is still a primary tenet of the socialist religion which prevents our country adopting a mixed-provision, high-functioning system that other countries take for granted.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and shadow health secretary Wes Streeting with staff at Bassetlaw Hospital in Nottinghamshire
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and shadow health secretary Wes Streeting on a visit to Bassetlaw Hospital in Nottinghamshire - Stefan Rousseau

Starmer invariably boasts about his working-class credentials, based on his dad’s ever so ’umble job as a “toolmaker”. The Labour leader has described the rather remote relationship he had with his father, who died in 2018; a “difficult and complicated” man who “kept himself to himself” and was “utterly committed” to caring for Sir Keir’s chronically ill mother.

If you delve a bit further into the family history, you find that, in reality, Rodney Starmer ran the Oxted Tool Company, his own independent tool-making business, until the 1990s. By all accounts, Starmer senior was a highly-proficient self-employed tradesman operating from a rented workshop on an industrial estate, rather than the horny-handed, blue-collar victim of the boss class his son prefers to depict.

(Starmer is also coy about his time at the selective Reigate Grammar School, which became private when he was still a pupil, although he was lucky enough to win a bursary – exactly the kind of top-notch academic education his government plans to deny to children of a similar upwardly mobile background by slapping VAT on school fees. What a hypocrite he is.)

A slippery Starmer has repeatedly ruled out putting up taxes on “working people”. Asked yesterday what he meant by that term, he said “people who rely on our services, and those that don’t really have the ability to write a cheque when they get into trouble”.

Starmer’s own father may not have met this definition, even though Keir seeks to disguise his own privilege by milking his “toolmaker” dad’s working-class credentials. Explain that if you can.

A few days ago, Starmer suddenly claimed he was not hostile to paying for healthcare after all. “I completely understand why people would go private,” he said. But he doesn’t. Like so many in Labour, he is a prisoner of ideology who enjoys feeling morally superior to the rest of us, who must be punished with higher taxes for not being “working people”, while picking up the bill by working.

That’s why Sir Keir is about to achieve the dubious distinction of being our least-loved, landslide-winning prime minister.

Personally, I find it inspiring that a man can rise from the shopfloor and grow his own business. But, then, I am a Conservative (lapsed, awaiting a new Messiah). Please don’t tell Sir Keir, but maybe his dad the toolmaker was a Tory too.