Starmer reveals Northern Soul love as he recalls living above massage parlour

By Shaun Connolly, PA Political Correspondent
·2-min read

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has recalled his time living above a massage parlour as he revealed his love for Northern Soul on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs.

Sir Keir also said he was not close to his father, who he described as a “difficult” man.

The Labour leader said his father cared deeply for Sir Keir’s mother, Josephine, who suffered from Still’s Disease, a debilitating autoimmune condition which eventually robbed her of speech and movement.

The leader of the opposition choose Dobie Gray’s Out On The Floor as one of the records he would take with him if he was cast away.

Sir Keir said: “I love Northern Soul. This reminds me, when I’m on my island, of my, sort of, early days in London with a group of friends in a really grotty flat above a sauna and massage parlour that kept interesting hours.

“It evokes a particular era of my life.”

Sir Keir revealed he was not close to his father.

The Labour leader said: “I don’t often talk about my dad. He was a difficult man, a complicated man. He kept himself to himself. He didn’t particularly like to socialise, so he wouldn’t really go out very much.

“But he was incredibly hard working. He worked as a tool maker on a factory floor all of his life.

“Also, he had this utter commitment and devotion to my mum. My mum was very, very ill all of her life and my dad knew exactly the symptoms of everything that might possibly go wrong with my mum.

“He stopped drinking completely just in case he ever needed to go to the hospital with her.

“I wouldn’t say we were close. I understood who he was, and what he was. But we weren’t close. And, I regret that.”

Sir Keir added: “As young children we spent a lot of time in and out of high dependency units with my mum thinking we were going to lose her.

“I remember one occasion when I was about 13 or 14, my dad phoning me from the hospital and saying ‘I don’t think mum’s going to make it, will you tell the others?’

“And that was tough. That was really tough. So we pulled through that as a family.”

Another of the songs chosen by Sir Keir was Jim Reeves’ Welcome To My World, which was his mother’s favourite song.

Arsenal fan Sir Keir said that he would take a football as his luxury item if stranded on a desert island.

Desert Island Discs is on Radio 4 at 1100 on Sunday.