Keir Starmer labelled 'spineless' after bizarrely praising the government’s 'amazing' coronavirus response

Keir Starmer labelled 'spineless' after bizarrely praising the government’s 'amazing' coronavirus response

Labour leader Keir Starmer hasn’t exactly made a huge splash in his new role.

So far he seems to have opted for a softly, softly approach to opposition, declaring Labour under his leadership would work with the government “constructively” and not be “not opposition for opposition's sake”.

But this tactic has been met with some raised eyebrows, including that of former Labour spin doctor Alistair Campbell who penned an op-ed saying Starmer should “show no mercy” to the government at a time when so many crisis targets are unmet and UK deaths have passed 26,000.

And while Starmer’s debut performance as Labour leader at Prime Minister’s Questions last week earned him the epithet of being “forensic” from just about every political commentator and Labour MP going, this week was a slightly different story.

Many weren’t impressed by his extremely polite approach, particularly when he took the time to praise the government’s response to coronavirus.

“The first secretary invites me to recognise the good work on social distancing and critical care capacity,” Starmer said.

Can I do that, unreservedly. It’s been an amazing piece of work, particularly the ramping up of capacity, and I send my thanks to all who’ve been involved with it, I absolutely recognise it.

He also said he supported the government on not providing a time frame for an exit strategy on lockdown.

I said I wouldn’t ask for the impossible and I won’t.

All this seemed to feel a little odd for many watching.

Labour activist and GP manager Ed Poole slammed the performance as a “carefully calculated PR exercise” in a tweet.

Others mocked the approach.

He was even dubbed “spineless”.

One person questioned why Starmer was praising a strategy that reportedly had devastating consequences.

Even people who have praised Starmer in the past were a little confused.

Journalist Ian Dunt, who has previously extensively praised Starmer in comparison to predecessor Jeremy Corbyn, admitted the Labour leader had been “too generous” in the entire exchange with first secretary Dominic Raab.

The Independent's political commentator John Rentoul was less kind, criticising Starmer’s performance and the lengthy speeches he embarked on.

Perhaps Starmer's rather nice handling of the Tories is a result of the recent Sky News poll that saw the 34 per cent of the public say they didn't trust him to handle the Covid-19 crisis.

In comparison, 51 per cent of people said they trusted Boris Johnson.

Oh well Keir, there’s always next week. Maybe try doing a friendship circle?

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