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The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

Sir Keir Starmer - the case for the prosecution


With Westminster politics now on shutdown until 21st February, we can finally draw breath and reflect on the rise of Keir Starmer's standing as a future Prime Minister, not least in opinion polls when benchmarked against Boris Johnson.

Starmer is enjoying a sustained period of Labour leading the Tories in the opinion polls, since their self inflicted tales of woe began in earnest with the Owen Paterson debacle.

Despite his often stodgy appearances at Prime Minister's Questions, Partygate has seen Starmer's forensic but leaden footed questioning become incisive and whilst he has failed to convert a couple of gilt edged chances to force Johnson into (at least) a standing count, (he is no Tony Blair), he has landed sufficiently to make life increasingly uncomfortable for the Prime Minister whose standing has been severely diminished post Paterson.

A grammar school boy, Starmer enjoyed a career in law, specialising exclusively as a Human Rights defence lawyer before being appointed Director of Public Prosecutions and Head of the Crown Prosecution Service in 2008, posts he held until 2013. He was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in the 2014 New Years Honours list on conclusion of his tenure.

To much opprobrium, Boris Johnson used parliamentary privilege to denigrate Starmer, asserting that whilst he was head of the Crown Prosecution Service, it had failed to prosecute serial rapist and sexual abuser, Jimmy Savile. Despite committing as many as 1,000 offences, complaints made against Savile fell on deaf ears for years but towards the time of his death, with the trickle becoming a flood, he was merely spoken to by police officers, not under caution.

Johnson's comments have been interpreted as the cause of a so called "mob" surrounding Starmer and David Lammy earlier this week outside Portcullis House, where both had been receiving a briefing on developments on the Russia/Ukraine border.

The "mob" included Piers Corbyn and a prominent YouTuber and was in fact gathered to protest in parallel with the Canadian Freedom Convoy. Whilst one comment was made about Savile, others referenced Starmer's lack of connection with the working class, his Brexit duplicity, (of which more later) and his perceived collaboration with the government over lockdowns.

Was it real or a staged opportunity to knock Johnson for some hurty words? Whilst the mainstream media largely went with "real", as the supporting audio emerged, the matter quickly left the front page.

What is indisputable is that Starmer was head of the CPS when Savile's prosecution that never was didn't happen, despite referrals from Surrey and Sussex police.

Whilst Starmer was not the prosecuting lawyer in the case, it was on his watch, a barb he has thrown at Johnson relentlessly over Partygate in relation to civil servants in both 10 Downing Street and the Cabinet Office.

An official investigation commissioned later by Starmer criticised both prosecutors and police for their handling of the allegations. In June 2013, Starmer said: "I have apologised to the victims in that case and I now apologise to anyone involved in similar cases."

To complete the conspiracy theory, the revelation that the CPS "inadvertently" destroyed the Savile files may best be described as convenient.

Whilst Savile was a high profile celebrity sexual deviant, events in Rotherham where predominantly Pakistani male Muslim rape gangs have groomed vulnerable underage white girls, often in care, into prostitution and county lines drug distribution have had free rein for decades.

In October 2012, whilst still in office, as England's chief prosecutor, Starmer acknowledged in The Times that a generation of girls was betrayed by the justice system's flawed approach to sexual exploitation.

The first public report into Rotherham in August 2014 led to an apologist piece in the Guardian from Starmer, (acknowledging over 1,400 victims had been abused since 1998), who by that time had left office.

The CPS' inability to prosecute 2 high profile cases of systemic abuse is an indelible stain on Starmer's leadership record. Given this was his only leadership role prior to entering Parliament in 2015, it will inevitably be leveraged should he ever get close to gaining the keys to 10 Downing Street.

Starmer won the safe Labour seat of Holborn at the 2015 General Election and was appointed Shadow Minister for Immigration before campaigning for Remain in the 2016 Brexit Referendum and entering the Shadow Cabinet in October 2016 as Shadow Brexit Secretary.

Despite committing to honour the result of the referendum, Starmer was vilified for campaigning for a second referendum, openly attempting to overturn the result of the first. Boris Johnson's 80 seat majority at the 2019 General Election on a "Get Brexit Done" ticket, led to a collapse in Labour support in the Red Wall, many of whom will not readily forgive or forget Starmer's role in that or the Rotherham abuse scandal.

Due to the Tories' current Groundhog Day of shooting both feet, Starmer and Labour continue to enjoy a comfortable poll lead. Johnson may or may not be able to pull the Tories out of their current funk but Starmer's blind eye to child abuse and rank hypocrisy over Brexit will undoubtedly come back to haunt him when his brief surge in popularity ebbs away.

The ghost of Jeremy Corbyn continues to haunt Starmer. Just this week, a key ally of Starmer's, Nick Forbes, who attends his Shadow Cabinet, was removed as leader of Newcastle City Council by hard left Corbynistas.

Momentum continues to dominate the upper echelons of the Labour Party and the prospect of regicide against Starmer remains bubbling under the surface and don't be surprised if they don't move against him once his current popularity bubble bursts.

Compared to his predecessor, Starmer has managed to create a veneer of Labour Party unity. This will hold so long as the various factions believe the party is heading for power. As the next General Election could be as far away as December 2024, it will be more than challenging to hold the line.

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