Boring Keir Starmer is begging frontbench to stop leaking that people think hes dull

Keir Starmer given brutal assessment by John McDonnell

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The Labour leader, while enjoying a lead in the polls over Boris Johnson, has been hit by stories about allegedly breaching coronavirus rules and by briefings from MPs. On Saturday, party figures added to his woes by briefing newspapers that Sir Keir is “semi-serious and a bit dull”.

In response, at a Shadow Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, the Labour leader reportedly fumed at party officials for briefing the press that he is boring.

He is said to have told his Shadow Cabinet in response: “What’s boring is being in opposition.”

Sir Keir urged them to focus on attacking the Government, saying it was “boring” to undermine Labour’s project of getting back into power.

According to The Guardian, who first reported the “boring” battle, several people echoed their leader’s calls for unity and discretion, in a lengthy exchange described by one shadow frontbencher as ‘ironically very boring’.

It follows a story from the outlet on Saturday, where Labour MPs and officials complained about the party’s lack of policy and Sir Keir’s presentation.

A senior party official warned Sir Keir could lose an election to a Tory MP unlike Mr Johnson, and said: “I think we’re at a real risk of being in 1990: Johnson goes, they replace him with Sajid Javid or Jeremy Hunt, someone who’s not in the Johnson mould, someone who people see as semi-serious and a bit dull, and all of a sudden Keir Starmer’s advantage of being semi-serious and a bit dull, goes.”

Colleagues alleged to the outlet that Claire Ainsley, Labour’s head of policy, head of manifesto development, is detached from the political side of the party.

One senior aide said: “There’s no sense of where we can make political hay against our opponents, areas we can be exploiting to draw a clear dividing line between ourselves and the Tories.”

It comes as an Opinium poll for the Observer, which surveyed 2002 Britons over 18, showed Mr Johnson has a two-point lead over Sir Keir.

In a major blow to the Labour leader, 28 percent polled think Mr Johnson would make the best Prime Minister compared to 26 percent for Sir Keir.

It also reveals the Labour party holds a narrow two-point lead, compared with a three-point lead in the last poll a fortnight ago.

Labour are on 36 percent of the vote, with the Tories up one point on 34 percent, while the Liberal Democrats are on 13 percent with the Greens on 6 percent.

Mr Johnson’s approval ratings have improved slightly at -27, compared with -30 two weeks ago, while Sir Keir holds an approval rating of -6, unchanged from two weeks ago.


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A senior Labour source told the outlet: “We know what needs to be done between now and the next election and are ticking everything off on the list.

“If you had said the morning after the 2019 election Labour could be back in one term, people would have laughed at you.

“But the work that Keir has been doing to reform the party, often without fanfare, means that we can seriously talk about winning the next election. The fact we’ve climbed out of the hole we were in was never a given.

“Having dealt with the party machinery at the last conference, the plan was always that the next one will focus on setting out our plans for Britain. There’s no complacency but we remain confident of the strategy we have to get Keir to No 10.”

Meanwhile, a word cloud produced this week by the polling group JL Partners, based on responses from 1,000 voters, showed that “boring” was the adjective most frequently used of Sir Keir, at 5.3 percent.

Other prominent descriptions included “bland” and “weak”, but also “honest”.

An equivalent exercise for Mr Johnson showed the public’s most common description of him was “liar”, with “incompetent” and “buffoon” also featuring heavily.

James Johnson, co-founder of J.L. Partners, said: “The findings of this poll echo what we have heard from our focus groups over the last two years – the British people think Keir Starmer is boring.

“Being seen as a bore has clear downsides. It means voters do not associate the Labour leader with an exciting vision for the future. They often criticise him for not seeming to have any ideas.

“But it also has an upshot. In the focus groups I run, Starmer is seen as so dull that voters find it hard to care about even the most negative stories about him – such as his beers in Durham.

“While Corbyn was seen as weak, and Ed Miliband as a joke, Starmer is met with a shrug.”

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