Iain Dale presents the evening show on LBC Radio and the For the Many podcast with Jacqui Smith.
Keir Starmer hasn’t had a good week.
He had to apologise for saying at PMQs that he had never argued we should remain within the orbit of the European Medicines Agency.
Footage then emerged of him saying he would like to abolish the monarchy.
Then The Guardian got hold of a leaked strategy report which suggested Labour should wrap itself in the Union flag, Starmer should get off the fence and the party’s spokespeople should dress more smartly.
And then Wednesday was rounded off with an opinion poll showing a Tory lead of seven points.
Oh, and I forgot Stephen Bush’s excoriating article for The New Statesman in which he courageously reckoned that there are plenty of people doubting if the Labour leader was up to it.
I’ve written before that I thought Starmer had a very good first few months as Labour leader.
He inherited the job right at the beginning of the first lockdown, but made a good fist of leading his party out of the darkness of the Corbyn era.
He looked the part, supported the Government when necessary and put in some sharp Commons performances, especially at PMQs.
He assembled a team, which initially looked as if it could take the fight to the Government.
However, since Christmas he seems to have lost his way.
There are growing rumblings that he’s not “opposing” enough and appears too wishy-washy.
His reputation as “Captain Hindsight” has been placed firmly in the minds of the voter, and his front bench team appears unable to do anything except accuse the Government of doing “too little, too late” or remain in a state of “perma outrage”.
Anneliese Dodds, the Shadow Chancellor is a good example of this.
A transparently nice woman, she seems unable to articulate a Labour vision of how Labour would handle things better except to say she’d spend more money than the Conservatives and do it quicker.
My For the Many podcast colleague Jacqui Smith maintains Dodds is doing a lot behind the scenes to develop policy.
Well, maybe that’s the case, but in terms of putting over the Labour case on the airwaves, both she and the rest of the Shadow Cabinet need to up their game.
I wonder if a reshuffle might be on the way, in which some of the missing big beasts of the Labour jungle might be brought in, like Hilary Benn and Yvette Cooper.
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Talking of the Conservatives’ seven-point lead…
I wonder how much of this is due to a “vaccine bounce”. People have very short memories.
Assuming the vaccine rollout continues to go well, it may well be that it’s this which sticks in the minds of voters rather than the handling of the PPE, care home and schools fiascos.
Johnson can but hope.
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I write this a few minutes after learning that Ofcom has revoked the license of the Chinese broadcaster CGTN.
I’ve no idea why it took it so long.
Each time I have dipped into CGTN – and admittedly it’s only been on a few occasions – what I have noticed is that is a heady mix of perfectly well reported stories interspersed with utter propaganda, disguised as reputable journalism.
It has clearly modelled itself on RT, the Kremlin-funded channel.
CGTN even hired former Ofcom board member and head of Sky News Nick Pollard to make sure it stayed just within the boundaries of acceptability, but he eventually saw the light and resigned over its coverage of the Hong Kong protests last year.
Quite how any British journalist had the front to take jobs with CGTN (or RT for that matter) is obviously something they will have to answer for in any future job interviews.
Were I ever in a position to be hiring anyone, I would just throw their CVs in the bin. I hope GB News and the new News UK station will bear this in mind, given that they’re both hiring presenters and producers at the moment.
Ofcom should not stop with CGTN, though. Quite how they have allowed RT to continue broadcasting its propaganda on the Sky platform is anyone’s guess. I hope they’re next to feel the iron fist of the Ofcom banning unit.