or most people, most businesses – even most countries – the past year or so has been a write-off. The usual rules and measures of success and failure simply do not apply. Recent performance, more than ever, is no certain guide to the future. It’s true of politics, too, which should be a source of anxiety as well as comfort for Sir Keir Starmer in his first year as leader of the opposition – a grand position, but nonetheless a miserable job at the best of times. (Notwithstanding Tony Blair now saying that he didn’t enjoy the premiership, he hated being LOTO even more.)
Most of those who have held the post didn’t relish it, and would probably have preferred one week as a junior minister, getting stuff done, to a parliamentary term asking questions, making speeches, and just saying things rather than doing things. Oddly, Starmer’s immediate predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn, was one of the few well-suited to it, apparently living the dream on a constant diet of outrage and protest: one of nature’s oppositionists.
On 4 April 2020, Starmer was elected leader of the Labour Party with an unexpectedly convincing mandate, winning on the first ballot with an absolute majority – 56 per cent of the vote – with Rebecca Long-Bailey, the heir to Corbyn who gave the old boy 10 out of 10 for leadership, scoring an underwhelming 28 per cent, and Lisa Nandy leaving her calling card with 16 per cent.