It seems that Lisa Nandy is not the only Labour leadership contender to frighten the crap out of our free and fearless press: Keir Starmer is also inducing jibbering, this time from those inmates of the Northcliffe House bunker working on the Mail on Sunday. We can deduce this from a panicked hit job in today’s edition of the paper, published under the by-line of its political editor Glen Owen. Guilt by association is the theme.
And so the dog whistle comes out for the inevitable attack-by-headline: “Has Keir Starmer REALLY spent a lifetime seeking justice for the powerless? Barrister represented IRA terrorists and a jihadi suspect who sued Britain over HIS human rights”. The MoS will be hoping its readers have not heard of the “Cab rank” principle: barristers cannot always pick and choose for whom they advocate. And everyone gets access to justice.
Perhaps the MoS believes that those it dislikes should not have access to a lawyer? Here’s the schtick: “Sir Keir Starmer has made political capital out of his legal career by highlighting the cases he has pursued on behalf of the ‘underdog'. But there are some cases he appears to have airbrushed out of his CV - including representing convicted IRA terrorists who staged a botched jailbreak in which a prison guard was shot, and then sued for injuries they sustained”. Appears to have airbrushed. Cos they can’t bother checking.
Next comes the “look, readers, he’s out of touch” card, deployed in the form of a photo showing Starmer with his wig. That’s like judges, readers - and they’re out of touch, too! This is followed by the “He represented a TRRRRST SUSPECT” ploy.
“In 2006, Starmer represented Hilal Al-Jedda, detained in a British facility in Basra under suspicion of 'recruiting terrorists outside of Iraq with a view to the commission of atrocities there’ … [and] was also detained for helping a known terrorist explosives expert travel to Iraq and conspiring with him to target coalition forces around Fallujah and Baghdad. He was also believed to have conspired with an Islamist terror cell in the Gulf”.
Sounds bad, doesn’t it? Until you find out he was DETAINED WITHOUT CHARGE FOR THREE YEARS. The MoS’ way round that is to claim that Starmer worked with someone who later got struck off. That’s the MoS who used to commission Steve Whittamore.
It’s lame, thin stuff, right down to the character witness for the prosecution. Now, who would be the very worst choice for that role? Someone who would make the MoS look even worse? You got it: “Starmer was criticised by former Labour Home Office Minister Kate Hoey”. Kate Hoey. KATE SODDING HOEY. Kate “I’m disappointed in this manifestation of reality and so I’m not taking any more notice of it” Hoey.
Could this botched hatchet job get any worse? As if you need to ask. The MoS article ends by telling readers “Last night Sir Keir was unavailable for comment”. If only they had consulted, oh I dunno, their own website, where they could have read “Sir Keir Starmer's mother-in-law has died two weeks after suffering an accident, it was revealed today … The MP's aides said he would not be making any further comment today”.
The Mail on Sunday: so useless they can’t even smear straight. No change there, then.
Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by adding to its Just Giving page at