Did we all watch Keir Starmer’s broadcast a little earlier as Leader of her majesty’s opposition, responding to Johnson’s broadcast last night ?
To sum up, his job in this broadcast, in the current political climate, was to appear more Prime Ministerial than the crook that is currently actually occupying the post.
With Johnson’s lies and corruption unravelling ever more by the day, this was easily job done.
What we are seeing is Starmer slowly but steadily establishing himself in the public consciousness as the alternative PM in waiting, and the Labour Party as the alternative government in waiting. It’s what Blair did in the 3 year lead up to the famous landslide of 1997. In tonight’s broadcast, he supported the scientists’ advice to the government (though not the government itself - he deliberately did not mention Johnson even obliquely), praised our NHS professionals, praised the public (which is to say also the electorate) for its response, and presented himself as the strong leadership the country is crying out for.
Here’s the full transcript :
Good evening. Christmas is a time for family, for friends and for neighbours. To be with them, yes, but also to care for them and protect them. This Christmas, once again, we are at a critical moment in our fight against Covid. The new variant, Omicron, is spreading fast. And the argument that we don’t know enough about it doesn’t stack up. We may not be certain how dangerous it is but we do know that lives are at risk.
And again our NHS is at risk of being overwhelmed. If that happens more people will die. So we must do everything that we can to protect the NHS. Scientists are clear: our best defence is the booster jab; the vaccine is safe and effective; it protects us, and those around us. That’s why Labour supports the government’s plan to get every adult boosted by the end of the month.
And, personally, I want to urge every one of you to book an appointment – or go to a walk in centre – as soon as you can. We must also use this Christmas break to vaccinate children over 12 and stop the spread in schools. If you haven’t had your first or second jab. Now is the time to come forward. It matters more than ever. And let’s face it, a booster for every adult before the end of the month is a big challenge which is why we argued that the government should have stepped up sooner. But time and time again the British people have risen to the challenge.
So let’s pull together now and do the right thing once more. At times like this, we must all put the national interest first and play by the rules. Of course, I understand that sticking to the rules can be inconvenient but stick to the rules we must. It would be easy to let the festivities we’ve all been looking forward to, divert us from our national duty. Getting jabbed, wearing masks and working from home if we can really will help prevent infections and help prevent the NHS being overwhelmed.
I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for everything you have done so far and everything you will do in the coming weeks. Your efforts will save lives. I also want to thank our brilliant NHS workers for their dedication, their skill and their sheer hard work. We are so fortunate in this country to have the NHS. We must do everything we can, collectively, to preserve and protect it. We spent the early months of the pandemic applauding the brilliant efforts of the NHS. Now our shared national duty is to stand shoulder to shoulder with our NHS heroes and the committed volunteers supporting them.
The Labour Party that I lead will always act in Britain’s best interests. The Labour Party that I lead will always do everything within its power to protect the NHS. The NHS that has done so much good since Labour founded it almost 75 years ago. As leader of Her Majesty’s opposition, it is my solemn duty to challenge the government where necessary. The health, safety and security of our nation and its people must always be the first priority.
That’s why we will always support measures designed to protect public health. That includes the measures in ‘plan B’. We are a patriotic party. And it is our patriotic duty to vote for these measures to ensure that they go through. In doing so, we are supporting the NHS and supporting our country. But rest assured, I will still hold the government to account in the coming weeks. That is also in the national interest. Meanwhile, I’m asking all of you to do your bit too.
At this time we need leadership. Leadership that the country can trust. It’s a big national effort and we all have our part to play. Get Britain boosted. Protect the NHS and save lives. And from my family to yours, I wish you a very happy Christmas.
"The opportunity to serve our country: that is all we ask.” John Smith, May 11, 1994.