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Starmer swerves questions on Gaza, Corbyn and public ownership

SHIFTY Sir Keir Starmer was left squirming today as he dodged election questions about his past conduct and present and future plans.

The lacklustre Labour leader failed to come clean on Gaza, Jeremy Corbyn or his volte-face on public ownership.

Speaking in a radio phone-in, Sir Keir also repeated shadow health secretary Wes Streeting’s controversial call for junior doctors to call off their strike action.

“Don’t strike during the election campaign because we’re very close now to the opportunity for a different approach with a Labour government if we get over the line,” he said. 

“So don’t strike because that causes all sorts of issues.”

On the Gaza crisis Sir Keir waffled when asked whether a Labour government would stop arms sales to Israel. 

The lawyer said that he would have to “look at the legal advice” and hold “a review.”

He also refused to agree that what is happening in Gaza is a genocide. 

“You need the evidence in front of you to make a decision,” he slithered, as if the whole world has not seen an amplitude of such evidence over the last nine months.

The Labour leader was also uncomfortable when he was put on the spot as to whether he would have served in a Corbyn-led cabinet had Labour won the 2017 or 2019 general elections.

He repeated his argument that he “did not think Labour would win” and insisted that the question was “hypothetical,” a silly answer because it was evident to everyone at the time that he would have done.

He tried to disown the 2019 manifesto, which he had championed, claiming he was only “responsible for the Brexit section” of the document, which in fact was the part that led Labour to defeat.

And he was embarrassed over his determination to keep the cruel two-child benefit cap, the more so when it was pointed out that Reform’s Nigel Farage has pledged to scrap it. 

Britain “does not have the money to afford this,” he limply argued.

Sir Keir denied that his pledge to nationalise energy companies when running for Labour leader had been made in bad faith. 

He claimed that the move would have cost money without cutting household bills, although the government would have control of the finances of a publicly owned company.

“Common sense is a big part of my politics,” he argued. 

“I wasn’t going to say, because three years earlier I said something about nationalisation, I’m afraid we’re going to pay off the shareholders, not reduce bills on people who can’t afford their bills.”

The Labour leader also admitted frustration with his dozy performance in the first leaders’ debate, when he let Rishi Sunak’s invented claims about Labour’s tax plans pass without rebuttal.

There was other bad news for Labour’s campaign today as a top polling expert said the party’s support was at its lowest since Liz Truss was premier.

James Crouch of Opinium said Labour had lost 5 per cent of the vote since the election was called, mainly to Greens and Liberal Democrats. 

And bookies’ odds on independent Andrew Feinstein, challenging Sir Keir in his own Holborn and St Pancras constituency, winning have been slashed from 50/1 to 28/1.

However, Sir Keir got a boost today from one of his key target audiences — the security state.

The former head of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Sir David Omand, gave Labour’s military plans the official seal of approval.

“Labour’s announcement of a ‘triple lock’ on our nuclear deterrent indicates that we can in future trust the party to stick to serious defence policy,” the securocrat pronounced.

The top spook also commended Labour’s bellicose position on keeping the Ukraine war going and welcomed its manifesto commitment to boost arms spending to 2.5 per cent of gross domestic product.

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