Isabel Hardman Isabel Hardman

Starmer will keep shtum til 5 July

Credit: Getty Images

Tonight Keir Starmer took another look at Labour’s poll lead, threw caution to the wind, and revealed his radical plans for the government he hopes to lead in a few weeks time. Only kidding.

The Labour leader’s interview with the BBC’s Nick Robinson didn’t reveal anything we didn’t know and Starmer won’t be obliging with any more details between now and 5 July. But Robinson did try to give voters as much of an impression as possible of how Starmer as prime minister might behave.

He pressed him repeatedly on how he was going to fund the plans in the Labour manifesto: would there be spending cuts or could Starmer guarantee there would be no cuts to the courts, prisons, council budgets and so on. Starmer replied that there would be ‘a cash injection straightaway into our police, into our hospitals, into our schools’ and then there would be reform. He also said ‘we’re not going back to austerity: I know what that feels like and the damage that it did’, and that ‘none of our plans require any other tax rises’.

That line was the one all Labour frontbenchers are using because plans change all the time, and when you’ve spent a third of your time saying your plans don’t require more tax rises and another third saying you need to look at the books when you get into government, you’ve then left yourself with enough wriggle room to suddenly announce more tax rises once in government (the other third, by the way, is the time spent talking about your dad’s career).

He was prepared to make enemies in order to get his reforms through, whether it be in the planning system or elsewhere. He has already made plenty of enemies on the left, not least by turning his back on the policy platform he stood on to become Labour leader. Robinson confronted Starmer on that, asking him whether the public should believe the black-and-white Blair tribute act on the front cover of this week’s manifesto, or the picture of Starmer and Jeremy Corbyn from a few years ago. Starmer’s response was to list the things he said he would do in previous jobs that he achieved, from promising to ‘change the police service of Northern Ireland’ to changing the Labour party. ‘I’ve done it with a steely determination,’ he said. ‘So every time I’ve done into a leadership role,  and said, this is what I’m going to do, I’ve then delivered it. So I stand on my record.’ He did not say that this was a deliberate contrast with the Tories, who are now being laughed at by studio audiences whenever they try to praise their own record.

Mind you, Starmer barely mentioned the Tories at all in this interview. It is almost as though they are now not his primary concern in this election campaign.