Off The Record: Is Sir Keir Starmer toast?

Off The Record Is Keir Starmer Toast labour party
image Source: Jessica Taylor
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Who did what for the ex-health secretary, why Sir Keir Starmer needs to keep an eye on Manchester, the very serious problem of assaults on staff and why Covid Passports are happening – even if they’re not mandatory.

 

MATT FINISH

Everyone knows that little Matt Hancock was stitched up: the difficult question is establishing who was responsible because the list is as long as the former health secretary’s wandering arms as we’ve all seen in the infamous video which should itself carry a health warning. During his ‘clinch’ Matt resembled a prematurely balding schoolboy enjoying a slow last dance at the Year 9 end of term disco.

It was never going to end well for Matt and various rumours suggest that serving him up to The Sun was either a pure act of greed on behalf of a whistle-blower, a more calculated political move from a disgruntled civil servant/special adviser or even an act emanating higher-up to trash the reputation of a minister that was past his sell-by date. He allegedly represented the voice of caution within the cabinet alienating the more liberal wings of the Conservative Party desperate to open the economy up at the earliest opportunity.

As for his resignation video – I don’t recall him actually saying sorry to those people who abided by the regulations that he put in place and that he failed to adhere to. Once again, we deserve better politicians than this – don’t we?

IS SIR KEIR STARMER TOAST?

In a recent poll of Labour Party members,’ a resounding 70 percent said that Andy Burnham, the Labour Mayor of Greater Manchester would make a better job of being Leader of the Labour Party than SKS.

I’m writing this ahead of Thursday’s byelection in Batley and Spen, where the mood music is distinctly discordant for the Labour Party, due in no small part to the activities of former Labour MP George Galloway whose Workers Party is splitting the Labour vote.

Add to this, accusations of intimidation and physical attacks on Labour Party activists and you have a very toxic under current. If Labour loses the seat the toxicity levels will rise even further mounting more pressure on Starmer.

Reacting to criticisms that no one could name any of Labour’s policies, Starmer’s team decided it was a good idea to use England’s game against Germany to call for bosses to let their staff go early in order to catch the 5pm kick-off.

It comes to something if that’s the most memorable policy to come out of Her Majesty’s opposition. Also, why was the Labour leadership team so mute when the Hancock story broke – I couldn’t possibly hazard a guess!

STAFF NEED PROTECTING AND THE POLICE NEED TO START ARRESTING

Politicians are recommending that attacks on retail workers should be made a specific criminal offence in the same sway that assaults on emergency workers are treated differently and I have to agree.

The home affairs committee said there had been a “shocking” increase in the level of violence and abuse directed at shop workers over the past five years. 89 percent of people working in local shops have experienced some form of abuse, while Co-op has reported a fourfold increase in violent crime between 2014 and 2020. The committee also heard evidence that violence and abuse towards shop workers had worsened during the pandemic.

The Usdaw union reported that 76 percent of shop workers felt the behaviour they had experienced had been worse than usual over the past 18 months.

Evidence shows that the situation – like most other things – has got worse over the pandemic presumably as a result of pent- up aggression and the responsibility that consumer-facing staff have to enforce the Government’s Covid regulations.

My arcades don’t have a particular issue with violent behaviour but as an operator I’m very conscious of my responsibilities.

When the football is on, we have double the number of staff and I stand outside to ensure that we don’t get the piss heads in causing problems.

Retail staff are vulnerable and they are considered an easy target for yobs and criminals.

If assaults on retail staff carried a heavier sentence, then it might serve as a deterrent. However, the big issue isn’t identifying the criminals as we’ve all got CCTV.

The real challenge is getting the police to do something about it, but that’s another story entirely.

MAKE HOSPITALITY A CAREER AND GET PEOPLE OFF THEIR ARSES

I’ve spoken about the problems my business is facing in terms of recruitment and it’s a problem faced throughout the hospitality sector as people turn their backs on what’s considered to be an uncertain and unpredictable career that’s constantly being forced to close.

To cope with this the Confederation of British Industry is calling for immigration rules to be relaxed in order to fill the gaps with non-UK workers.

I’ve got nothing against workers from outside the UK but I think a lot more should be done to make hospitality more attractive and it’s not just about paying higher wages.

There’s a job to be done to raise the status and make hospitality a career option as opposed to simply a job. I read about a PubCo owner who went public with an unpopular view that the furlough scheme had made people lazy and that taking furlough had for some at least, become a lifestyle choice.

I think there’s some truth in that and rather than turning on the tap marked international workers we should be thinking a bit more long-term.

COVID PASSPORTS ARE HAPPENING

I have been steadfastly opposed to the introduction of Covid Passports but you can see their use creeping in to such an extent that I think their wide spread adoption will be inevitable.

They are needed for international travel – limited as that is – and now exhibitions and live events are adapting the concept.

The next decent size gambling industry expo is iGB Live! which is in Amsterdam in September.

The Dutch government has said that there will be no restrictions, providing every attendee can prove they have either tested negative, had Covid and recovered or been doubly jabbed.

Every organiser wants to have as big a show as possible so they will follow the rules.

I can see all events taking this option and government’s encouraging all consumer- facing businesses to do likewise.

SAJID JAVID IS A BREATH OF FRESH AIR

In less than a week the new Health Secretary has shown himself to be a lot more bullish than his predecessor and a lot more serious about opening up society and getting used to living with the virus.

Admittedly, it’s a lot easier to be hawkish when the vaccination programme appears to have broken the link between infection and hospitalisation, but none the less it’s good to hear the former chancellor talking positively about the future.

 

 


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