Strangely,it was whilst listening to a recent episode of the long-running BBC radio programme Desert Island Discs, that it struck me forcefully how the differing personal backgrounds of our political leaders can sometimes be deeply significant. It featured Keir Starmer, I was instantly endeared to him by two details of his life I previously had not known. His time as an undergraduate at Leeds University, briefly overlapped with mine (I am 3 years his senior.) Equally importantly, he has an enduring love of Northern Soul music, as I do, having been reared on it in the 1970`s in and around my native Manchester. Keir also spoke movingly of the sufferings of his long-term seriously ill mother, and of growing up in a society, before Thatcherism, that might reward hard work, even for those from disadvantaged backgrounds like his own – and mine. A previous episode featured the current Prime Minister, I have not listened. Frankly, so nauseating do I find the character of one Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, I just can’t bring myself to do so – even for research purposes. Boris ( or Al, as his family know him – that use of alternate names, tells us something of his character) grew up and was educated in a much more privileged world than Keir. Eton, then Balliol College Oxford, being a well- trodden route for Tory leaders. It matters, Starmer has empathy for those less materially blessed, he understands the difference between truth and lies, integrity and duplicity, industry and indolence. He seeks to master complex issues like Covid and Brexit, not confront them with sound-bites and wishful thinking. This Prime Minister has bungled his way through this terrible year of pandemic, shabbily, mendaciously, hubristically. He is willing to throw us off the cliff of a no deal Brexit, rather than honestly face the truth of how disastrous that will be for our most disadvantaged. Almost all those who knew him, or have worked with him, including the highly respected writers Max Hastings and Simon Jenkins, were totally unsurprised at all of this : `I was his boss , he is totally unfit to be Prime Minister.` (Hastings)`This vain playboy ….with only the vaguest notion of what truth might be.` (Jenkins)
I think, sooner than many might expect, a better man, from a more suitable background for understanding the real needs of most people in the UK, will be Prime Minister. Then perhaps Lauren Laverne can invite him back to do another show, he is a leader worth listening to. 

Ian Richardson.

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