Keir Starmer turned in his most effective parliamentary performance since becoming Labour leader at PMQs today. Normally, Starmer is quite monotone. But today he varied his style, and to good effect.
Starmer started off with a bit of swagger, something which he often lacks, asking why Boris Johnson had failed to sack Matt Hancock. Starmer kept pressing and Johnson was left to fall back on the vaccine rollout and make jibes about Starmer’s own bungled reshuffle. Then, Starmer changed tone asking about Ollie Bibby who died of leukaemia in hospital on 5 May but was barely allowed to see his family, the day before those photos of Hancock kissing his aide were taken. Starmer highlighted how jarring it was that ministers had been breaking the rules they devised while others were sacrificing so much. He finished by saying, ‘It is one rule for them and another for everyone else’, which is precisely the accusation that was worrying Tory MPs at the weekend.
Now, PMQs largely matters in terms of parliamentary morale and shaping the media's viewpoint. The problem for Starmer is that a Labour defeat in Batley and Spen tomorrow, which the Tories must be pretty confident about given how many times they shoehorned it in at PMQs, will put the future of his leadership front and centre again. It will be the beginning of what will be a very difficult summer for him.