Patrick O’Flynn Patrick O’Flynn

Starmer is Labour’s Iain Duncan Smith

(Getty images)

After a gruelling election campaign the most important thing to do is to have a rest and have a think. Everyone is exhausted and things done in the heat of the moment are liable to be ill-considered.

During my own brief time in electoral politics, I learned this the hard way. I played a leading role in an idiotic falling out at the top of Ukip after it secured almost four million votes but just one seat in the 2015 general election. A more seasoned colleague went on holiday and later described to me how he had watched the unedifying feuding unfold on a smartphone from his balcony while sipping gin and tonics and staring at the Med.

Michael Gove and Boris Johnson learned a similar lesson when they fell out after the 2016 EU referendum, resulting in both of them sustaining disabling damage that sank their Tory leadership hopes and lumbered the country with three years of political constipation under Theresa May.

Keir Starmer has just learned the same lesson, having suffered a horrible bloody nose at the hands of voters and then launched into a half-baked shadow cabinet reshuffle that has made things even worse for him. By first accepting responsibility for Labour’s awful results and then fitting Angela Rayner up as a scapegoat, Starmer took a further chunk out of his ailing stocks of authority.

Keir Starmer has just learned the same lesson, having suffered a horrible bloody nose at the hands of voters and then launched into a half-baked shadow cabinet reshuffle that has made things even worse for him

Upon realising that as deputy leader Rayner had her own mandate from party members and also had major figures from all wings of the party rallying behind her, Starmer had to backtrack by awarding her numerous new job titles. So much chaos was caused in the process that other significant moves were pretty much aborted, apart from the long-expected replacement of Anneliese Dodds by Rachel Reeves as shadow chancellor.

Denis Healey’s political ‘law of holes’ stated simply that when you are in one, stop digging.

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