AMONG the new MPs who followed party orders and abstained on the welfare bill, Keir Starmer in Holborn and St Pancras has had a bit of a chewing-out from those who feel he should’ve matched his fellow Camden Commons newbie Tulip Siddiq’s course of action of simply voting against it. Keir has said it was a question of long-term tactics and unity, even if he has been frank that he did not fully agree with acting leader Harriet Harman’s call.
You will be waiting a long while, however, if you are still holding out for him to tweet a reply to Labour colleague Diane Abbott. She openly challenged the former director of public prosecutions on the social network over his stance, having apparently helped sedate the no-voters on the night of the vote. The story goes that she was apparently calming down the newly-elected rebels as they waited nervously to break the whip at the first time of asking.
Keir’s aides say he will never be drawn into Twitter spats – not his kind of thing, his social media output is a little more mechanical than Diane’s – although we can fairly guess where he will NOT be casting his mayoral candidate selection vote for.
@Keir_Starmer You are a lawyer. The only way to vote against the bill is to VOTE AGAINST the bill. Abstentions don’t count
— Diane Abbott (@HackneyAbbott) July 20, 2015
Instead, amid the you should’ve done this and the you should’ve done that, Keir answered with a chunky opinion piece (more than 140 characters) in the Guardian on Thursday, as if to prove to the local waverers that he is definitely, definitely, definitely against the welfare bill as it stands, despite his abstention,
“At the committee stage of the welfare reform and work bill, this provision needs to be closely scrutinised and challenged,” he wrote.