HOLBORN and St Pancras MP Keir Starmer plays a pretty straight bat on social media, keeping the hashtags to a minimum. Like his predecessor he does not seem to feel the need to tweet every local achievement immediately after achieving it; a talk to some schoolkids, a visit to a care home still counts for something even if it is not on Twitter. Of course Mr Starmer is aware of how important it all is to some people that their local MP is on social media and of the constant expectation to be visible – even if Tulip Siddiq took three months off the Twitter grind and it didn’t seem to do her much harm. He is not insecure enough, however, to think he needs to wade into every daily political debate with a hot take.
I don’t blame him. In politics, and media, we all have to be on it, we all have something to promote (like this blog), but most of the fun has been sucked out by the phone-eyed obsessives. It’s possible to wonder whether it distorts how we gauge public opinion, and why pundits keep calling all our elections, referendums and Labour leadership contests wrong. Note, most of them still get on TV to punditise some more after the event, no matter how many bum predictions they lay down, so they shouldn’t worry.
But then, out of nowhere, Mr Starmer’s functional approach to Twitter took a left turn this week when all of a sudden he offered a drop of personal news: that he was going on holiday, swapping, he explained, his suit for a t-shirt and shorts. He must have immediately wished he had not bothered. You’d never have guessed, but back came hundreds of demands for him to come right back here at once and sort Brexit out. Churchill did not go on holiday, he was told, nobody else to gets to go on holiday. A few of the other responses are captured in the vid below.
Within local Labour ranks Mr Starmer is known as a little bit of a slavedriver to himself, touring the country to speak to other constituency Labour parties when he’s not at Westminster or picking up casework at his office in Crowndale Road. Some say this is driven by personal ambition but the constituency membership has, in general, quickly warmed to him and liked the way he has slotted seamlessly into place post-Dobbo; no doubt just as they hoped he might when they backed his landslide selection win over Raj Chada, Sarah Hayward and the rest in 2014. This creates an intriguing tension as clearly not all are on board with the party’s European politics, to which he is the Brexit figurehead.
As reminders of this internal twist filled up his ‘mentions’ on the eve of his summer break, Gospel Oak ward councillor Jenny Mulholland was on hand to provide fanclub tweet to reassure the MP that he more than deserved a holiday.