Why on earth should Keir Starmer expect anything other than his own medicine, Tom Harwood asks

Tom Harwood
Tom Harwood

You are nothing other than inconsistent if you fail to apply the same rules to the Leader of the Opposition

Published Last updated

Now to briefly return to an event in Durham on 30 April 2021.

Indoor socialising was as we know at the time against the rules.

Sir Keir Starmer, Angela Rayner, Durham MP Mary Foy, and reportedly 30 other individuals were filmed drinking in Durham after a day’s campaigning.

New evidence has emerged that the group had ordered a sizeable curry. A delivery driver from an Indian restaurant in Durham yesterday claimed that he had dropped off ‘quite a big order’ for the Labour team.

Curiously when further questioned by the Daily Mail, the driver later changed his story to say he could not remember.

There is something odd about the details of this event, of this party. First the denials that Angela Rayner was there only for the Labour Party to then admit she was, only once video evidence was presented.

And now the changed story of the curry delivery driver.

Sir Keir Starmer once claimed that this was brief stopping for food before returning to work.

We now know the beer and curry footage was taken at 10.04pm on Friday night.

Mail on Sunday Commentator Dan Hodges, someone who has been very critical of the Prime Minister over PartyGate too, perhaps set out what happened most clearly.

He wrote “It's clear what happened. They campaigned. Then they had a curry/beer. Then they all went home. Which is fine. Just as giving Boris the cake was fine. But both technically were a breach of the rules. So Labour are now tying themselves in knots.”

And that’s the nub of it. If you are to take such a strict interpretation of the rules that banned indoor socialising in both June 2020 and April 2021 as to deem Rishi Sunak as having broken the rules – who let’s remember simply turned up at Downing Street for a work meeting and briefly sang happy birthday – then your interpretation of what the rules allow, gatherings deemed quote "reasonably necessary for work purposes" – then you are giving yourself no leeway.

Now people like me have argued for some time that of course “reasonably necessary for work purposes” could include cake, as other key workers enjoyed at various points throughout the pandemic, as was reported at the time in the case of the Prime Minister, with no one minding.

But if, as has now been the case, we are to say that even the Chancellor Rishi Sunak is deemed to have broken the rules, if we are truly in this bizarre world where something that no reasonable person could have possibly thought to be a transgression at the time has now become deemed as such…

Well then the same rigid, uncompromising, inhuman, draconian interpretation must apply to all lawmakers.

Else law has not been applied evenly across our country.

Going for a curry after work, even with work colleagues, was technically against the rules.

If you have given the Prime Minister and the Chancellor no leeway on their quote unquote work gathering, if you have not considered in good faith how it was seen at the time.

Well then you are nothing other than inconsistent if you fail to apply the same rules to the Leader of the Opposition.

Starmer of course made that law too. He is a legislator. A lawyer. He voted for the rules. He pushed for harsher rules. And he pushed for the harshest possible interpretation of those rules in the case of the Prime Minister.

Why on earth should he expect anything other than his own medicine in return?