Leader of the Opposition role is a poisoned chalice - Yorkshire Post Letters

From: Edward Grainger, Botany Way, Nunthorpe, Middlesbrough.

Political historians of Britain’s democratic system of Government have agreed that the most difficult job to hold on to against a background of incessant criticism from a media-led newspaper press, largely supporters of the Conservative Party, is that of the Leader of the Opposition.

Currently held by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, his position has recently become almost as difficult as previous holders of the post representing the Labour Party, with his future now in the hands of the Durham Constabulary.

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In 1924, there were the malicious eve-of-the-poll accusations that were contained in the Zinoviev letter to a Tory newspaper before an election.

Sir Keir Starmer. Picture: Getty.Sir Keir Starmer. Picture: Getty.
Sir Keir Starmer. Picture: Getty.

They alleged, among other things, that the Labour leadership had been infiltrated by Communist sympathisers.

Much more recently was the assertion that Leader of the Opposition from 1980 to 1983, Michael Foot, had appeared at one particular Remembrance Day in London’s Whitehall dressed in a ‘donkey jacket’.

Some years later his wife Jill Craigie explained that this was no ‘donkey jacket’, but was an expensive short coat that she had purchased from a shop on Saville Row to smarten up her husband.

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Then came the most ridiculous of all suggestions, again in a Tory newspaper, that Tony Blair’s successor Gordon Brown would never be a successful Prime Minister because when holidaying on a sunny beach in the South West, he didn’t appear to have the appropriate beach wear to convince the doubters that he had the necessary credentials to be Labour leader, but more significantly Prime Minister.

If it subsequently transpires that following the re-opening of the case by Durham Police that Sir Keir has broken the ‘lockdown’ rules in Durham City in 2020 and is served

with a fixed penalty notice he has stated that he will stand down as Leader of the Opposition.

This surely reinforces Sir Keir’s earlier demands over Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the breaking of a number

of lockdown rules at gatherings and parties in Downing Street.

If there is to be a new Leader of the Opposition, whoever takes over must feel like having been handed the poisoned chalice.

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