Published On: Wed, Jan 31st, 2024

Angela Rayner’s bored expression told us everything about Starmer’s latest PMQs failure | Politics | News

People of a certain generation used to ask the question of a leader: “Is he someone you would follow out of the trenches?”

Sir Keir Starmer may be a knight of the realm but it was clear from the expressions on the faces of the Labour MPs behind him that they would not want to follow him out of a First World War trench or even into a vegan coffee bar (as is probably more the want of Labour types these days).

As the Labour leader and supposedly Prime Minister in waiting, Starmer plodded into his questions in PMQs in his now familiar manner with no inspiration, no fire in the belly and nothing to really cheer about.

The expression of Angela Rayner spoke more than the words tumbling out of the Leader of the Opposition’s mouth.

For the entire performance, she sat there with a face of rigid boredom not once flickering into life with not one muscle in her face moving.

Even when Starmer started mocking the eminently mockable Tory MP for Mid Norfolk George Freeman for quitting his £120,000 a year job “because he could not afford his mortgage” he could not raise a laugh or even a smile from his Deputy Leader.

And somehow the plight of Phil, the employee of the new labour-supporting Iceland stores, did not appear to vaguely interest Rayner either. As Starmer accused Tories of “laughing at Phil” she gave an expression of utter indifference to his problems.

But that was as nothing to the look of his shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves whose expression as Starmer ploughed deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole of Labour’s lack of economic policy was one of complete horror.

Maybe it was because Rishi Sunak raised laughs from his side as he reminded everyone that Starmer had attacked him for uncapping bankers bonuses but Reeves today had announced they would n reverse the policy.

“You can’t believe a word he [Starmer] says!” bellowed Sunak across the despatch box as he reminded them that in Davos Labour told the billionaires they would cut taxes and then in the UK insisted they would not.

The Prime Minister for all his personal woes – awful poll ratings and Tory MPs plotting his demise on an hourly basis – genuinely appeared to be enjoying PMQs as he does each week.

It has almost become a standard that a well-prepared Sunak will run circles around the supposed professional lawyer and interrogator Starmer.

Does it matter? After all, Starmer is miles ahead in the polls and on course for a record victory.

Maybe it does in the end. What PMQs exposes is that while Sunak has his problems and is not exactly inspiring the Tory faithful he is up against a man who appears to believe in very little and cannot even get his closest lieutenants to roar in support.

He is completely relying on the Conservatives to continue to implode.

Rayner’s expression of total indifference to her leader may in the end be the epitaph of a politician who when it comes to the ultimate moment at the ballot box fails to inspire anybody to want to follow him as a leader or install him in Downing Street.

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