U.K. Labour Picks ‘Safe’ Keir Starmer as a Life-Raft in a Storm

U.K. Labour Picks ‘Safe’ Keir Starmer as a Life-Raft in a Storm, by Olivia Konotey-Ahulu.

After a decade in the political wasteland, members of Britain’s main opposition Labour Party have chosen a moderate, un-flashy lawyer as their new leader. …

Out with ideologically-fringey Corbyn, in with competent Starmer

Keir Starmer, 57, offers dry competence and seriousness after a turbulent five years under the firebrand Corbyn. …

“Maybe being boringly competent is a magical thing — because we haven’t got many boringly competent politicians at the moment, particularly in government,” said Steven Fielding, a professor at Nottingham University and historian of the Labour party. “People just flock to him like a safety raft from a sinking ship. …

Starmer was born in 1962 in south London to a nurse and a toolmaker. He was the first member of his family to go to an academically selective grammar school. After studying at the universities of Leeds and Oxford he began the 30-year campaigning career in human rights law that would set him up for front-line politics.

He represented peace activists and environmental campaigners, and led a legal challenge against the sinking of an oil rig.

Gavin Millar, a top lawyer who interviewed the young Starmer for a junior position in the late 80s, remembers him as “very radical” with strong views about the law. In a legal world of high intellects, Starmer’s first-rate brain stood out, but so too did his commitment to the protesters and activists fighting the powerful during Margaret Thatcher’s decade of Tory rule.

The two shared an office, where Starmer, who loved indie-pop bands such as The Smiths, was known for working long hours. “I got a lot of two-in-the-morning emails from him,” Millar said.