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Sir Keir Starmer takes the knee: a case study in the perils of seizing the moment

A year ago today, the leader of the Labour party knelt in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Here is how it was reported at the time:

The Independent: Black Lives Matter: Keir Starmer takes knee in solidarity with ‘all those opposing anti-black racism’

The Sun: ‘WE KNEEL WITH YOU’ Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer takes a knee in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and George Floyd protests

Sky News: George Floyd death: Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer takes a knee in support of Black Lives Matter movement

Sir Keir himself, on Twitter: We kneel with all those opposing anti-Black racism. #BlackLivesMatter

The Daily Mail: Labour leader Keir Starmer ‘takes a knee’ in solidarity with Black Lives Matter protesters as Parliament holds a minute’s silence in memory of George Floyd

I had forgotten about Parliament as a whole holding a minute’s silence for George Floyd, yet the BBC report has that as the headline and leaves mention of Sir Keir Starmer until far down the page.

And that is the point of this post. Heaven knows, I detest the BLM movement as it actually is: an engine for manufacturing racial hatred founded by self-described “trained Marxists” whose goals are, not surprisingly, Marxist. But if you got your news from the BBC or the Guardian in June 2020, you would not have heard about all that “We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family” stuff. Come to think of it, you probably still won’t have heard about it from those sources in June 2021.

It must have seemed a reasonable move at the time. The day before hitting the carpet, on June 8th 2020, Sir Keir had participated in a radio phone-in hosted by LBC’s Nick Ferrari in which he talked about the toppling of the statue of Sir Edward Colston and said,

“It shouldn’t have been done in that way, completely wrong to pull a statue down like that,” he said. “Stepping back, that statue should have been taken down a long, long time ago. We can’t, in 21st century Britain, have a slaver on a statue. A statue is there to honour people.

“That statue should have been brought down properly, with consent, and put, I would say, in a museum.”

This nuanced line had gone down rather well. Most of the callers were polite. In the press, many of the comments on his performance were favourable, even in outlets like the Mail or the Sun that are traditionally hostile to Labour.

How natural, then, to balance out that right-wing law ‘n’ order talk with a harmless gesture to show he was still on-side. Everyone else was doing it: the UK Parliament as mentioned above, a bunch of senior Democrats in the US, the Metropolitan Police in London and many others worldwide.

Yet Sir Keir kneeling is now widely seen as a political disaster. Looking at the trendlines of Sir Keir’s performance as Leader of the Opposition as measured by YouGov, “doing badly” is not much affected but “doing well” flattens out there and then, and, crucially I think, the numbers saying they “don’t know” suddenly decrease. There were quite a lot of people who started to have an opinion about Sir Keir as a potential prime minister when they saw him on his knees.

25 comments to Sir Keir Starmer takes the knee: a case study in the perils of seizing the moment

  • Flubber

    I think Gareth Southgate’s defense of the England team taking the knee is equally tin eared.

    Who will rid us of these bloody morons?

  • John Lewis

    At the risk of repeating myself just 6 weeks ago when the ESL threatened the football status quo we were bombarded by quotes from current and ex-players, pundits, media and governing bodies including the FA. Their message was simple – football must listen to the fans.

    How that tune has changed. Now those same fans are told to educate themselves rather than question the appropriateness of pre-match kneeling.

  • Lee Moore

    I’m sorry to say, Natalie, that you are ignorant. “Taking the knee’ has nothing to do with BLM and is not political. We have no less an intellectual giant than the great, OK a bit above average, Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand, to thank for this insight.

    He adds :

    There is no valid reason for booing. They’re [the fans] meant to be here helping the team, pushing them along. The players’ narrative around this is nothing to do with politics so please just support this team, support these players.

    I wonder if some of the fans come to the games with the impression that the players, too, have a particular role in the proceedings – to play football. I imagine that if the players chose to start each game with a quick omelette making display before kick off, the fans might not be entirely quiescent for that either.

  • Mr Ed

    The Right Honourable Sir Keir Starmer, KCB, QC, MP is of course an eminent barrister and ‘Human Rights’ lawyer. He is unusual amongst barristers in his almost total lack of presence (at least outside of the courtroom, I, and almost everyone, have never seen him at work in court). I would think that his total lack of impact comes from two things:

    1. He does not oppose the UK government, he simply bemoans it not being more vicious. He has not even pointed out that there is no early treatment for covid available on the NHS, which poses the question of why have a medical service at all if all it is there for is end-of-life ‘care’ (isolation) for those left to die.

    2. Sir Keir’s nasal, whiny voice probably makes 98% of the population think that his predecessor as Labour leader and Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband has come back, and is now avoiding bacon sandwiches. It is far too easy to over-estimate the public recognition of politicians.

    Sir Keir’s taking the knee passed me by completely at the time, as did all the pro-BLM agitprop from our political class, although I would have inferred that they were up to it. I was too busy to care. It was all about making a dig at Trump of course, not the police in a Democrat-run city in a Democrat-run State.

    And on a completely OT point, on the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Prince Phillip, revered as a living god in his lifetime by some Pacific Islanders, there is a solar eclipse. I think that’s more evidence than the Pope has for his being special.

  • decnine

    Gareth Southgate’s ‘Crispin Crispian’ letter wasn’t a patch on the original. Maybe he can address a different question (a bit more briefly, please). How much longer will this George Floyd tribute ritual go on? Should we resign ourselves to seeing it at the beginning of every game in the 2030-31 season? I very much hope not. So, Gareth, what is the exit plan?

  • on the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Prince Phillip, revered as a living god in his lifetime by some Pacific Islanders, there is a solar eclipse. I think that’s more evidence than the Pope has for his being special.

    Mr. Ed wins the internetz today, he totally does 🤣

  • Jacob

    For me, a foreigner, it’s remarkable how the British now copy every single gesture and silly idea from the US – the US that has lost it’s mind in this last year. The UK was once a big and proud empire.

  • TomJ

    I honestly expected this to be leading up to talking about how Sir Keir has yesterday, in a video published by Pink News, stated his intention to amend the Gender Recognition Act to allow for self-ID. To say this has not been universally well-received is the appropriate level of understatement.

  • Jacob

    BLM’s Marxism is a feature not a bug for these people.

  • JohnK

    Sir Keir Starmer is a prig and a nonentity. Let’s all agree about that. What I wish to query is the constant accusation that Sir Edward Colston was a “slaver”.

    What do we know about him? He was a successful Bristolian merchant, at a time when slavery was legal and universal. He endowed schools, churches and hospitals in his native city. He was clearly a man with what we now call a social conscience. That is why he was liked and respected in Bristol for centuries after his death, until he was cancelled last year.

    But what did his “slaving” consist of? Did he invest in the Royal Africa Company, which traded slaves? Did he own estates in the West Indies which used slave labour? Perhaps he did. Did he ever see a slave? I doubt it. He was merely trading and investing in a way which was normal for his time.

    I expect many of the people who would gladly cancel Sir Edward Colston, and Sir Cecil Rhodes, drive electric cars, because it is a fashionable way to show you support the cause of Big Green. The batteries for those cars contain lithium and other rare earth metals which are often mined by children in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the most awful conditions, far worse than any slave on a sugar plantation would have had to endure. But the drivers of these cars are good people. They don’t see the slavery which powers their cars. Sir Edward Colston was a good person too. His actions showed this. But his wealth derived in part from the work of slaves. The wokerati in their electric cars are far worse than Sir Edward. He never saw a slave. But nowadays there is no excuse for anyone not to know the conditions of the child slaves who mine these minerals. Who deserves to be cancelled?

  • Andrew Duffin

    “There were quite a lot of people who started to have an opinion about Sir Keir as a potential prime minister when they saw him on his knees.”

    It’s long been my view that the Prime Minister of the UK bows to nobody except Her Magesty. Thus when the hopeless nonentity Theresa May was reported as “begging” the EU for some meaningless concession or other, my opinion of her became even lower – if that were possible.

    No doubt Mr. Starmer’s pathetic gesture will have had the same effect in many minds.

  • Jacob

    Since many Arabs were slave holders and slave traders in past centuries, we must treat Trump’s 2017 anti-Muslim regulations as a fight against slavery.

  • NickM

    Let’s get this right. My country, the UK, was at the forefront of ending slavery and expended much blood and treasure to that end. I shall be ritualy sodomized by a Rochdale taxi driver before I will accept otherwise.

  • Penseivat

    “Since many Arabs were slave holders and slave traders in past centuries,…..”

    Many Arabs still are slave holders and slave traders today. SoT, by letting these male, military aged, invaders into this country, we shall shortly find out how the slave trade is instilled in their culture, and how the native British will be regarded. We have Arab councillors and Arab MPs. Just wait till we have an Arab majority in Parliament and an Arab Prime Minister.

  • john in cheshire

    Sucker Starmer failed to do what he’s paid to do.
    He failed to hold the government to account.
    Sucker Starmer was Home Secretary while hundreds if not tens of thousands of our children were kidnapped, raped tortured and killed by muslims.
    Sucker Starmer,in my opinion is a disgusting example of a human being.

  • john in cheshire

    Correction: Sucker Starmer was Attorney General.
    He was made Sucker in 2014 obviously by a conservative government.
    They are all rats.

  • Paul Marks

    Excellent comments from Mr Ed and others.

    I will only repeat the obvious – as is my hobbit like habit.

    The death of Mr George Floyd had nothing whatever to do with “racism”.

    The city of Minneapolis, Minnesota is not “institutionally racist”.

    Marxist BLM is, and has always been, based upon LIES.

    As for British sports – if they choose to endorse Frankfurt School Marxist BLM and you are told “do not boo – you RACIST” then DO NOT GO.

    The Big Business types who control these sports HATE (DESPISE) ordinary people – stop-giving-them-your-money.

    It is like people complaining about Hollywood films – “I hated every minute of it – I sat there in torment”.

    Then DO NOT GO – no one makes anyone go to the cinema, or to to see “England” pledge themselves to Marxism. Just do not go – and do not pay to watch them on television either.

    Mr Ed does not even own a television set – he does not give any of these people money.

    Which is better than me – by being on Sky I hand money to the Disney Corporation (which owns Sky).

    The Disney Corporations is one of the repulsive Corporations on the planet – if they had their way I would be made into soap. So it is fairly reasonable question to ask – why am I giving them money?

    I suppose it is habit – when I started to be with Sky it was O.K. (back in the Murdoch years).

    And it is just habit to stick with them, I suppose that is what all these far left Corporations rely on. Habit.

    “I have always gone to football matches” (or cricket, or rugby, or whatever() – but they HATE you, look they are taking-the-knee and chanting their loyalty to the forces of evil.

    “But I have always gone to football matches”.

  • John Lewis


    This is mainly for the attention of Paul Marks as he has rightly expressed strong (to put it mildly) opinions on the subject and might not have been aware of this largely confirmatory report.

    also: https://hotair.com/karen-townsend/2021/06/10/study-hydroxychloroquine-increases-the-survival-rate-of-severely-ill-coronavirus-patients-n395840

  • bobby b

    “The city of Minneapolis, Minnesota is not “institutionally racist”.”

    Just one small, slightly unfair disagreement with your comment:

    The City of Minneapolis is, in fact, “institutionally racist.” It has been for some years. It worsened after the last round of city council elections. It is anti-white.

    But it’s institutionally Marxist, too, and when that conflicts with the racism, the Marxism wins. Thus, BLM and Antifa burn down black property in order to win over blacks.

  • Zerren Yeoville

    Starmer’s decision to ‘take the knee’ clearly reminded some people of other occasions when Westerners were required to kneel before those who, to put it mildly, did not exactly have their best interests at heart. I imagine that few of those who made that particular connection will feel inclined to vote for him.

  • Mr Ed

    John in Cheshire

    Starmer was in fact not Attorney-General (a politician’s job held by either an MP or a member of the House of Lords) but the Director of Public Prosecutions, the civil servant responsible for running the Crown Prosecution Service ‘CPS’ (the public prosecutor in England and Wales), and was nominally answerable to the Attorney-General (for England and Wales), so Starmer was responsible for day-to-day management on decisions on prosecutions.

    In fairness to him, the CPS can do nothing unless a police force passes a file of evidence on a particular matter to them and ask for advice or a decision on charging an offence and bringing a prosecution. However, he had a platform from which he could have made a noise in a non-partisan manner, and he did not do so. He was also an obvious Labour stooge (the first name is a clue as to where he was coming from, as was his profile, and some Conservatives feigned (or were) surprise(d) at how swiftly he became a Labour MP after leaving the position of DPP.

  • Penseivat

    @Zerren Yeoville,
    There was a story I heard long ago about the new British Ambassador to China who was afforded an audience with the Empress of that country. He was told that he was required to enter the room on his hands and knees and head bowed until given permission to stand up, but his head must remained bowed. When he said that he only gets on his knee to his queen (presumably Victoria), the Chinese altered the entrance so it could be be accessed on hands and knees. The ambassador did so, but backwards. Oh, for someone like him in politics today.

  • Paul Marks

    Thank you John Lewis – although HCQ should be used EARLY and in combination with other medications – there are also alternative treatments.

    Such websites as American’s frontline doctors continue to exist – even though the medical doctors face persecution for the “crime” of saving lives.

    Most of the people who have died of Covid 19 could have saved with Early Treatment – and the international establishment deliberately smeared Early Treatment for political reasons. This is incredibly bad behaviour – but nothing is likely to be done. No one will be punished for the vast number of lives that are being snuffed out.

    bobby b. – Yes I accept your correction, I totally missed out this factor.

    If you go on Youtube you will find channels putting Minneapolis (amongst other leftist Hell holes) up on the lists of wonderful places to live – whilst (in the real world) people are fleeing the city. If it was not so tragic it would be funny.

  • Dr Evil

    I saw the picture of Starmer genuflecting in the Mail Online. I just thought one word: “prat” and scrolled on.

  • Paul Marks

    Dr Evil – I think most people had that reaction.