Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. Labour
8 July 2022

Keir Starmer’s big gamble pays off as he avoids a Durham police fine

The decision ends speculation over Starmer’s future and allows Labour to draw a sharp contrast with the rule-breaking Conservatives.

By Freddie Hayward

Keir Starmer’s big gamble has paid off. The Labour leader and his deputy, Angela Rayner, will not receive a fine for “beergate”, Durham police have announced. They found that the lockdown gathering in April 2021 in Durham, at which Starmer was pictured with a bottle of beer, was reasonably necessary for work.

“What you will always get from me is someone who believes honesty and integrity matter,” Starmer said at a press conference following the news. “We [Labour] are united, we want to press on with a plan for Britain, and the change we want is more fundamental than a change at the top of the Tory party,” Starmer said, reiterating his call for a general election.

Both Starmer and Rayner had said that they would resign if they were fined. It was a gamble designed to pre-empt the inevitable: Starmer would have had to resign eventually if he was fined. Through his announcement, Starmer also hoped to strike a contrast between himself as an honourable, decent leader and Boris Johnson, the first prime minister to receive a criminal sanction (for his own lockdown gathering) while in office. That contrast has now been confirmed and is likely to have a prominent role in Labour’s attack lines.

In addition, however, Starmer’s promise had led to months of speculation about his leadership. That will now cease. The news will shore up Starmer’s authority within the party and the shadow cabinet. He will, as things stand, lead Labour into the next general election.

Labour has been cautious in criticising the government, stung after appearing hypocritical for going so hard on partygate. Now, with the Conservative Party in freefall and a leadership election to replace Johnson set to consume the summer, Labour is set to unveil its policy platform and has a chance to cement its lead in the polls. This has been a good week for Starmer.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. Your new guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture each weekend - from the New Statesman. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

[See also: Will Starmer’s “make Brexit work” strategy win over voters?]

Content from our partners
How to navigate the modern cyber-threat landscape
Supporting customers through the cost of living crisis
Data on cloud will change the way you interact with the government

Topics in this article : ,