Let’s get one thing clear: Keir Starmer has been a disaster (so far) as leader of the Labour Party.
It comes as a relief, therefore, to learn that he is at least a good son.
Using his own money, Starmer bought a field near his parents’ home, so his mother could look after rescued donkeys. This was before he was a member of Parliament, when he was working in the legal profession.
Apparently the land is now worth “up to £10 million”, but he bought it in 1996 when it is likely to have been worth a considerable amount less.
And reporters in the Mail on Sunday want us to believe that Starmer is set to sell this Green Belt land to the local council – for housing:
Sir Keir's backyard riches… pic.twitter.com/5dlfKSV4SE
— MoS_Politics (@MoS_Politics) May 16, 2020
The claim is false. Even the MoS article features a quote from a Labour spokesperson, saying that the field is not for sale – but a strip of land next to his late parents’ house is being sold, in accordance with his father’s will.
Contrast this with George Osborne and his paddock.
I wrote about it in 2012, as follows:
“Osborne – who is, let’s remember, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and therefore should know the rules extremely well – included the mortgage for a paddock in his taxpayer-funded expenses.
“He bought a farmhouse in Cheshire, along with the neighbouring land, for £455,000 in 2000, before he became an MP – but then, between 2003 and 2009, he claimed up to £100,000 in expenses to cover mortgage interest payments on both the land and the building. The mortgages were interest-only. After 2003, he never paid a penny himself.
“When he re-mortgaged in 2005, he increased the amount to £480,000 – again on an interest-only basis – to cover the intial purchase costs and £10,000 for repairs. He was using public money to claw back his outlay on the property, so from then on, none of the money paid on that building or land was paid by Mr Osborne. It all came from the taxpayer.
“During the MPs’ expenses scandal of 2009 we learned that he had “flipped” his second home allowance onto the property and increased the mortgage. What we didn’t know was that the expenses payments were not just for the house, but for the paddock as well; it is registered separately with the Land Registry.
“Osborne sold the house and the land – both of which are now firmly established as having been funded with your money, not his – last year, for £1 million. That’s more than double the original price. He has pocketed that money; the taxpayer won’t get any of it back.”
Osborne did not need this building or the adjoining land to discharge his Parliamentary duties, nor did he pay back anything like the amount he claimed, when he was found to have overclaimed for mortgage interest on the farmhouse (and only the farmhouse).
The difference is clear.
Osborne used public funds to pocket hundreds of thousands of pounds. Starmer used his own money to help his mother.
And the Mail on Sunday attacked Starmer!
Perhaps this is because Osborne is a Conservative and could therefore do no wrong, as far as the Tory rags are concerned. Starmer, on the other hand, despite being practically a Red Tory, is Labour and therefore a target.
Fortunately the Twitterati feel otherwise:
The funny thing about the Starmer row (Btw I have no idea what his background is) is that helping out your parents because you’re now earning good money is a very working class thing to do.
— Natalie Bloomer (@natalie_bloomer) May 17, 2020
What a monster: Keir Starmer bought a field by his parents' house so his mum could look after rescue donkeys.
This is a desperate joke, but when the worst of the pandemic is over, the right-wing press will throw everything at Starmer: they are the Tories' campaign arm. https://t.co/7ce5ew9mEd
— Owen Jones 🌹 (@OwenJones84) May 17, 2020
That’s the truth of it; this is just a prelude.
Who knows what they’ll throw at him after the Covid-19 crisis finally subsides?
That’s likely to be a long way off yet (because the Tories are busily turning coronavirus into the biggest massacre of UK citizens ever to happen in peacetime).
But Starmer’s record as Labour leader suggests that this merely means they will have plenty of ammunition by then.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
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