I’m an ex-Tory election candidate who’s joined Labour because of Keir Starmer

Dominic Gover said he 'got it wrong' ten years ago when he joined the Tories - now he wants out as fast as possible

In 2010 I stood in a local council election as a candidate for the Conservative party. Ten years later – almost to the month – I have joined the Labour Party.

Since Cameron and Clegg entered coalition in a Downing Street rose garden basking in golden sunshine at the dawn of the last decade, the nation has been on quite a journey.

Back then, Cameron’s ‘caring’ conservatism and Big Society looked credible to me. Today, austerity has hollowed out civic society, the government has made the Covid-19 pandemic worse and close up ahead is a damaging deal or no-deal Brexit which I see as a giant plughole around which HMS UK is circling.

Watching the so-called patriotic party smash up the country and destabilise the Union, has been a hard case of buyer’s regret. I got it wrong ten years ago when I made the leap to join the Tories. Back then, I didn’t see I was dropping into a dark, long sewer pipe like the one Andrew Dufresne wriggles along in Shawshank Redemption.

Now, I want to get out as fast as possible. Unfortunately, the light at the end of the tunnel is still at least four years away. But Keir Starmer gives me confidence it’s possible to kick the Tories out at the earliest opportunity.

Back then, I didn’t see I was dropping into a dark, long sewer pipe like the one Andrew Dufresne wriggles along in Shawshank Redemption.

I want someone who’s relatable, competent – and yes, conventional enough – to not scare off voters in Jacob Rees-Mogg’s constituency; the ones Labour must reach in order to win, barring a Scottish revival for the party. Starmer’s credentials and skills fit the bill.

Call it shallow, but the leader’s image is fundamentally important for me. The vast majority of voters never meet party leaders face-to-face. We make up our minds about who looks like a plausible prime minister based upon what we see on our screens and read on social media.

So I liked it when Starmer went on Good Morning Britain recently and pointed out the Conservatives never do so – because Piers Morgan completely terrifies them. On GMB, Starmer saw an open goal and he scored in front of a mass audience. After watching Labour shoot itself in the foot for years, this was great to see.

I also enjoy Starmer sink the hook into Johnson and wiggle it on PMQs, week after week. The effect this has on Johnson at the despatch box is fantastic. He bristles at Starmer’s questions, or he tries an alpha move by leaning way too far forward in a bid to dominate, or he sits on the bench making theatrical expressions of faux shock and disbelief.

What a contrast to when Jeremy Corbyn was doing PMQs; Johnson was almost gentle by comparison. But Starmer has got inside Johnson’s head where Corbyn was always stuck outside, holding a placard and marching around in a little circle.

Starmer doesn’t really inspire me beyond this. And that’s good. I don’t need to be inspired. I don’t mind Starmer being mainstream and having bland positions. Corbyn had a basketful of exotic opinions and they helped him not one bit as leader, I believe. I’m in Labour to kick out the Conservatives without delay and Starmer is my guy for the job.

‘You red Tory ***t’ is a favourite diss for some on the online left. But if we want to prove (or disprove) the maxim that one full term of the worst Labour government is better than a single day of the best Conservative one, then Labour needs to get onside many, many Tory voters.

The direction of travel in the polls so far is good, but it’s early days. To be in with a chance of ending the Conservatives’ dismal winning run, I believe backing Starmer is a requisite at this point. He just might be bland enough to pull off something absolutely stunning and end this Tory blight.

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