Starmer refuses to say if he’d give doctors a larger pay rise offer
Keir Starmer was left stuttering and repeating himself as the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg had to ask him eight times whether he would give into doctors’ pay demands and offer them a costly pay rise beyond the six per cent announced by Rishi Sunak this week.
The Labour leader spent minutes blaming the Tories’ record, giving excuses like him ‘not being in the room’, refusing to give hypothetical answers and vaguely promising to ‘grow the economy’, all while avoiding giving a straight answer to the straight question.
While the Government’s pay offer this week went down well with many public sector workers, including teachers, doctors unions threatened yet more strikes over their six per cent pay offer.
The BMA said the government is “driving doctors away” from the NHS over low pay, and the Royal College of Nursing threatened more walkouts as a result.
Rishi Sunak has said that the offer is final and that “no amount of strikes” will change his mind, as the Government battles to drive down inflation.
READ MORE: Rishi Sunak warns he won’t sign off on irresponsible public sector pay rises
Despite the high profile debate, it seems Keir Starmer has no view on the topic.
Ms Kuenssberg began his widely-anticipated Sunday morning interview by asking what he would do in this situation as Prime Minister.
He replied: “This is the government’s problem; they as good as broke our public services, they’ve created a situation in which wages have been stagnant for many, many years.”
Ms Kuenssberg cut him: “But what would you do differently in that situation?”
Sir Keir continued: “They need to sort out this mess”
She bluntly asked: “How?”
He tried again: “I would do this differently, by growing the economy. We have to grow, grow, grow our economy”.
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She interjected again: “You’ve said that already, but the specific question: if you were PM right now – it’s exactly the kind of problem that might face you, a pay dispute with a big powerful union, the doctors say they will not accept it, Rishi Sunak says no more negotiating – what would you do? Do you back the junior doctors, or do you back the PM?”
Sir Keir once again dodged the question: “We would be be around the table negotiating and we would settle this dispute, I think many people would say ‘why has it taken this long even to have one step towards progress?’ Because many people have had their operations cancelled, many people have been deeply affected by these strikes”
Ms Kuenssberg cut in yet again: “So right now if you were PM, you would keep negotiating?”
“You would keep negotiating and the implication of that is you would offer them more.”
He refused three more times to answer the simple question, with the BBC politics star resorting to pointing out some viewers will be left with raised eyebrows after the man vying to be Prime Minister is not wanting to “wade in” to an important debate.
Responding to the toe-curling interview, senior Conservative MP Simon Clarke said: “Keir Starmer says he would “negotiate” with the militant BMA”.
“The more appropriate word would be “capitulate” – if he means to offer them what they want (how?) or more likely “dissimulate” if (as he is actually doing) he’s pretending he could/would offer more with no plan to do so.”
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