Why won't Sir Keir Starmer support a ban on second jobs? 8 months ago

Why won't Sir Keir Starmer support a ban on second jobs?

Labour have wanted a ban on second jobs for years - so why now, in a crucial moment for ethical standards, won't Starmer back it?

Late Saturday evening, Sir Keir Starmer took a blow torch to Labour's plans on banning second jobs.

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The policy, which was set to be re-pledged during his recent appearance on Andrew Marr, was replaced by a half-hearted call for a "more limited jobs" ban on those holding "ministerial office".

In 2015, then-Labour leader Ed Miliband had promised a tight crackdown on "directorships and consultancies", followed by Corbyn's 2019 pledge to ban MPs from all paid second jobs, "with limited exemptions to maintain professional registrations".

Starmer acknowledged that Labour had been "saying for many, many years" that consultancies and directorships "should go" but refused to endorse an outright ban on all second gigs.

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Missing the moment?

It's a crucial point in the fight against MPs having second jobs. If Labour were serious about the policy, now would be the time to seize the reins.

According to The Guardian, more than 30 MPs could be affected if they are barred from taking up positions as consultants or advisers outside their parliamentary work - 28 of those are Conservatives.

Analysis from OpenDemocracy last week revealed MPs have earned £6m from second jobs since the pandemic began.

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Meanwhile this morning, backbencher Sir Geoffrey Cox declared a £400,000 per annum side hustle at a city law firm, while John Redwood registered a £190k a year advisory role.

For the first time since Boris Johnson entered Number 10, Labour are polling ahead of the Conservatives, proving the public take allegations of corruption seriously.

All the political capital is available - but for some reason, Starmer refuses to exploit it.

But, why?

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Perhaps it's because Starmer has been able to earn a pretty penny himself.

According to the register of members' interests, the Labour leader received £17,598.60 in August 2021 for 70 hours of legal advice.

In December 2020, he registered a further £8k for similar work.

It's also been suggested the move away from endorsing an outright ban on second jobs has something to do with Starmer's need to distance himself from Corbyn-like policies.

A ban on all second jobs (with some exceptions) would force Labour to tackle their own glass house - with many having registered side hustles over the years.

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Labour MP Wes Streeting, speaking on TimesRadio this morning called for an outright ban on second jobs in line with Corbyn's 2019 policy but was stumped when asked if this meant David Lammy should give up his weekly LBC radio slot.

Streeting noted the platform was brilliant for the party and decline to answer whether Lammy should be forced to stand down from the role.

What has Starmer asked for?

The Labour Leader compelled Johnson to “answer, apologise and act”.

Johnson declined.

What does this mean for Labour?

The government's disastrous handling of the Paterson row has seen Labour poll ahead of the Conservatives for the first time since Johnson took high office.

However, the dreadful polling has not been the godsend Labour would be hoping for, with Starmer failing to have capitalised on Johnson's shortcomings.

A mere 25 per cent of adults polled believe Starmer has what it takes to make a good Prime Minister, with nearly half of voters expressing dissatisfaction with the current Labour leader.

If Starmer were to capitalise on Johnson's shortcomings it could mean a victory in the upcoming North Shropshire by-election, triggered by Owen Paterson's resignation.

Failing to do anything could cost Labour the anti-sleaze votes currently ripe for picking.

 

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