Keir Starmer's decision to write an article for The Sun newspaper over the weekend has gone down like a lead balloon with many of his MPs. Merseyside MPs have been particularly scathing, as have Liverpool mayors Joanne Anderson and Steve Rotheram. Even frontbenchers such as Mike Amesbury, Bill Esterson and Alison McGovern have publicly lashed out.
Note that Amesbury, the shadow housing minister, cannot even spell the first name of his party leader...
Far left Labour MPs have also been heavily critical - no great surprise there. Among them was Diane Abbott who issued a couple of tweets and appeared to suggest that Starmer had broken a pledge not to speak to The Sun. However, what Starmer had said during his leadership campaign in January 2020 was: "I certainly won’t be giving any interviews to The Sun during the course of this campaign." There was no pledge beyond that.
In direct response to Abbott's complaints, The Sun brutally reminded her that she had herself written for the newspaper during her 2010 leadership campaign. She had also posed in a Sun-branded taxi.
Starmer is not the first Labour leader to have embraced The Sun newspaper, usually referred to by Scousers as 'The S*n' or 'The Scum' after it cast aspersions on Liverpool fans in the wake of the Hillsborough disaster. Ed Miliband posed with an edition of the newspaper in 2014 and faced such a backlash that he later issued an apology. One Labour councillor in Liverpool resigned in protest.
Will Starmer backtrack or weather the storm?