After months of posturing over Partygate and Cakegate, Keir Starmer is finally getting his comeuppance just at the wrong time for Labour. Although the MSM were slow to get going with the Beergate resurgance - initially only GB News took any interest - just days before Thursday's local elections they began to ask questions of the Labour leader. This has led to multiple hugely embarrassing interviews in which Starmer is pushed on his Durham escapades, only to regurgitate the same sort of denials and absurd defences that the PM made in relation to his own lockdown shenanigans.
On Wednesday he was grilled by Susannah Reid and Richard Madeley on Good Morning Britain. Having refused point blank 24 hours previously to confirm or deny he'd been contacted by Durham Constabulary, the presenting team forced him into a direct answer. "No" came the answer, but why did he find that response so difficult previously? Is it true? We know now from the proprietor of the hotel in which he was staying that food was being served that evening, directly contradicting a claim made by Starmer last weekend.
Watch below as Starmer flounders under the scrutiny of Madeley and Reid.
Starmer was also forced to deny another story in Wednesday's car crash appearance. Madeley put it to Starmer that Labour had made an electoral pact with the Lib Dems prior to these local elections. Starmer categorically denied such a deal was in place, but the facts speak for themselves - Labour are standing in just 61 per cent of council seats in the traditional Lib Dem strongholds of the south-west compared to 97 per cent Labour contested there in 2018. In turn, the Lib Dems appear to have stood down hundreds of candidates in the Midlands and the north of England, where Labour must rebuild the Red Wall if they are to stand a chance of winning the next general election.
Click below for that exchange.
There has been some evidence of this so-called 'progressive alliance' in the run-up to election day. On the 10th of March this year Labour stood down its candidates in two Hertfordshire seats, which allowed the Lib Dems to easily hold both. On the same day the Lib Dems stood aside in Rutland, which allowed the Greens to take a seat from the Tories.
A Remain pact - between Labour, the Lib Dems and Greens - was much hyped in the run-up to the 2019 general election, but it did not materialise. While it's highly likely at the moment that Labour will be the largest party after the next general election, it is inconceivable that Labour could win an outright majority. Therefore, in order to win power they would have to seek coalition partners. They could potentially negotiate a pact with the Lib Dems and Greens before then and pin their hopes on a rainbow majority, a majority that could conceivably be achieved if the SNP are a part of that alliance.
The question is, are these local elections a test run for that scenario?