BACK in the day when Keir Starmer was boasting about advocating the abolition of the monarchy, he was not some young and crazy punk in a God Save The Queen T-shirt.
He was a 39-year-old senior barrister — a Queen’s Counsel, ironically enough.
“I got made a Queen’s Counsel, which is odd since I often used to propose the abolition of the monarchy,” snickers Starmer in 'n 2005 knip, unearthed by a political blog.
Now you might think that you know what you believe by the time you are pushing 40.
But since he became Labour leader, Starmer has re-invented himself as a born-again patriot, brandishing the Union Flag like a comfort blanket in speeches and simpering that he would only like to “downsize” the monarchy.
Some — including members of Starmer’s own party — see this as a cynical marketing ploy to reconnect Labour to all those lost working-class voters repulsed by Jeremy Corbyn’s affection for Hamas, Hezbollah and the IRA.
“The Tory Party has absorbed Ukip and now Labour appears to be absorbing the language and symbols of the Tory Party,” thundered Labour MP Clive Lewis.
Labour lost the last General Election because Corbyn and his swivel-eyed acolytes gave every impression of despising this country.
Starmer campaigned to get Corbyn elected — twice! — but has since bent over backwards to display his respect and commitment to this country and its traditions.
And when Starmer paid tribute to the Queen after her death, his words seemed to come from the heart.
Die meeste gelees in The Sun
“Vandag, our country, our people, this House, are united in mourning,” Starmer told Parliament, his voice choking with emotion.
“Queen Elizabeth II was this great country’s greatest monarch.”
If it was an act, it fooled me. As a former Labour leader and member of the Privy Council, Jeremy Corbyn was invited to attend the Accession Council for King Charles III. He did not turn up.
It is unthinkable that Starmer would be that rude — or that stupid.
Because it is now clear that — no matter how badly the Tories cock it up — our people will never vote for a Labour Party that openly despises this country.
Some find Starmer’s patriotism contrived.
Aan my, it appears more genuine than Tony Blair’s slick, shallow soundbites about “true patriotism” and “new patriotism”.
And people do change their minds.
Liz Truss — who also advocated abolishing the monarchy in her younger days — went from campaigning for Remain in 2016 to being Brexit’s strongest advocate today.
Perhaps we should see Starmer’s belated love for the institution of monarchy in the same light.
It is always the convert who believes most fanatically in the cause.
Starmer has ordered that delegates at the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool will sing the National Anthem today.
Risky! Will some comrades boo?
Before the Queen was even buried, Labour MP Clive Lewis described the monarchy as: “The backbone of a power structure that traces its roots back to feudalism.”
Even as a nation mourned the greatest head of state in human history, there were sneers and jeers.
Mr Lewis said that the long queues to see the Queen’s coffin filled him with “despair.”
Many Labour activists probably feel the same.
Aan my, Starmer’s patriotism — like Liz Truss’s belief in Brexit — seems genuine.
Maybe I am a mug. Maybe it is all marketing.
But Starmer certainly understands something about the British people that all those Red Flag-waving socialists never will.
Though cowards flinch and comrades sneer, we’ll keep the Union Jack flying here.
Some like it swot
THE unlikeliest love story of the 20th Century was the marriage between super-nerd Arthur Miller, a bookish, bespectacled playwright, and the greatest sex symbol in human history – is in Januarie oorlede.
The odd couple are brilliantly recreated in the upcoming Netflix drama, Blonde, released this Wednesday, met Ana de Armas as Marilyn in her steamy prime and Adrien Brody as a four-eyed bookworm who got lucky in love.
And if the Marilyn-Miller relationship seems implausible to us today – a lot like Katie Price hooking up with Stephen Hawking – imagine how it seemed when they married in 1956 and Marilyn was at the peak of her fame.
But her five-year marriage to Miller was the longest and most successful relationship of her short, tragic life.
Monroe is said to have loved Miller, her third husband, because he had an unfeasibly large – wait for it – brain.
But what on earth did he see in her?
TWO communities in Leicester – Hindus of Indian descent and Muslims of Pakistani descent – are at each other’s throats.
The country looks on, bewildered.
In all the national debate about immigration over the last 60 jare, did anyone ever think for one moment about how different ethnic communities were going to get along with each other?
How naive we were.
Margot’s mourning sunshine
WHEN there’s a death in the family, you always expect the world to pause and allow you to catch your breath.
And this entire country just had a death in the family.
But the world doesn’t stop turning. Even the flags are no longer flying at half-mast for our late Queen.
That doesn’t mean we stop grieving.
Margot Robbie had a red carpet to walk down on Wednesday night for the premiere of her new film, Amsterdam.
Robbie was dazzling, radiant – but the Australian actress wore the black of mourning. And she looked perfect.
Biggest Brit fight
lIF Tyson Fury fights Anthony Joshua in Cardiff on December 3, it will be the biggest sporting event in these islands since 1966.
Nothing else comes even close. Fury is the unbeaten WBC champion, a freakishly light-footed heavyweight who can dance even better than he punches, while AJ is the tragically fallen golden boy looking for a final shot at redemption.
Credit to both of them for taking the fight of the century to Cardiff, rather than Riyadh or Doha.
All credit to the Gypsy King for offering AJ the fight.
And all credit to AJ for having the bottle to face Fury, who will be a massive odds-on favourite. Somewhere Rocky Balboa is smiling.
Crown block to ruin
THE most eloquent argument for monarchy that I have ever seen is the planet’s two great dictators shaking hands at a strongman summit in Samarkand a week ago.
Russian President Vladimir Poetin – currently getting his rabble army of rapists, drunks and murderers kicked out of free Ukraine.
And Chinese President Xi Jinping – currently trashing the Chinese economy with his bonkers pursuit of Zero Covid, still locking down massive cities while the rest of the world looks at Covid in its rear-view mirror.
For all their hardman posturing, Xi and Putin are pathetically weak men.
Even as Xi rattles his rusty sabre at free Taiwan. Even as Putin threatens to nuke the West.
Even as he threatens to draft one million unwilling Russians – sparking a dash to the border by those reluctant to be a despot’s cannon fodder.
Thank God for our monarchy. It prevents incompetent madmen from leading us to ruin.