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Books

A loyal servant of Britain’s deep state

Keir Starmer: a “calculating careerist”? John Stillwell/AFP/Getty

Forget the legend of Keir Starmer as a “leftie human rights lawyer”, says Patrick Maguire in The Times. The Starmer Project, a new biography by Oliver Eagleton, depicts the Labour leader as a loyal servant of “Britain’s deep state”. That might sound “faintly ridiculous”, but Eagleton, a journalist at the New Left Review and son of the Marxist philosopher Terry, has a point.

Consider the journey Starmer’s been on. As a young barrister, he defended acid house ravers and IRA members, and helped “countless men in former British colonies” avoid the death penalty. But after he took the reins of the Crown Prosecution Service in 2008, that all changed. Starmer “worked doggedly” to extradite the autistic computer hacker Gary McKinnon to the US, “only to be thwarted by that bleeding-heart liberal Theresa May”. Even Boris Johnson called him “cruel and inhumane”. After the 2011 riots, Starmer oversaw 24-hour court sittings “that tried teenagers at 3am and deported one rioter for stealing a single scoop of ice cream”. The book’s depiction of him “as a hard-nosed, ruthless, calculating careerist will cheer even the wildest Blairites”.