The pressure from Conservatives on Durham Police to investigate Keir Starmer – and their jubilation when Durham agreed – perfectly illustrate why the Tories have lost their way on strategy. There is no outcome of this where their position is improved.
This isn’t hard to plot because there are only two things that could happen. So let’s take what they probably think is the best first: Starmer is given a fine.
What happens then is that Starmer resigns, and one of a whole swathe of capable leaders takes his place: Cooper, Rayner, and probably half a dozen others. Labour is the party which acts with honour and cleans its own house, while the Tories refuse to follow the laws they set and don’t accept the consequences.
The Tories, though, obviously think Starmer won’t resign. He will – because it’s the right thing for the party and the country. The Tories are so used to having a leader who cares only for himself they don’t believe any other leadership is possible. Think about that for a minute.
Starmer resigning loses some Labour voters. But they don’t go to the Tories: they drift to the Lib Dems, and as we saw at the local elections, that’s a real threat to the Tories in their heartland. The Lib Dems are the more significant threat in many Tory seats, and Starmer being fined would aid them, not the Tories.
The other option is Starmer is cleared. In this case, the investigation has strengthened Labour even more. No need to dwell on how bad this would be for the Tories.
What all this shows is that Tory strategists are just not thinking ahead. They are only thinking of the next few covers of the Daily Mail, Telegraph and Sun – all of which will move on to the cost of living reasonably quickly either way, either hammering the government (Mail, Sun) or simply lying about it (Telegraph AKA Pravda).
The best Tory strategy would be to dump Johnson. Still, the party has become so infiltrated by extremists because of Brexit that it, unlike Labour, has few talents to turn to. So they are, in political terms, fucked.