21 November 2020 08:30
THE Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was the castaway on Desert Island Discs this week (Radio 4, Sunday/Friday). "I'm hoping your choices are entirely your own," host Lauren Laverne quipped near the beginning of the interview. In the circumstances, the answer is probably. No self-respecting spin doctor would have let him away with choosing the England anthem Three Lions. That's not going to help north of the border.
(New Order's World in Motion might at least have got a pass.) Instead, Starmer (or do we say Sir Keir? Does he insist on the Sir?) went chasing the northern soul and indie kid vote with his choices of Dobie Gray's Out on the Floor and Orange Juice's Falling and Laughing. Oh, there was some Jim Reeves and Beethoven too. Laverne gave him a mildly hard time over the Equality and Human Rights Commission's findings of anti-semitism in the Labour party. Mostly, though, the Labour leader played the straightest of bats. "If we didn't tackle anti-Semitism we don't deserve to win," he pointed out. As a former director of public prosecutions, you couldn't say that he had lived a dull life, but in conversation you couldn't argue that he was scintillating company either. Actually, though, in the circumstances that might not be a bad thing. For years now politics has been full of larger-than-life characters, mostly buffoons who have casually coarsened political life. There's one in Number 10 even as we speak. Maybe a little dutiful dullness might be a good thing. And anyone who loves Orange Juice can't be all bad. Tuning in a little early to Desert Island Discs on Sunday morning I caught the end of The Archers. I have no clue who any of the characters are but listening to a mother's posthumous message to her son had me in tears. I know everything makes me cry these days, but this was a really touching piece of writing, beautifully performed. Listen Out For: Radio 2's Folk Favourites 2020, Wednesday, 7pm. Mark Radcliffe presents the best of the year, including Laura Marling.