Peter Rhodes on big fish, shifting loyalties and the danger of Keir promising too much

“There are no friends in politics. It's a brutal business and loyalty is always fluid.” Unnamed MP's wife quoted in the Daily Telegraph after the fall of Boris.

Harmless basking shark
Harmless basking shark

Okay, Keir. We get the message. The vile, unspeakable Tories are floundering in a suppurating pit of stinking corruption tainted by the satanic figure of Boris. Labour, in contrast, is rising on angel wings and stands for truth, integrity, honour, trust and all that stuff, and can lead us to the sunlit uplands. As Boris reaps his just desserts, Keir Starmer is not merely claiming the moral high ground but ascending a Mount Everest of human perfection.

So here's a tip. Knock it off. Politics is an occupation peopled by individuals with massive egos and, in some cases, a very shaky grasp of the difference between right and wrong. It's daft enough promising purified politics at a time when politicians and the media have a proper sense of proportion. But over the past few years the bar for political sinning has been set so low that one man touching another man's knee can be described, in all seriousness, as a serious sexual assault and being a few days late registering your outside earnings is regarded as a crime on a par with the Great Train Robbery.

Truth is, when it comes to ethics, Starmer can guarantee very little because he's taking on responsibility not only for 200 Labour MPs but for the behaviour of thousands of local politicians who exercise power under the Labour flag. And he's no doubt aware that over the past 10 years no fewer than seven Labour MPs have been jailed for criminal offences.

Moral: the less you promise, the less there is to come back and bite you in the future.

Talking of bites, a heatwave headline in the online Daily Mail screamed: “Moment 12ft SHARK swam in 'waist deep' water just yards from popular Welsh beach.” Can't you almost hear the boombady-boom theme tune from Jaws? Do your neck hairs not tingle in dread?

And then we read on to discover the beast in question was nothing more than a placid, plankton-eating basking shark. But then nobody ever got paid for writing headlines like: “Harmless fish seen in sea.”

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