Allegations that a vote for Keir Starmer is a vote against meritocracy look to have popped up on social media as we enter the business end of the Labour leadership election.
In a few months from now there is a likelihood that “all three of Britain’s major parties will be led by white men educated at fee-paying schools, with an Old Etonian facing two guys with knighthoods”, one user postulated.
But the reality couldn’t be further from the truth.
Starmer, who is named after Labour’s first leader Keir Hardie, was brought up by a toolmaker dad and mother who worked as a nurse as a child.
He passed the 11-plus examination and gained entry to Reigate Grammar School, which was a voluntary aided state school at the time and only became a fee-paying school (such are the accusations) in 1976.
From there he went on to study law at the University of Leeds, graduating with a first class degree, which allowed him to undertake postgraduate studies at the University of Oxford, where he graduated as a Bachelor of Civil Law.
But it was arguably his work as a lawyer that separates him from ‘white privilege’ politicians the most.
Starmer has worked to eradicate the death penalty in several nations and has a distinguished career elsewhere.
In 2007 he was named the QC of the Year in the field of human rights and public law, and he was appointed the Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) in the 2014 New Year Honours list for his outstanding contribution to pro bono work in challenging the death penalty.
On picking up the aforementioned award, LSE Professor Conor Gearty, who read the oration at the ceremony, said: “Throughout his career, Keir Starmer has been a leader amongst academics and practitioners in human rights law.
“He has transformed the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and made an outstanding contribution to criminal justice policy in the UK, bringing a new culture of openness and public accountability to prosecutorial discretion”.
Reducing his accomplishments to phony tales of a privileged upbringing goes against the openness and accountability that this leadership election deserves.