The stakes for Sir Keir Starmer are high

Forget Boris Johnson’s Partygate… forget Sir Keir Starmer’s Beergate… is the next scandal to blow up going to be “Hikegate”?

Probably not. Hikegate is “a fictional Covid-related scandal” involving Sir Ed Davey, made up by polling firm Savanta ComRes as a test of how much attention the general public pays to politics.

Remarkably, 20 per cent of those polled claimed to have heard of Hikegate, even though it doesn’t exist. That figure should perhaps put into perspective the finding that 41 per cent are aware of Beergate and 74 per cent of Partygate.

But there is no doubt that Sir Keir’s decision to have a curry and a beer on the campaign trail in Durham a year ago is now a major political headache for him.

His announcement on Monday that he will resign if fined by the police was probably inevitable: you cannot campaign for No 10 on the basis of your honesty and integrity, then stay in place after breaking the law.

This political scandal is growing increasingly postmodern. Sir Keir has made the remarkable claim that not only is he innocent of wrongdoing – but also that those accusing him do not even believe their own allegations.

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Dominic Cummings, who has failed in his attempts to give up Twitter, has weighed in, claiming that his enemies are inadvertently “turbo-boosting the Vote Leave-Deep State operation” to remove the Prime Minister; upping the ante for Sir Keir’s alleged breach of the rules only makes it more likely Mr Johnson will lose his own job, he says.

All of this is frustrating for voters who would prefer all politicians to work on policies that will improve their lives, rather than bickering about personal behaviour.

But having made so much of Partygate, Sir Keir now knows that Durham police hold his fate in their hands.

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