Starmer has already made three fatal mistakes

My teenage son, who last week cast his first Labour vote, surprised me yesterday by revealing that he had been paying attention to political developments over the past few days. “I think Starmer is doing a good job,” he told me, which immediately made me nervous that he might decide to copy his father’s mistakes and pursue a political career.

But I agreed with him, because it is true. Our new prime minister has adapted to his new role remarkably well. Who knows what concerns are being expressed behind that famous black door in the privacy of the Downing Street flat? But from an observer’s perspective, Starmer appears comfortable, confident and seems to bring a sure touch to the job of leading the nation.

It is the best start anyone could have hoped for after the riots of Thursday night and the chaos in government over the past decade. Starmer looks and behaves like an adult, and having an adult in charge of government feels like a completely new experience.

In the early days of any new government, it is the appointments, rather than the policy initiatives, that catch the eye and indicate where the new administration is headed. And at least some of Starmer’s new ministers, especially those outside his own backbenches, tell us that this is someone who is in as much of a hurry to change the country as he was, as leader of the opposition, to change his party. The appointment of James Timpson as prisons minister and the new role of (Lord) Peter Hendy as rail minister strongly suggest that Starmer wants people to lead on policy in areas where they actually have some expertise. OK, this will never catch on, but it is encouraging nonetheless.

But mistakes have already been made. The fact that so many observers (including Labour supporters) refused to believe that the Prime Minister would keep her promise to appoint David Lammy as Foreign Secretary speaks volumes about the confidence those critics had in Starmer’s common sense and political judgment. But the Prime Minister has let them and the rest of the country down by elevating the Tottenham MP to one of the four great offices of state. Perhaps Starmer believed that, having refused to appoint Emily Thornberry to the cabinet (another smart move, by the way), he could not afford to be seen to be disparaging another London MP.

Whatever the reason, we now have a foreign secretary whose counterparts in Moscow, Beijing and Washington know that he changes his mind on such fundamental issues as nuclear deterrence depending on which way the political wind is blowing and depending on who takes the position – unilateralist or hawkish – that best suits his personal career prospects.

Ahead of the general election and during the campaign, Starmer appeared to be moving towards a more positive position on women’s rights, visibly moving away from the days when he criticised one of his own MPs for suggesting that only women have cervixes and even agreeing with Tony Blair (though not his female colleague, who said the same thing) that “men have penises and women have vaginas”.

If there were cynics who thought this was nothing more than a PR tactic, an attempt to try to straddle two opposing positions – that “trans women are women” (as the Stonewall catechism tells us) and “women have a right to women-only spaces” – it seems that Starmer’s decision to appoint Anneliese Dodds as Minister for Women and Equalities has proved them right.

Dodds is famous for her inability to define what a woman really is, as she told the BBC: The hour of women Last year, she said that “there are different legal definitions of what a woman actually is.” When asked again, she said: “I think it depends on the context.”

If the minister responsible for protecting women’s rights can’t say what a woman really is, prepare for Starmer to appoint a transport minister who can’t tell the difference between a Boeing 747 and the number 12 bus to Clapham.

But there has also been one serious political blunder, and since it has occurred in the contentious area of ​​immigration, it may be seen as a harbinger of trouble ahead. Having cancelled the Rwanda scheme (which Starmer dismissed as having no deterrent effect, even though it had not yet started to operate when the election was called), the government has announced that 90,000 illegal immigrants destined for a one-way journey to sunnier climes will be able to claim asylum in the UK. And, as sure as eggs are eggs, the vast majority of them will be accepted as bona fide refugees desperate to escape the more pleasant weather, good food and high culture that epitomise the hell that is northern France.

The new shadow home secretary, James Cleverly, has already condemned the move as “an effective amnesty” and if, as is likely, it is perceived as such on the beaches of Calais, we can expect a boom season for Channel crossings this summer. If the government has a plan to stop the boats, it is already running out of time to implement it.

Starmer has made a good start, but he cannot afford to make any more clumsy or party-imposed appointments to important government posts. And he certainly cannot afford to let the public suspect that his government is going to take a “come and get on” approach to illegal immigration. In the first few months of a new administration, they are prepared to forgive a lot, but it is when the honeymoon ends that he should be worried about.