Richard Burgon’s time is coming, one way or another

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Sep 15, 2017
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The shadow justice secretary has drawn criticism from across the political spectrum after a poor Radio 4 interview

Danny Lawson/PA

When the public starts to feel sorry for a politician it is almost a dead cert that the individual's career is heading for the dustbin.

Richard Burgon, Labour's shadow justice secretary, might not be in that position of pity just yet, but he is edging dangerously close.

It wasn't just The Brief that commented on his stonewalling performance on the Radio 4 Today programme this week. Our sister bulletin, Red Box, described Burgon's performance – in which he ducked questions over whether the Labour front bench would support illegal strikes – as a "hilariously bad interview". 

Predictably, Conservative-supporting newspapers, The Sun, Daily Mail and Daily Express, all gave Burgon a good kicking. But more worrying for the minister was that even the Labour-backing press, The Guardian and Daily Mirror, seemed underwhelmed by his inability to answer a straight question. 

Normally such sustained criticism from across the tribal divide would suggest that Burgon is not long for the shadow justice portfolio. But as David Aaronovitch, The Times columnist, pointed out yesterday, in the crazy world of Jeremy Corbyn's Labour party, Burgon's intransigent bloody-minded approach might have boosted his fortunes. 

"It wasn't just Mr Burgon's obdurate refusal that struck me," Aaronovitch wrote, describing why the party leader and his acolytes might have approved of his technique. 

"It was his contempt. He did not care what he was being asked, because he had respect neither for the question nor the questioner. This process was rigged against him and he would make his appeal to a different authority altogether. The shadow justice minister refused to recognise the authority of the court." 

Don't rule out the possibility of Richard Burgon as lord chancellor just yet.

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