Remember When Piers Morgan Asked Keir Starmer The One Question He Said People Should Never Answer?

With a general election on the horizon, we look back at Keir Starmer's interview with Piers Morgan in 2021


by Anna Silverman |
Updated on

In June 2021, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer sat down with Piers Morgan for one of his Life Stories interviews. The fact Keir chose to do this a month after Labour’s savage defeat in the local elections – with him often accused of being boring, too elusive and unable to connect with the electorate – could be purely coincidental… though, I think we all know it isn’t.

With the UK 2024 General Election set to take place on 4 July, Keir Starmer will be doing everything he can to come across as affable, dependable and trustworthy to the British public.

His strategy back in 2021 was to head to the ITV studios in the hope that a grilling from Morgan might make him look a bit more interesting.

Piers was always going to try and get to the juicy stuff but went in particularly hard on whether Keir had done drugs at university. He asked him 14 times, with the Labour leader repeatedly dodging the question.

'Have you ever dabbled in anything stronger than alcohol?' Piers asked. Keir replied: 'We worked hard and played hard.' When pressed again he said: 'Drugs weren't my thing.' Piers went on: 'Given your clear reluctance to give me a straight, simple answer, am I right in assuming from your response that you have tried drugs but that you didn't actually like them and didn't want to take any more? I'm not saying it was your thing, but you did try it. I mean, you're reluctant to just say yes. You haven't said no.' Keir replied: 'I haven't said no.'

This back and forth went on for a bit, with Piers seemingly obsessed with getting the line that the Labour leader had tried drugs once. But first of all: do we care? Is it in the public interest whether 58-year-old Keir did drugs at university nearly four decades ago? At the moment, no probably not. He’s hasn’t preached about drugs or made his aversion to them a key part of his brand or politics, and he’s not campaigning for the decriminalisation of certain drugs. Even if he was, having tried them at university shouldn’t really undermine this.

But what’s more is that this exact question is one Piers once said no one should ever answer. When asked in a Daily Mail interview in 2008 whether he’d done drugs he replied: 'My advice is, never answer that one.' So why ask it, Piers? Well, in the hope his interviewee will let their guard slip and reveal too much. But Keir is too clever for that. Piers can spin Keir’s refusal to answer all he wants, but we know the translation is: ‘Piers couldn’t get information out of a politician and Keir beat him at his own game.’

Besides, the presenter’s obsession with this topic is even more bizarre when you realise he has admitted to trying drugs himself. In the same 2008 interview he said: ‘I've taken drugs before. It's no big secret. I'm not going to go into precise detail, but I've told my kids I've taken them […] Look, I took drugs in the past when I was a young thrusting journalist and it seemed as freely available in newsrooms as a cup of tea, but I don't any more and I haven't for a very, very long time.’

He went on: ‘I'm not proud of taking drugs and I'm not going to take them again. I worked out that they make you feel c**p.'

So there we have it. The hypocrite-in-chief pressing Keir Starmer 14 times on an illegal activity he himself has dabbled in, while admitting no one should ever answer a question on whether they've done drugs anyway.

Why not stick to important questions in future, like trying to dig deeper to discover what the Labour leader’s worldview is today, what policies he thinks are worth prioritising and what issues he’s paying lip service to but doesn’t really seem to care about. They would be interesting sides of a politician to unearth. Not whether someone did a line of coke at a gig forty years ago.

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