‘Keir Starmer can dance round no-hoper PM Rishi Sunak in TV conflict’

In the TV clash of the No 10 contenders on Tuesday night a draw is a win for Keir Starmer and a defeat for Rishi Sunak.

Way ahead on points, the Labour challenger’s aware he doesn’t need to take unnecessary risks when staying off the canvass would be sufficient to take the Downing Street title.

Landing a knockout blow, stunning his wobbling Tory opponent with an NHS painful jab then putting him out for the count with an economic piledriver would undoubtedly be satisfying for King Keir.

But his corner know it is Reckless Rishi who must go for broke and even then it might not matter because the country’s stick of the Conservatives and yearning for change.

Nobody appears listening never mind hearing the Cons when polls moved precisely zero during the first 12 days of a brutal bout ending on July 4. Foolishly called by a PM heading for an earlier P45, Labour maintaining a Tory trashing 20-point lead is many people making up their minds they want a fresh face in power.

No-drama Starmer’s plan is to keep calm and measured against an occasionally tetchy, irritable and annoying Sunak praying for a game changer.

In training sessions the role of the PM is played by Starmer policy adviser Tom Webb who prepares his boss for Prime Minister’s Questions. Sunak punches below the belt but his is a 14-year dismal Tory record, Truss and all, that is nigh on impossible to defend and viewing voters will be screaming in frustration if a discredited politician richer than the King trots out the old tired line about the economy turning the corner.

The Tory armoury must be running out of bullets to fire when tax, pensioners, national service, uni degrees and apprenticeships all turned out to be blanks. Harsh realities of life are trumping Tory excuses and hollow promises when people feel poorer and are aware they’re paying more tax for worse services.

Serious questions remain over whether Labour’s policies announced so far will change Britain rapidly and radically for the better, implementing the rhetoric.

But at the first of two head-to-heads we’ll see the future clash with the soon to be past.