Sir Keir Starmer is leaving nothing to chance in his bid to secure the keys to Number 10 Downing Street. Some have even unkindly suggested that, so transparently desperate is he to become Prime Minister, that he would sell off elderly family members – or at least issue shares in them.

This started to become apparent in the Covid era when UK Tory ministers were required to have one Union flag on display during live television interviews. No problem for Sir Keir: he began to channel his inner vexillologist by deploying two flags.

His predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn was chucked out of the party for being too Socialist; party MPs were told to shun striking workers and he wants to make Brexit work. Two-child benefit cap? Nothing to see here. Wealth tax? Certainly not.

Now reports reach us that Sir Keir wants to rid the party of ‘problematic MPs’. Thus he would prevent those whom he considers to be a bit too hot to handle standing for re-election, no matter how popular in their own constituencies.

Several potentially ‘problematic’ MPs were cited as contenders for the party guillotine, including some currently under investigation for misdemeanours. I’m sure both they and their lawyers will be all over the potential consequences of being deemed ‘problematic’ during an ongoing investigation.

This, of course leads to all manner of intriguing possibilities. If a democratically-elected MP can be deemed ‘problematic’ in such a subjective way it opens up a whole new parcel of roasters.

“May we have a word, Mr Smith?”

“Aye, no bother.”

“We think you’re being problematic. And we want you to stand down before the next election.”

“Isn’t that up to the voters to decide? I’d prefer to take my chances with them.”

“Don’t be silly, Mr Smith.”

Annual performance reviews for MSPs?

NEVERTHELESS, I can see some value in the concept of ‘problematic’ politicians. Perhaps though, we can offer a far more democratic and accountable way of forcing errant politicians to behave properly

Surely we could oblige them to undertake annual performance reviews. Obviously, you couldn’t leave these to the biased whims of party advisers.

I’d be in favour of forming People’s Review panels, comprising a cross-section of the voters who actually put them in Parliament.

They would consider whether they had been true to all their electoral commitments and to examine their contributions at Holyrood. Did they speak properly? Did they speak much at all? How eloquent were their contributions? Did they leave you feeling uplifted or, as is too often the case, did they make you feel embarrassed at having elected such a semi-literate walloper in the first place?

If your elected representative is deemed to have fallen short in these categories then they’d be required to show demonstrable and immediate improvement. If they failed then they’d be required to absent themselves from the next election. As a soft landing, they could be supplied with contact details for those lobbying firms which prey on Holyrood and who are known to pay good money for bypassing the voters.

Tories on the march

EARLIER this week, we had the pleasure of spending some time with Thomas Kerr, the Tory candidate in the forthcoming Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election. He’s an impressive young man and knows what he’s about. He’s also authentically working class, which would put him in a minority were he to reach Westminster.

Just as impressive as Mr Kerr were his team of canvassers. None of these were old-school Tories in the classic sense. They were young and (slightly) older; male and female and included a Jewish person and a Muslim. One was a retired police officer who’d give 30 years to the force.

There was a pleasing mixture of working-class and aspirational middle class. Most importantly, they were in touch with their communities and entirely committed to achieving more for them than either Labour or the SNP had in almost a quarter century.

If they are truly representative of the Tories at street level then the other two had better look aboot them.

Match that

ONE of these Tory canvassers was a young Celtic supporter called John White. And so, as you do, we got round to discussing the prospects of our oldest rivals, Rangers, in that evening’s crucial Champions League qualifier.

I quickly formed the impression that perhaps some of the others favoured the Ibrox team. And so, we reverted to that recent Glaswegian phenomenon known as co-efficient diplomacy.

Thus, you can mask your deep desire to see your closest rivals being thumped by expressing the phrase “it’s all about the co-efficient” or “mon the co-efficient” or “it’ll be good for the co-efficient”.

The co-efficient, for those untutored in football's diplomatic discourse, is the overall value attached to the collective efforts of Scottish teams in European football. Thus when your domestic adversaries do well, so do you. It helps keep the peace without telling outright lies.