Sir Keir Starmer
The Sunday Times Magazine

Could this man be the next Prime Minister? It all felt very informal as he wondered casually into the meeting room we’d set up a studio in.

“Call me Keir,” was the first thing he said, dispelling any I thought that I ought to address him as Sir

Most politicians I’ve photographed seem to enjoy the limelight that comes with the job, but I didn’t get that impression with Starmer.

“Do you continually experiment?” That was his first proper comment, eager to find out about the people he was meeting, rather than concentrate the attention on himself. After explaining a bit about my process, I quickly moved onto the upcoming elections: “do you think Sadiq will win?” I asked. “Oh, of course he will,” his reply came.

This man seemed certain. He wants to make a difference. We discussed everything from his favourite personalities in parliament, to the realities of trying to lead a party during covid. Concentrating more on ideas and thoughts rather than putting on a display it did take a bit of pushing to get him showing his passion visually. And then we got onto football… and that was when Keir Starmer really opened up. I couldn’t quite believe the change as he started shouting with glee across the room to his aide. So I quickly took out the ball I’d brought with me, and he was away doing keepy-ups on the colorama, nearly knocking down my lights, but totally unashamed in his joy for the sport.

We proceeded to parade around the empty Labour HQ, football in tow. There were little Labour flags poking out of empty desks, places where people who now work from home never quite got round to taking their things. And then at the final corner there it was, the Houses of Parliament over the roof tops towering in the distance.

Many thanks to Russ O’Connell for the fascinating commission, to Dan Biddulph for his brilliant cover design, Oliver Mayhall and Arthur Comely for assisting so beautifully, and to Keir and his team for welcoming us despite the difficult circumstances.

Read the interview with Decca Aitkenhead here: LINK

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