LABOUR Party Conference 2022 was a lot smoother than the years prior for Sir Keir Starmer.
It was the party leader’s third annual event – but the first was done on Zoom, while last year’s was marred with infighting and controversy over the withdrawal of the whip from Jeremy Corbyn.
This year, Starmer had the easiest ride of his life. But it wasn’t necessarily down to his own competence.
Some 200,000 members have left the Labour Party since he took over in 2020 – with the majority of these coming from the Left.
While Momentum and the remaining socialists within the organisation attempted to keep up a front – whether it be at fringe events or The World Transformed political festival – it is clear leftist influence has been lost at all levels of the party.
So then Sir Keir was allowed to act with freedom and a quasi-mandate. The strategy was simple – criticise the Tories at one of the country’s lowest points, have a laugh with Gary Neville and, with the exception of the Rupa Huq debacle, remain drama-free.
Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng had essentially rolled out the red carpet for a political coronation. It seemed too easy for Starmer.
That’s precisely why Labour’s 33-point gargantuan lead, revealed on Thursday, is unlikely to last.
That’s not to say he didn’t do anything right. The ‘Great British Energy’ announcement is most welcome in all factions of the party.
But in just under four weeks in No 10 – 10 days of which were a period of national mourning – Truss has created an insurmountable mess.
It took just 24 days for the public to lose confidence in the Tories as the party of fiscal responsibility. That’s an impressive feat.
On the other side, they see an unremarkable but safer pair of hands. A milquetoast set of policies which promise to build more houses, tax the wealthier among us and commit to a functioning NHS suddenly seems radical and necessary.
“Never interrupt an enemy when he is making a mistake,” Napoleon once said. Starmer’s Labour have done this by committing to safe, centrist policy.
And even if Sir Keir’s approval ratings remain high(er than his opponent), it’s unclear whether leftists would accept a Labour leadership which has done its utmost to quieten and remove their faction.
Barring an absolute clanger, Labour will be in government come the next general election. But it won’t be because of Starmer. And millions who need further radical action may not get it.
Whether that matters for millions hit by the cost-of-living crisis is a different matter. For them, a Labour government is certainly a start.
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