Labour must not let its glowing poll lead go to waste


WHEN the final tally was announced in the Hartlepool by-election last year, many assumed Keir Starmer’s days in Labour leadership post would be numbered.

The Conservatives had wrenched a long-standing seat from Labour’s control that had even survived the 2019 wipeout. Boris Johnson’s success Red Wall seemed to show no signs of dwindling.

Few would have believed it then, yet Starmer is not only still steering the Labour ship – the wind is carrying it at top speed towards Downing Street.

The Conservatives have long presented themselves as a tough but capable manager – not expecting the electorate to like them on an emotive level, but maintaining (if only through illusion) a veneer of economic competence.

Thanks to Liz Truss, that is no longer.

While a Labour administration is Number 10 is looking like the odds on bet now, it is vital Starmer gives the electorate a reason to vote for his party, not just against the Tories.

After years of bitterness and divisiveness in the wake of Brexit, and long dark months of gloom through the pandemic, now is the perfect time to present a bold, bright future for a weary nation.

Progressives had long voiced concerns that Starmer would govern as a milquetoast centrist, yet his promise of a new publicly owned energy company was a promising sign he might have more to offer.

This is the time for him to double down. He cannot assume Tory unpopularity alone will see him into the land’s highest office.

Now is his chance to define Labour before a new generation.

While many within the party will call for caution at this time – and not want major policy announcements to distract from the ongoing implosion of the Tory party – Starmer needs to be clear about the potential for positive change that government can achieve.

The argument for moderation within Labour is often rooted in concerns about electability. But at a time when the Conservatives have lost the public’s trust, Labour has a golden opportunity to be a progressive force in Britain.

In the ruins of WWII, the post-war Labour government brought about sweeping social reform, including the establishment of the NHS. The post-Covid Labour government must be equally bold.

Featured Image: Rwendland @WikimediaCommons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

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