TIn his time last year, Keir Starmer was preparing to give his first conference speech as a Labor leader in a nearly empty room. Separated from the public due to social distancing measures and greeted with silence rather than applause, the image became a metaphor for Starmer’s early leadership: some written words were carefully spoken, but ultimately no one was listening.
This month, Starmer will get a second chance, but this time the stakes are higher. The pandemic has given Boris Johnson the opportunity to be regularly broadcast to public living rooms, while Starmer has been prevented from doing many in-person campaigns, making the conference a unique opportunity for him to broadcast his message. What that message is will be a completely different matter.
Almost 18 months after his election as leader, the main criticism of Starmer is that voters do not know what he stands for. Starmer is terribly cautious: a meticulous thinker who lacks ideas or the courage to present them. He is clearly aware of this, as evidenced by his plan to publish a 14,000-word book. “mission status”To the members of the party.
For some time, Starmer’s focus has been on creating lines to attack the Tories (“Control!” Is a favorite) and highlighting Johnson’s incompetence. There’s a lot to attack conservatives for, there always is, but a “competition war” won’t help Starmer. The strategy misjudges both Johnson’s weakness and Starmer’s task. The majority of voters to know Johnson is a chaotic evader and they chose him anyway. It is not enough for the public to stop believing that conservatives can govern; they must believe that the Labor Party could do better.
Research consistently shows that simply listing problems fuels a sense of fatalism in the electorate. Labor must carefully balance highlighting Britain’s ills with proposing solutions to them. To put it another way: it is one thing to convince the public that the conservatives are destroying the country, and another to believe that this can ever change.
Starmer is said to be developing big topics ahead of the conference, but it’s notable that the topics tracked so far, like crime and antisocial behavior, come straight from the conservative playbook. It’s okay to address issues favored by your opponents, but there is something to be said to change the conversation completely. This week, the promises made at the TUC conference to raise the minimum wage to £ 10 and provide sick pay for everyone are positive moves in that direction.
Work should be raising issues that conservatives are ignoring: since the housing crisis, working conditions and inadequate social security. Just weeks after the Labor conference ends, millions of people will be affected by the £ 20 cut to universal credit. Starmer’s speech is an opportune moment not only to drag the government over the coals, but to advocate for a welfare system that supports rather than punishes families.
Last week’s failure to offer an alternative to Johnson’s shoddy welfare plans should not be repeated. There may be an economic case for not making exact fiscal commitments before the general election, but politically it is disastrous.
Not offering alternatives sounds like you have nothing to offer and creates a void for your opponents to fill. Instead, Labor should have laid out rough preliminary funding plans to differentiate them. It began by calling for those with “wider shoulders” to take on more responsibilities, but the conference is an opportunity to define who is for and against whom: “Conservatives want to tax workers, we will tax wealth.”
But it is not enough for the Labor Party to say how it would finance social care; should establish what kind of system it would be. How will you improve services? How will you help elderly and disabled people who are left without any care? The NHS party should, of course, jump into being the welfare party as well. Free social assistance when needed, paid for through progressive taxes; The plan would target the traditional conservative demographics of older voters and homeowners who have largely failed with Johnson’s plans.
Reaching older voters doesn’t have to be at the expense of younger voters. Reformed social care and lower energy bills for older voters could go hand in hand with high-paying jobs for the young and better housing, as part of a push toward a green future with higher-paying jobs in the low-paying care sector. carbon emissions and new and improved homes. Low energy waste stock.
Starmer’s difficulties are not created by himself. Many of the troubles plaguing Labor have been brewing for decades, and Jeremy Corbyn’s crushing defeat in 2019 was reason enough to make radicals wary. But sooner or later the cautious QC will have to do something.
The conference podium is Starmer’s opportunity to offer the electorate his vision of a post-Covid Britain, one that ultimately puts more rights in the hands of workers, finances public services and offers a reformed safety net for when we are. sick or old.
Eleven years of Conservative rule in addition to the coronavirus crisis have exposed Britain’s huge inequalities, while millions more are forced into precarious jobs, debt and hardship. It is, by definition, a seismic challenge. It is also what the Labor Party was created for. Starmer would do well to remember it.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism