Keir Starmer seeks to push Labor to the political center
BRIGHTON, England – After days of internal strife, Britain’s main opposition leader Keir Starmer on Wednesday called off the Labor Party’s annual convention, calling for his party to move to the political center and a clear break with his legacy. was intended. Leftist predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn.
Speaking for 90 minutes, and at times interrupted by obscenities, Mr Starmer emphasized his patriotism and brutality over crime, calling for a “serious program for the government” with greater investment in health care, mental health provision, education and the environment. “Promised.
The speech marked a break with Mr Corbyn’s leadership – a veteran socialist sometimes compared to Senator Bernie Sanders, a Democrat from Vermont. Mr Corbyn enjoyed some electoral success in 2017, but then in 2019 led the Labor Party to its worst defeat since the 1930s.
It was the first time Mr Starmer had addressed the annual convention in person since taking over the leadership last year, and he used the occasion to present the party as a credible alternative to the Conservative Party led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. done to.
Mr Starmer captured the shortage of truck drivers, which has plagued the country recently with long lines at gas stations and empty supermarket shelves. He accused Mr Johnson of “ignoring the problem, blaming someone else, then coming up with a half-hearted solution”. The prime minister was not a bad person, but a “frivolous” man, Mr Starmer said – “a showman with nothing left to show.”
While that line garnered cheers, it was also increasingly haunted by critics after the convention, dominated by infighting between the party’s leadership and the left.
Paradoxically, this may have helped Mr Starmer, a former chief prosecutor not known for his oratory skills, inject drama into a very long speech. More important, it underscored one of his main messages: that the party should take a centrist approach to win back voters and challenge conservatives.
Mr Starmer also seemed ready for interruptions, shooting back at one point that there was a choice between “sloganing or changing lives”.
His policy promises included stringent punishment for rapists, stalkers and domestic abusers; Increased focus on teaching digital skills in schools; Better resources for health care; and a target of spending 3 percent of GDP for research and development.
But Mr Starmer also outlined a more business-friendly stance, arguing that “without a strong economy, we cannot pay for a good society.”
Mr Corbyn’s remaining aides are not happy with Mr Starmer’s desire to leave him behind, and on Monday one of them, Andy McDonald, resigned from the Labor leader’s top team.
There have also been tensions with Mr Starmer’s deputy, Angela Rainer, who made his news early in the conference when he referred to Mr Johnson and Conservative ministers as “scum” and refused to apologize for his language. . Mr. Starmer’s other internal rivals have used this opportunity to raise their profile; They include the mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, who did not speak from the main stage but was a frequent presence at the conference’s fringe events.
Yet the main questions over Mr Starmer’s leadership are whether he has the charisma and vision to appeal to voters, and is politically savvy to take advantage of the failures of Mr Johnson, whose party continues to hold public opinion polls despite the government’s missteps. Remains strong.
Labor has an electoral challenge if it is to win the next general election, which should take place by 2024 but is likely to be called a year earlier. The Conservatives have a comfortable majority of 80 seats in parliament.
So Mr Starmer tried to use convention to re-establish his party, calculating that it was necessary for centrist voters to believe that Labor had turned its back on the Corbyn era.
One of his conflicts with the left brought about a series of significant internal rule changes that reduced the chances of anyone with Mr Corbyn’s ideological views winning the party leadership again. The new rules also limit the power of local activists to oust incumbent Labor lawmakers, some of whom were targeted by leftists.
Some leftists feel duped since Mr Starmer won his job last year on a promise to unify the party, but he has since tried to woo traditional Labor voters in the north and central of the country, who won the party in 2019. left.
He has also sought to move the party from years of harmful wrangling over anti-Semitism within its ranks. Mr Corbyn has been suspended from Labor’s parliamentary group because of his similarity on the problem.
There, Mr Starmer made a breakthrough when Lewis Allman, a former Labor lawmaker who had abandoned the anti-Semitism issue, returned to the party after adopting a new disciplinary system.
In Brighton, Mr. Corbyn was given a warm welcome by activists at speech events associated with the convention. In defiance of Mr Starmer, the conference voted in favor of nationalizing the energy industry and a national minimum wage of £15, a much higher figure than Mr Starmer.
But the votes are not binding – underscoring the fact that, along with Mr Corbyn, the left is back in the party’s political circle.
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