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Cautious and Sensible: The Keir Starmer Strategy for Victory

Ewan Edwards

In a Labour Party Conference week where the Israel-Palestine conflict reached its true boiling point, the differences between the current and former leaders of the Labour Party are more apparent than ever. On X, formerly Twitter, Jeremy Corbyn called for:


"An immediate ceasefire and urgent de-escalation… ending the occupation is the only means of achieving a just and lasting peace."


He did nothing to condemn the Palestinian terrorist organisation Hamas.


Keir Starmer has made his condemnation overt, citing the lack of justification for such aggression from Palestine and his wholehearted support for Israel.


Now that the dust has settled on Starmer's speech, it can be properly assessed for its qualities. The conference slogan, "Let's get Britain's future back," left much to be desired. It seems to draw inspiration from Donald Trump's successful "Make America Great Again" slogan, suggesting a perception that Britain has lost its future. Hopefully, a more compelling slogan will emerge before the election…


Despite the lacklustre slogan, Starmer's speech had its merits. He emphasised the significance of duty, the need to repair public services, the urgency of addressing the dire financial circumstances, and the call to ignite a building revolution.


People were eager in anticipation of a response to Rishi Sunak's dilution of net zero targets, but how many times did Starmer refer to net zero? The answer is zero. This is not to say that the climate did not feature in the speech: he spoke about Labour's plan for Great British Energy, a nationalised energy company that will harness clean power and create a series of jobs, particularly in Scotland. In Starmer's words, Labour is the party that fights hardest for the environment.


Despite this pledge, there has been increasing speculation over what will happen to the green belt in the wake of increased building commitments. The green belt refers to rings of countryside surrounding the UK's major urban areas, most famously around London. The idea was to control urban growth; outdoor activities such as farming, forestry, and outdoor leisure were to be prioritised over building.


Starmer has pledged to turn what he refers to as the 'grey belt', areas of disused land within the green belt such as car parks and wasteland, into areas where planning regulations are relaxed. This is in a bid to build 1.5 million homes within the first five-year term of a Labour government. It will not sell well with environmentalists or NIMBYs.


Another key takeaway from this speech was that Starmer is not shy to voice what he thinks about class. Many have wrongly associated him with the gentry: a knight of the realm with a south-eastern accent – he must be posh. That is incorrect; his father was a toolmaker and his mother a nurse, thus, he unashamedly "grew up working class".


Unlike Tony Blair, a man he certainly attempts to emulate, he is not scared to wear his class on his sleeve. Blair, indeed, wasn't working class, attending Fettes then Oxford. Starmer stated that we as a country should not "be levelling-down the working-class aspiration", which he feels doesn't respect vocational careers or other manual jobs.


Starmer is wise to emphasise the importance of manual jobs; to construct 1.5 million homes within the next five years and initiate a national energy supplier, he'll require all the support he can muster.


Labour supporters can be hopeful about their electoral chances after winning a byelection in Rutherglen and Hamilton West on the 5th of October. Clearly, "Scotland can lead the way to a Labour Government," and this was a prominent part of Starmer's speech.


It was about time the Labour Party realised they win nationally when they win in Scotland. With the SNP crumbling, furthered by Lisa Cameron MP defecting to the Tories, there is a clear chance for Labour to capitalise.


Starmer's speech was more than just glitter bombs, although that is all most will remember. His governmental blueprints remained shrouded in ambiguity, and the minimal policy pledges echoed Sunak's speech. While arguably one of his best oratories, it affirmed his reputation as a cautious and sensible leader.


The question still lingers: did this speech spark excitement for Starmer as our Prime Minister? Even with the glitter, Keir Starmer still seemed rather dull.


Yet, in the current climate, a touch of subdued steadiness is exactly what the country needs.



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