Keir Starmer continues to search for a vision

Sir Keir Starmer, who was not brought down by a Durham beer bottle, is still the leader of Labour Party.

Keir Starmer continues to search for a vision

Sir Keir Starmer, who was not brought down by a Durham beer bottle, is still the leader of Labour Party.

His strategists and advisers had been discussing ideas for a speech to deliver 48 hours after he was cleared.

They believed that this would be the moment when voters might start to look at him again.

He was now free from any uncertainty about his political future (he had previously said he would resign if he was fined) and could offer a glimpse at what a Starmer government might look.

However, things did not go according to plan.

He had repeatedly called for Boris Johnson's departure, but he didn't expect to make his speech as a Conservative leadership race got underway.

He had to dedicate some of his remarks for trashing his political enemies, and not just setting out Labour’s positive vision.

The latter task might prove to be more important.

An ex-shadow minister under Sir Keir said that people are looking at us, but they need to make a deal. Our mission must be defined.

Starmer supporters who were there from the beginning say that he intended to scale the political mountain in three stages, despite the fact that it was a steep one.

Phase 1 was about establishing that Labour was competent and "under new management".

If you wish, this would be equivalent to reaching base camp.

This was difficult to do when Boris Johnson, with his pandemic press conferences, dominated the airwaves.

Boris Johnson helped to create the Starmer narrative that Boris Johnson was competent, while adding integrity as an added bonus.

Sir Keir will soon be facing a new opponent.

On Monday, he tried to provoke his retaliation by ridiculing the promises of unfunded tax reductions made by some Conservative candidates.

The second, and possibly overlapping phase was to "sort the party off".

The process of de-Corbynisation began slowly at first and then became more strident.

Starmer was further able to distance himself from Corbyn's era through the EHRC report on anti-Semitism within the party. The Labour leader even suspended his predecessor from parliament.

Some Left members seeking to be parliamentary candidates have been given less attention. Their social media history is being examined with a fine-toothed comb.

The seat was not allowed to be recontested by any candidate who had been deemed safe enough to contest the highly-publicized Peterborough by-election in 2019.

Some of Sir Keir Starmer's closest friends feel that fighting internal battles, and winning them, has become too easy. They also feel that he doesn't place enough emphasis on the third phase of his leadership, the "forward offer", which is his vision of Labour Britain.

In fact, he said that just like he had sorted out his party, so would he fix Britain in today's speech.

He clearly sees these internal reforms as a way to gain more ground as he works his way up the electoral mountain.

Keir Starmer's strategists were impressed by how "Get Brexit Done", a memorable slogan that summarised Boris Johnson's election campaign, became Keir Starmer’s favorite political slogan.

The search for something that is as universally appealing to Labour has not been successful.

There have been many ideas. One former frontbencher channeled Bill Clinton's advisor James Carville and said that Labour should be focusing on the economy, not stupid.

Behind the scenes, slogans like "Go for Growth" are being used.

Today, however, a more complex formulation was agreed upon: "Rebooting the economy; Revitalising public services; and Re-energizing our communities".

The Labour leader pointed out, however, that many of the party’s plans for government were already in motion.

In response to a question from the media, he cited the PS28bn in planned "green investments" as an example.

One shadow cabinet advisor told me that this did not mean anything to voters. Each practical element of Labour’s plan had to be explained, with specific answers about, for instance, how many people will have their homes insulated free of charge and what their bills will be.

Keir Starmer, more generally speaking, not only condemned deregulation but also said that economic growth would not come from redistribution or public investment.

Tony Blair's senior staffer felt Keir Starmer needed to be bolder.

He stated that he was not certain he had caught the zeitgeist. Post-pandemic, people seem to desire a state that lends assistance.

"We used to say, "The market is where it's possible, intervention when necessary". It was correct at the time. Now, we need to be able say that we would intervene."

A former frontbencher, who was most definitely not a supporter for the Labour leader before him, echoed this sentiment.

He said to me, "The cost-of-living crisis is real. My casework is overwhelming. To solve this problem, we need to be ready to intervene on the market.

Starmer may have a blueprint that could be used to present a more radical vision in today's speech.

He is aware that there are still many tasks to be done to convince people that Labour can be trusted in the economy and that they would use public money wisely.

He has also pledged to explain how he would pay for Labour promises. He gave an example of how tax incentives for fee-paying schools could be ended - a popular Left policy - to increase state education investment. Radicalism wrapped up in fiscal responsibility may be a strategy that is repeated.

Keir Starmer spoke again about his upbringing in his speech, making it clear that he was not "born in privilege".

One shadow cabinet source believed that voters should see more of Keir Starmer.

His team was divided on whether he should resign when he said he would if he was fined.

Some saw the danger of inciting a soft leadership' contest with party members and voters comparing him with the younger frontbenchers in the team - possibly unfavourably.

Although Labour appears to be leading in polls, YouGov has been monitoring monthly responses to the question: "Does Keir Starmer look like a prime Minister in waiting at the moment?"

According to the latest responses, 22% thought he did. 58% said he didn't - lower than May 2020, when there was a pandemic and when he just won the leadership.

Now that he seems almost certain to lead Labour into next election, the shadow minister source believes that "we must see more of Keir’s personality".

He stated that he was too cautious and that some of his friends are too controlling.

"He should let his guard down, and let people see the character of his personality, his senses of humor - what he looks like after a few beers."

"Showing the person he really is and making connections will be more important than policies."

Recent presentations were made to the shadow cabinet on the recent victory of the Australian Labor Party in the election.

Anthony Albanese, the new Prime Minister, was not seen as lacking charisma. His abandoning more radical policies left behind by his predecessor was seen as electorally beneficial.

He was also helped - Keir Starmer might be here by Lib Dems – by a strong performance by a third party, the pro-environment independences.

Perhaps the Labour leader doesn't need to make drastic changes to his pitch.

Starmer answered a question at today's press conference, "It was being in opposition that is boring."

It feels as though the task of enticing voters with a vision of government has just begun.

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