Labour conference

Was Labour conference a success for Starmer?

There is relief in the opposition leader’s office this morning following a broadly warm reception to Keir Starmer’s speech at Labour conference. An Opinium poll found that when chunks of the speech were surveyed on a group of 1,330 people, 63 per cent agreed with what he had to say and 62 per cent said he was competent. The front pages, too, are encouraging for Starmer with the papers focussing in on his effort to separate himself from Corbynism and learn from the Blair years. The Mirror has hailed it as one step ‘closer to power’, the Times says he made a ‘reasonable fist’ of it while the Sun has blasted

Labour’s bid to lose the next election has begun

Sir Keir stamped the Labour conference with his personality today. And the mark he left was very bland, vague and colourless – but hard to dislike. Mum and Dad featured prominently. Sir Keir treats his parents like a couple of pet hedgehogs whose habits still amuse him as he looks back on his childhood. His father, a busy tool-maker, liked to toil over his instruments and to dispense wisdom at the kitchen table.  His mother was a hard-working nurse whose career was curtailed by a debilitating illness. He described her sprawling helplessly in intensive care – ‘Mum’s bed a riot of tubes’ – while four nurses strove to keep her


Watch: Starmer heckled during conference speech

Labour’s conference is finishing off in much the same way it started: with party members determined to shout at each other rather than take the fight to the Tories.  During Keir Starmer’s big speech in Brighton, the Labour leader has been repeatedly heckled – including as he spoke about his mother’s harrowing ordeal in the intensive care ward of an NHS hospital. One particularly worked-up Labour party member took to her feet to vent her feelings about Starmer: Starmer responded by asking: ‘Shouting slogans or changing lives, conference?’ Early on in the speech, the Labour leader was heckled for his Brexit policy and over his refusal to back demands for

Isabel Hardman

How will Keir Starmer deal with hecklers during his big speech?

What does Keir Starmer have planned for his conference speech, due to begin shortly? Not so much the words in his script, but what he plans to say if – when – he’s heckled.  Starmer has been taking quite a Neil Kinnock stance over the past few days, antagonising the hard left with his rule changes for leadership elections and refusal to back a £15-an-hour minimum wage. And you can’t channel Kinnock without expecting a few heckles in your conference speech. Those around the leader see this conference as being the last hurrah of the left LabourList‘s Sienna Rodgers reports that Momentum has instructed its delegates to heckle about the wage

Isabel Hardman

Starmer prepares to make his pitch

Keir Starmer is giving his big speech at noon today, the first one he’s been able to give to a packed conference hall since becoming leader. He seems to think that this means he needs to reintroduce himself to his own party and the electorate, and to that end we’ve been promised more detail on his backstory. But the Labour leader’s problem is not so much that people don’t know who he is as that they don’t really know what he stands for. Starmer is expected to take Labour away from the Corbyn era To that end, Starmer does plan to make a sweep of policy announcements, only a handful

Starmer tries to show his winning streak

It’s been a bruising few days for Keir Starmer at Labour conference. The Labour leader has had to deal with internal warfare and in the process lost a member of his shadow cabinet. Tomorrow, Starmer will attempt to move past the turbulence of the last 48 hours and set out his vision to the public. Given that this will be Starmer’s first conference speech in front of the membership (the last conference was remote due to Covid restrictions), it is a test for his authority and his ability to connect both with his party and the public. Starmer’s team are in an upbeat mood – they believe they have won

Isabel Hardman

Is the Labour party capable of being tough on crime?

One of the most contested grounds in politics at the moment is law and order. It’s not just the high-profile cases of Sabina Nessa and Sarah Everard, but a growing sentiment among all voters that they don’t feel as safe as they once did. The Tories know this, which is why they’ve brought forward their controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. Labour opposes that legislation largely on the basis that it includes an illiberal crackdown on the right to protest, though I understand that the shadow home affairs team were concerned that the party’s opposition to the Bill would undermine Labour’s claims to be tough on crime. Today Nick

Isabel Hardman

Starmer is missing a major trick

Labour’s party conference slogan is ‘stronger future together’. It’s sufficiently anodyne that despite it being emblazoned all over a massive set in the hall, no one mentions it at all. Instead, the slogan the party’s senior figures seem to have adopted is ‘why didn’t the government have a plan for this?’ Call for parliament to be recalled: something the government would struggle to do, thereby making Boris Johnson look weak It’s the refrain you hear over and over again on everything, from Covid cases to school exams to the current fuel crisis. In fact, on that last one, it’s really the only thing you will have heard at all from

The flaw in Labour’s economic attacks

Labour avidly disagrees with the Tories’ plan to fill budget gaps by hiking National Insurance. So what would they do differently? This was one of the many tasks Rachel Reeves had today as the shadow chancellor delivered her speech at Labour party conference. Reeves not only had to set out an alternative tax-and-spend policy but also take aim at the financial decisions made by Boris Johnson’s government. Did Reeves succeed? No doubt her job was made much easier over the weekend as an energy crisis, which the government should have seen coming, continued to splash across the front pages, exacerbated by fuel shortages at the pumps brought on by a lack of

Will this be Keir Starmer’s Kinnock moment?

Next week, when Keir Starmer appears on stage at Labour conference in Brighton, it will be the first time he has spoken to a packed crowd of party members since he became leader. Covid restrictions meant his inaugural leader’s speech at party conference in September 2020 was delivered to an empty hall and shared via a video link. It was a blessing in disguise. Starmer had an excuse for failing to make much of an impression. He was also able to deliver criticism of the Jeremy Corbyn era without fear of boos from the delegates. His audience will be less forgiving now. Over the past year, his position as Labour

Is Keir Starmer picking a fight with the left?

Sir Keir Starmer is holding talks with the Labour-affiliated trade unions today as he tries to change the way his party elects its leaders. He’s hoping that he will get the backing of Unison, Usdaw and the GMB, which party sources say will then unlock the support of his deputy Angela Rayner. Starmer didn’t share his plans to shake up the party’s voting system – by returning it to the electoral college rather than one member, one vote (OMOV) – with Rayner before he announced it to the shadow cabinet yesterday. So far the reaction has been as noisy as Starmer presumably planned it to be. The left of Labour