Steven Fielding

Steven Fielding is Emeritus Professor of Political History at the University of Nottingham. He is currently writing a history of the Labour party since 1976 for Polity Press.

Why Starmer praised Thatcher

In an event that almost forms part of Britain’s unwritten constitution, if not quite as regular an occurrence as Big Ben’s bongs, a Labour leader has praised Margaret Thatcher. Keir Starmer has now expressed his admiration for the woman who helped keep his party out of office for eighteen years. That this made the news

Why Keir Starmer should be wary of Blair

During his successful 2020 leadership campaign Keir Starmer claimed he was his own man, saying, ‘I can think for myself, I don’t need to hug Jeremy Corbyn, I don’t need to hug Tony Blair or anybody else to make a decision.’ Having kicked Corbyn out of the parliamentary Labour party, Starmer is unlikely to seek

Labour aren’t the first to fight dirty with attack ads

If you believe Britain’s commentariat, Labour’s new series of political ads, which make a variety of claims about Rishi Sunak, have polluted the nation’s politics. A consensus has emerged among them that they mark a ‘new low‘ in political debate, are undoubtedly ‘immoral‘ and could possibly encourage Q-Anon-like conspiracy theories. Even Labour front benchers Yvette

Why Starmer’s lack of vision might not matter

Tradition dictates married couples receive gifts made of leather on the third anniversary of their union. Labour leader Keir Starmer – whose party enjoys a sustained 15-20 per cent poll lead over the Conservatives – has marked his third anniversary in office this week by receiving an old-fashioned leathering in the press. ‘His party remains

What does Starmer really stand for?

Keir Starmer is no longer a leader under pressure – at least for now. When he set out his ‘Five Missions for a Better Britain’ yesterday during a speech in Manchester he did so from the vantage point of a huge Labour lead in the opinion polls and an election victory seemingly in the bag.

Is 2023 the year Starmer throws caution to the wind?

With Labour twenty points ahead of the Conservatives and leading in most policy areas – including, crucially, the ability to best manage the economy – the next election seems to be Keir Starmer’s to lose. Divided and distraught Conservative MPs appear to have accepted their fate. Indeed, some supporters of Boris Johnson and Liz Truss

Can Rishi Sunak really take on the unions?

Rishi Sunak is getting tough. Goaded by Labour’s systematic painting of him as ‘weak’, the Prime Minister has threatened ‘unreasonable union leaders’ that if they do not call off their Christmas strikes, he will introduce new restrictions on their ability to take industrial action. The desire to be ‘tough’ with trade unions is one of

Starmer is more brutal than he is boring

On the day he unveiled Gordon Brown’s 153-page report into renewing Britain’s democracy Keir Starmer showed his steely side and helped us better understand the evolving character of ‘Starmerism’. Up till now, when asked what they think about the Labour leader, many voters, after scratching their heads, have said something like: ‘boring’, ‘dull’ and ‘bland’.

What Stanley Baldwin can teach Rishi Sunak

Britons live, we are constantly told, in unprecedented times. Rishi Sunak has become the first person of Asian heritage to be appointed Prime Minister and the third occupant of No. 10 in as many months. Thanks to Brexit, Covid and the Ukraine war, the economy is in turmoil while the trade unions are more assertive

Could Boris Johnson ever make a comeback as PM?

The big hope for Boris Johnson, according to Dominic Cummings, was that Liz Truss’s likely implosion as Prime Minister might give him a fighting chance of making a triumphant return to Number 10. The first weeks of Truss’s premiership have not exactly been auspicious, leading some betting markets to already put Johnson among the favourites

Liz Truss has a Boris Johnson problem

Can a honeymoon be over before the Wedding March has even begun? Liz Truss might be about to find out. For while the shoo-in for the Conservative leadership has been wooing members, amongst Conservative party voters in 2019, she is already beginning to lose her appeal. For the time being at least, it seems that

Thatcherism is a cult the Tories should not follow

Friedrich Nietzsche may not be the most fashionable member of the conservative canon, but doubtless he wouldn’t care much. He knew that one of the main symptoms of a civilisation in decline is ‘herd thinking’. Regardless of the victor, this summer’s Conservative leadership contest has been a case in point for Freud’s narcissism of small

Could Boris return?

Asked recently whether Boris Johnson, Britain’s soon-to-be-ex-Prime Minister, would ever return to the highest elected office in the land, super-loyalist Nadine Dorries enigmatically replied: ‘Who knows what the future will hold?’ With Johnson allies reportedly looking to trade a safe Conservative seat in return for a peerage with any elderly MP hoping to secure a

Which Tory leader does Labour fear the most?

Ask any Labour politician which of the Conservative leadership candidates they fear most and they will most likely say: none of them. That is largely hubris, because Penny Mordaunt, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, the likeliest candidates to become Britain’s next Prime Minister, pose different threats to Labour’s opinion poll lead. Ideally, Labour would like

Boris’s attempt to become a second Churchill

On his way up the greasy pole Boris Johnson was keen to claim an affinity with Winston Churchill. Clearly, associating himself with the man voted the Greatest Briton in 2002 was a clever if crude ruse, on par with a B-list actor standing next to Tom Cruise in the hope some of his magic might

Boris Johnson’s fate is to be forgotten

Boris Johnson divides Britons in a way few other politicians manage. To his dwindling group of supporters, he is the hero who Got Brexit Done; to his detractors, he is a villain, edging the country towards a dark place. He is, according to Alastair Campbell, Britain’s ‘accidental fascist’. But if you stand back from the

Keir Starmer’s trade union conundrum

Where does the Labour party stand on the rail strikes? It is a question government ministers have spent much of their time demanding an answer to, rather than, as critics might suggest, trying to find a compromise that would avoid further strikes. It is, in any case, a rhetorical question: the Conservative party some time

Is Britain heading for a summer of discontent?

With workers across the economy looking set to go on strike during the next few months there is talk of a ‘summer of discontent’. The inspiration for this trope is the infamous 1978-9 ‘winter of discontent’, when despite the urgings of Labour ministers to show pay restraint, poorly paid public sector workers left rubbish piling

Keir Starmer isn’t working

Silence. That is what we heard during Gloria de Piero’s recent focus group which she held for her GB News show in her old constituency of Ashfield, one of many Red Wall seats that fell to the Conservatives in 2019. Most participants had been Labour voters up to that election but felt the party had