Britain’s Labor leader Keir Starmer will on Tuesday defend that his party, more centrist under his leadership, is ready to govern again after overcoming years of internal divisions and being emboldened by the Conservative government’s difficulties in the face of the economic crisis.
Starmer, a 60-year-old former human rights lawyer, delivers a speech that will be the highlight of the Labor Party’s annual conference in Liverpool, England’s post-industrial north.
At a time of deepening economic crisis in the UK, he will focus on developing a ‘green prosperity plan’.
After previews of his speech, he will attack the new Conservative Prime Minister, Liz Truss, accusing her of “losing control of the British economy”.
Truss’s recent announcement of a massive government debt-funded tax cut plan has pushed the pound to its lowest level in history and pushed interest rates higher.
This shows a fear of the markets, adding to the unpopularity of the head of government less than a month after taking office and after the long political hiatus due to the death of Queen Elizabeth II on September 8th.
– “We are united” –
In this context, Labour, who have been in opposition for 12 years, met in Liverpool for a congress ending on Wednesday, more united than ever in their unanimous criticism of the Conservative government.
“I sense a very positive vibe here, we’re united,” Mary Stiles, 75, a former councilor for Central England, told AFP.
They claim to feel closer to regaining power. “In the past, when we’ve said Labor is back, it has sometimes sounded a little hollow. But this time the mood is really good,” said 31-year-old Ceri Powe.
The centrist Starmer replaced the far left Jeremy Corbyn in the party leadership in 2020.
He got off to a rocky start in a deeply divided formation but has gradually gained confidence and is now encouraged by good polls in recent months.
Truss’ difficult beginnings, elected by the Conservative base with an ultra-liberal platform, reinforced this trend: the latest poll conducted by YouGov gives Labor a 17 percentage point advantage over the Conservatives if general elections were held today biggest lead since Tony Blair (1997-2007).
– Disagreements with trade unions –
However, general elections are set for January 2025 and Labor will need to be patient to take advantage of the government’s difficulties amid the inflationary crisis that is rocking the country.
In his speech, Starmer will insist that Labor is back to being a “centrist party”, recalling the Blair years and trying to bridge the gap left by the Brexit referendum with its traditional working-class base.
But his centrist strategy has won him no friends among the unions, traditional Labor Party allies and big funders.
In connection with several strikes over the skyrocketing cost of living, Starmer urged party officials not to picket lines, which drew criticism.
But in Liverpool, some members of the formation are defending that position to show that a far cry from Corbyn’s radical years, the party is ready to reign again.
“The adults are back,” said Angela Briggs, 69, a retired principal who was attending the conference for the first time.