Asked by Laura Kuenssberg if he had any friends who were Tories, Keir Starmer answered:
“Yes, of course I do.”
He went onto explain that when his father died in 2018, at the height of some of the Brexit battles in parliament, several Tory MPs spoke to him about the loss of his father, trying to help him through the grieving process. Starmer said the experience helped him further understand something that he already knew: that people from all political backgrounds can be decent.
This shouldn’t be controversial in 2020. And yet one only needs to look at Laura Pidcock’s answer a few years ago to the same question to see how gutsy Starmer’s response to this question is within the context of a Labour leadership contest. Labour have gone hard at the idea of the Tories being fundamentally evil as well as trying to make the fact that their leaders have on occasion been posh a big deal for the past decade. It has failed as a tactic completely and utterly. And yet, this leadership contest, Keir Starmer aside obviously, has been full of the same empty rhetoric.
Unsurprisingly, Long-Bailey’s pitch has been the most littered with this stuff. About how posh people and millionaires are awful; how Labour have to take on “the political establishment”, something that somehow doesn’t contain the second largest party in the House of Commons; endless guff about evil Tories, said in a way that assumes everyone hearing it understands this implicitly.
The one thing Blair understood that all Labour leadership candidates should take on board is the fact that just painting the Tories as evil doesn’t work and that in order to win, Labour needs to understand why people vote Conservative and how these same people can be convinced to vote for the Labour Party next time round. Not paint them all as cranks and racists instead.
Again, I know I’ve written about this already, but stop going on about your movement that no one outside of your movement cares about, which is the vast majority of Britain. Look at this, from Long-Bailey’s leadership launch pitch: “The Labour Party now has four years to reconnect with the people of our country, build a powerful movement to raise up their demands and be the force that helps them take charge.” She talks about reconnecting with people – and then, in the same sentence, goes on about building a powerful movement. They really can’t see it, can they?