Starmer’s speech on the crisis we face.

The immediately interesting part of this whole thing is the purple background, with a superimposed Union Jack. Was this an ode to bipartisanship, or some sort of depoliticization of a very political failure of leadership? Either way, I want to see the red colours back soon, playing with your core identity isn’t a great idea at the best of times, and it gave me New Labour flashbacks.

The speech was eloquently delivered, if a little wooden (he’s warming up bit by bit). Starmer didn’t look as frightened as he used to, and he’s warming up to this excellent format of televised addresses to the country (a welcome modernization and something Corbyn should have done much more of).

Starmer proposed welcome and inventive short term fixes, laying out clear ground between Labour and the govt on how it would handle this crisis, as well as summarizing and calling out the shocking string of govt failings throughout this. The whole catch here being that Labour has been complicit in many of these mistakes, and must be more proactive in future if it doesn’t want “hindsight” as it’s calling card.

The talk of Britain being “best” “first” “good” “great” etc, doesn’t wrangle me as much as it does some. A sprinkle of patriotic rhetorical flourishes, or invocation of family, isn’t problematic on the surface, if it’s utilised to progressive, inclusive, political ends. If it’s an empty vessel however, it becomes a dog whistle, so let’s see this as part of a policy package, not just empty bluster that won’t actually shift any votes. But hey, whatever it takes to look more appealing, I don’t mind.

This was a good outing by Starmer, and the key going forward is to Starmer (as he said he would) laying out the longer term, ambitious vision. Let’s see him match his word, making 2017’s manifesto a “foundational document”, and bringing 1945 levels of ambition. If all this happens, Labour might just have a chance.

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Toby Lipatti-Mesme

Toby Lipatti-Mesme

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Insightful and innovative UK journalism and commentary, from Toby Lipatti-Mesme.