For too long, many Labour supporters have felt unsatisfied with Keir Starmer’s leadership. He has had a tough run, having come to the post during the pandemic, when politics had been placed on the back burner in favour of cross-party consensus on health policy. However, it is undeniable that Starmer has landed himself in testy waters with some party supporters, concerning his stance on issues such as the Black Lives Matter protests and his clumsy handling of the rail strikes. Yet, as the conservatives continue to u-turn themselves into oblivion, Starmer is priming Labour to be a serious and successful rival come the next general election.
On 27th September Starmer took to the podium at the annual Labour Conference in Liverpool and spoke to his party about his plans for its future, and it wasn’t short on new policies and solutions that will get people to the ballot box. Most notably, he announced Labour’s new ‘Green Prosperity Plan,’ which will help to ‘turn the UK into a green growth superpower’. Within this plan, he pledged to unveil a new energy company – ‘Great British Energy’ – within the first year of a Labour government. This company will foster not only a green future of energy but also a nationalised one that will grant Britain ‘energy independence from tyrants like Putin’.
This revelation comes at an important political juncture; with the Conservatives allowing the pound to plummet and the economy to be run into the ground, the chance for Starmer to pounce is now. Now is the time in which Labour can be put back on the political map, and begin again to take the offensive, not the defensive stance they have maintained for too long. Policies such as the ‘Green Prosperity Plan’ will not come to fruition without commitment; I desperately hope that Starmer won’t fall into the ‘Nick Clegg’ trap of forgetting his promises and leaving the country in a far worse state. If he does ascend to Prime Minister and stay true to his word, then we may be seeing real change on the horizon.
A new nationalised energy company might feel to some like a step back into the 1970s, but this is exactly where the party needs to gain its inspiration. We are too modernised now and have swung so far to the neoliberal right, to return to the post-war consensus of the welfare state, but Labour must recall its roots and bring old ideas into new policies. It is time to cast off the cloak of New Labour and a neoliberal agenda and to remember what the Labour party champions: nationalisation, trade unions, and (most importantly) the working class. With so many being trodden underfoot by the Tories, this is what will get people voting.
Locating Keir Starmer’s opinions in the past two years has been like playing a game of Where’s Wally; he has been absent on momentous issues, and a fence-sitter on others. However, we are currently on the precipice of huge change, and with the cost-of-living crisis, the brink of a recession, and strikes across the country, Labour’s new commitments may just capture the mood of the nation. If Starmer plays his cards right and transforms his words into real actions, this initiative could mark a real turning point, not just for his leadership, but for the Labour Party as a whole.
Image “Keir Starmer speaking at the 2020 Labour Party leadership election hustings in Bristol on the morning of Saturday 1 February 2020, in the Ashton Gate Stadium Lansdown Stand'” by Rwendland liscenced by CC BY-SA 4.0.