With his leadership proposals reportedly abandoned, Starmer promises ‘new leadership’

In a new speech, Keir Starmer has made clear that Labour is under “new management”. At the same time, however, it’s reportedly the case that leadership pledges he made earlier this year have already been abandoned:


Red Wall

Starmer’s choice of warm-up act left little doubt that his keynote speech was an attempt to make a clean break from the Jeremy Corbyn era of the Labour Party. The introduction was given by Ruth Smeeth, a Jewish ex-MP who clashed with Corbyn over alleged anti-Semitism.

Smeeth lost her seat in Stoke as the so-called “Red Wall” crumbled last year and heartland voters deserted Labour. Data has shown Brexit to be the most decisive issue in why this happened. Starmer notably led the way for Labour to abandon its position of respecting the 2016 referendum and support a new public vote on Brexit.

“Keir has already demonstrated that our party is under new management but let’s be clear – the country needs new leadership”, Smeeth said.

Starmer, who served in Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, said the party has to “get serious about winning” – the implication being Labour has not been focused on electoral success in the past. This is contrary to members of the Labour right reportedly working against Corbyn to scupper any chance of an electoral victory in 2017.

“When you lose an election in a democracy, you deserve to,” Starmer said – not mentioning the impact of Labour’s move away from respecting the 2016 referendum.

Now, after four election defeats in a row, Labour is finally becoming a “competent, credible opposition” and “deadly serious about victory”, he said.

Labour Party online conference
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer arrives with Ruth Smeeth to deliver his speech (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

In a direct attack on Corbyn’s leadership, Starmer said:

Never again will Labour go into an election not being trusted on national security, with your job, with your community and with your money.

That’s what being under new leadership means.

This talk of trust comes as several of his recent leadership pledges have allegedly been quietly discarded:

There was no mention of Corbyn by name but tellingly Starmer did praise three previous Labour leaders – Clement Attlee, Harold Wilson, and Tony Blair – who all won elections. He didn’t mention that Labour actually began losing support among the working classes under Blair.

Starmer finished his speech, delivered in Doncaster, with a plea to voters who have turned away from Labour to “take another look” at the party, promising that he shared their values and “we love this country as you do”.

Labour leadership contest
Sir Keir Starmer sought to distance himself from Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of Labour (Jonathan Brady/PA)

He said:

To those people in Doncaster and Deeside, in Glasgow and Grimsby, in Stoke and in Stevenage, to those who have turned away from Labour, I say this: we hear you.


Starmer was instrumental in steering Labour’s policy on Brexit, which meant going into the general election promising a second referendum – a move which put the party at odds with some of its previously loyal voters in Leave-supporting areas.

“The debate between Leave and Remain is over,” Starmer said. “We’re not going to be a party that keeps banging on about Europe”.

But he said Boris Johnson has “repeatedly promised that he will get a deal” with the European Union and if he does not succeed “he will be failing Britain”.


Starmer has come in for some criticism for his speech:

People have also criticised Labour for adopting Tory rhetoric in a manner which has backfired before – notably under Ed Miliband:

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