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UK politics

Starmer: if not now, when?

Cautious to the point of dullness”? Christopher Furlong/Getty

Given the “wild ride” British politics has been on for the past few years, says Camilla Cavendish in the FT, you might think now was a perfect moment for a “dogged, fastidious lawyer”. After 12 years of Tory rule, “time for a change” ought to be a powerful draw. But change to what? Keir Starmer might have turned Labour’s “post-Corbyn poll chasm” into a narrow lead, but he sounds more like he’s running an NGO than running for office. The Labour leader is “cautious to the point of dullness”, and his party’s policy documents are just “blasts of gumpf” about “world-class services” and “safer streets”. The country is in the grip of a cost-of-living crisis, with a prime minister fined by the police for breaking his own Covid rules. “If Labour can’t do better now, then when?”

The real problem, says Rod Liddle in The Sunday Times, is that Labour now belongs to the “affluent metropolitan liberal middle class”, which the white working- and lower-middle class “cannot abide”. A good example is the fact that the entire party finds the question “What is a woman?” impossible to answer. It’s one of many “once-fashionable, right-on genuflections before the idiotic shibboleths of the intersectional left” that alienates most working-class voters. That doesn’t mean Boris Johnson stands to gain – the red wall votes he won in 2019 were merely “loaned, grudgingly and with grave suspicion”, because he was considered the lesser of two evils. But it’s Labour that’s in real trouble. Caught in a bind of its own making, the party “will never win a general election outright again”.