The Labour Party is on track: we have the hunger, the desire and the ideas

Keir Starmer

Some politicians prefer to sit in offices in Westminster imagining the ways in which they can persuade people to their cause. Others get their ideas from textbooks or seminars. The voices and views of people are only heard at the very end, if at all. That’s not how I want do things.

This week I took advantage of recess and went out on the road to talk with people about our policies and principles. Crucially, I also wanted to hear what they thought – about their lives, about what needs to change, about what they need from government to help make that happen. That is because the politics of the Labour Party must come from the people it represents.

The biggest frustration of my leadership has been Covid making it so hard to get out of Westminster more to hear from people across the country. I know the best policies and the best ideas are written with and alongside people, not handed to them by Westminster.

That’s why since restrictions began to lift, I’ve been out and about at every opportunity. This week, we went to Sunderland, Burnley and Birmingham.

After all, who knows more about the needs of small business in Erdington than the small business owners I met on their high street? Who knows more about the challenges and opportunities facing Burnley than the college students and staff who live and work there?

As my dearly missed friend Jack Dromey would always say, “Erdington may be one of the poorest constituencies in the UK, but it is one of the richest in talent”. He was right. Opportunity and equity may not be spread equally in our country – but talent and ambition are. The mission of the Labour government I lead will be to unlock it.

That’s what this security, prosperity and respect tour has been all about: seeing the creativity underway in our towns and hearing the desires of communities across the country. You cannot fail to be inspired by it.

In Sunderland, I met voters who had drifted away from Labour over recent elections, but who were now giving us a second look. I spoke to around 60 swing voters in Burnley, who responded with real enthusiasm, as well as challenge to our policy proposals.

In Erdington, I spent a morning with Paulette Hamilton, a proud ‘born and bred’ resident of Erdington, leading a brilliant campaign from within the community, for her community. It will be a great moment for us if we can welcome her to the Parliamentary Labour Party in a few weeks’ time.

Our politics comes from the community up, not the politicians down. Compare that to Boris Johnson, treating Number 10 like a bunker, slamming the black door behind him to drown out the voices of the country he is letting down.

The Prime Minister is fixated on one job – his own. The rest of his cabinet are spending their time briefing newspapers about their leadership bids. I heard it time and time again this week: people want these squabbling Tory politicians to put their own ambitions to one side and get on with the jobs they were elected to do.

People are angry with the Tories, but that’s not been the whole story this week. There was huge enthusiasm for the direction Labour is moving in.

That told me one thing. Away from the chatter and intrigue of Westminster, in the places where things really matter, the Labour Party is on track. We have the hunger, the desire and the ideas. We have the momentum. And as we move forward over the coming months, the voices I heard this week will inspire what comes next.

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