Stop the infighting and give Keir Starmer a chance
Readers respond to all the negative commentary about the Labour leader and the party conference, and call for those on the left to unite against the Tories
Sun 3 Oct 2021 10.31 EDT
How depressing it is to see even Guardian readers joining in the denigration of Keir Starmer (Letters, 29 September). What kind of country have we become when seriousness, integrity, diligence and intelligence are seen as negative qualities? Has the vacuous celebrity culture taken over our critical faculties to such an extent?
There seems to be no recognition of the political tightrope that Starmer is having to negotiate: how do you unite a party while ridding it of antisemitism? How do you win back Brexit voters in places such as Mansfield while satisfying young, radical urbanites? Those on the left who wish to see far more socialist policies need to understand that winning an election comes before any policy. The political reality is that Starmer has to preach to a very disparate congregation.
It is widely recognised that our best prime minister was Clement Attlee: a modest, self-effacing man who was efficient and pragmatic in office. If anyone to the left of this government wants to see it removed, they had better get behind Starmer.
• I don’t know why your letter writers and columnists are giving Keir Starmer a hard time about not spelling out policies. No leader spells out detailed policies midterm, or sometimes even before an election. Tony Blair was notable in saying next to nothing of substance in the run-up to May 1997 (perhaps he thought his confident manner and cheesy grin would do the trick – he was right). Margaret Thatcher gave no detailed indication of privatisations or the savage laissez-faire economic policies to an electorate who had never heard of Milton Friedman.
A lesson from history might be Harold Wilson’s administration of 1964, when he promised the white-hot technological revolution, but after the election the luckless George Brown found that his department of economic affairs consisted of a suite of empty offices and no phones.
• I watched Keir Starmer’s speech in full last Wednesday and he seemed to me to strike the right note and tone. The disastrous participation in the Iraq war meant that for the first time in my life I was unable to vote Labour in 2005 and 2010. But Starmer’s praise for that government’s economic and social achievements was well judged, overdue and went down well in the hall. A little less ideological purity and a bit more realpolitik will see Labour back to power.
• Finally, some realistic words from the Guardian for Keir Starmer (Editorial, 29 September). It would have been a disaster if he had played party politics during the pandemic. If ever there was a time for supporting the government, then that was it. Yes, Boris Johnson is more flamboyant with a great presence, but Starmer comes over as a safe pair of hands, having a grip on detail and making no grand gestures. We need this contrasting approach.
• Trashing the Labour leadership won’t get rid of the self-serving Tories. Obsessing about the correct shade of left won’t help the disadvantaged majority. Isn’t it time, as we descend into utter unrelenting chaos, to put aside the navel-gazing and begin looking at Labour as a springboard for caring for one another, and for the planet?
Burwash, East Sussex