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Flag, Forces, Family: Keir Starmer Marches Labour Back To the Centre Despite Corbynite Anger

© REUTERS / CARL RECINEKeir Starmer arrives to give his speech on 22 September 2020
Keir Starmer arrives to give his speech on 22 September 2020 - Sputnik International
Sir Keir Starmer was elected leader of the Labour Party earlier this year - defeating left-winger Rebecca Long-Bailey. He inherited a party that had lost four general elections in a row to the Conservatives.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has given his first speech to the party conference - albeit online - and his tone was altogether different to Jeremy Corbyn, with an appeal to patriotism and to family values.

Starmer, speaking in front of a red brick wall in the town of Doncaster in the north of England, told Labour Party members: "We are becoming a competent, credible opposition but that is not enough. I didn’t come into politics to be in opposition and neither did you. I came into politics to change lives. But you don’t get permission to act unless the public trusts you."

​In December 2019, the Labour Party was heavily defeated by Boris Johnson's Conservatives, who won many safe Labour seats in the so-called Red Wall, by promising to "get Brexit done."

Starmer’s speech was also a veiled dig at his former party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who was perceived by many voters as untrustworthy and incompetent.

​Starmer, 58, said: "Never again will Labour go into an election not trusted with national security, with your job, with your community, with your money."

The speech was clearly an attempt to bring Labour back towards the centre, after four years on the left of the political spectrum under Corbyn.

​Starmer 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’."

"I ask you, take another look at Labour. We're under new leadership. We love this country as you do," added Starmer, a former Director of Public Prosecutions.

​Starmer’s speech - which was greeted with derision by many Corbyn supporters - is believed to have been heavily influenced by Labour’s new director of policy Claire Ainsley, former head of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation think tank.

Ms Ainsley has described the values of working class Labour voters as "family, fairness, hard work and decency" which has been summarised as "flag, forces, family".

​There was also a nod towards former Labour voters in Scotland, most of whom have defected to the SNP since 2015.

Starmer promised to be a leader for all of Britain - England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

​Starmer - whose first act as leader was to try and repair relations with the Jewish community after accusations of anti-Semitism during the Corbyn era - said a Labour government would properly fund public services, create a world-class education system, and become "an active force for good in the world.”

A general election is not due until 2024, and the Tories have a majority of 80, so it is unlikely they will be forced to the polls before then.

​The British government’s priority at the moment is tackling the coronavirus pandemic and Starmer claimed Boris Johnson’s government had failed to get a grip on the situation.

"Instead of getting a grip, the government has lost control. Our testing system collapsed just when we needed it most," said Starmer, adding: “There should be nothing inevitable about a second lockdown.”

​A YouGov opinion poll published on Friday, 18 September, had Labour and the Conservatives neck and neck on 40 percent each.

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