Politics Explained

Why Keir Starmer’s Labour conference is going much better than you think

The headlines may have been largely focused on name-calling and McDonald’s resignation but, as Andrew Grice explains, the significance of the changes to Labour rules Sir Keir pushed through has been underestimated

Wednesday 29 September 2021 00:26
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<p>Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves</p>

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves

At first glance, the headlines from the Labour conference have not been good news for Keir Starmer. If the only maxim that matters is that divided parties lose votes, he would be in real trouble.

There was a row over Sir Keir’s plans to change the way the party chooses its leader in future, and a partial retreat that made him look weak. Angela Rayner’s refusal to apologise for branding some senior Tories “scum” will hardly help Labour regain the soft Tory voters it will need to regain power. Unusually, a shadow cabinet member, Andy McDonald, resigned in mid-conference, claiming the party is “more divided than ever”.

Yet appearances can be deceptive. Sir Keir’s allies are convinced the Brighton conference is a landmark moment for the party and him personally. “This is a turning point,” one aide said.

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