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Starmer must use the Labour conference to define himself in voters’ eyes... before the Tories get in first

Boosted by a thumping by-election victory in Scotland, Keir Starmer heads to Labour’s annual conference this Sunday on a high. But now the test begins, writes Andrew Grice, with the leader and his party under greater scrutiny than ever

Sunday 08 October 2023 06:30 BST
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<p>The Labour leader is under pressure from some natural allies to be bolder on policy</p>

The Labour leader is under pressure from some natural allies to be bolder on policy

On the face of it, Keir Starmer has a much easier task at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool, which starts on Sunday, than Rishi Sunak had at the Conservatives’ gathering in Manchester.

Labour is 17 points ahead in the opinion polls, and seems on course for a general election victory next year. But the problems of success make it a vitally important party conference, and a big challenge for the party’s leader.

Success brings much greater scrutiny – from voters, the media and business. The party will need to defend its leader and its policies. Some Labour insiders felt that it didn’t respond well recently when the spotlight was thrown onto its long-standing plan to impose VAT on private schools.

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