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Inside Westminster

Here’s how Keir Starmer plans to win next year’s election

Labour’s manifesto will not be a firework display of new policies, and every retail offer will have to pass Sue Gray’s stringent ‘bomb-proofing’. But the smoke is already clearing around how party leaders intend to campaign for government, says Andrew Grice

Friday 29 December 2023 13:40 GMT
Keir Starmer’s Labour Party has a steady 18-point lead in opinion polls
Keir Starmer’s Labour Party has a steady 18-point lead in opinion polls (PA Archive)

We usually lose,” Pat McFadden, Labour’s election campaign coordinator, told a recent meeting of the 31-strong shadow cabinet. As he looked round the table, he counted only four other shadow ministers who had been part of an election-winning team.

The Conservatives have been in power for 67 of the past 100 years, and Labour for just 33. Only three Labour leaders – Clement Attlee, Harold Wilson and Tony Blair – have ever won an overall Commons majority. So while Keir Starmer looks likely to become the fourth in 2024, he knows he cannot take victory for granted. Many Labour minds remain haunted by two elections the party expected to win – in 1992 and 2015 – and lost.

Maintaining a huge lead in the opinion polls, currently at 18 points, has bred greater confidence and, among some inexperienced frontbenchers, perhaps even a little complacency. McFadden’s message to the shadow cabinet was designed to stamp out any hint of it, as Starmer is quick to do whenever he sniffs it.

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