PMQs: Boris Johnson accuses Starmer of ’twisting and turning’
Meanwhile, former minister Angela Eagle has admitted the party has to climb “Everest” in order to take down the Tories – and had only just reached base camp. Sir Keir has closed the gap with the Conservatives since he was elected to replace Jeremy Corbyn last April – but most polls still have Labour trailing by a margin of between one and five percent.
One Labour frontbencher told Politico: “We’re still in that place where we are an increasingly effective and credible opposition – but that’s not enough.
“You’ve got to also be a credible government in waiting.”
The source admitted: “People are starting to get restless and wanting to know what we stand for. That really needs to start now.”
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Labour won just 202 seats at the last general election as Boris Johnson’s Conservatives won an 80-seat majority.
This was a result which eclipsed even the meltdown of 1983, which saw Margaret Thatcher elected by a landslide.
While prominent Labour politicians have welcomed the quiet efficiency which the former director of public prosecutions has brought to the job, they acknowledged he now needed to step things up.
Former Pensions minister Ms Eagle, MP for Wallasey, said: “The next stage has got to be about a narrative about how Labour’s values would translate into different approaches in a more coherent way than we’ve seen today.
“That’s not a criticism – I think that the building blocks for moving into that space have been put in place.
“It’s Everest. So, you know, I think we’ve made a decent trip to base camp.”
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Shadow justice minister Peter Kyle said: “Keir is doing it in the right order. He is also the most strategic leader that we’ve had since Tony Blair.
“He knows we are years out from an election and he wants to get this right.”
Nevertheless, former Labour communications chief Tom Baldwin said it was now time to start putting flesh on the bones.
He explained: “It must find a voice on Brexit again; the future of work; the shape of public services; the unity of the UK; and climate change.
“Keir deserves credit for building himself a platform and earning the right to be heard. Now he needs something more to say.”
Nevertheless, Ian Lavery, the left-wing Labour MP for Wansbeck, said he was concerned by Sir Keir’s strategy of “constructive opposition”.
He explained: “The name is in the title: Her Majesty’s Opposition.
“When the historians write about this particular point in time, they’re going to be saying the Labour Party were equally as culpable as the Conservative Party because of the way in which we seem to support what’s being put forward.”
Another, unnamed Labour official added: “There is a kind of positivity about where we’ve got to so far.
“But equally we recognise that if this is a project to get Labour elected in 2024 and we’re trying to climb towards that, we are still right at the bottom of it and we’ve got a lot more to do.”
They added: “There are going to be some bumpy months coming up, but we will only win the election under a proper vision of what Britain under Keir Starmer would look like, and why lots of people who feel let down by the Labour Party in recent years should vote for the Labour Party again.”
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