Keir Starmer admits deliberate snub of Jeremy Corbyn in Labour Party conference speech
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Sir Keir Starmer delivered his first major address as leader at the virtual Labour Party conference last week, where he stressed the opposition was now under “new leadership” and did not once mention the name of his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn. Instead the former director of public prosecutions referenced past Labour Prime Ministers Clement Attlee, Harold Wilson and Tony Blair.
Speaking to The Observer on this decision, Sir Keir stated he only wanted to mention winners, as all three had won the Labour Party a majority in the House of Commons.
He said: “I named three Labour leaders. Three that won. That’s why I named them.
“I was trying to get across a really important message to the party, the movement and the country.
“And that is that the Labour party needs to be a party of government.
“We can spell out our vision, we can have fantastic policies. But unless we win an election, we are not going to do anything to change lives.”
Sir Keir, who replaced Mr Corbyn as leader in April, also indicated his predecessor did not have what it takes to win an election.
Sir Keir rattled off Labour’s past election wins and insisted the leaders had the ability to “promise a better future” for the country and were “credible” and “trusted”.
He said: “The key to winning an election is to be able, if you like, to glimpse the future.
“You’ve got to promise a better future. That’s what happened in ’45, in the 60s and in ’97.
“And you’ve got to be credible. And trusted. People have got to look at you and say you and your team are a government-in-waiting, you can run the country.”
At the virtual party conference on September 22, Sir Keir said Labour had to be “brutally honest” on its own failures after suffering its worst election defeat in almost 100 years last December.
Sir Keir also indicated he would be ready to rip-up the manifesto put together by Mr Corbyn by the next election.
He said his programme “will be rooted in Labour values”, but “it won’t sound like anything you’ve heard before”.
Reflecting on his address at the party conference where he urged members to take another look at the party, Sir Keir insisted he needed to be honest about the scale of the challenge he has inherited.
He added in the first six months he has prioritised winning back the trust of voters who had abandoned the party over recent years.
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He said: “The first phase, the first six months, was about recognising the scale of the defeat and the scale of the task.
“And being really honest about that. That’s why I said some of the blunt stuff in my speech.
“And recognising that you’ve got to change. You’ve got to engage and listen and build trust.
“Trust is the most important thing. Because people had lost trust in Labour as a force for good and force for change.”
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