There seems to be a growing trend among journalists to depict the Labour leader as light on policy. Rafael Behr (Keir Starmer may not excite, but the Tories cannot lay a glove on him, 11 August) appears to be joining this group when he says that Starmer won the Labour leadership “with a campaign of vague left platitude”.
Like all Labour members I received Starmer’s campaign leaflet with his policy pledges. These included common ownership for rail, mail, energy and water; abolition of universal credit; increasing income tax for the top 5% of earners; reversing Tory cuts in corporation tax and clamping down on tax avoidance; abolition of tuition fees; a Prevention of Military Intervention Act to stop illegal wars; strengthening workplace rights; defending free movement when we leave the EU and closing immigration detention centres like Yarl’s Wood; ending outsourcing in the NHS; abolition of the House of Lords; a new Clean Air Act and a Green New Deal. Perhaps Behr could explain what is vague and platitudinous about this.
• Rafael Behr’s don’t-rock-the-boat prescription for Keir Starmer can take him only so far. The public will demand more than an appearance of competent managerialism, while waiting for Boris Johnson to self-destruct. From common ownership of utilities to abolition of the Lords, Starmer’s pledges can be the basis for a radical programme for government, which he must flesh out and articulate to address the needs and hopes of both current Labour voters and those seduced by the Boris illusion and the lure of Brexit. Thus he must not only attack the PM’s vacuity and dishonesty, but rather seek to undermine the ideology revealed by the government’s woeful response to the Covid-19 crisis.
From deliberate underfunding of public services, to bypassing existing public structures in favour of the expensive and failing privately run test-and-trace schemes, together with the general culture of cronyism in government, there is plenty for Starmer to get his teeth into. Many of us are waiting anxiously for the first bite.
Dr Anthony Isaacs