Keir Starmer’s ONLY chance to become PM exposed after conference speech

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Labour’s four-day annual conference, the first under Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership, began on Saturday. Renamed Labour Connected, it is taking place online and will not feature votes, but the party’s major figures will still give speeches and take part in discussions. Today, Sir Keir called on Labour to rediscover its patriotism and pride in Britain to woo Red Wall voters who backed Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the last election.

The Labour leader used his first conference speech to make a clear distinction between his leadership and that of Jeremy Corbyn by affirming the party’s support for British “values” and what the country has achieved.

Speaking from Doncaster, Sir Keir said: “Let’s be brutally honest with ourselves. When you lose an election in a democracy, you deserve to.

“You don’t look at the electorate and ask them: ‘What were you thinking?’ You look at yourself and ask: ‘What were we doing?’

“The Labour Party has lost four general elections in a row. We’ve granted the Tories a decade of power. The Tories have had as many election winners in five years as we’ve had in 75. It’s a betrayal of what we believe in to let this go on. It’s time to get serious about winning.”

Despite his efforts, in a recent report, political journalist Rachel Sylvester argued Sir Keir’s strategy might not be enough to restore Labour’s relectability.

Ms Sylvester claimed the MP for Holborn and St Pancras will never be able to become Prime Minister if he does not strike a deal with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon first.

She wrote for the Times: “Labour is obsessed by rebuilding the Red Wall and rightly so. If Sir Keir wants to reach No 10, he must win back as many as possible of the constituencies that his party lost at the last election.

“There is little underlying affection for the Tories in these areas.

“The promise to ‘get Brexit done’ will no longer resonate when the country next goes to the polls and the pandemic has refocused attention on the health service, living standards and jobs.”

Yet, the political journalist noted, the truth is that rebuilding the Red Wall — while a precondition for success — will not be enough to get Labour back into power.

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She explained: “During the leadership campaign earlier this year Sir Keir admitted that ‘we can’t win without Scotland’.

“He’s right: it would take a landslide in England for him to reach Downing Street without a significant number of MPs from Scotland — but Labour has been annihilated north of the border and shows no sign of revival. In 1997, the party won 56 of Scotland’s 72 Westminster seats, and Scotland was a breeding ground for talent in the national party, from Gordon Brown to Robin Cook and Alistair Darling. Now, Labour has just one MP in Scotland and came fifth in the European elections there last year.

“Richard Leonard, the Scottish Labour leader who was elected three years ago on the same left-wing wave that carried Mr Corbyn to the top, has done little to restore his party’s fortunes.”

Privately, Sir Keir is reportedly being urged by senior Labour figures to have a radical rethink on Scotland.

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Ms Sylvester added: “MPs, including shadow ministers, argue that if the SNP wins the Scottish Parliament elections in May then Labour should come out in favour of a second independence referendum.

“‘The democratic mandate would be clear and it would become increasingly hard to resist,’ one frontbencher tells me. Labour would continue to campaign for Scotland to remain in the United Kingdom and — crucially — it would also insist that the terms of the break-up were agreed in advance so that Scots would know, for example, which currency they would use.

“That level of detail could turn some voters against independence.”

According to a Labour source quoted by Ms Sylvester, if the SNP win the Holyrood elections then a referendum begins to look inevitable.

The source added: “The clever thing is for us to say ‘yes we will have a referendum’ and open discussions with the SNP on what independence would look like.”

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