These are times of unequalled political crisis for Britain. The opposition bears a huge responsibility to course-correct the government when they stray from moral or economic sense (which is daily). Thus far, neither Corbyn nor Starmer have sucessfully held up the Conservative’s mistakes to their faces, though it must be said that Starmer has done a better job than his predecessor.
Right now as a person of no particular party affiliation I would say it’s screamingly obvious that some very fundamental shifts are needed if Labour are to succeed. It feels as if the more the Tories lie and con and decieve, the stronger their base support gets. The more incompetence is evident, the more they rise in the polls. It’s maddening, but that’s why a normal opposition path won’t travel in the desired direction.
Here are my thoughts on what I think Starmer should do.
1. Hit Brexit with a deadline for results
The time for opposing Brexit is past; it has happened, however the opposition must demand evidence of its success by a certain date. I would lobby for an Idependent Brexit Outcomes Inquiry by 2030 – and if that inquiry finds we are worse off, or that none of the Vote Leave promises have come true, then a committee is set up to explore and negotiate ways to Rejoin the European Union.
I believe this would be seen as a fair position by both Remainers and Leavers alike, and would likely satisfy the Red Wall enough to sway them.
The fact the Prime Minister himself (before becoming Prime Minister) led the Vote Leave campaign, is something too precious to waste, when it comes to demanding evidence of success. Johnson can be attacked on his Vote Leave promises as well as his leadership of the country into a post-Brexit world. Added to this is Johnson’s “Get Brexit Done” guarantee, he set himself up as Mr. Brexit and this must now be used to tear him apart. Already the Irish Sea part of “done” is falling to bits.
2. Commit to ending homelessness in Britain
While the Conservatives are all about protecting the rich, and helping their rich pals get richer, the opposing benches should be all about helping the voiceless, the invisible, the poor. They should focus on uplifting the downtrodden, to provably house every person in this country. That is an admirable aim and one that is worthy of a tax increase at the top end of earners. Any leader who puts homelessness at the top of the agenda is very smart, because it shows great compassion and visible results. Most importantly it helps people in desperate need of state support, and shows that proper government can be kind.
3. Form a solid alliance with other parties
If the last election taught us anything it’s that Labour alone cannot rid the country of Tory rule. Alliances must be made, possibly even an actual coalition, and working as one there will be more than enough common ground to progress the UK forwards. So, if I were the opposition, I’d get some serious heads round a serious table and find a way to destroy the Tories together, forging strong bonds with other progressives, well before the next election.
4. Be optimistic about what Britain can do
Spend as much time lauding the great, happy things about a possible future Britain, as you do criticising the bad things about Tory Britain. Balance the sharp exposures of failure with the optimistic dreams and ambitions of what can be achieved. Always provide positive alternatives to the Tory missteps. This has been something Starmer has lacked for a while; good though he is at dissecting Johnson at the dispatch box, he never offers a positive position or alternative policy in the same breath. If you hold up an alternative to voters and show how much better it is, they might just bite. And no, I don’t mean offering free broadband in a last ditch election promise. I mean tax the rich, the over privelaged, the people who profited from Brexit. And use those taxes to help the nurses, the homeless, the working class poor.