Labor feels power amid financial turmoil in the UK, but there is still work to be done

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LIVERPOOL — Britain’s opposition leader Keir Starmer used his party’s annual conference this week to deliver a clear message: It was his best chance to win power since 2010 as the new government’s economic strategy took a dive the financial markets in chaos and the pound collapsed.

After four straight general election defeats, Labor is now seen by voters as best placed to manage the economy after the government of new Prime Minister Liz Truss unveiled a budget package that sparked a massive sell-off. British bonds, a sharp fall in the pound and the rare criticism of the IMF.

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Labor is in a very different place from even a year ago, when battles with former leader Jeremy Corbyn’s left-wing supporters underscored deep divisions within the party after a punishing election defeat in 2019.

He still has work to do to emulate the kind of sustained support enjoyed by former Labor Prime Minister Tony Blair, who ruled for 10 years, and convince the public that they and the country will be better off under his leadership. .

There is also more to be done to present a clear alternative to the ruling Tories, who have been in power for 12 years, in part by portraying Labor as untrustworthy on the economy, as they were at the time of the crisis financial year of 2008.

« We have worked hard for the past two years to change our party, to remake our party, » Starmer told the conference in the northern English city of Liverpool. “We really are a government in waiting and we have a chance to present our ideas for the country. This confidence is worth its weight in gold.

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Starmer ended his speech at the conference by saying it was Labour’s « time ». However, he acknowledged that voters need to see the party set out policies that will tackle the range of challenges facing Britain in everything from the cost of living crisis to the future of the UK and Brexit.

Labor took the biggest lead in the polls over the Tories in at least two decades after the government’s mini-budget last week when Finance Minister Kwasi Kwarteng tabled a package of tax cuts and deregulation in a sweeping policy shift that has baffled global investors.

Forty-five per cent of voters said they would support Labor, compared to 28 per cent opting for the Conservatives, according to a YouGov poll this week, with the 17-point lead being the largest ever recorded for Labor by the surveyor for more than two years. for decades he has been conducting investigations.

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It came as the pound slumped to a record low on Monday after Kwarteng announced a huge increase in borrowing to pay for the biggest tax cuts since 1972.

This has driven a wedge with Labour, which has criticized the plan for benefiting the wealthy and ignoring the lowest paid workers and the struggling country’s national health service.

Labor positions itself as the party of fiscal responsibility and claims it stands for ‘sound money’. Labor has pledged to develop a long-term growth plan involving less borrowing than the government’s economic strategy.

Starmer’s team, or shadow cabinet, has been ordered not to make any unstated political statements to show the party can be trusted with public funds, a source close to the leadership said.

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Under the banner of a ‘greener and fairer future’, Labor spent the last three days of its conference unveiling a range of new policies, ranging from increasing the number of doctors and nurses in health services to investment in green technologies and school projects. to help working parents.

Starmer’s team say the party is now more unified and is at the center of British politics after it turned left under Corbyn with promises to nationalize large swaths of industry.

The challenge now will be to unveil a set of fully costed policies while remaining popular.

Andy Burnham, the Labor mayor of Manchester, said the party had only done « half the job » of attracting voters ahead of the next election due to be held before 2024.

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« The opportunity is there, but what we have done so far is not enough, » he said. “Now we have to go further and answer this question: what are you going to do? And we say boom, boom, boom.

Almost half of voters say the Labor Party has not produced clear policy ideas, according to a Savanta ComRes poll.

Chris Curtis, the pollster at Opinium, said Labor now had more confidence than the Tories on most economic issues, such as who is best placed to deal with the cost of living crisis or how to control inflation.

In the last poll before Starmer took over as Labor leader in 2020, Curtis said the party trailed the Conservatives by 39 percentage points when voters were asked which party was best placed to lead the Labor Party. ‘economy. In the latest poll, Labor now has a six point lead.

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But Curtis said conservatives still lead on the crucial question of who is best positioned to make voters and the country wealthier.

« Labour should be very clear that they are the party of economic growth, » he said. « The Conservatives just don’t deserve to be ahead on this. »

Pat McFadden, Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, said that was the party’s challenge ahead of the next election. He said voters already trusted the party to make the economy fairer and take care of the national health service and state-run schools.

“Wealth creation and good public services. Head and heart together. This is how we should position ourselves in the next general election,” he said. « If we can do that, we can win the next election. » (Editing by Nick Macfie)



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