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22nd April 2024

If Labour wants to regain trust, they must stick to their reformist roots

While heeding the lessons of Tory failure and chaos, Keir Starmer must grasp the reins of a chaos-driven Parliament and lead it through the ideals of progress and reform
If Labour wants to regain trust, they must stick to their reformist roots
Credit: Keir Starmer @ Flickr

For most of my 20 years of life, I’ve only been conscious of one party in power – whose abundance of leaders have resembled a revolving door of incompetence and chaos. Indeed, the 14 years since the Tories took power feel like a lifetime for someone who spent their youth confronted by news cycles of perpetual scandal, from porn and tractors, to weekly raves at number 10. As faith in government sits so low, the Labour Party must deliver pragmatic solutions to our domestic plight by constructing long-term and far reaching reforms, as well as promoting investment in public services through sound fiscal intervention. Only then can public trust be reclaimed.

In the words of James Carville’s advice to Bill Clinton- “It’s the economy, stupid”. This mantra should reverberate across shadow cabinet discussion and policy as the cost-of-living crisis, stemming from issues such as the pandemic, the Russo-Ukraine war, and last but not least the devastating legacy of Brexit, isn’t fading away.

Considering this, lessons must be learnt from Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng’s pretentious style of economic management. Keir Starmer can’t afford to fall into the same trap of overpromising and under delivering on reckless economic reform that overconfidently seeks to extinguish deep-rooted financial problems by implementing a quick-fix budget. Trussenomics now seems like a ploy to gaslight the public into believing that all problems could be magically dispelled by infinite tax cuts and sucking up to the big banks. The Tories’ infatuation with their Rwanda fantasy epitomises their delusion even further, as though a one-way ticket to a far-away country is characteristic of reasonable and serious-minded government.

By comparison, a Starmer-Reeves government must provide pragmatic and realist solutions to promote sound investment into public services, as well as establish social and constitutional reform. Ambitious but simultaneously rational development is a central facet of the Labour Party’s history.

It’s in these difficult and often bleak times that far reaching reform, for the greater good of the country, is necessary. After all, the Good Friday Agreement and constitutional reform on devolution, implemented on the heels of New Labour’s rise to power, offered visionary solutions to some of the Union’s most grave problems. Similarly, the post-war Attlee government introduced the NHS as a reaction to declining living standards during a time of rationing and abject poverty.

Promoting harmony and prosperity through carefully sought reform and ambitious welfare policy is evidently the catalyst to all successful Labour administrations. This is what Labour stands for!

But many, like myself, are increasingly sceptical of what exactly Starmer’s vision for the country is, as promises for public investment are few. For the NHS they’re now championing a business-like “modernise or die” strategy which aims to decrease waiting times through an increase in wages to medical workers. They’ve also U-turned on environment policy, axing the proposed £28 billion per annum set to decarbonise the economy.

While this confusing policy direction might have been set upon for a smooth transition away from 14 years of austerity led governance, especially in a time of recession, it could hugely detriment the Labour Party’s electoral success, especially in northern heartlands they’re trying to win back. Budget cuts just aren’t suitable when more needs to be done to address the worst decline in living standards that Britain has seen since the 1950s, which came after a decade of unparalleled conflict and rationing.

But the Labour Party have a lot of plates to spin; their retraction from public investment is somehow not surprising, as the UK hasn’t seen an increase in GDP per capita since before the pandemic. This is an unprecedented and terrifying statistic for an upcoming Labour government which all eyes are set upon.

And the distinct group of people who will suffer most from these unsettling projections are young voters. For the last 14 years young Britons been consistently overlooked by a Conservative regime fixed on pleasing big business and what seems like a biblical subordination to the great austerity scheme. What’s more, many young people won’t have a chance to start climbing the property ladder, as the Tories have failed to provide a sustainable long-term solution to the housing crisis.

With prudence and foresight, the Starmer-Reeves cabinet must prioritise long-term initiatives which will bridge a generational divide. Popular concern about public services and financial ruin need addressing and far-reaching reforms, in historic Labour style, must be implemented, all while learning from the reckless mistakes of Truss’ premiership.

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