Andy Beckett is right (If Keir Starmer wants to ‘rethink Britain’, he’ll need some bigger ideas, 8 April), but there is a missing link in his thinking as well as that of the party and its leader. Without a clear strategic framework within which to situate big ideas, policy initiatives and election manifestos, there is a dangerous void that will serve to confuse not just the electorate but members, activists and affiliates such as trades unions. Currently, there is little or no coherence or linkage between the various policies being advocated.
The result is that there is no vision enabling us to understand what the country will look like after a period of Labour rule. For example, what will the nature and direction of our education provision and lifelong learning commitment be like? What can we expect the nature, structure and rewards of employment to be? What reforms will there be to people’s incomes and the benefits system, and how will they be linked to taxation and pensions?
There are dozens of such questions around our future, and they all need to be linked together to form one coherent whole. Only then can Starmer’s exhortation in the Observer “to rethink what Britain can be” and Beckett’s sense of big ideas result in a relevant, powerful and easy-to-communicate strategic vision that can be achieved, leading to the power for we which crave.
Former parliamentary candidate and personal assistant to Tom Sawyer, then Labour’s general secretary
• Andy Beckett is right to suggest that Keir Starmer needs to change. Unfortunately, Starmer’s insistence that Labour has changed is clearly having little traction with the electorate as we approach the likelihood of a humiliating defeat in Hartlepool. Currently Labour is around eight points behind the Tories on 35%.
The 2019 election was a devastating defeat for Labour. Responsibility for that result must be shared not just by the then leaders (including Starmer) but also by the parliamentary Labour party, who had spent the previous four years telling the world that Labour was racist, antisemitic and led by the “loony left”. What Starmer should be aiming to achieve is at least is 40% in the polls, a figure last achieved by Jeremy Corbyn in the 2017 election. That figure was not enough to win, but it was a higher share of the vote than Labour had achieved in the three previous general elections.
By isolating Labour’s members from any say in policy, the current leader has seen a haemorrhaging of members from the 485,000 in 2019. The result is paralysis of Labour’s resilient campaign base. Starmer and his allies need to build on the momentum Labour achieved leading up to 2017, not eradicate that event from history.
• Re Polly Toynbee’s article (Sleaze fells Tory governments – and that should be a gift to Keir Starmer, 6 April), the problem here isn’t Starmer, or even that the public don’t know about the sleaze or expect the austerity. It’s that they don’t appear to care. And that really is worrying.
• Get Labour elected? Dominic Cummings is pretty good at campaigns and three-word slogans. How about the Labour party employing him for the next election? After all, he has no moral compass and a grudge against the Tory government.
Coldstream, Scottish Borders
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