‘Labour’s coming home’: Keir Starmer slogan harks back to happier times

The phrase was first used by Tony Blair just before his 1997 landslide – so it’s no wonder the incumbent has revived it

“Labour is back,” Keir Starmer told Labour activists and assembled TV cameras in Batley and Spen. “Labour is coming home.”

For those not fully versed in football-politics symbolism, the phrase might have seemed a bit gnomic. But the Labour leader was, in a sense, paying tribute to a tribute.

At the Labour conference in autumn 1996, months before the party’s election win, Tony Blair famously said: “Seventeen years of hurt/Never stopped us dreaming/Labour’s coming home.”

This in turn was a variant of a refrain from Three Lions, the 1996 hit for comedians David Baddiel and Frank Skinner, with band the Lightning Seeds. “Football’s coming home” has been a popular terrace chant ever since.

With England playing Ukraine in the quarter-finals of the Covid-delayed Euro 2020, Starmer, who was in the Wembley crowd for the national team’s 1996 defeat to Germany, was trying to bring some of the feelgood factor his way.


Peter Walker Political correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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