A make-or-break moment for Keir Starmer and his party | Letters

Readers react to the Labour conference and the difficulties the party faces

After following events in Brighton over the first few days of the Labour party conference, my only response is to weep tears of frustration. I do not want a principled and engaged politician (Angela Rayner) chucking around playground insults. I do not want an ex-leader re-emerging in the full flush of narcissism that marked his disastrous tenure. I do not want a party that is more concerned about its internal election methods than its supporters.

Above all, I want a leader who has some policies, who says what he will do rather than what he won’t do, who can see an open goal (such as the current energy crisis) and score that goal, who can inspire some real belief that he is electable and who can set an agenda rather than be led by the government’s. I’ve so far seen none of these things.

No doubt, I’ll dutifully tick the box come the next election as our archaic and undemocratic electoral system allows no meaningful alternatives, but I will do it with no enthusiasm or belief. That makes me sad beyond words.
Patrick Ferriday

• If, as now seems apparent, Labour’s annual conference is really just a parade ring for punters to make up their minds about which horses to back in a future race, some of us who have a stake in this ought to be checking our own form on these matters (Labour looks aimless because it’s already searching for Starmer’s replacement, 28 September).

I backed Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner believing, as I had done with Jeremy Corbyn and Tom Watson before them, that their different strengths would ameliorate the worst effects of any known weaknesses they possessed, and that they would make a formidable campaigning team capable of reviving the party’s fortunes.

Alone and together, I expected them to present a serious challenge to a government led by an accomplished liar – a charge that can’t be laid against an MP in the House of Commons, but should be common currency in the real world. Polly Toynbee, in wrongly declaring Keir Starmer to be asserting control over his party a few days ago (As Boris Johnson loses control, Keir Starmer is starting to get a grip, 27 September), told readers that he is “usually far too cautious”. On that she was right, and he and the party must change.
Les Bright
Exeter, Devon

• Rafael Behr is already listing candidates for the role of Labour party leader and, more importantly, our future prime minister. Can I please add Fiona Hill, the former White House adviser, to this list? Her comments on social mobility (Lack of social mobility in UK risks fuelling populism, says Fiona Hill, 28 September) were the most relevant I have read so far in relation to this never-ending debate. Smart analysis based on actual observation and experience. The US was lucky to have her. Can’t we have her back?
Susan Trigger
Salisbury, Wiltshire

• As always, Polly Toynbee strikes a hopeful note while at the same time hitting us with some depressing truisms. Re Keir Starmer “getting a grip”, is she not here peering through rose-tinted specs? While lauding the apparent return of democratic socialism elsewhere in mainland Europe, this Labour leader seems to have proscribed the very word socialism.
Nigel Linford
Eastbourne, East Sussex

• I would like to remind Keir Starmer that disunited parties do not win elections.
Neil Rhodes

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