Sunday, January 16, 2022

Labor could strike informal pact with other parties to defeat Tories, Keir Starmer hints

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The Labor leader pointed to the recent by-elections as proof that left-leaning parties can work together

The opposition leader vowed his party would continue to field a candidate in each constituency, but suggested it could divert resources from seats where the Liberal Democrats or Greens are the Conservatives’ main challengers.

Sir Keir Starmer has opened the door to an informal electoral pact with other left-wing parties in an apparent admission that Labor may not be able to win a majority alone in the next election.

For Labor to win an outright majority, Sir Keir would need to achieve a momentum greater than Tony Blair achieved in 1997.

In the last election, the Lib Dems, Greens and Plaid Cymru forged a formal pro-Remain pact in dozens of seats, backing a single candidate to take on the Tories. Asked if he would support a similar deal with Labour, Sir Keir told Times Radio: “I think we should have a Labor candidate that people can vote for wherever they live. And denying them that is not the right thing to do.”

But he seemed to accept that the party would need the help of smaller groups to come to power, saying: “Given the magnitude of the task we face, given my absolute determination that we will take this over to the next general.” I am very clear as to what our intended seats are.

“I know where we need to win across the UK. And that’s why I’m going to focus my party on those target seats, the places where we can win and where we know we have to win.”

He pointed to by-elections this year, in which the Lib Dems defeated the Conservatives thanks to support from usual Labor voters, as evidence of how the strategy could work: “Chesham and Amersham, North Shropshire are not on my list of target seats. Am I pleased to see the Tories upended there? Yes, I am. But I have to take an approach that is clearly focused on the Labor Party path to power in the next general election given the situation we are in.”

Sir Keir admitted his efforts to rebuild his party had been drowned out by reports of infighting and said his New Year’s resolution was to “ignore the political noise and focus on the goal, the next elections to win”.

He insisted the public is turning its back on Boris Johnson because they “can see him for who he really is”, adding: “I think he’s being dishonest. And you know, when he stands up and says he’s angry, he just found out there might have been parties in Downing Street, I don’t think a lot of people believe him.”

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