Keir Starmer could be more proactive on Covid, argues Dr Anthony Isaacs, while Prof Stephen Wood agrees on the need for more drama from Labour. But Hilary Ward and Bob Ross suggest the politics of restraint can win the day
Andy Beckett is of course right to say that Labour cannot ignore southern seats in pursuit of “red wall” voters (If Labour is serious about regaining power, it will need to woo southern England, 5 February). In truth, both will be needed for electoral victory. A successful campaign must appeal to common interests and be carried through with conviction and passion, as Marina Hyde notes (Britons want a bit of drama from their leaders – and Keir Starmer isn’t serving it, 5 February). Use of the union flag for this purpose is unlikely to be persuasive and has a dubious pedigree, as shown by Harold Wilson’s adoption of the ill-fated I’m Backing Britain campaign in 1968. By contrast, northern and southern voters have a shared interest in strengthening public services, and this should be the unifying principle of Labour’s programme.
While Keir Starmer is not the most demonstrative politician, a more proactive approach to the Covid-19 crisis would enable him to project convincing leadership. A high-level committee with representation from other opposition parties, supported by appropriate professional expertise, could review current developments and set the pace in issuing authoritative guidance via a regular press conference, eg on border controls and emerging safely from lockdown. This would circumvent the Captain Hindsight accusation and leave a dithering government to play catch-up.
Dr Anthony Isaacs