Labour Wins When It’s a Patriotic Party

That election defeat taught us many lessons, but a key one – and one steeped in the history of how the Labour Party always wins, no matter how hard some may try to rewrite it, Labour wins when it's a patriotic party.

Keir Starmer

Abdi Duale is a member of the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee

Four years ago today, Keir Starmer took over as Leader of the Labour Party and despite his adversaries’ best attempts to mischaracterise him, he continues to prove his detractors wrong.

If anyone told me Labour would bounce back from its worst defeat in more than eight decades, and be ready to win the next election, I would have laughed at the very idea.

That election defeat taught us many lessons, but a key one – and one steeped in the history of how the Labour Party always wins, no matter how hard some may try to rewrite it, Labour wins when it’s a patriotic party.

I mention this because of the recent coverage that tried to paint Labour’s recent use of the Union Jack as a threat to ethnic minorities. Aside from the small-minded and patronising nature of this assumption, it also highlights a basic misunderstanding of the patriotic nature of ethnic minorities. As highlighted by Sunder Katwala’s piece ‘the problem is not the flag but the left’s needless anxiety over patriotism’.

Starmer’s embrace of the flag debases the criticism that Labour doesn’t like the flag or the country it wants to serve. The most poignant moment in the journey of the Labour Party in recent years came when the party’s Annual Conference held a minutes’ silence for the late Queen, followed by a raucous singing of the national anthem, God Save The King.

More importantly, Starmer’s understanding that pride in our country cuts through the divides that exist in society is vital to understanding how to win back voters who departed Labour in 2019. A basic concept of being proud of the country you want to represent, whilst feeling a deep sense of shame in how the country we love has been let down over the last 14 years of Tory decline.

Take the living standards today compared to 2010. When Labour won, it was bold, from the creation of the Welfare State, the National Health Service to the introduction of the National Minimum Wage. Today, Labour’s New Deal for Working People is living proof that Starmer understands a serious industrial strategy puts workers at the heart of it. An argument the Trade Unions have made since their inception, and one with their support Labour will implement in its first hundred days.

Arguably, the most effective part of Starmer’s journey has been how internally the Labour Party has changed. From the National Executive Committee to the National Policy Forum to Constituency Labour Parties, none of which could have been achieved without groups like Labour to Win, Progressive Britain and Labour First. But often not mentioned, the Labour MPs, Councillors and activists, who endured endless abuse at the hands of hard-left activists, but continued to see them down and organise locally.

Making the Labour Party electable again would not have been an easy job without a Leader willing to not just talk about taking robust action to stamp out antisemitism but acting on it too. From top to bottom, the party embraced and continues to embrace the findings and lessons from the damning EHRC report, with much thanks to the Jewish Labour Movement’s determination to make the Labour Party a safe space for Jews, once again.

For nearly a decade, Conservative Central office outspent the Labour Party in vetting Labour candidates. The process has come under attack from some quarters, not least from those who were never suitable to be Labour candidates in the first place. By in large, it has worked, and whilst I recognise some will feel the process has been overcautious. Rochdale is a timely reminder of how one candidate can derail the entire operation to win the general election. That is why we have made no apology for being rigorous.

That rigorousness perfectly summarises Starmer’s determination not to cave to pressure or follow the mood music that has often blindsided Westminster. Whilst previous leaders may have enjoyed the celebrity status of being heralded at festivals or becoming viral memes on the internet, Starmer is showing the grit and determination it takes to win, and if Labour is privileged enough to win power this year, history will look fondly on him.

Comments are closed.