Labour needs to find a way to connect with voters

Keir Starmer should neither dance on Boris Johnson’s grave nor hit the public with a welter of policies (Labour should be approaching its party conference with hope, not despair, 21 September). He should only connect. Over the past 18 months, few people have woken up in a sweat worrying about statues or free speech in colleges. We’ve been worried about our families and our health, how to support people on low incomes, the challenges facing kids in school and students in colleges, and the essential workers and services we rely on. We care about what’s been happening in care homes and the supplies of food to shops – the foundational economy that we all rely on.

And throughout the pandemic, across the UK, a network of community groups, key workers and residents groups have supported people – among them Labour party members, councillors and MPs. We haven’t been trying to make a killing from PPE or test-and-trace systems for ourselves or our mates. These are Labour values – fairness, equality and decent pay – the simple honest way to plug worker shortages and create a fairer society. That’s what Labour must offer and the Tories can’t – and won’t.
Cllr Steve Munby
Liverpool

Polly Toynbee’s optimism is correct. Since Labour appears to have no vision, no strategy and no tactics, hope is all that remains. However, it won’t win an election.
Adrian Quinn
Caldicot, Monmouthshire

Your report on Keir Starmer’s proposals to change Labour’s leadership election rules (Starmer risks ‘civil war’ over Labour leadership election rules change, 21 September) marks a further step in Labour’s continuing journey rightwards. As a Labour voter and former member of 30 years’ standing, who resigned over the Iraq war, I am watching the Labour shenanigans with bemusement. Although the current “one member, one vote” arrangements are often described as being brought in by Ed Miliband, they were in fact a reaction to his election as the “wrong” Miliband due to the union vote in the party’s electoral college. It was thought that the party membership, who had supported David Miliband, would be a more reliable source of votes for the “right” (in both senses) candidate in future. To make this process even more certain, voting was opened up to “registered supporters”, who were seen as being more sensible than activist members who might still tend towards the left.

Of course, this judgment backfired with the election of Jeremy Corbyn. And, predictably, the approach of the party’s right wing has been to use administrative measures, rather than arguments, against the left. The enthusiastic new membership that followed Corbyn’s election has been falling away. Many members who remain will question their commitment.

Undoubtedly, Starmer hopes these moves will placate the media. Sadly, Labour leaders can never do enough in this regard.
Iain Forbes
Streatham, London

I am puzzled as to the definition of “hard left” in the Labour party. Apparently, I am hard left if I oppose nuclear weapons; oppose the Israeli government’s policy on the Palestinian territories; oppose the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia; oppose the privatisation of the NHS; support the nationalisation of utilities; and if I believe in a tax on wealth and in one member, one vote.
Rae Street
Littleborough, Greater Manchester

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