The Labour leader is drawing inspiration from those who seem determined to ignore why the party’s policies resonated in 2017
Keir Starmer is a quick reader. As a barrister, he was renowned for his ability to digest complex briefs. As Labour leader, his most effective Commons performances often rely on telling quotes and figures. Being an opposition politician involves more research than action, and the pandemic has increased that imbalance by restricting his public appearances. Meanwhile, Labour’s recent electoral defeats and Starmer’s own relative inexperience (he has been an MP for only six years), mean that, in theory at least, he is open to ideas. What he reads matters.
Next week Jon Cruddas, one of Labour’s more thoughtful MPs, publishes a book with a cover blurb from his leader. The Dignity of Labour “seeks to re-establish Labour as the party of work”, says Starmer. “It is an ambitious and essential read for anyone interested in how our movement can rebuild”. It’s enlightening to read this book alongside another, similar volume, which Starmer seems to have liked so much he hired its author. The New Working Class: How to Win Hearts, Minds and Votes, by Claire Ainsley, was addressed to politicians of all parties. But one of Starmer’s first acts as leader was to make Ainsley his director of policy.