Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
After the exit poll came out signalling Labour’s worst election performance since 1935, I wrote that we needed a leader who could finally be seen as a credible alternative prime minister.
Much has already been said in these early days of the ‘period of reflection’.
Each bit of analysis, each hot take, has led me to believe that that person is Keir Starmer
First, there are those who say the next Labour leader should be a northerner, because we lost considerable support in our traditional northern heartlands.
Quit patronising us.
Blatantly, the argument falls apart when you consider that those who switched from Labour to Tory over the last few elections did so regardless of where Tory leaders hail from. David Cameron, Theresa May, Boris Johnson – none of them are even remotely northern.
Having a northern accent speaking from the despatch box won’t magically make Labour’s woes go away. We need a strong, serious Labour leader who can be believed in.
Someone who will rebuild trust in our party amongst the public. Someone who can offer realistic hope. Someone who the country can trust with the apparatus of the state.
There will be those who say Keir is too ‘metropolitan’, too ‘London’. I say, he is the embodiment of aspiration. He’s from a working class family; his father was a toolmaker, his mother was a nurse. He credits the welfare state with providing him the opportunity to progress. It’s simply not Labour to penalise someone for their hard-earned success.
On both personal and professional fronts, Keir has encountered the harm Conservative governments have inflicted. As Director of Public Prosecutions, he grappled with the CPS’s budget being cut by a quarter.
When it comes to Brexit, Labour must now look to the future. The result of the general election was decisive. Brexit, at least in terms of whether we leave the European Union with the government’s withdrawal agreement, has been settled.
But that does not mean Labour shouldn’t be holding the government to account when it comes to our future relationship with the EU; protecting trade, our security and people’s livelihoods. Keir has undoubtedly shown he has the forensic mind required to scrutinise the government’s Brexit proposals and fight for the working majority’s interests. We may be leaving the EU but we still have our fundamental values.
Keir is the antithesis to Boris Johnson. He’s serious, respectable, sharp. He has an exciting, hopeful vision for the future of our country.
He’s exactly the kind of person we need to lead Labour into the next few years of opposition and the next election.
Once Brexit is sorted, it will be a choice between Boris Johnson or the leader of the Labour Party.
Keir Starmer is the person who the country can get behind as a credible alternative prime minister.