Keir Starmer’s tepid policies are alienating Labour’s core supporters | Letters

Keir Starmer’s tepid policies are alienating Labour’s core supporters

Labour may be sowing the seeds of its own destruction, writes Dr Peter Mangan, while Jacqueline Mackenzie says she has become politically homeless. Plus letters from John Bourn and Ted Shrecker

Leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer

Polly Toynbee’s smörgåsbord of social policy benefits once Labour is elected is enticing (Not radical enough? Starmer’s caution may yet carry Labour to power, 2 August), but why is it only deliverable if most of the party keeps quiet during the run-up to the next election? Or, more significantly, what is it that the silenced are trying to say?

Leaving aside New Labour overreach and the hubris of Tony Blair’s foreign policy, the gains through initiatives such as Sure Start, child poverty alleviation and increased spending on education cannot be ignored. But set against that were the disastrous private finance initiative failures in NHS provision and the contracting out of public services to business.

What scares Labour’s silenced supporters is that, while rinsing socialism out of the drive for power, an entire polity will be smuggled in, which, to recall Peter Mandelson’s statement on New Labour, will be “intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich”. This is the real entryism of concern – about a failure to tackle corruption in the City, a reluctance to effect genuine structural change and a disinclination to tackle profound inequality. If that happens, Keir Starmer’s government will have silenced warning voices in the membership and imported the seeds of its own destruction.
Dr Peter Mangan
Beckenham, London

Back in the day (the late 1960s), I had to wait until I was 21 to cast my first vote, and it was for Labour. Since then I have been a Labour member and local activist, and have worked for an old-school Labour MP. He had started his working life in the north-west as a teenager sweeping industrial waste in a chemical factory. All his working life he fought for the rights of the poor and vulnerable in society, and eventually carried his life’s work and vision for Labour to the House of Lords.

For nearly 50 years, I’ve lived in a solid Tory constituency in Surrey. I’ve mainly voted Labour, but, with Tony Blair’s failure to bring in proportional representation, I’ve often cast a tactical vote for the Liberal Democrats. I became so disappointed with Keir Starmer’s muddled and fence-sitting policies, together with his lacklustre opposition to Boris Johnson, that once again I’m no longer a Labour party member and I find myself politically homeless. There are many of us across society who are disillusioned members of what was once the great Labour family.
Jacqueline Mackenzie
Epsom, Surrey

Neal Lawson (What happened to the post-Corbyn vision for Labour? Keir Starmer offers nothing, 28 July) suggests that the party is trying to follow the New Labour playbook. If so, it is not doing it very well. By this point, two years before the 1997 election, New Labour already had some eye-catching policies – the minimum wage, signing the EU social chapter, the windfall tax on privatised utilities, and devolution.

Tony Blair understood the importance of Labour having clear, distinctive policies. The problem with Labour under Keir Starmer is that it is even less radical than Blair’s party, and certainly a long way from amassing a 179-seat majority.
John Bourn
Gateshead, Tyne and Wear

Polly Toynbee may well be correct in arguing that Keir Starmer’s caution will carry Labour to victory. The problem is that by then, Tory mismanagement will have sunk the UK to the bottom of the high-income country league table. The road back will be a long and arduous one.
Ted Schrecker
Professor of global health policy, Newcastle University