Are Labour national and local politics in sync?

Sir Keir Starmer speaking at the 2022 Labour Party conference.
Sir Keir Starmer at the Labour Party Conference Credit: PA images

Perhaps the invites to Labour party conference got lost in the post on the way to Cumbria and the South of Scotland.

No, seriously - the region doesn't have any Labour MPs nowadays, and trying to find activists from our part of the world who'd made it to Liverpool was a challenge.

And in some ways, it does feel like local and national Labour politics are rather out of step.The conference this week was marked by a rare sense of unity across the party.

Yet, among Labour party members in the Penrith & The Border constituency, there's recently been a big falling out over personalities and policies.

Meanwhile, Labour's leader Sir Keir Starmer felt it was worth stressing again that he would not go into coalition with the SNP at Westminster, if he doesn't get a majority at the next general election.

In his keynote speech, he said: "We can’t work with them. We won’t work with them. No deal under any circumstances."

Yet, Labour and the SNP are currently running Dumfries and Galloway Council together.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar insisted to me that was "an interim arrangement."

The big new idea in Starmer's speech was a state-owned energy generation company, and Labour clearly see jobs in renewable power as a vital way of spreading opportunity and wealth around the county.

Cumbria's 'Energy Coast', where local civic and business leaders have long focused on nuclear and other forms of energy, was named by the government last week as a possible site for a low-tax 'Investment Zone.'

It did not make the list of renewable energy hotspots in Starmer's speech, though could play a significant role in his plans.

To deliver them, Labour need to get into government, and West Cumbria could help with that too.

The party gained a thumping majority at the election for the new Cumberland Council in May.

They will be targeting a comeback in the parliamentary seats of Workington (a high-profile loss in 2019) and Copeland (which turned to the Tories in 2017 as a forerunner to the 'Red Wall' realignment to come).

There was real confidence from a couple of party members from Copeland who did make it to conference, and they clearly do feel part of the bigger picture.One told me: "the Labour party look like a party ready to govern."

Another said, of Starmer: "he is going to be our next Prime Minister and, I think, sooner rather than later."

Labour could not find the time for Starmer to do regional interviews in Liverpool.

We are due to speak to Liz Truss (who's only been Prime Minister for just over three weeks herself) at the Conservative party conference in Birmingham in a few days' time.

The Tories have been the dominant force in our region in recent years but, particularly given the turmoil in the economy, they find themselves firmly on the back foot right now.