'I've been rebuilding my party': How Sir Keir Starmer hopes to win North West voters back to Labour

Keir Starmer Credit: ITV Granada

Sir Keir Starmer has said he wants to "talk about the things that matter to working families" when he sets out his vision for his party and the country at the Labour Party conference.

The Labour Leader has spent the summer on a listening tour of the UK, first going to Blackpool to speak to students who felt they needed to leave the town in order to get decent jobs.

He has published a 12,000 word essay explaining what he stands for, based on those conversations with voters.

"The essay wasn't written in the abstract," he said. "What I've written is a reflection of those conversations, so the voters I'm trying to persuade will see their fingerprints on what I've written."

  • How does Keir Starmer feel about Labour's position in the polls?

As Sir Keir Starmer was made Labour Leader during the pandemic, the upcoming party conference in Brighton is his first real chance to face his party and the public on a grand scale.

There's a lot to play for - Labour is currently 5% points behind the Conservatives in the polls, despite the UK having "already suffered the worst death toll and the worst economic hit of any major European country".

So, why are Labour still behind?

  • What are Labour's key areas of focus?

According to Sir Keir, now is the time to create opportunity. “It is impossible to live in this moment and not feel the winds of changes blowing, just as they did in 1945 and 1997.”

He told ITV Granada Reports "What happens now is that hopefully we are though the worst of the pandemic, and that gives me and the Labour Party the opportunity to make the argument about what comes next. In our Conference there's going to be a very strong focus on education, particularly on what we need to do to close the attainment gap and repair some of the damage done during the pandemic.

"We're going to focus on quality jobs for the future - secure, high-skilled, well-paid jobs; a 10 year health and social care plan; and security in relation to homes and to crime and disorder".

  • Does Keir Starmer support the HS2 proposals?

A group of MPs have said that the government is running out of time to deliver the HS2 rail link.

The Phase 2a line will run from the West Midlands to Crewe in Cheshire. There services will join the existing rail network to create direct services to places including Liverpool, Manchester, and Preston.

But there are fears that plans to build the high-speed line could grind to a halt due to escalating costs and delays.

Sir Keir Starmer said Labour supports the plans - but the route "must not stop in Birmingham - if it doesn't do the spur lines, then it is a failure".

"I always argued that HS2 should start in the North, and come down, because there was always this fear. It's got to be done properly - if after all this money, time and energy is it only a line from London to Birmingham I think it would be a catastrophic failure for the government."

  • What role should the Metro Mayors play at party conference?

Sir Keir Starmer has previously said he wanted Labour's Metro Mayors to be seen as "the frontline of the Labour party".

Many eyes are likely to be on Andy Burnham at party conference - as one of the highest profile Labour politicians in the country - nicknamed "The King in the North" for his stance when Greater Manchester was put into the highest level of Coronavirus restrictions.

Some - including the SNP Leader Nicola Sturgeon - have suggested that the Greater Manchester Mayor has positioned himself for a future Labour leadership contest, something he denies.

So what role will the Mayors play in Party Conference?