Ex-aide says Sir Keir Starmer must make 'bolder' offer to voters

Ex-aide says Sir Keir Starmer must make a ‘bigger and bolder’ offer to voters to save his leadership because the public does not know what Labour stands for as the party braces for crunch Batley by-election showdown

  • Simon Fletcher served as a senior adviser to Sir Keir Starmer until last month
  • He said Sir Keir must make ‘bigger and bolder’ offer to voters to save leadership
  • Comes as Labour braces for Batley by-election showdown with the Tories 

A former adviser to Sir Keir Starmer has said the Labour leader must make a ‘bigger and bolder’ offer to voters if he is to have any chance of returning the party to power. 

Simon Fletcher, who has served as an adviser to Ed Miliband, Jeremy Corbyn and Sir Keir, said many members of the public do not understand what the Labour Party stands for.  

Mr Fletcher, who quit the leader’s office last month, said Sir Keir has ‘got to paint the whole thing in much more primary colours’ if he is to reverse his fortunes.

The comments came as Labour braces for the Batley and Spen by-election tomorrow, with the Tories increasingly hopeful of seizing the seat. 

Simon Fletcher, who has served as an adviser to Ed Miliband, Jeremy Corbyn and Sir Keir, said many members of the public do not understand what the Labour Party stands for.

Mr Fletcher, who quit the leader’s office last month, said Sir Keir has ‘got to paint the whole thing in much more primary colours’ if he is to reverse his fortunes

Mr Fletcher said that Sir Keir had started well when he became leader last year but has since suffered from a ‘lack of definition’.   

He told BBC Newsnight: ‘In terms of the present situation, my view is that we have gone through a period where Keir’s initial presence on the scene as leader, he was doing well in the polls. 

‘There was a lot of public support for the broad approach that he was taking. 

‘As we have gone into the year, a lack of definition, a lack of understanding amongst the public about where the Labour Party stands has started to cause us problems. 

‘One of the drivers for that has been amongst our own supporters. We have seen the dissatisfaction amongst Labour supporters has risen. 

‘So I suppose really what I would like to see coming out of the by-election whatever happens across the summer is a much greater attention to definition of where the Labour Party stands.’ 

Mr Fletcher said a ‘big offer on the economy’ could win over swathes of voters who have deserted Labour in recent years. 

He said the ‘problems with the British economy aren’t going to go away’ and Sir Keir should focus on issues like job insecurity and ‘make them the central questions in British politics’. 

Asked to spell out what Labour needs to stand for, Mr Fletcher said: ‘That is a big challenge, isn’t it, and I don’t think I have all of the solutions. 

‘What I am really saying is the offer has to be bigger and bolder. We have got to paint the whole thing in much more primary colours. 

‘We have got to not leave the public with question marks in their minds about what the Labour Party stands for.’ 

The Batley and Spen by-election will represent a major moment in Sir Keir’s leadership. 

If Labour loses control of the seat to the Conservatives then questions over his long term leadership of the party will inevitably be asked by his internal critics. 

But should the party manage to hold onto the constituency it should buy Sir Keir more time to prove to his opponents that he can lead Labour back to power at the 2024 general election. 

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