VERY few could deny how much the Labour Party changed under Jeremy Corbyn.

Increasingly, it moved to the left and became more aligned with the views of liberal-minded city dwellers rather than the more centrist perceptions of those who live in towns and on the rural fringes of our nation.

To a certain extent, this change was useful as it forced the party to shift internal and external narratives over austerity but, also, cost it dear at the ballot box. Consequently, the project lost touch with many of its traditional voters and became morally perverse on issues such as antisemitism.

Therefore, under Keir Starmer’s leadership, the party has a mission as never before. It has to reach out to those it has alienated in the past whilst keeping the newly enthused on side. To make this task even harder, the party has also got to prove that it has earned the chance to govern once again and that it can be once more trusted with the nation's security.

There is no getting away from admitting what a difficult and unforgiving task this is for the new leader. It may very well end in failure but is, nevertheless, no less an important and vital objective for the party to pursue. For years now, the party has lacked a proper understanding of the nation it seeks to govern; because of this, it has been rejected at the polls time and again and now once more needs to change.

Despite this mountain which he needs to climb, Keir Starmer has started well. His approval figures surpass those of his own party and Labour is gaining ground. In the last few months, Labour has also begun to reclaim its patriotism and, in the last few weeks, has finally begun to offer something for those areas it has long forgotten.

As someone who represents the rural Oakworth ward, I was particularly pleased by the party's new proposals on defending our farming communities and supporting locally-sourced produce. For a party that has, until recently, largely ignored these areas, it is refreshing to know that Labour will at last give our farmers the support they so desperately need in their service to this country.

As 2024 looms ever closer, Labour will have to do a lot more convincing than this. It not only needs to ensure its own ideological shift but also take robust action on its own internal failings whilst, simultaneously, backing the many and varied communities which make up Great Britain.

The early signs show that Keir's tenure as Labour leader already has the commitment and ambition to achieve all this; however, the public are no fools, and will not readily accept change. If Labour wants to govern once more, it has to offer something for every part of our nation – a fair, logical deal which will secure the future of our country and maintain our standing on the world stage.

Ultimately, it should also be noted that the success of the party and its rehabilitation as a political force, nationally and locally, relies on the restoration of faith for people in places like Keighley and the Worth Valley. Labour has started to reach out once more but there is much work to be done to recover from the disappointments of the last few years.


Oakworth Ward, Keighley Town Council

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