Labour's election message to voters: We'll be radical and responsible – Ian Swanson

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They had a good conference, they've got a strong lead in the polls and pundits say they are on course win the next general election.

Labour is a party in confident mood and daring to believe it really could be on its way back to power.

The disastrous reception for Kwasi Kwarteng's mini-budget, implementing Liz Truss's Tory leadership campaign promises on tax cuts, has trashed the government's credibility at home and abroad.

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The plummeting pound, the soaring cost of government borrowing, the near collapse of pension funds, and the unease among Tory backbenchers have plunged Ms Truss into a self-inflicted disaster after just a few weeks in office. And the humiliating U-turn on the 45p top rate does little to rescue their reputation.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was widely praised for his speech at the Labour conference (Picture: Kirsty O'Connor/PA)Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was widely praised for his speech at the Labour conference (Picture: Kirsty O'Connor/PA)
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was widely praised for his speech at the Labour conference (Picture: Kirsty O'Connor/PA)

Meanwhile Sir Keir Starmer won plaudits, even from right-wing observers, for his performance at conference, where he announced plans to create a publicly owned clean energy company, Great British Energy, boost home ownership and create a more stable economy.

Commentators noted how seriously business now seemed to be treating Labour.

And a YouGov poll the day after conference finished gave Labour a 33 per cent poll lead, enough for a landslide to match Tony Blair's in 1997.

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But, of course, there is no guarantee that Labour will win the next election. It's probably still about two years away, so a lot can happen between now and then.

And it's just possible the government's budget measures will produce a temporary boost to growth which coincides with the election.

Scotland will be crucial if Labour is going to win power. Edinburgh South MP and Shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray predicted a Labour victory and told the conference Scotland would deliver the seats needed to get over the line.

But north of the Border, Labour is up against the SNP rather than the Tories. For years, Labour has struggled to be heard because of the Nationalists’ dominance and the polarised argument between the SNP and the Tories over independence.

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The YouGov poll that gave Labour that 33 per cent lead also showed a dramatic increase in the party's support in Scotland – although based on a very small sample – and put Labour on 38 per cent with the SNP on 44.

Is it a blip? Could it be that the constitutional issue is losing its place as the all-consuming issue for voters that it has been for so long? Or if Nicola Sturgeon declares the next election a de facto referendum on independence, would Labour find they were effectively shut out of the argument yet again?

Labour is riding the crest of a wave while the Tories flounder, but Sir Keir and his colleagues know they must avoid any temptation to become complacent. The party cannot rely simply on government unpopularity to get elected. People need to be convinced Labour is “on their side” if they are going to trust them with their vote.

The policies set out at the conference sent an important signal that Labour is ready to be radical and responsible in government. That’s a message they need to continue to press home if they are going to persuade voters to back them at the ballot box.