The Speech Keir Starmer Should Make After North Shropshire

Image by UK Parliament on flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Here’s the speech that Keir Starmer should make today. Handily, Mark Perryman has written it for him. Edited extracts below.


Boris Johnson has suffered a huge defeat in North Shropshire.

The combination of Tory corruption, which he attempted to excuse and pardon, with Number 10, Conservative Party HQ and government ministries partying through last year’s lockdown Christmas – while the rest of us couldn’t even share Christmas Day with family members and friends from outside our own households – has cost him one of his party’s safest seats. Boris Johnson, you know it, your MPs know it, your party knows it, your voters know it: your days of being in office, unfit to govern, are numbered.

But this result wasn’t just about losing. It was also a victory, a victory for hope in something better. I want to congratulate the Liberal Democrats for carrying that message to the North Shropshire electorate and scoring such a massive victory, a win that was for all of us, whatever our party, including mine, or whether of no party.

In North Shropshire Labour ran an active campaign with an excellent local candidate. That’s what parties do in elections. But our voters could sense that despite our best efforts Labour couldn’t win there – but that the Tories might lose. We respect their decision therefore to vote in this instance for the candidate best placed to defeat the Tories.

There are other seats like this, where voters who would have normally voted for one party will vote for the one best placed to change this rotten regime. Our electoral system doesn’t allow for first and second choice. Over 80% of Labour members want to change the system so we can do precisely that, with not a single vote wasted. But until we can, in these seats those voters, including Labour voters, are making the right choice to vote for the best placed candidate to defeat their unwanted Conservative MP.

I am therefore this morning calling on Ed Davey, Caroline Lucas, the SNP’s Ian Blackford and Plaid Cymru’s Liz Saville Roberts to explore how we can best work together as an opposition towards the next general election, in and out of Parliament.

The sooner this happens the better, so that in every Conservative-held seat we maximise the chances of them losing and the opposition winning, and lay the basis of a government of all our parties – co-operating in order to reflect the views and hopes of the overwhelming majority of our country, who have suffered enough through the long wait for this moment.

I am absolutely committed to this. None of us can afford to so elevate our own party’s interests that we do so at the expense of all that we, and our country, share.

I am looking forward to a positive response, to make these last few days before Christmas merry in the spirit of the co-operation that might lie ahead and so we can report back in the New Year on the progress we have been able to make, together.


Mark Perryman is a member of the Labour Party in Lewes, a Tory/Lib Dem marginal.

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25 thoughts on “The Speech Keir Starmer Should Make After North Shropshire

  1. North Shropshire shows that a progressive alliance just might lead to a progressive government next time. It’s the only way to defeat the Tories. No sense seeking total victory when there’s no chance.
    Surely it’s time!

  2. As a lifelong Labour voter and supporter I wholeheartedly agree that the idea of a Progressive Alliance has to be the way forward. Collaboration signals a more modern and sustainable politics and one that will defeat populist rhetoric and cynical manipulation. Labour must grasp this timely opportunity and help to develop a winning alliance.

  3. I couldn’t agree more: the Labour Party machine needs to be modernised: collaboration, co-operation, working together with all progressives should be our new motto. Pronto!

  4. Mark Perryman is absolutely right. We all need to come together
    to defeat our rotten government with Boris Johnson at the helm.
    Too many people have been duped by Boris Johnson, and for too long. We must act together and make history.

  5. At last, the end of tribal politics. The only way to defeat to the Tories. Haven’t felt this optimistic in years!

  6. Thank you Mark Perryman, I would love to think that Keir Starmer will say exactly that. I am a Green Party member, and we have been banging on about this for years.
    Thank you.

  7. The best chance Labour have of forming the next government is by standing in fewer seats. The best chance the Lib Dems and Greens have of being part of the next government is also by standing in fewer seats. Every progressive voter wins and we can ensure that in future every vote will count. No more right wing victories just because right wing parties like UKIP stand aside to give the Tories a free ride while left-of-centre parties fight each other.

  8. Agree 100% You know the old saying about divided we fall? Well…the opposite is true too, as I’m sure all good Compass folk know: united we triumph. And unite we must. We can no longer tolerate the abomination of 43.6% of the vote out-weighing 56.4% as happened at the last election. And an 80 seat majority…in what universe is that right? Or moral…or just? Or democratic? Electoral reform, then constitutional reform.

  9. Excellent. I am a Labour member and am lucky to have a fantastic Labour MP, Matt Western for Warwick and Leamington. Its been absolutely obvious to me for years, that the broad Left must work together.I would certainly vote tactically if I lived in Lewes (where a friend of mine does live).
    Even in a local election here, I had an email from party leaders saying “sadly a Green beat Labour”. Its not sad at all!
    Co-operation is better than conflict!

  10. It’s the speech Keir Starmer should make – whether it’s a speech his party would tolerate him making is another matter.

    The biggest obstacle to any progressive alliance remains the inability of the Labour Party as a whole to accept that it cannot win alone and the even greater inability of noisy swathes of it to accept that other traditions are legitimate and can be collaborated with.

    I’m tired of people telling me to “remember that the LibDems were in a coalition with the Tories”. I do remember. I also remember that Blair and Ashdown had exactly the same off the record non-aggression pact that Starmer and Davey seem to have reached, I remember that they kept a Labour government in office in the 70s and I’ve read about Liberal support enabling the very first Labour government to happen. It would be good if the Labour Party could be a little less selective in its memories, then maybe he could make the speech he should make.

  11. Enough is enough. We need to move with determination out of the Corbyn era and his failure to wrench power from the Tories, which has condemned us to the peerless arrogance of Johnson’s current sycophantic regime, towards a more realistic alliance that recognises we cannot change anything without power. Corruption is allegedly the eventual snake pit into which power leads and simple measures like precluding MP’s from doing any other paid roles whilst in parliament should prevent that slide alongside an embargo on lobbying roles for the duration of the following parliament after an MP’s departure. Respect based alliances are what we need to take power from these Tory bullies, to build a compassionate politics founded on the principle of genuine service not personal gain. It must be possible…it happens elsewhere, why not here?

  12. What about considering introducing Proportional Representation established whilst about it. There must be a way it would work to everybody’s advantage and hopefully provide stability and continuity to an effective government system!

  13. Yes, good one Mark. Though I would advise Keir to be a bit subtler in how he frames the challenge to the other party leaders. After all, some of them have been arguing for this for a while so he is the newcomer claiming that this is his initiative. …when it isn’t… But overall, I agree with your approach. The question is, will Keir take your advice…. Vicky

  14. Mark Perryman is so right!!

    I am a Labour member, who has joined Compass. I think that what we are doing in our meetings, and also our conversations with friends and family (who are sometimes, downright sceptics) is slowly but surely, attempting to change the ‘Zeitgeist’ in our country, which says that the First Past the Post electoral system is the only one which leads to ‘strong and stable’ government; and also that it makes sense for political parties to co-operate and make alliances.

  15. Absolutely right Mark. But still my party leader Ed Davey says publicly that he sees no need for collaborative working to ensure a Progressive government next time. I only hope there are less public discussions going on. For my part I have no problem voting for Labour who won my local constituency seat in 1997 for one term. I go to nearby Cheltenham to support the Lib Dem campaigns whenever there is a general election. There’s nothing wrong with voting for the progressive party most likely to win. It’s just common sense. And Labour shouldn’t expel folk for doing so.

  16. 100% support this . indeed there is little oree to be said as it’s been said so often now. But I hope if the Greens and LibDems made an offer to Starmer too along similar lines

  17. sorry – may I substitute this less illiterate comment?

    100% support this. Indeed there is little more to be said, as it’s been said to Starmer so often now and we still await a meaningful response. But I hope that the Greens and LibDems make an offer to him along similar lines

  18. This is exactly what I faced in North Shropshire Tim, when challenging the attacks on LibDems from some official left wing sources in the final days, despite the polls etc. Fortunately many Labour & Green supporters did lend their vote to LibDems as indeed LibDems & Greens lent their support to Labour in Bexley. I feel for the Greens constantly being asked to stand down, so need to be given opportunities too. Roll on PR.
    The extreme left seem to put Davey, Starmer and Johnson in the same right wing slot, but if Labour will favour Starmer if pushed !

  19. For Labour to transition from a party of opposition to a party of government there are two other things I would expect to see from Starmer or his successor:

    A commitment to reform the Labour Party so that local parties are allowed to negotiate local progressive alliances, and to stop expelling Labour Party members for entering into negotiations that might endanger safe Conservative Seats.

    A commitment to read the manifestos of other progressive political parties, and if the next Parliament is hung, to be as assiduous and flexible in courting the allies he’d need to form a government as the Tories always are in such situations (who would have thought before the 2010 election that a Conservative Prime Minister would have lead a government that introduced Gay Marriage?)

  20. A progressive alliance is the only policy which would have Tories running for the hills. But timing publication of this is tricky. We believe that Starmer agrees in theory. I’m hoping that his hesitation in coming out for it is strategically wise.

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