OPINION - The Standard View: The real test is to come for Keir Starmer and Labour

 (Christian Adams)
(Christian Adams)

The mood at the Labour conference in Liverpool is buoyant. The party is ahead in the polls, its leader, Sir Keir Starmer, faces no credible internal threats and the Government’s mini-budget has been mauled by the markets.

But the real challenge for Sir Keir and Labour lies ahead. Criticising the Conservative Party for its handling of the economy, the NHS or strikes is not enough. Sir Keir will have to now flesh out his plans on how he intends to build sustainable growth, green jobs and fix our public services while steering the economy through turbulent times.

Politically, the change at the top of the Tory party has given him space to breathe. On tax and public spending, Boris Johnson had put his tanks on Labour’s lawn. Liz Truss vacated that territory, following a mini-budget that stopped a corporation tax rise and abolished the 45p income tax rate for top earners.

Meanwhile, the pound’s slide and rising borrowing costs have given Labour the opportunity to present itself as the party of sound money.

Sir Keir deserves credit for taking his party a long way in a short period of time. It was less than three years ago that Labour’s candidate to be PM was Jeremy Corbyn, a hard-Left campaigner who wanted to let the Russians run their own tests following the Skripal nerve agent poisonings in Salisbury and under whose leadership the Equalities and Human Rights Commission found Labour responsible for unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination over how it dealt with complaints of antisemitism.

With perhaps two years to go until the next election, Sir Keir has the opportunity to show voters his party is ready for government. The question remains: can he seize it?

New focus at the Met

Root out the racists and misogynists. That is the message from Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley. It is one we all endorse but there must be recognition that for any organisation, let alone the police force, this is the bare minimum.

Sir Mark says he wants to hear from Scotland Yard’s critics. It is therefore concerning that he has reportedly declined to meet with Andy George, head of the National Black Police Association.

The time for talk is over. Now we need to see tangible results. It is the only way to rebuild community relations and shore up the trust Londoners must have in the Met.

From the litany of scandals that led to the ousting of his predecessor, Cressida Dick, to the tragic death of Chris Kaba in Streatham, no one can doubt the scale of the task facing the new Commissioner.

Nasa’s crash course

It is so much more straightforward in the movies. Hire a bunch of grizzled oil drillers, teach them (and Bruce Willis) how to be astronauts, throw in an Aerosmith power ballad and you’ve saved the world from armageddon.

In reality, Nasa has taken a different route. This morning it crashed a spacecraft into a 560ft asteroid named Dimorphos, which posed no threat to Earth, with the goal of demonstrating that potentially planet-threatening objects can be shifted off course.

Crucially, the spacecraft did not inadvertently knock the asteroid into a collision course with Earth.