Everything you need to know about the Labour Party conference 2021

Key details and expectations for Keir Starmer’s first in-person conference speech

Keir Starmer
(Image credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

With pressure mounting on Keir Starmer ahead of the Labour Party conference later this month, reports that his new 14,000-word mission statement is already being ridiculed by MPs won’t come as welcome news.

Starmer plans to publish the lengthy essay in “an attempt to reset his leadership and to answer those who have questioned what he and his party stand for”, The Sunday Times reported.

While his statement, prepared for a Westminster think tank, has already been “ridiculed by his own MPs”, some are hopeful that policy proposals will follow, The Telegraph added.

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“The stakes are higher” for Starmer than they were 12 months ago, said The Guardian’s Frances Ryan. With Labour last week overtaking the Tories in the polls for the first time since January, the Labour leader now has a “rare opportunity” to appeal to the public and “offer the electorate his vision of a post-Covid Britain”.

When and where?

The Labour Party conference will take place from Saturday 25 to Wednesday 29 September at two venues: the Brighton Centre and the Hilton Brighton Metropole.

Attendees over 18 will need to show proof of double vaccination or a negative lateral flow result taken within the previous 48 hours.

What to expect

There will be a “highly personal” speech from Starmer on the final day of the conference, said the Mirror. One source told the paper that it could be a “make or break for his leadership”.

What his vision entails remains to be seen. Working conditions and rights could be one aspect of it, after Starmer promised at the TUC conference this week that a Labour government would see the minimum wage raised to at least £10 an hour and an end to zero-hours contracts.

What’s clear is that the party’s “failure to offer an alternative to [Boris] Johnson’s shoddy social care plans should not be repeated”, said Ryan in The Guardian.

Starmer should, she continued, “be raising issues that the Tories are ignoring”. The housing crisis and social security could be on the drawing board, while pressure continues to build for Starmer to back voting reform in the shape of proportional representation.

Challenges ahead

The party conference will be “a significant test of Sir Keir’s leadership”, said i news, “as his two main rivals look to rally support among the party faithful”.

Labour Mayor for Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, who has been vocal in his criticism of Starmer in recent weeks, will be afforded “just a few minutes of the limelight” at the conference, the Mirror reported.

And while Starmer’s deputy, Angela Rayner, has been “keeping her head down”, the paper anticipates that her speech will be “punchy”. More importantly, “it will be closely watched for signs of her next move”, particularly after reports that she was poised to launch an “unprecedented” challenge to Starmer’s leadership earlier this year.

One MP will not be attending the conference “over concerns about the threat to her personal security”, The Spectator reported. Rosie Duffield “has attracted both praise and opprobrium for her views on transgender issues”, the magazine said, after she tweeted: “I'm a ‘transphobe’ for knowing that only women have a cervix?!”.

The Telegraph’s Suzanne Moore wrote that Duffield has said “repeatedly that she is a feminist and has always supported the rights of trans people ‘to live freely as they chose’. But many now want her thrown out of the party”.

“Let’s hope Starmer is able to ensure his own MPs are safe at next year’s party conference”, said The Spectator’s gossip columnist Steerpike.

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