Over the past few weeks Downtown in Business members in the Northwest have been up close and personal with the Labour Party’s leadership team.
Leader Keir Starmer, Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves, Shadow Business Minister Jonny Reynolds, and Shadow Employment Minister Alison McGovern have been talking to the DIB network and finding out from business owners what issues matter to them.
It is a refreshing approach for an opposition party that, during the Corbyn years, had little or no contact with the business community.
Given the current crisis the country is embroiled in, from rocketing inflation through to interest rate hikes, it is more than possible that Labour will form the next government. But is the party ready for power?
It is difficult for the opposition to both highlight the failings of the government, whilst at the same time outlining its own plans for change, certainly well in advance of an election.
Had Keir Starmer laid out his economic strategy when he was elected leaders two- and a-bit years ago, it wouldn’t have been worth the paper it was written on given the huge changes that have occurred since.
Nonetheless, given the fact that the Conservatives are about to elect a new Prime Minister – and the very real possibility of a General Election being called within the next six to twelve months – Labour must now start to spell out what policies they will introduce should they be elected for the first time in fourteen years.
In his event with DIB in Liverpool, Starmer outlined his economic plan. But how will his party tackle the massive challenges facing the NHS and what reforms will they be brave enough to suggest? What is the commitment to law and order? What is Labour’s strategy to address the skills deficit and a creaking education system? And what about devolution – more powers for mayors, or a move back to regional policy?
These questions, and many more, are the issues that electors will want answers for from both the new PM, but increasingly as we approach an election, Starmer too.
Has Labour got the answers? Is it ready for power? We should know more next month when the party is in Liverpool again for its annual conference.