On the back of a catastrophic start to the New Year for Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party, Labour has stormed into a 10-point lead in the latest opinion polls – its best performance for several years.
Given the nightmare of ‘Party-gate’, it is little wonder that the official opposition have seen an increase in support. However, what will be even more worrying to Tory MPs is that a pre-Christmas poll showed Labours lead to be 16-points in the so-called ‘Red Wall’ seats – and that increasingly Keir Starmer and his team are passing that all-important sniff test of looking and sounding like a government-in-waiting.
In what was a largely overlooked event towards the back end of 2021, Starmer reshuffled his Shadow Cabinet team. Early indications are that the changes he made are already paying dividends.
The new Shadow Health Minister Wes Streeting, potentially a future Labour leader, is a smooth, credible, and articulate media performer. The shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves has started to create an effective narrative around the ‘cost of living’ squeeze, and again presents well. The authenticity of Labour’s Deputy Leader Angela Rayner contrasts starkly, and favourably, with Dominic Raab, whilst in her new role as the shadow Levelling-Up Minister, Lisa Nandy looks far more confident and comfortable when addressing the nation through our television screens.
Starmer himself may have had an open goal to fire into at PMQs on Wednesday. But he still had to put the ball in the back of the net – and he did so emphatically.
For almost a decade Conservative politicians could comfort themselves in the knowledge that, no matter how bad their leader was performing, they had the safety net of Jeremy Corbyn. They expected Starmer to be a more serious challenger. But he has now surrounded himself with an equally credible team – and for the first time since 2005 Labour seriously looks like a party that could win a General Election.