A Strategic Left? Starmerism, Pluralism and the Soft Left



Thompson P, Pitts FH & Ingold J (2021) A Strategic Left? Starmerism, Pluralism and the Soft Left. Political Quarterly, 92 (1), pp. 32-39.

This article places the Labour Party’s present post‐Corbyn renewal in the context of previous periods of renewal in the party’s recent history, associating with the new leadership of Keir Starmer a potential to rediscover the strategic project of the pluralist soft left as an alternative to the programmatic character of the hard left. After assessing the Corbynist hegemony established in the Labour Party between 2015 and 2019, it considers the current absence of any clearly defined set of principles or values underpinning ‘Starmerism’. It then looks back to the Kinnockite ascendency in the 1980s, and the Blairite ascendency in the 1990s, as possible templates for how the party reassesses its positioning with reference to changing electoral, social and economic circumstances. A critique of Corbynism’s left populism culminates in a consideration of the possible grounds for a new pluralist agenda attuned to the policy and electoral challenges Labour faces today.

Labour Party; British politics; the left; Keir Starmer; pluralism; populism

Political Quarterly: Volume 92, Issue 1

Publication date31/03/2021
Publication date online30/11/2020
Date accepted by journal30/11/2020

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Professor Paul Thompson

Professor Paul Thompson

Emeritus Professor, Management, Work and Organisation