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LONDON — Labour’s new leader Keir Starmer is on a surprisingly Trumpian mission: (Re)build the wall!
The so-called red wall — a collection of once-solid Labour-voting constituencies in the Midlands and north of England — was laid waste by Boris Johnson in his 2019 election victory. It was the culmination of a decade or more in which old party loyalties based on class have loosened and given way to cultural divides on identity, immigration and Brexit, divides that placed millions of Labour’s traditional working-class, socially conservative voters firmly in Johnson’s camp.
Winning back those voters is mission critical if Starmer is to stand any chance of becoming Britain’s next prime minister — and, in his first five months since taking office, his team has had them firmly in mind.
One of their top priorities, senior aides said, has been the task of “establishing Keir” — a one-time chance at a good first impression, demonstrating that their man is someone whom voters that abandoned Labour over the past decade will be prepared to listen to at the next election in 2024.
Many of these voters — left-wing economically, but socially conservative, patriotic, proud of the armed forces, on low to middle incomes — live in the so-called red wall areas. Repeatedly over the past five months, Starmer has tried to put down markers about his political and moral values in a way that is, according to aides, a sincere reflection of what he thinks, but is also clearly targeted at the hearts and minds of the kind of voters Labour,