Peston pinpoints crucial challenge Keir Starmer to face in race to power ‘Not same league’

Starmer is 'determined' to win 'for a purpose' says Anas Sarwar

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Robert Peston suggested the Labour Party leader could struggle to reach Boris Johnson’s level of campaigning skills ahead of the next election. Sir Keir Starmer showed off his oratory capabilities as he addressed Labour members at the annual conference on Wednesday, his first speech in front of delegates since he was elected leader. The ITV political editor questioned Sir Keir’s ability to win over voters, telling Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar his UK leader is not in the “same league” as Boris Johnson.

Mr Peston said: “For all that he did well today, he’s never going to be in the same campaigning league as Boris Johnson, is he?”

Mr Sarwar replied: “Being a contrast to Boris Johnson is a strength coming to an election rather than a weakness.

“The overwhelming sense the Labour Party took away but, more importantly, the public took away is that this is a man who wants to win, who is determined to win.

“And will do whatever it takes to win. The desire and that hunger I think is a real contrast.”

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He added: “No one doubts Boris Johnson wants to win. I think people would argue Boris Johnson wants to win for his own interest, I think Keir showed energy, steel, ideas and wants to win for a purpose.”

Despite Mr Sarwar praising Sir Keir for his conference performance, the Labour leader faced repeated interruptions as he spoke because of hecklers.

Critics held up red cards in protest as the Labour chief delivered his speech but he was quick to hit back as he questioned his hecklers on whether they were “shouting slogans, or changing lives”.

Sir Keir said: “At this time on a Wednesday it’s normally the Tories that are heckling me, it doesn’t bother me then, and it doesn’t bother me now.”

Keir Starmer speech was 'lacking substance' says Blakeley

Sir Keir was also heckled on the £15 minimum wage as he paid tribute to the NHS workers who cared for his mother and those working throughout the pandemic.

Shouts were heard of “throw them out”, and were met with sustained supportive applause for the Labour leader.

A heckle of “it was your Brexit policy” could be heard as Sir Keir spoke of a serious plan for Government.

But after being interrupted again, he replied: “You can chant all day,” before being applauded by the audience.

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Supporters of Sir Keir’s predecessor Jeremy Corbyn also voiced their dissent with the substance of the speech.

Grace Blakeley argued the Labour leader’s speech had been “missing a huge amount of substance”.

She said: “Whilst there were some good messages in this speech, particularly around the green new deal and some investment that would go some way to tackling those issues, it was missing a huge amount of substance.”

The Tribune columnist added: “I just don’t think it spoke to many of the issues that people out there living through this pandemic on low-wages, struggling to get by are really going to respond to.

“Keir really needs to be reaching out and showing that he is going to be able to tackle those massive massive challenges that our country is facing.”

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