Only two things mattered about yesterday’s conference speech by Keir Starmer – that he was heckled by the far left and the fact that he hit the right note on economic security and crime.
The heckles were wonderful political theatre – and gold dust for the Starmer project. Although the themes of the shouts from the floor included Starmer’s attitude to Brexit, the general tone was recognisably Corbynite, including anger about the £15 minimum wage which has been embraced by the far left at conference. The loudest and most persistent shouting from the floor began while Starmer was talking about his mother’s lifelong battle with Still’s disease. Bad look, hecklers.
Although Starmer’s riposte – “Shouting slogans, or changing lives, Conference?” – might not have had the electrifying drama of Neil Kinnock’s stand-off with Militant during the Labour conference of 1985, there are some useful parallels. It illustrated that Starmer is ruthless enough to take on his critics.