A Strategic Left? Starmerism, Pluralism and the Soft Left

Paul Thompson, Frederick Harry Pitts*, Jo Ingold

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalPolitical Quarterly
Early online date1 Dec 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Dec 2020

Structured keywords

  • Global Political Economy
  • MGMT Work Organisation and Public Policy
  • MGMT theme Work Futures


  • Labour Party
  • British Politics
  • The Left
  • Keir Starmer
  • Pluralism
  • Populism

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