Lord Kinnock: Fair to say voters not yet fully convinced by Labour

It is “fair” to say that voters are not yet fully convinced by Labour, ahead of the general election, the party’s former leader, Lord Kinnock, has said.

He led the Labour party in the run-up to the 1992 general election, when Sir John Major’s Conservatives won a fourth, unexpected, general election victory, despite Labour holding a narrow lead in the opinion polls.

Sir Keir Starmer’s party is enjoying a significant double-digit poll lead over Rishi Sunak’s Tories ahead of the election expected later this year.

The Prime Minister has tried to highlight analysis of the local election results which suggested the UK was on course for a hung Parliament, which is when no party has an overall majority.

However, other polling experts have warned against reading too much into local election data, as voters in general elections tend to to behave differently, with fewer opting for smaller parties.

Speaking to the BBC’s Week In Westminster, broadcast on Saturday, Lord Kinnock declined to speculate on what a Labour victory might look like, saying: “I think I can say with some certainty, we’re not going to lose.

“When it comes to trying to guess the possibility of majorities, large, medium, small, I simply won’t engage in that, because we’ve got a first-past-the-post system which can be very capricious.”

He said Labour is in a “good position” after the local elections, “not least because there were enough results that were disappointing to guarantee no complacency, without enough bad results to give us panic”.

Regional elections
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer celebrating local and regional election results (Jacob King/PA)

Asked whether voters were deeply disillusioned with the Tories but not yet fully convinced by Labour’s pitch, he said: “I think that’s fair. And I think that it’s pretty natural after 14 years of continuous Conservative-led and Conservative governments.

“Expressing enthusiasm is different from expressing desperation. People will say ‘let’s get the bloody Tories out’, but they won’t say ‘hurrah hurrah, marvellous, freedom, liberation is with us because of Keir Starmer’.

“They are entirely different departments of human sentiment.”

He praised Sir Keir’s “sobriety, his maturity, his steadiness, his dependability” as “really useful and essential features of the political landscape” after “giddy years of political leadership”.

Lord Kinnock said the run-up to this election “doesn’t feel like either” 1992 or the Labour landslide in 1997.

“There are no two elections the same,” he said.