Labour, he stated accurately, was historically a patriotic party. He ticked off Attlee, Wilson and Blair – skipping sensibly over Callaghan and Brown – as examples of leaders who won because they were in touch with the country’s values of “security, prosperity and respect”.
I know I’m a lawyer, joked Sir Keir, but don’t worry, I’m not going to reel off “appendixes” and “definitions”! He, of course, did precisely that, dividing his guiding philosophy into sections and subsections of popular principles. Crime is bad. Skills are good. Taxes are too high.
“But what exactly are your policies?” asked the journalists. I mentioned several at last year’s conference, he shot back: Tuesday’s speech is not about ideas (those cost money) but about values, so he’d prefer to limit his remarks to Harry Kane and the white cliffs of Dover, to points of banality far more fixed than Sir Keir’s actual track record.
Before he wanted to “make Brexit work”, he did his damnedest to reverse it, and he won the Labour leadership promising not prosperity of the capitalist kind but nationalisation.
So this is to be 2022! A race to the centre. Labour has started copying the Conservatives shortly after the Conservatives started copying Labour, creating a recursive loop of triangulation and making one almost miss Jeremy Corbyn, who might have believed six impossible things before breakfast, but at least the old duck believed in something.
As for the ghost at the feast, Sir Tony Blair, he is to receive a knighthood, and Sir Keir (who Wikipedia reveals is also a knight) is all for that, too. New Labour is back, baby. If Conservative ministers keep getting snapped eating nibbles during lockdown, or nibbling each other, it might even return to Number 10.