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Former Labour leader ‘convinced we’re not going to lose’ next election

Former Labour leader Neil Kinnock has cautiously predicted a victory for Sir Keir Starmer at the next general election – but refused to speculate on whether he will win a majority.

Lord Kinnock famously lost the 1992 election despite the polls being stacked firmly in his favour as the country, then under its 13th consecutive year of a Conservative government, battled a recession and declining living standards.

His rival John Major clinched a victory in a shock outcome that resulted in five more years of the Tories in power, before being wiped out by Labour’s Tony Blair.

Given Sir Keir’s 20 point lead in the polls, pundits are questioning whether the next election could be a repeat of the party’s 1997 landslide victory, or a 1992 false dawn.

But Lord Kinnock told Sunday Morning With Trevor Philips (SMTP) that it will be “neither 92 or 97”.

“It’s going to be 24 because every single election is different.”

Pressed if he thought Labour will win, he said: “I’m convinced now that we’re not going to lose… I will go no further than that.”

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He said he thought Sir Keir would end up in Downing Street, but that the UK’s First Past the Post (FPTP) voting system made it too difficult to guess by how much anybody could win or lose by.

On criticism that Sir Keir is too cautious, he said the Labour leader is taking a sensible approach to win broad support for his party.

Neil Kinnock in 1985
Image: Neil Kinnock in 1985 (Pic: PA)

“Caution is fine. To be reserved, to not disclose full plans, to accept convections before the election to give the reassurance which is crucial to getting a breadth of support without which you can’t win… that is just sensible.”

The next election is expected to take place in the second half of this year.

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Labour needs a historic 12.7 percentage point swing to win a majority – larger than the 10.2% swing former prime minister Tony Blair achieved.

Labour has been buoyed by a series of by-election victories this parliament, including two on Friday, but Sir Keir has insisted he is not complacent – telling reporters this week: “You don’t win the league by a good result in February. So we’ve got to fight like we’re five points behind in the polls.”

It followed what was considered to be the biggest crisis of his leadership so far as the party became embroiled in another antisemitism row, which resulted in them withdrawing support for Rochdale by-election candidate Azhar Ali.

Lord Kinnock said he believed Sir Keir “acted with courage and correctly” over the issue.

Pressed on whether Sir Keir would end up in 10 Downing Street, he said: “Yes. And I look forward to that very much because I think he would be a mature, honest, dependable leader of a party. And by God, we need all that now.”

Sky News Source