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Sir Keir’s not here to entertain. If the media wants politics as panto, it’s playing in Clacton

Complaints that the Labour campaign is dull are a tribute to its steely professionalism

From the off, this election has been Labour’s to lose – and boy does it know it. Every indicator signposts victory, but Labour is fighting it as if there’s a real risk of defeat. “Change”, the simple one-word slogan inscribed on the front cover of the manifesto, emblazoned on every podium and never absent from a Starmer speech, is a clinically utilitarian compression of the core theme. The messaging is rigidly repetitive. “Stop the chaos, turn the page and start to rebuild Britain.” Rinse and repeat, members of the shadow cabinet, until your mouth is cracked dry and you’ve given your audience tinnitus. One of the campaign’s architects recently purred to me: “I do love message discipline”, as if he was talking about his children. Stick to the script. Never drop the ball. Ignore the opinion polls. Take nothing for granted. Leave nothing to chance. Get over the line.

Don’t think I’m being a critic. I say all this as a compliment to the professionalism of the Labour campaign, not least because I’ve witnessed so many past contests in which the party lacked the ferocious focus and the steely will to prevail in the brutal contact sport of electoral politics.

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