LABOUR is the only party I ever joined.

In 1966 and 1970 I was inspired by, and campaigned for, Donald Dewar in Aberdeen South. A few years later however, infiltration by Militant, especially at branch level, dampened my enthusiasm and my membership lapsed.

Nevertheless, during the Thatcher years I remained a supporter and voter. Hope arising from New Labour’s 1997 landside didn’t last long. It’s more than likely Margaret Thatcher did describe Tony Blair and New Labour as her greatest achievement. Mr Blair’s so-called Third Way was little more than a blunted version of Conservative economic and to a lesser extent, social policies. Hence Peter Mandelson being comfortable with the “filthy rich,” if they paid their taxes.

It's certainly true Mr Blair made Labour electable; for a time at least. Which brings us to the current Labour leadership’s efforts to make the party electable and airbrush Jeremy Corbyn and his legacy.

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On the surface at least, Labour is faced by an open goal, in the shape of a breathtakingly incompetent Westminster government and a Scottish government that is running out of steam. To be fair, the current plethora of crises would challenge any administration that had even the faintest idea of what it is about. Almost by default, Labour is on track for a resounding victory in the 2025 Westminster election. For that to happen though, many former supporters like me, will have to be won back and we remain unconvinced.

Sir Keir Starmer has recognised Labour has “a mountain to climb.” For some reason that conjures up Mallory and Irvine rather than Hillary and Tenzing. Sir Keir has gone out of his way to build an image of solidity and responsibility. Consequently, he comes across as dull.

That’s not necessarily a problem. Clement Attlee, arguably the most able 20th century prime minister, wouldn’t have cut the mustard on Have I Got News for You? Nevertheless, personal charisma had much to do with Labour’s 1997 victory. Despite Boris Johnson’s multiple shortcomings, he is still popularly regarded as “good old Boris” and remains the preference of many Tory backwoodsmen and women.

If Sir Keir’s stolidness isn’t the problem, what is? It’s more likely to be the singular lack of vision in the face of national and international problems that can only get worse. Where are the practical and plausible responses to a bombing economy, inflation, the NHS, Ukraine, the climate emergency, and all the other nightmares, too numerous to list? Sir Keir’s claim to be taking advice from yesterday’s men, including Mr Blair and Mr Brown, is hardly reassuring.

Like both those predecessors, Sir Keir appears content to accept the Tories have won the battle of ideas, allowing them to set the agenda. His, and Labour’s ambitions are limited to tinkering around the margins of Tory policy. He warns that if elected, he won’t be opening the “big government chequebook” to shore up collapsing public services. We can’t spend ourselves out of the current mess.

Fair enough, but what are his alternatives? A further dose of Tory/LibDem austerity that caused many of the problems besetting public services? More privatisation, diverting scarce funding into the pockets of fat-cat shareholders? Sir Keir’s belief that cutting bureaucracy is the answer to the crisis in the NHS is laughable.

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Even more alarmingly, Sir Keir is attempting to camouflage his vision and policy bypass with pound-shop populism. Winning back Red Wall Brexiters is top priority. At all costs, we mustn’t offend them by spelling out the self-harm inflicted by Brexit. “Get Brexit Done” was dreamt up by a charlatan and “Make Brexit Work” is out of the same stable.

Furthermore, Labour’s dog whistle about ending “immigration dependency” is both unprincipled and self-defeating. The wheeze to train Brits for jobs done by incomers ignores our historical reluctance to do those jobs in the first place.

Holyrood and Westminster elections are on the horizon. Despite being in the wilderness for more than a decade, Labour will fancy its chances. If so, its lack of experience, principle, and vision in the face of the worst crises since 1945, should be keeping Sir Keir and Mr Sarwar awake at nights.