THE country is at a turning point, but the Labour Party needs to go above and beyond to secure the buy in and support from the public if they want to form the next UK government.

Labour have kicked off 2022 by hitting the ground running as Keir Starmer put his marker down by offering a renewed social contract based on respect, security, and prosperity underpinned by a competent government that will adhere to those principles.

In an attempt to connect with the British public and to show that the party has changed and moved on from the Corbyn years, Starmer paid tribute to former Labour prime ministers, Clement Attlee, Harold Wilson, and Tony Blair and when asked why he didn’t mention Jeremy Corbyn he said: "What those three have in common is that they all won, and I want to be the fourth leader in our party’s history that takes us into government.”

This press conference couldn’t have come at a better time against a backdrop of sleaze, corruption and hypocrisy which has overshadowed the incumbent Conservative Party administration. Contrast that with a fresh new Labour Party with a competent shadow cabinet and front bench who’s central message is underpinned by hope and an ambition for Britain where everyone is better off, and no one is left behind.

But what really struck me about Starmer’s speech was the tone and sincerity underpinning the offer of a government that is worthy of the name by emphasising that the British public, 'don’t like to be taken for fools'. But more than that, and this is something that I don’t think any opposition politician of recent times has said, is that “just because the government have lost the trust of the British people doesn’t mean that we just inherit it, we have to earn it.”

Recognising the challenges that lie ahead for Labour – winning back the former red wall seats in the north of England and winning back Scotland, Starmer is confident but not complacent about what needs to be done to succeed.

Whilst the electorate is starting to get to know Starmer and like what he is saying we, as a party, need to go above and beyond to secure the support and buy-in from the public if we are to stand any chance of forming the next UK government. Like all relationships in life it comes down to trust and giving voters a reason to vote for us.

This means that the Labour Party will need to have credible policy on the cost-of-living crisis, rising gas prices, the UK housing crisis, and a real plan for the NHS. Last week, I wrote about how we should look at creating an NHS reservist programme which I think would help address the capacity issues we are seeing in the NHS, but is by no means the whole solution to the current problems.

Crafting a clear and articulate message that is easy to understand and conveying what we stand for will be central to Starmer’s tour across the UK.

Rachael Reeves who Starmer appointed last year as Shadow Chancellor, is clearly in command of her brief as her engagement with businesses is starting to pay off with the business community realising that the Labour Party is now becoming more pro-business. This is exactly where we need to be as a party.

Anyone who knows Boris Johnson will tell you that he is politically astute and his whole bumbling Churchill tribute look is nothing more than an act. Right now, Johnson will be thinking of ways to move on from the current debacle he finds himself in.

The fact of the matter is that the writing is on the wall for this Conservative government that has turned Britain into a high tax, high price, high inflation low growth economy.

The architects of the Brexit plan have failed the people of Britain. It is simply a recipe for disaster for the hardworking people of this country. These issues along with the NHS, and the social and health care crisis, will go on to shape the agenda of the next general election. The next election is Labour’s to win.

Barrie Cunning is managing director of Pentland Communications and a former Scottish Labour Parliamentary candidate