Party activists from Australia and the UK have been swapping tactics and information and the Australian Labor Party’s general secretary, Paul Erikson is attending the UK conference in Liverpool, having already briefed British shadow ministers virtually earlier this year.
Erikson has given advice to Starmer’s team, including his head of strategy, urging them to avoid the culture wars and instead focus on the economy.
Starmer however has a bigger task to achieve victory than Albanese did, Labour will need to retain its seats and claim a further 123 from every corner of the UK and from all parties, including the Scottish National Party which is dominant in Scotland. This would require a 10 per cent swing.
Like Albanese, Starmer does not enjoy the personal popularity that fuelled the respective Blair and Rudd victories of 1997 and 2007.
But as in Australia, UK voters will be choosing between a relatively new prime minister in Liz Truss leading an ageing and scandal-plagued Conservative government versus a Labour leader campaigning for a fresh start to restore trust in politics.
Both Scott Morrison and Boris Johnson pulled off victories by campaigning as political outsiders, something Lammy said Truss would not be able to replicate.
“Perhaps Boris Johnson represented a high point in Lynton Crosby-type politics,” Lammy said.
China policy will mirror Australia’s
Lammy said that it was not just electioneering that UK Labour was hoping to emulate from Australian Labor but policy too.
He declared that British Labour would restore foreign aid funding to 0.7 per cent of GDP after the Tories cut it to 0.5 per cent, citing the cost of the pandemic.
He said there would be a complete alignment with the current Australian government’s position on China, a country with which he said British Labour had “powerful differences of opinion.”
“On human rights, on technological theft and security issues we will be very robust with the Chinese,” he said.
“We’re not going to compromise on our principles around human rights, absolutely not – that’s not where the Labour movement is.
“Our policy, Labour party policy in office would mirror very much what we’re seeing in Australian Labor.”
Labour will outlaw cotton products made by slaves in Xinjiang factories.
When asked if Labour was committed to maintaining Britain’s increased military presence in the region, he said: “It is,” adding “we do accept that there has to be an Indo-Pacific tilt to our foreign policy, that is not just a desire here in the UK, and it’s a bipartisan desire, it’s also a desire in Europe.”
Lammy said it was for this reason that he had meetings with his counterparts from Pacific nations including Kiribati, Samoa and Fiji at the recent United Nations gathering in New York.
He also said he was open to matching a proposal recently floated by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, that the UK could operate submarines in the Indo-Pacific, as a way of plugging Australia’s capability gap, when its ageing Collins Class boats are retired.
“We are committed to AUKUS because we are moving into a different period in our lifetimes where China has emerged as a very serious superpower but is pursuing a lot of aggression,
“And we have to be there alongside our allies and engaged and AUKUS is a very, very important means of demonstrating that.
“We will always support the needs of our Australian friends,” he said.”
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