He said the party must “step up another gear” as jubilant MPs and activists gather in Liverpool after their win in Thursday’s Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election.
A new patriotic membership card will be unveiled today with the slogan “putting the country first”.
“Labour is a proudly patriotic party,” a spokesperson said.
It’s all part of a bid to underline changes made since Jeremy Corbyn quit as leader in 2020.
But his replacement has yet to resonate with voters.
A Sunday Express survey by WeThink shows 57 per cent regard Starmer as “uninspiring”. Only 38 per cent say he is “inspiring”. Others are neutral or don’t know.
Tory attempts to portray the Labour leader as a “flip-flopper” have also struck home – 51 per cent of voters saying he is “indecisive” while 44 per cent disagree.
It comes after he ditched plans to bring energy utilities into “common ownership” and insisted that he is committed to Brexit despite having backed a second referendum.
Almost half of voters – 48 per cent – also regard him as “untrustworthy”, with 47 per cent taking the opposite view.
But in better news for the Labour leader, who arrived in Liverpool yesterday with his deputy Angela Rayner and who is due to deliver his keynote speech on Tuesday, he
is regarded as more competent
than rival Rishi Sunak on a range of key issues.
More voters said they trusted him than the Prime Minister to bring down knife crime, reduce NHS waiting lists and deliver better transport in the north of England.
And 54 per cent even said they trusted him more than the Tory leader to deliver Brexit.
Mr Sunak was ahead when voters were asked who they trusted to end small boat crossings, with the backing of 52 per cent compared to 48 per cent for Starmer.
Tory strategists hope to turn the election into a personal battle between the leaders.
And they believe voters will conclude that Mr Sunak is the right choice to lead the country.
Last night a Labour source said: “The conference will be a chance for Keir to put to bed any lingering doubts people have about him.”
And an MP said: “We know the Conservatives think this is an issue. The leader’s overall profile can always be improved and I’m sure Keir will be working on that.”
In an eve-of-conference message to activists, Starmer said: “We’re heading in the right direction. But now is the time to step up another gear.
“We have less than 18 months until the next general election. We must spend every one of those days showing that only Labour can deliver for working people.”
Announcements in the run-up to the conference included pledges to improve NHS diagnosis services with AI technology and doubling the number of hospital scanners.
The building of more council housing and ensuring police target sex offenders who pose a risk to women are also key policies.
Labour has also said it would require employers to set out plans to support staff going through the menopause.
Party chairwoman Anneliese Dodds said: “If Labour wins the next election, I will become the first-ever Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, dedicated to advocating for women in all their diversity.”
Despite polls showing that Labour is on course for victory, MPs are wary. One said: “You’ve got to be optimistic but with caution.”
But the party is in high spirits after gaining Rutherglen and Hamilton West from the SNP with a swing of 20.4 per cent, described by one MP as a “seismic shift”.
And Labour received another boost last night when a poll by Survation shows them heading for a landslide 190-seat majority, with 420 MPs, while the Conservatives would only secure 149.
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