About Manifesting: The next UK prime minister

IPPR and The Conduit are hosting a joint events series on understanding the politics of today in the run up to the general election.

With the general election now looming and Keir Starmer’s Labour consistently ahead in the polls, Britain seems to be heading for its first Labour government in 14 years. At the same time, the country faces profound democratic, social, economic and environmental challenges, alongside critical foreign developments including the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine.

At this event, we were joined by Tom Baldwin, former director of communications and strategy for the Labour Party and author of ‘Keir Starmer: The Biography’ and co-author of ‘England: Seven Myths That Changed a Country – and How to Set Them Straight’ to discuss who Keir Starmer really is, what type of prime minister he would be, and what this means for UK public policy.


  • Tom Baldwin, former director of communications and strategy for the Labour Party and author
  • Harry Quilter-Pinner, Director of Research and Engagement, IPPR
  • Chair: Sonia Sodha, Chief Leader Writer, the Observer

Watch the event here.

This event is held in partnership with:

Tom Baldwin is a political writer who worked in Westminster and Washington for The Times before becoming director of communications for the Labour Party. He is the author of several books and is the biographer of Keir Starmer.

England: Seven Myths That Changed a Country – and How to Set Them Straightby Tom Baldwin and Marc Stears
Travelling to seven different places across England and interviewing people from every aspect of English life, journalist Tom Baldwin and political scientist Marc Stears interrogate the myths that form the foundations of England’s history – and the modern struggle of forging a national identity.

Years of political turmoil and culture wars have left people asking, what is England and where do we all go from here? Too often, the answers offered are rooted not in real lives, but in myths that have been inflated out of all proportion.

Some talk of restoring an English birth-right of liberty or the global confidence to rule the waves. Others yearn for the old-fashioned morality with which, they claim, England once civilised a savage world. Still more look inwards to a story of an enchanted island that can stand alone against a hostile world.

In England, Tom Baldwin and Marc Stears unravel seven myths that have distorted ideas of this country. They travel from muddy fields in the Home Counties to the ports of Plymouth and Hull. They visit the old industrial heartland of Wolverhampton, spend weekends in the worn-down seaside resort of Blackpool, then gaze up the gleaming towers of modernity on the edge of London and the dreaming spires of Oxford. Along the way, they speak with many different people who tell stories of England, including politicians like Nigel Farage, campaigner Chrisann Jarrett, playwright James Graham and scientist Sarah Gilbert.

Through it all, Baldwin and Stears learn it is only by setting the myths straight that England can come to terms with its past and plot a path to the future. What emerges is a startlingly fresh and vivid real life picture of a country that belongs to everyone, or at least, to no one in particular.

Keir Starmer: The Biographyby Tom Baldwin

Keir Starmer stands on the cusp of becoming prime minister despite being a puzzle to many in Westminster and beyond who really don’t understand how he has got there, let alone who he is or what he wants to do if he makes it through the front door of 10 Downing Street.

This authoritative - but not authorised - biography by Tom Baldwin provides answers by drawing deeply on many hours of interviews with the Labour leader himself, as well as unprecedented access to members of his family, his oldest friends and closest colleagues. Together, they tell an unexpectedly intimate story filled with feelings of grief and love that has driven him on more than any rigid ideology or loyalty to a particular faction.

The book tracks Starmer’s emergence from a troubled small town background and rebellious youth, through a storied legal career as a human rights barrister and the country’s chief prosecutor, to becoming an MP relatively late in life.

Baldwin provides a vivid and compelling account of how this untypical politician then rose to be leader of his party in succession to Jeremy Corbyn, then transformed it with a ruthless rapidity that has enraged opponents from the left just as much as it has bewildered those on the right.

Above all, this is a book that should be read by anyone who wants to understand how someone who has too often been underestimated or dismissed as dull, now intends to bring similar change to Britain.

This event forms part of our event series 'Manifest: Understanding the general election 2024'

The build up to the next UK general election has started. The polls predict either an outright win for Labour or a majority for a coalition of progressive parties. Quietly, in the background, political parties are starting to pull together their manifestos. This begs the question: what promises will they make and will they be bold enough to manifest the change the country needs?

Together with The Conduit, our events will ask:

  • What are the big policy debates that will shape the election?
  • What are the political parties likely to say about these in their manifestos?
  • What are the bold ideas that we need them to be committing to?

Past events have looked at the role of party manifestos. Future events will consider democratic justice, and economic and environmental justice.