WITH the Conservatives planning to push tax up to record levels and failing to guarantee that the homes of northerners will escape social care bills, and with chaos literally on the streets in the form of petrol queues, you might have thought this week’s party conference represented an open goal for Labour.

Instead it has looked more like a series of own goals, with an argument over voting rights, an apparently drink-fuelled rant about Tory “scum”, criticism of the leader by northern mayors and then the resignation of Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald, allegedly as part of a Corbynite plot to destabilise Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership.

All very messy.

It might be possible to feel sorry for Mr Starmer, who’s a decent, solid man trying to maintain equilibrium while others desperately try to drag the party leftwards, despite that direction being heavily rejected in the party’s heartlands at the last election.

He might even be glad as Mr McDonald’s departure might show him as seeing down the left.

But he hasn’t really inspired. He hasn’t set out how Labour can be relevant again in areas such as ours which turned their backs on the party.

Mr Starmer was always said to be more of a manager than an inspirational figurehead, but he hasn’t managed to make the party look united or positioned it to take advantage of sloppy back passes by the Government.