SIR KEIR STARMER showed yesterday that he does have the makings of a leader in him – but is he going to be strong enough to see off the left in his party who heckled throughout and were unimpressed by what he said?

If over long, Starmer in his speech distanced himself from the Corbyn era and sidled up towards the times of Tony Blair, without mentioning either name but definitely invoking Blair’s education catchphrase.

He showed that he could do emotion in a moving passage about his dying mother, he presented some very strong arguments on law and order, and he even managed a decent joke about toolmakers and Boris Johnson.

Perhaps his most effective lines were that Mr Johnson is a “trivial man”, and that for Labour, “the object of the exercise” has to be winning power, otherwise there is little point in the party existing.

He dealt effectively with the hecklers, who looked rude and embittered. They could be doing him a favour as he can define himself against them as a post-Corbyn moderate, who is happy talking about patriotism and support for the armed forces – this has to be a key to winning back the “red wall” seats that turned their backs on Jeremy Corbyn’s party.

But they reminded anyone watching that, as was shown by the resignation of Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald, there is a power struggle which is dividing the party, and the perceived wisdom is that the people do not elect a divided party.