The attainment gap between rich and poor has become a fault line in our society and there are clear links to poverty and disadvantage – yet this does not appear to be on the to-do list of the current government, says Geoff Barton

In the days before the Hartlepool by-election, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer acknowledged that his party had a mountain to climb if he is to become prime minister.

The size of that mountain and the scale of the challenge ahead was laid bare by the results in Hartlepool, where the Conservatives seized power for the first time in the history of the constituency in its current form.

There was no shortage of views on the Friday morning about where the blame lies for Labour’s catastrophic defeat. But aside from all this sound and fury, what seems certain is that Labour has so far failed to set out a compelling vision of what a government under Sir Keir’s leadership would deliver for Britain.

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