Labour’s big beasts descended on Nottingham on Saturday for the party’s National Policy Forum (NPF).

Alongside the unions and other party representatives, they will hash out what will become the main thrust of their manifesto.

The problem is they are doing it in the wake of a by-election that was lost on the back of one unpopular policy.

The proposed extension of London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) into outer boroughs was blamed for Labour’s failure to take Uxbridge and South Ruislip this week.

That prompted leader Sir Keir Starmer to tell the NPF this morning: “We are doing something wrong if policies from the Labour Party end up on every Tory leaflet.”

He has also confronted Mr Khan, who was blamed for losing support at a crucial moment by pushing ahead with the scheme.

It suggests that the Labour leader intends to be even more cautious when it comes to making commitments ahead of the general election.

But this approach could increase the disquiet among some in his own ranks, who have been asking: what’s the point of power if you can’t bring in some radical policies?

And it could also give more ammunition to his opponents, who paint him as a professional fence-sitter.

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Starmer warns ‘policy matters’
Strap in for a vicious and bloody fight for No 10

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ULEZ expansion ‘difficult but right decision’

The party leadership will no doubt consider this a price worth paying if it means they can recreate the by-election success of Selby and Ainsty, where they overturned a 20,000 Tory majority.

In the North Yorkshire contest it was national concerns – the cost of living and the NHS – that dominated and gave Labour a record-breaking victory.

They may hope that keeping quiet on specific policies will allow them to repeat that result up and down the country.

For those delegates gathered in Nottingham, however, it gives them little room to manoeuvre.

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