Keir Starmer sets out five key pledges ‘to give Britain back hope and confidence’
Sir Keir Starmer on Thursday set out his battlelines for the next election as he unveiled his five long-term missions for a New Labour-style government.
In a keynote speech in Manchester, the Labour leader vowed to give Britain its “confidence, hope and future” back with a landmark reshaping of how the nation is governed. His blueprint for a “mission-driven” Government was still short on detail on how he would achieve his key aims.
But coming about a month after Rishi Sunak published his five pledges, Sir Keir laid out his rival plan for the general election, expected in 2024.
Its aims, which will be the “backbone of the Labour manifesto” and the “pillars of the next Labour government” if he wins, are to:
Secure the highest sustained growth in the G7 by the end of a Labour first term.
Make Britain a clean energy superpower.
Build an NHS fit for the future.
Make Britain’s streets safe and tackle violence against women and girls.
Break down barriers to opportunity for every child by reforming childcare and education.
With echoes of Tony Blair’s New Labour, Sir Keir stressed there would be a “massive role for the private sector in mission-driven government” and that “everything will not be fixed just by spending more money”.
Promising more focus on the long term, he added: “A new mission-driven Labour government will end sticking plaster politics and in doing so get Britain back on its feet. Government can be driven forward by clear, focused objectives... this approach is vital for Britain to get its confidence, its hope and its future back.” At the start of the year, the Prime Minister set his goals by which the country could judge his Government, though, they were also light on detail.
They were to halve inflation this year to ease the cost of living and give people financial security, to grow the economy, creating better-paid jobs and opportunity right across the country, to ensure the national debt is falling to secure the future of public services, to cut NHS waiting lists, and to pass new laws to stop “small boats” so that migrants who come to the UK illegally are detained and swiftly removed.
Mr Sunak has restored some stability to Government after the chaos of the brief Liz Truss administration, with hopes rising that inflation and energy bills may come down more sharply later this year.
But Sir Keir, whose party is around 20 points ahead in many polls, argued that radical reform is needed in the “overall governing philosophy of Britain”, including by shifting power away from Westminster so “big calls” are made at a more local level, with more long-term funding deals for areas, the breaking down of Whitehall “silos”, and jettisoning ideologies to “do whatever it takes to deliver results”.
The Labour leader, whose personal poll ratings have not risen in line with Labour’s, laid out some detail on his plan for the economic goal including that it delivers “good jobs and productivity growth in every part of the country making everyone, not just a few, better off”. Key aims are reforming apprenticeships, a modern childcare system, a “new deal for working people that will make work pay” and a reformed planning system. He explained: “I want more growth in London, of course I do. But I’m not interested in a model of growth where London races ahead and the rest of our country stagnates. Nor will I be satisfied if our growth depends on creating jobs that are low paid and insecure.”
The clean energy superpower mission was based on creating jobs, cutting bills and boosting energy security with zero-carbon electricity by 2030, accelerating to net zero.
First steps highlighted included insulating 19 million homes and training people to be heat pump fitters, builders, engineers and electricians. Distancing himself further from the era of Jeremy Corbyn, he stressed the need that “fiscal rules are sound and followed rigorously”. The crime mission is to make Britain’s streets safe by reforming the police and justice system, to prevent crime, tackle violence against women, and stop criminals getting away without punishment.On Brexit, Sir Keir said Labour would “reset our relationship with the EU.”
Tory party chairman Greg Hands said: “Keir Starmer lacks principles and has no new ideas – and that is how we know a Starmer Labour government would just revert to the same old Labour habits of spending too much, raising taxes, and increasing debt.”
Critics highlighted that addressing illegal immigration was not a key aim.