Keir Starmer sets out vision for Labour to win back power

Peter Walker Political correspondent
Photograph: Richard Saker/The Observer

Keir Starmer has set out his vision for what he describes as a “moral socialism” focused on combating inequality and injustice, promising also to put the climate emergency at the centre of all policies if he becomes Labour leader.

Writing in the Guardian, Starmer, currently seen as the favourite to succeed Jeremy Corbyn, said Labour should focus on becoming electable, but also use parliament to oppose Boris Johnson, calling him “a prime minister with no conviction or principles”.

Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, is among five candidates through to the second stage of the contest after gaining nominations from 88 Labour MPs or MEPs, close to three times the number of the next most-popular candidate, Rebecca Long-Bailey.

Rebecca Long-Bailey


A close ally of the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, the Salford MP and shadow business secretary has been groomed as a potential leftwing contender for the top job.

Pitch Promising to champion “progressive patriotism”.



Lisa Nandy


The Wigan MP has built a reputation as a campaigner for her constituency and others like it, many of which have fallen to the Tories. A soft-left candidate, she resigned from the shadow cabinet in 2016 over Corbyn’s leadership and handling of the EU referendum.

Pitch Wants to “bring Labour home” to voters that have abandoned the party in its traditional strongholds.



Jess Phillips


The MP for Birmingham Yardley is a strong media performer who has built up a significant public profile from the backbenches. Her fiery speeches and witty barbs aimed at the Conservatives  frequently go viral online.

Pitch Prepared to argue for Britain to re-enter the European Union and address challenge of bringing back working-class voters.



Keir Starmer


Ambitious former director of public prosecutions has led the charge for remain in the shadow cabinet. He was instrumental in shifting Labour’s position towards backing a second referendum

Pitch Launched his campaign by highlighting how he has stood up for leftwing causes as a campaigning lawyer, and unveiled the slogan “Another Future is Possible”.



Emily Thornberry


The shadow foreign secretary and MP in Islington South and Finsbury, she will have to fight allegations of being part of the “metropolitan elite”.

Pitch Has the political nous and strategic vision to reunite the party, gain the trust of the public, and can take on Johnson in parliament.


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Setting out his background as a human rights lawyer who become director of public prosecutions, Starmer said he had “always been motivated by a burning desire to tackle inequality and injustice, to stand up for the powerless against the powerful”.

The party, he argued, could win an election by making the case for “a moral socialism that is relevant to people’s everyday lives and the challenges we face”, saying this should be based on economic justice, social justice and climate justice.

This should include opposing austerity, reducing inequality and arguing for “radical devolution of power to our nations, regions, towns and cities”, Starmer said.

He wrote: “There are two parts to being Labour. First, enabling everyone to get a decent education, the best job they can, better standards of living and a fulfilling life. The free market has failed in this endeavour. We have to fight to put wealth, power and opportunity in the hands of all.

“The second part is just as important. People’s lives don’t always work out the way they want. I have seen this first-hand in all the work I have ever done. Labour should always stand by people. The social security system should be decent, strong and unbreakable, with dignity at its heart. That’s what being Labour means.”

Integral to this was tackling the climate emergency, Starmer said: “The argument that something can be good for the economy, but bad for the environment must end. If it’s bad for the environment, then it is bad for the economy.

“We are the party of the green new deal and that must be hardwired into everything we say and do. Businesses, investors and consumers clearly have their role to play, but only a determined lead from government can make this happen. The UK can set an example that leads the world, but only if it is seen to be forging an international alliance to end the climate crisis.”

None of this could be done, he said, “if you don’t win elections”, adding: “I’m standing to be leader of the Labour party because I want to win. Endless Tory governments are not inevitable. Another future is possible, but we have to come together to fight for it.”