Keir Starmer To Signal Break With Jeremy Corbyn In Labour Conference Speech

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(Photo: JUSTIN TALLIS via Getty Images)
(Photo: JUSTIN TALLIS via Getty Images)

Keir Starmer will use his first in-person conference speech to make a break with the Jeremy Corbyn-era.

Labour’s gathering in Brighton has been dominated by in-fighting, as Starmer and his allies moved to try and exert dominance over the left of the party.

In his address to party members on Wednesday lunchtime, Starmer will declare Labour is “back in business” under his leadership.

A Labour source said the speech would be “noticeably different” than the approach under Corbyn and would signal the party had a “serious plan for government”.

Senior Labour figures have indicated they expect Boris Johnson to call an early general election in 2023.

Starmer will highlight the fuel crisis and the rising cost of living as evidence that Johnson lacks the competence required for the role of prime minister, with the government “lost in the woods”.

In an attempt to convince voters that Labour is a credible government-in-waiting, Starmer will say: “Too often in the history of this party our dream of the good society falls foul of the belief that we will not run a strong economy.

“But you don’t get one without the other. And under my leadership we are committed to both.

“I can promise you that under my leadership Labour will be back in business.”

A Labour source said: “Keir’s speech will be noticeably different from what you’ve heard from Labour in recent years. It will be more optimistic, more focused on the future, more outward looking.

“The speech will be a demonstration of the way the Labour party has changed. It will be a clear indication that Labour will never again go into an election with a manifesto that isn’t a serious plan for government.”

A Labour spokesperson said the “shine is coming off Boris Johnson” and that voters had “serious questions around the competency of the government,”

Watch: Labour conference: Jeremy Corbyn reveals he spoke to quitting shadow minister Andy McDonald - but denies 'Machiavellian plot'

The speech will present Labour as a credible opposition versus a government which is “strong on slogans and weak on strategy”, the spokesperson said.

“I see the government lost in the woods with two paths beckoning,” Starmer will say.

“One path leads back where we came from. None of the lessons of Covid are heeded.

“The divisions and flaws that were brutally exposed by the pandemic all worsen.

“But there is another path down which we address the chronic problems revealed by Covid with the kindness and the togetherness that got us through.

“That path leads to a future in which a smart government enlists the brilliance of scientific invention to create an economy in which people are healthy and well-educated.

“A contribution society in which everyone has their role to play.”

The country faces big issues, including “how we make our living in a competitive world”, the future of the Union and the relationship with Europe.

“These are big issues. But our politics is so small,” Starmer will say. “So our politics needs to grow to meet the scale of the challenge.”

The keynote address will close a conference which has seen the resignation of Andy McDonald from the shadow cabinet and a bust-up with unions and the party left over internal rule changes.

But Starmer’s allies believe the rows with the Corbynite wing of the party were necessary to have now, to prepare the party for a snap general election.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

Watch: Labour conference 2021: Sir Keir Starmer wants to move the party to the centre, but can't bring himself to say it

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