Keir Starmer visits Nuneaton as he launches key General Election childcare plan

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer and shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson during a visit to Nursery Hill Primary School, in Nuneaton
-Credit: (Image: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)

Labour leader Keir Starmer chose Nuneaton today to make one of his key General Election manifesto pledges. The man who wants to be prime minister joined in a pirate-making session with youngsters in the early years class at Nursery Hill Primary School.

He and Bridget Phillipson, Labour ’s shadow education secretary, launched the party's plans for childcare provision. But it was also a great moment for the pupils as they sat at a table with little ones making pirates.

They even passed on pearls of crafting wisdom with the youngsters, telling them to 'use lots of glue' as they stuck lollypop sticks to their characters. Nuneaton is a seat that Labour are desperate to win in the General Election. Only last week, Yvette Cooper, shadow home secretary, met with business owners in the town centre.

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Many of them raised smiles among the two leading politicians as they proudly showed off their pirates. Prior to them going into the classroom, the Labour leader had met families in the early years provision at the Ansley-based school.

But the fact that the man who wants to lead the country chose the town to launch Labour's plans for childcare provision signals a clear intention that they want to win back the seat which has been held by the Conservatives for the past 14 years. For decades, the Nuneaton seat was a Labour heartland.

When asked by CoventryLive about why people, locally, should vote Labour, he said: "What I would say to people who thought that they couldn't vote for us in the past is, I have heard you and we have changed the Labour party because of what you told us. We have put the Labour party back in the service of working people.

"So this is a changed Labour party in this election, this is not the Labour party we put before them in 2019, and that is because I heard loud and clear what they were saying. We have come with a positive plan for the future, the change that we need to make, some of the first steps we have already set out, 40,000 extra appointments in hospitals to get the waiting lists down - that will make a massive difference to people here."

When asked what issues the parents had brought up to him during his visit, he said: "They were talking about the lack of provision for early years, the absolute importance of nurseries, they really like the idea of a nursery being based in a school, which is part of our plan. We had six or seven parents in there, at least two of them had older children in the school, so it makes life easier for them."

He sent a message to voters across the town that they will be heard by him if they vote Labour and for candidate Josie Gosling. He said: "They (the voters) will have my ear because she will make sure that she has got my ear, and that is how it should work."

'About as big as it gets'

Having the nation's media rock up in a media bus as well as the would be next Prime Minister and shadow education secretary in school was a moment that school headteacher Sarah Jeans won't ever forget. She told CoventryLive that they were asked last Wednesday about welcoming a senior politician to the small but mighty village school, but did not know then that it would be the Labour leader.

"It is about as big as it gets," she said. "We were so proud to show him around the school.

"They came in and met families in our wraparound care, and that was really positive to show him that, and we talked about early years education.

"We serve the communities of Ridge Lane, Birchley Heath and Ansley Common and we have struggled to find nursery provision for pre-schoolers in this area. It is very much in our interest to make sure that our nursery provision is widely advertised and it is getting fuller."

She said that they are investigating taking on two-year-olds in the early years provision as it is 'much needed in the area.' On the presence of Keir Starmer in the school, the headteacher said: "Year 5 and 6 have been talking about democracy and they are really excited about it."

While the early years class were maybe not aware of the people in their presence, she added that it will be something for them to look back on when they are older that they made pirate hats and swapped sea stories with a man who could be in charge of the country.

Jodie Gosling is standing for the Labour Party in the General Election on July 4. Marcus Jones is standing for the Conservatives, Keith Kondakor is the Green Party candidate and Rob Howard is the Reform UK candidate.

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