Labour's new council leaders pledge to take cost of living action within 100 days

·4-min read

Labour's new council leaders have pledged to deliver emergency cost of living plans within 100 days of taking office.

The party has 22 new council leaders as a result of last week's local elections, which saw Labour triumph in Tory heartlands including Medway, Swindon and East Staffordshire.

On Tuesday, the new council leaders will meet Sir Keir Starmer along with senior members of the shadow cabinet to reflect on their success and set out how they will govern going forward.

Six councils transferred directly from Tory hands to Labour in last Thursday's election, while the party was also able to win control of councils that were previously under no overall control, including Plymouth and Stoke-on-Trent.

In total, it picked up 528 seats. The party is now the largest in local government for the first time since 2002.

The Conservatives, by contrast, endured a torrid night, losing more than 1,000 seats and control of 48 councils - meeting the worst possible pre-election predictions.

Labour put the rising cost of living at the heart of its local election campaign, promising to bring in a more substantial windfall tax on oil and gas giants as well as freeze council tax this year if it was in power.

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Speaking ahead of the meeting, Sir Keir said the election results showed there was "appetite for change, right across the country".

"Our relentless focus on the number one issue keeping people up at night was because we get it," he said.

"We understand that times are tough, and prices are biting. That people are making different choices, changing their lifestyles, and they're despondent about the future.

"Labour offered a positive alternative, and people have given us their trust. It's now our duty to not waste a day in delivering on the Labour commitment to ease the squeeze on people's pockets."

Each new Labour council will be twinned with an existing Labour-led local authority to help them learn the ropes.

One of the first acts the new council leaders will do is review local housing and development plans "to make sure they reflect local need" after Sir Keir promised not to "abandon the ambitions of generation rent".

One factor that has been blamed for the Conservatives' poor performance was Rishi Sunak's decision to scrap house-building targets, which former levelling up secretary Simon Clarke branded "a major mistake".

As well as the hybrid meeting on Tuesday, Sir Keir will also hold his weekly shadow cabinet where he is expected to stress that despite the positive showing, there is "still more work to be done" and "the hardest part lies ahead".

He will say: "The fact that Labour won in all parts of the country was a sign of the strides we have made.

"People who turned away from us during the Corbyn years and the Brexit years are coming back.

"But there is understandably a lot of scepticism about politics out there and now we need to go from reassurance to hope. We need to show that we will be a big reforming government bringing hope of a better life for working people."

In the coming weeks, the party will launch three new missions on health, opportunity and clean power.

It will also set out more details on its plan to win back Scotland, where Labour has a chance of regaining territory following the turmoil in the SNP leadership.

In recent weeks the SNP has been turning its fire on the Labour Party, with polls showing that the latter is closing the gap on the SNP's hegemony.

In a further sign that the SNP intends to turn up the heat on Labour, the party has said it would demand a "close relationship" with the EU in the event of a hung parliament at the next election.

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While Sky's election analyst Michael Thrasher said Labour was on course to be the largest party in 2024, he said it would still nevertheless be short of a majority, meaning the party may have no option but to form a coalition.

Sir Keir has repeatedly ruled out a coalition with the SNP but the latter believes it could hold "the balance of power" at the next election.

The SNP's EU Accession spokesperson, Alyn Smith MP said: "While independence is the only way for Scotland to regain our EU membership, the SNP could hold the balance of power at the next election and we would use our influence to undo Brexit as far as possible and demand the UK has a close relationship with the EU.

"With all the signs pointing to a hung parliament, the SNP could force a minority Labour government to rejoin the EU single market, reintroduce free movement and transfer power for an independence referendum to Edinburgh, so Scotland can regain our place in Europe.

"At the next election, voting SNP is the only way to beat the Tories in Scotland."