Starmer calls for Tories to face ‘democratic reckoning’ at the ballot box

Sir Keir Starmer called for voters to give him a “clear mandate” to govern as he warned Labour that political apathy could hand Rishi Sunak another five years in power.

Senior Tories have repeatedly suggested Labour is on course for a landslide win and Mr Sunak’s party was fighting to save as many MPs as possible to form an effective opposition.

But in a sign Labour is worried about complacency setting in among its potential supporters, Sir Keir said the party had to motivate people disillusioned by politics to go the ballot box to ensure a “democratic reckoning” on Thursday.

At the major rally in London, featuring a video message of support from Sir Elton John and a speech by comedian Bill Bailey, Sir Keir went on the attack over the Conservatives’ record in office since 2010.

“Don’t forget what they have done, don’t forget Partygate, don’t forget the Covid contracts, don’t forget the lies, don’t forget the kickbacks, don’t forget the cronyism, don’t forget the division, the scapegoating of minorities, the failure to invest, the trips to the bookies, the decimation of your public services.

“Telling working people ‘we’re all in it together’, the people who hurt your family finances, swanning around the House of Lords, after giving tax cuts to the richest 1% that crashed our economy, don’t forget any of it.”

But Sir Keir said “we can heal the wounds, bring our country together, return politics to service, and start to build a new Britain”.

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner (left) with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and his wife Victoria
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner (left) with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and his wife Victoria (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Sir Keir, wearing a white shirt with the sleeves rolled up, said: “This is the final furlong. This is the final mile, the last push, and it’s the hardest mile as well.”

He added: “British people want change, but the hope has almost been kicked out. They need to be convinced that change is possible, most of all they need to be convinced to vote for it.”

Opinion polls have given Labour an average lead of around 20 points over the Tories throughout the campaign, with modelling suggesting a 1997-style landslide for Sir Keir.

The Tory strategy, with repeated warnings of a Labour “supermajority”, has been aimed at persuading would-be Reform UK voters not to contribute to ousting Conservative MPs in order to form an effective opposition.

Musician and comedian Bill Bailey addressing the Labour rally
Musician and comedian Bill Bailey addressed the Labour rally, while there were video endorsements from celebrities including Sir Elton John (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

But Sir Keir stressed that he wanted a large majority to give him the parliamentary authority to implement his agenda.

He said: “We’ll need a clear mandate for this change, don’t doubt that. And if you don’t believe me, take a good look at the Tories.

“Chaos under Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, two politicians who never had a clear mandate.”

Sir Keir, who was joined on stage by wife Victoria after his speech, said the Conservative could get back in “if we take our foot off the gas, if people think it’s in the bag”.

“That’s what will happen, if there isn’t a democratic reckoning this Thursday, and we cannot allow that to happen.”

Sir Keir received backing from the Independent, which usually avoids explicit support for a party.

In an editorial, it said: “This newspaper has established a tradition of being reluctant to pin its colours to any one political mast; it has often respectfully shied away from advising its readers how to vote.

“But these are extraordinary times. Trust in politicians has been damaged by the Conservatives to a devastating degree. Only by removing the party from power can that trust have any chance of being rebuilt.

“That is why this newspaper is prepared to give the benefit of the doubt to Sir Keir’s party and back Labour on 4 July – but with this proviso: Labour must turn its promises into policies that benefit the hard-working and hopeful people of this country.”