‘Stop the chaos and vote for change’, says Starmer as election campaign begins

Sir Keir Starmer has promised to “stop the chaos” in his first speech of the General Election campaign, saying a vote for Labour would be “a vote for stability”.

The Labour leader sought to sketch his party’s pitch to voters with an attack on Conservative stewardship of the country and a focus on his party’s offer of “change”.

Speaking in central London, and indoors in contrast to Rishi Sunak’s rain-drenched speech in Downing Street, Sir Keir said the election was “an opportunity for change”.

He said: “Over the course of the last four years, we have changed the Labour Party, returned it once more to the service of working people.

“All we ask now, humbly, is to do exactly the same for our country and return Britain to the service of working people.”

Labour begins the campaign in a strong position, with a 20-point lead over the Conservatives, but with a stiff challenge after suffering its worst defeat in decades in 2019.

Boundary changes have added to that challenge, with Labour needing a bigger swing than Tony Blair achieved in 1997 if the party is to win a majority.

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Acknowledging it would feel like a “long campaign”, Sir Keir set out three reasons to vote Labour: “stop the chaos”, “it’s time for change” and his party’s “long-term plan to rebuild Britain”.

He mentioned “change” eight times in his five-minute speech, and repeated “stop the chaos” three times.

After criticising the state of Britain’s public services, rivers and economy, Sir Keir warned that a vote for the Conservatives would mean they felt “entitled to carry on exactly as they are” and “nothing will change”.

In contrast, he said, Labour offered to “turn the page on all that” and “reset both our economy and our politics”.

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Sir Keir also drew on his experience before becoming an MP, both as director of public prosecutions and as a human rights adviser on policing in Northern Ireland.

He said: “Service of our country is the reason, and the only reason, why I am standing here now, asking for your vote.

“And I believe, with patience, determination and that commitment to service, there is so much pride and potential we can unlock across our country.”