Sir Keir Starmer has promised to “give Britain its future back” with a “mission-driven government” as he set out his priorities if he wins power at the next election.
The Labour leader set out five goals which will be at the core of his manifesto.
- Secure the highest sustained growth in the G7
- Build an NHS fit for the future
- Make Britain’s streets safe
- Break down the barriers to opportunity at every stage
- Make Britain a clean energy superpower
In a speech in Manchester, Sir Keir said: “These missions will form the backbone of the Labour manifesto. The pillars of the next Labour government.
“They will be measurable, so we can track progress and be held to account. Long-term so we can look beyond the day-to-day. Informed by experts and the public, so we can build a coalition for change.
“And each will support our drive for growth. Each will help us get our future back.”
While the next election is not expected until autumn 2024, Sir Keir said he is already speaking to experts and business leaders about how he can achieve his goals.
Politics live: Labour leader unveils ‘five missions’
Extraordinary events give Starmer a real shot at power
He promised to achieve his goal for the economy “by the end of the first term” and said this will be “powered by good jobs and stronger productivity in every part of the country”.
On making the UK a clean energy super power, he said the first steps will be to insulate 19 million homes, train people in green jobs and create Great British Energy – a new, publicly owned company that will generate renewable sources.
On law and order, he invoked predecessor Sir Tony Blair as he promised to be “tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime”.
Sir Keir said he is “not concerned about whether investment or expertise comes from the public or private sector – I just want to get the job done”.
This stands in contrast to his position in 2019, when the Labour party pledged to nationalise energy, rail, mail and water.
Labour’s missions show how far Starmer has travelled
Keir Starmer’s five “bold missions for a better Britain” show again how far he has personally travelled, from Labour’s doldrums to scenting power.
The top mission, I’m told, is securing Britain the highest economic growth in the G7, after an IMF forecast suggested our economy would be the only one to contract in 2023.
Economic growth and getting the NHS back on track are also in Rishi Sunak’s list of five priorities, which he set out at the start of the year.
Where they diverge is that Starmer will put forward law and order, skills and making Britain a “clean energy superpower”, while Sunak focuses on immigration and reducing debt.
None of it looks controversial. One issue is timescale – Starmer’s priorities are long term; we are told “unashamedly” so. At the start of the year he outlined a “decade of national renewal”, in other words a two-term plan to fix Britain’s economy and public services.
But Labour sources say he will have measurable aims, to be set out in the coming weeks, which will answer the question: ‘what will change immediately under a Labour government?’
His critics point out that his march to the centre has seen Keir Starmer abandon quite a few planks of another numbered plan – the 10 pledges he put forward during the Labour leadership contest.
One of those was “common ownership” of public services like rail, mail and energy – which Labour have since decided against. Abolishing tuition fees looks unlikely, and defending free movement of people has fallen by the wayside.
All this has happened with little public criticism from his Labour colleagues, except for a minority on the left.
Asked by Sky’s political editor Beth Rigby how he can be trusted when he has junked many of the policies he won the Labour leadership on, Sir Keir insisted his missions had been “hard thought through” and “reflect the challenges the country faces”.
Answering further questions from journalists he said all his missions will be “fully costed” but “reform is as important as the money we put in”.
He acknowledged all of the problems won’t be fixed within five years but said they will come with “measurable goals along the way”.
‘Sticking plaster politics’
Sir Keir is expected to set out further detail on his policies in the coming weeks.
It comes as the party continues to ride high in UK nationwide polls, while Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s approval rating slumps.
‘Tough on crime’: Labour evokes Tony Blair with policing plans
During his speech, the Labour leader repeatedly hit out at the Conservatives for “13 years of sticking plaster politics” which he blamed for many of the country’s problems.
Listing some of those, he said: “The only country in the G7 still poorer than it was before the pandemic. The worst decade for growth in two centuries. Seven million are on waiting lists and rising. You don’t see this everywhere.”
But Commons leader Penny Mordaunt accused him of engaging in “cosplay Conservatism” as he seeks to return Labour to Downing Street.
Greg Hands, the new Chairman of the Conservative Party, added: “Starmer has never made a pledge he intends to keep.
“He will say anything if the politics suit him. He lacks principles and has no new ideas – and that is how we know a Starmer Labour government would just revert to the same old Labour habits of spending too much, raising taxes, increasing debt and soft sentences.”
Mr Hands said “only the Conservatives will get on with delivering for the British people”, citing the prime minister’s top five priorities for 2023.
These pledges are: to halve inflation; to grow the economy; to reduce debt; to cut hospital waiting lists; and to stop migrant crossings.