Keir Starmer has set out ‘a new chapter for Britain’ based on security and opportunity. In his speech the Labour Leader declared that there can be “no return to business as usual” or the “failed Conservative ideology” that “weakened the foundations of society.” The Labour leader outlined the choice between a failed Conservative ideology that was exposed by the pandemic or a more secure, prosperous future under Labour. The speech set out his vision of a “new partnership” between government and business that “tackles inequality, invests in the future and builds a more secure and prosperous economy.”
Spelling out the political and economic choices facing Britain, Keir Starmer said “In a few weeks’ time, we will have a Budget that will be a fork in the road. We can go back to the same insecure and unequal economy that has been so cruelly exposed by the virus or we can seize this moment and go forward to a future that is going to look utterly unlike the past. That choice will define the Budget and it will define the next election.”
“This must now be a moment to think again about the country that we want to be. A call to arms – like the Beveridge Report was in the 1940s. A chance to diagnose the condition of Britain and to start the process of putting it right. That’s the path I would take in the March Budget. To begin a new chapter in the history for our country – and to equip Britain for the opportunities of the future.”
Urgent Action Called for in Spring Budget
Starmer called for immediate support at next month’s Budget to help secure our economy for families and businesses, including:
- Reversing planned cuts to Universal Credit, benefiting six million families by £1,000 a year.
- Providing local councils with the funding they need to prevent Boris Johnson’s council tax bombshell.
- Extending the business rate holiday and the VAT cut for hospitality and leisure.
The speech also set out new policies aimed at providing long-term security to the economy, support for entrepreneurs and offering people “a proper stake in Britain’s future.”
Spelling out Labour’s long-term vision for the economy, Starmer said that the coronavirus has changed “what is necessary and what is possible” and that the future belongs to those who “embrace the change that’s coming in science, technology and work.”
A New Partnership
Starmer called for a “new partnership” between Government and business that tackles inequality, invests in the future and builds a more secure and prosperous economy, saying: “none of this is possible if you don’t believe in the power of good government and the need to create a new partnership between an active state and enterprising business. Under my leadership, Labour’s priority will always be financial responsibility. I know the value of people’s hard-earned money – I take that incredibly seriously – and I know that people rightly expect the government to look after it too. To invest wisely and not to spend money we can’t afford. Those are my guiding principles. But I think that Covid has shifted the axis on economic policy: both what is necessary and what is possible have changed. The age in which Government did little but collect and distribute revenue is over. The mistakes of the last decade have made sure of that.”
Starmer continue “I believe people are now looking for more from their Government – like they were after the Second World War. They’re looking for Government to help them through difficult times, to provide security and to build a better future for them and their families. They want a Government that knows the value of public services not just the price in the market. A Government that invests in British skills, science, universities and manufacturing that provides world-class education for our children and whose driving mission it is to tackle inequalities from birth. They want a Government that can ensure people don’t have to leave their home town to have a chance of getting a good job or to leave university with crippling debt. That can build a new generation of affordable homes – and not stand idly by while millions are denied the dream of homeownership. They want a Government that can shape the future of work, harness the opportunities of automation and technology that will ensure care homes are places of dignity in retirement. They want a Government that reflects our values on the global stage: and that puts tackling the climate emergency at the centre of everything we do. “
“This is what I mean when I talk of a future where Britain can be the best place to grow up in and the best place to grow old in. But none of this is possible if you don’t believe in the power of good Government and the need to create a new partnership between an active Government and enterprising business.”
Tory Government ‘Unable to Deliver’
Starmer took on the Government’s record over the last year, accusing them of talking the language of change but proving themselves unable to deliver on it, saying “If you can’t decide whether to plunge hundreds of thousands of children into poverty by cutting Universal Credit, you have no chance of mending our broken social security system. If you vote against children getting free school meals, you’re not going to find the solution to millions of children growing up in poverty. If you can’t support three million self-employed people, but you can spray billions on contracts that don’t deliver for our NHS, you’re not going to be able to build the economy of the future. And if you freeze pay for millions of key workers, you’re hardly going to build the high wage, high standards Britain we need to be. Despite the scale of the moment, all we can expect from this government is more of the same. A roadmap to yesterday.”
Local Labour Backing
Bridgwater Labour Leader Brian Smedley added “Keir Starmer’s speech included several key imperatives – that Climate Change must be at the heart of every policy, that the purpose of a Labour Government is to ‘change peoples lives’ for the better and 100% support for the intrinsic value of strong and properly funded local government. He was right to call for no return to austerity and he was right to condemn the Government’s pay freeze for key workers. He was right to quote Harold Wilson who said ‘the Labour Party is a moral crusade or it is nothing’ .He correctly said they should back the Government where they got things right but challenge them when they got it wrong -this is the same approach we take here in Sedgemoor. You don’t oppose just for opposition’s sake. You have to present an alternative if there is one. With the first real test of this vision scheduled for the local elections in May the speech is timely. The debate on policy, implementation and detail has to now start in earnest. People know why they shouldn’t have voted Conservative, but many still did, they now need to know what voting Labour will really mean for them.”