Starmer eyes decade of Labour rule as he vows to ‘heal’ Britain

Labour boss wants party in power until mid-2030s as he vows ‘decade of renewal’

Adam Forrest,Jon Stone
Monday 09 October 2023 22:31 BST
Rachel Reeves says Liz Truss is 'still leading' Tory party

Sir Keir Starmer will set his sights on at least two terms in power as he vows to “heal” Britain after 13 years of Conservative party rule “ruined” the country.

The Labour leader will promise a “decade of national renewal” during his crucial conference speech on Tuesday – suggesting he wants his party to rule until the mid-2030s.

Despite the huge poll lead enjoyed by his party, Sir Keir is expected to acknowledge that some voters still need to a reason to back his party at the general election expected in 2024.

With critics suggesting Labour has benefited from anger at the Tories rather than a desire to see Sir Keir in No 10, aides said his speech to the conference in Liverpool would answer the question: “Why Labour?”

A Labour government would be “totally focused on the interests of working people”, he will promise that easing the financial burden on hard-pressed families would mean “getting our future back”.

In a sign that he will resist further tax rises while people’s living standards are squeezed, Sir Keir will say: “We should never forget that politics should tread lightly on peoples’ lives, that our job is to shoulder the burden for working people – carry the load, not add to it.”

In an attempt to spark some optimism about the prospect of a Labour government, Sir Keir will tell the Labour faithful: “People are looking to us because they want our wounds to heal and we are the healers.”

A Labour victory would give the chance to “turn our backs on never-ending Tory decline with a decade of national renewal” and give the British people the “government they deserve”.

The Labour leader will promise a Labour government would take care of “the big questions” so people have “freedom to enjoy what they love” with “more time, more energy, more possibility, more life”. He will add: “That’s what getting our future back really means.”

Keir Starmer and Deputy leader Angela Rayner at Labour conference
Keir Starmer and Deputy leader Angela Rayner at Labour conference (AFP via Getty Images)

Following shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves’ speech setting out plans to modernise Britain by reforming its “antiquated” planning system so new infrastructure gets build, Sir Keir will contrast the approach with Rishi Sunak’s decision to axe the northern leg of HS2.

Sir Keir has already committed to ensuring the UK has the highest sustained economic growth in the G7 group of leading democracies as one of his “missions” for government. “People are looking to us because they want us to build a new Britain and we are the builders,” he will say on the economy.

Labour began its conference buoyed by by-election success in Rutherglen, and strategists now are hopeful of picking up dozens more seats from the SNP in Scotland to help overturn the Tory majority.

“For the first time in a long time we can see a tide that is turning,” Sir Keir will say on the union. “Four nations that are renewing. Old wounds of division – exploited by the Tories and the SNP – beginning to heal.”

Sir Keir, who took over the Labour leadership from Jeremy Corbyn in the wake of the disastrous 2019 general election, will also highlight the party’s transformation, saying “we will never go back” to being “in thrall to gesture politics” and “a party of protest”.

Rachel Reeves with party leader Keir Starmer on Monday
Rachel Reeves with party leader Keir Starmer on Monday (PA)

Elsewhere at the conference, the former governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney endorsed Labour in a mayor coup for Mr Starmer and Ms Reeves. He said it was “beyond time” for Ms Reeves to run the economy.

Former leader Ed Miliband branded the government “crap” and urged voters to “chuck them into the seven dustbins of history” – mocking Mr Sunak’s recent claim he had stop a non-existent scheme to impose seven different bins on residents.

Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy pledged to make the UK the “anti-corruption capital of the world” – announcing that a Labour government would set up a whistleblower scheme to reward people who expose "stolen assets" by kleptocrats.

Shadow defence secretary John Healey used a speech to conference to claim that five more years of Tory rule would be a “risk” to Britain’s security, promising that a Labour government would “accelerate” a promised £2bn armed forces spending.

And on the fringes of conference, mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham continued his fight to get HS2 built to his city – calling for the safeguarding of land for the high-speed line so that it could be completed later.

Louise Haigh, the shadow transport secretary, said Labour party would speak to local leaders to work up a “comprehensive and well-developed plan by the next election” for railways in the north so that it could be delivered “from day one”.

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