Keir Starmer’s ‘10 principles’ for power leave out pledges that won him Labour leadership

Promises to pursue ‘economic justice’, ‘common ownership’ and ‘equality’ not mentioned in 14,000-word essay

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Wednesday 22 September 2021 23:11 BST
Starmer accuses Johnson of ‘putting rich mates before working people’

Keir Starmer has unveiled “10 key principles” behind his pitch for power, but omitted many of the left-wing pledges that helped win him the Labour leadership.

Promises to pursue “economic justice”, “common ownership”, “equality” and to “defend migrants’ rights” are not mentioned in a 14,000-word essay released ahead of a make-or-break party conference.

Instead, the Labour leader’s “10 simple key principles” include to “put hard-working families first”, to reward people who “work hard and play by the rules”, and to restore “honesty, decency and transparency in public life”.

They are intended to “form a new agreement between Labour and the British people”, Sir Keir said – but the essay has already been criticised by left-wingers as no substitute for “concrete, punchy opposition”.

In the piece, written for the Fabian Society, the party leader also lashes out at Boris Johnson for the Tory party’s “nationalism” and for trying to kick-start a US-style culture war.

The “lost decade” since 2010 began with the Tories “using the global financial crisis as a smokescreen for rolling back the state”, he writes.

“Second, a lazy, complacent veer from patriotism to nationalism, resulting in a botched exit from the European Union, the erosion of our defence and military capabilities and an unfolding foreign policy disaster in Afghanistan.

“And third, the ongoing attempts to import American-style divisions on social, cultural and sometimes national lines.”

The document also quotes footballer Raheem Sterling (“England is still a place where a naughty boy who comes from nothing can live his dream”) and punk rocker Joe Strummer (“The future is unwritten”).

As he battled to succeed Jeremy Corbyn in 2019 – and to win over Labour’s left-wing membership – Sir Keir unveiled 10 pledges, echoing the aims of the outgoing leader.

But instead of promising “equality”, Sir Keir now says he will tackle “inequality of opportunity” – and there is no mention of whether “rail, mail, energy and water” will still be nationalised.

A 2019 pledge to “repeal the Trade Union Act” has become a vow to “give people stronger rights to be represented at work by their trade unions to help raise standards and protect workers”.

Labour would also “introduce a new Race Equality Act in the UK, aimed at tackling the complex structural racism that holds back people”, according to the document.

The 10 principles in the essay, titled “The Road Ahead”, are listed as follows:

* We will always put hard-working families and their priorities first.

* If you work hard and play by the rules, you should be rewarded fairly.

* People and businesses are expected to contribute to society, as well as receive.

* Your chances in life should not be defined by the circumstances of your birth – hard work and how you contribute should matter.

* Families, communities and the things that bring us together must once again be put above individualism.

* The economy should work for citizens and communities. It is not good enough to just surrender to market forces.

* The role of government is to be a partner to private enterprise, not stifle it.

* The government should treat taxpayer money as if it were its own. The current levels of waste are unacceptable.

* The government must play its role in restoring honesty, decency and transparency in public life.

* We are proudly patriotic but we reject the divisiveness of nationalism.

John McDonnell, Labour’s shadow chancellor under Mr Corbyn, told The Independent: “It reads like a focus-group-crafted version of the Sermon on the Mount, filled with platitudes but with no content of what a Labour government would actually do.”

And Jon Trickett, Mr Corbyn’s campaign coordinator in 2017, accused the new leader of “a policy-free retread of language from the mid 1990s”, the era preceding Tony Blair’s period in office.

“He needs to explain how we judge the differences between the two ten-point plans and why this has happened. Has the first-ten point list been abandoned, and why?” Mr Trickett said.

Sir Keir also makes an audacious snatch for the slogan that delivered the Brexit referendum result, arguing that only Labour can finally allow people to “take back control”.

“The desire of people across the country to have real power and control – expressed most forcibly in the Brexit vote – remains unmet,” he writes.

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