The five key moments in Keir Starmer’s speech

From unleashing ‘big build’ to distancing himself from Corbyn, the main talking points from the opposition leader’s Labour conference address

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Tuesday 10 October 2023 15:58 BST
‘It’s time to get Britain building again’: Keir Starmer announces plans for new towns and houses

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Keir Starmer gave his annual keynote speech to Labour conference on Tuesday – in what could be his last in opposition.

After a rocky start in which he was interrupted by a protester, his speech appeared to go down well in the room, even if it was light on unexpected or new policy announcements.

Here are five key takeaways from the opposition leader’s address to members.

Unleashing 'big build'

Sir Keir vowed to build "the next generation of Labour new towns" to prevent home-ownership from becoming "a luxury for the few not the privilege of the many". He said he would release "grey belt" land such as disused car parkers and "bulldog through" the UK's "restrictive" planning system.

Devolution to town and cities

One major focus of the Labour leader's speech was devolution. He said he would give towns and cities across the country powers enjoyed by metropolises like London and Greater Manchester.

Leaving behind the Corbyn years

As with all his speeches since becoming leader, Sir Keir made much of distancing himself from his predecessor. The opposition leader said his party was no longer "in thrall to gesture politics". At the start of his speech was disrupted by a demonstrator, he said "protest or power, this is why we changed our party".

Keir Starmer made it clear to conference that he was leaving behind the Corbyn years
Keir Starmer made it clear to conference that he was leaving behind the Corbyn years (Getty Images)

A decade of national renewal

This was a key theme of Sir Keir's speech, and was briefed in advance. Given parliaments last at most five years, the comments have been widely interpreted as a wish for two terms in power.

Tagging voices

The Labour leader also pledged to use the speech to build a country where everyone, regardless of background, felt "respected" and "valued". He said he would smash "hardest class ceiling of all" - the "nagging voice inside" telling working class people they do not belong.

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