Starmer vows 'decade of national renewal' as he pledges to 'fix' Britain after 13 years of Tory rule

9 October 2023, 23:33

Leader of the Labour Party Sir Keir Starmer
Leader of the Labour Party Sir Keir Starmer. Picture: Getty
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Sir Keir Starmer will set his sights on at least two terms in power in an attempt to rescue a country "ruined" by 13 years of Tory rule.

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The Labour leader will promise a "decade of national renewal", suggesting his party will be in power until the mid-2030s.

Despite his party enjoying consistent double-digit poll leads over the Tories, Sir Keir will acknowledge that some voters still need to be given a reason to back his party at the general election expected next year.

Sir Keir will say that "a tide is turning" towards his party and away from the Tories and the Scottish National Party (SNP).

With critics suggesting Labour has benefited from disaffection with the Conservatives rather than a desire to see Sir Keir in No 10, aides said his speech to the party's conference in Liverpool would answer the question: "Why Labour?"

Sir Keir will promise "a Britain strong enough, stable enough, secure enough for you to invest your hope, your possibility, your future" where "things will be better for your children".

Angela Rayner, Sir Keir Starmer, and Rachel Reeves
Angela Rayner, Sir Keir Starmer, and Rachel Reeves. Picture: Getty

"People are looking to us because they want our wounds to heal and we are the healers," he will say.

"People are looking to us because these challenges require a modern state and we are the modernisers.

"People are looking to us because they want us to build a new Britain and we are the builders."

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Labour would be "totally focused on the interests of working people", he will say.

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".

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 use his Conservative conference speech to axe the northern leg of HS2.

He will promise that Labour will "get Britain building" and "the winner this time will be working people, everywhere". Promising a "big build" for the country, he will say: "What is broken can be repaired, what is ruined can be rebuilt."

Britain's main opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer and his wife Victoria pose for a photograph as they walk by the River Mersey in Liverpool
Britain's main opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer and his wife Victoria pose for a photograph as they walk by the River Mersey in Liverpool. Picture: Getty

Sir Keir has 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.

Sir Keir will say: "An economy that works for the whole country, will require an entirely new approach to politics: mission government, ending the Tory disease of sticking plaster politics with a simple Labour philosophy that together we fix tomorrow's challenges, today."

In a sign that he will resist further tax rises while people's living standards are squeezed he will tell activists: "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."

He will promise a government that "takes care of the big questions" so working people have "freedom to enjoy what they love" with "more time, more energy, more possibility, more life".

"That's what getting our future back really means," he will say.

"It boils down to this: can we look the challenges of this age squarely in the eye and amidst all the change and insecurity find the hunger to win new opportunities and the strength to conserve what is precious."

Labour began its conference buoyed by by-election success in Rutherglen and Hamilton West and insiders are hopeful of picking up dozens more seats from the SNP at the general election - something which could help Sir Keir overturn a still sizeable Tory majority in Westminster.

"For the first time in a long time we can see a tide that is turning," Sir Keir will say. "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 party's 2019 general election loss, will highlight the party's transformation, saying "we will never go back" to being "in thrall to gesture politics" and "a party of protest".