Labour's six pledges are 'woolly ideas' and the party won't deliver for NHS and policing, says Tory party chairman

16 May 2024, 20:08 | Updated: 16 May 2024, 20:11

Andrew Marr challenges Richard Holden on what Labour pledges he opposes

By Emma Soteriou

Labour’s six pledges are "woolly ideas", Tory party chairman Richard Holden has said, adding that he "doesn’t believe" the party will deliver on its promises on neighbourhood policing and NHS waiting times.

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Speaking on LBC's Tonight with Andrew Marr, Mr Holden accused Labour of "not delivering what they say".

It came after Sir Keir Starmer promised to deliver economic security, cut NHS waiting times, create a new border security command, set up a nationalised energy company, crack down on anti social behaviour, and recruit 6,500 new teachers at an event in Essex on Thursday.

They will be the first things the party will do if Labour wins the keys to power at the upcoming election.

But Mr Holden told LBC: "I was looking at the neighbourhood policing pledge, for example, which goes totally counter to what Labour in government, actually in local government as the Mayor of London, has been doing.

"He's stopped borough policing in London, there is no borough policing in the boroughs, yet Labour's talk about wanting neighbourhood police officers when they're actually able to deliver these things.

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"They're not delivering what they say. I don't believe them, because when they are able to deliver it, they're not delivering it.

"Look at the waiting lists in Wales, right, I want to see waiting lists come down right across the country, whether it's in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and they're obviously higher than we'd like them to be because of the pandemic.

"But the one place that they are significantly higher, very much higher than in England, is in Wales. And who's been running Wales for the last 25 years?

"The Labour Party, and they get more funding per head there. I would just ask people, it's all very well to lay out these woolly ideas, but when it comes down to it, just like we've seen with their GB energy policy, there's now a £12 billion hole.

"Let's be clear with the people about what it actually looks like as well."

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer. Picture: Alamy

In his speech earlier on Thursday, Sir Keir said that Labour wants to show voters that "decline is not inevitable" and that "politics can make a difference".

He told Labour activists: "One card, six steps, in your hand - a plan to change the country. This is a message to take to every doorstep in the country."

Vowing to restore economic security, Sir Keir said that "stability is change and that's why it has to be our first step".

He said he had recently spoken to a couple who told him they could not afford to have a second child, telling his audience: "I'm not prepared to let an incoming Labour government ever do that kind of damage to working people."

The Labour leader said he would cut NHS waiting times by hiring more staff and enabling more operations to take place, which he would fund by getting rid of the non-dom tax status.

He said it was "impossible to overstate" how serious the problem of waiting lists was.

But he was unable to give a specific time by which point Labour would deliver 40,000 more NHS appointments per week.

Keir Starmer
Keir Starmer. Picture: Getty

Discussing border security, Sir Keir dismissed the Rwanda plan as a "gimmick" as he vowed to "smash" people smuggling gangs.

He said he wanted to create a strengthened border security command because he would" never accept that it is impossible to take down the vile gangs that bring people in small boats to cross the Channel."

The new nationalised energy company - Great British Energy - would "harness clean British power owned by the taxpayer, making money for the taxpayer," he said.

He said his government would be "investing in the future and keeping bills down for good" after the higher energy prices of recent years.

Keir Starmer
Keir Starmer. Picture: Alamy

To tackle anti-social behaviour, he said that a Labour government would hire an extra 13,000 neighbourhood police officers.

He said: "If you feel that you can't open your front door at night and go out, if you feel you can't walk down your own high street, be comfortable and safe in your own community - that is massive.

Sir Keir said he would pay for the extra teachers through removing tax breaks for private schools.

He told the audience: "We have to prepare our children, young people for the work they're actually going to do and the lives they're actually going to live.

"And that will require reform to make sure the skills they're taught are the skills that they are actually going to need in life."

Kickstarting the next phase of the election campaign, the party will launch an advertising campaign at a major event in Essex today, with Presidential-style posters across billboards, newspapers and vans.
Kickstarting the next phase of the election campaign, the party will launch an advertising campaign at a major event in Essex today, with Presidential-style posters across billboards, newspapers and vans. Picture: Labour Party

Asked by LBC's Natasha Clark if his six pledges were similar to Rishi Sunak's five pledges, he said they were "fundamentally different" and that he brought a "seriousness" to politics, in contrast with the Conservatives.

He added: "I'm not prepared to do gimmicks - I'm only prepared to do the hard yards of serious change, with a serious plan for five or ten years of change in this country."

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer during his visit to the Backstage Centre, Purfleet, for the launch of Labour's doorstep offer to voters ahead of the general election. Picture date: Thursday May 16, 2024.
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer during his visit to the Backstage Centre, Purfleet, for the launch of Labour's doorstep offer to voters ahead of the general election. Picture date: Thursday May 16, 2024. Picture: Alamy

The party will also launch an advertising campaign, with Presidential-style posters across billboards, newspapers and vans.

It will be their biggest advertising blitz since the last general election in 2019, focusing on swing seats the party needs to secure to gain power.

Campaign chiefs will dish out the first of their 1997-style pledge cards with Sir Keir's top priorities on.

A separate Welsh and Scottish offer will be sent out to voters in the coming weeks.

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Labour insiders said ahead of the speech that the party wanted to capitalise on the success of the local elections, where the party secured hundreds more seats and won metro mayor seats across the country.

A spokesperson said: “We don’t want to take our foot off the gas. This is our offer to voters, the downpayment on change the public will see, which will make a real difference to people.

“We are back in the service of the British people with these six key priorities for voters.”

Chris Philp: "Keir Starmer will do and say anything to get power"

Sir Keir told members of his shadow cabinet yesterday the next phase of their path to power is “crucially important”, adding: “It’s where we work tirelessly to give people back a belief in change, by showing the real difference a Labour government can make to their lives.”

He said they were “part of a long term plan to get Britain back on its feet”, promising a gimmick-free, fully costed and funded plan for te country.

Sir Keir said: “People want someone to get a grip – get things done and start to get Britain back on its feet.”

Labour insiders hit back at accusations they were downgrading promises on workers rights, housing and the environment.

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