Andrew Marr: Starmer's speech offers promising ideas on how to break the 'class-ceiling'

6 July 2023, 18:47

'Be careful what you wish for...': Andrew Marr delivers analysis of Keir Starmer's speech

By Jenny Medlicott

Keir Starmer's speech in Kent offers some "really interesting answers" and promising ideas on how to break what the Labour leader has called the "class-ceiling", Andrew Marr says.

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"Oh! - be careful what you wish for. At his speech in Kent, on breaking what Keir Starmer called the class ceiling, partly about his ambition of making working class children more eloquent, the Labour leader had to deal with two calmly eloquent young protesters who’d been brought in as a photogenic backdrop but who persistently disagreed with him on his climate strategy.

"The Labour leader dealt with the interruption with relative good humour and grace before going on to expand on his mission for better education in Britain, the policy which matters most to him.Lots of good ideas there. But it wasn't an easy day for Sir Keir.

"The Labour candidate in Uxbridge, where the exit of Boris Johnson means there's a by-election coming up, is fighting the Labour mayor of London Sadiq Khan over his expansion of ULEZ - the ultra low emissions zone.

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"I think generally what's going on is the natural rhythm of politics: as it looks likelier that Keir Starmer’s Labour will form the next government, more attention, more questioning, more focus, more pressure, is being turned on them. It’s almost as if the country has made up its mind about the Conservatives, but hasn't yet quite made up its mind about the likely alternative.

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"But I do think it would be unfortunate if the Starmer speech was simply ignored in the flurry of the news cycle because it has at its core a simple idea and some really interesting answers.

"The idea is that children in state schools still often don't get the chances in life that private school kids get and take for granted - that's the so-called class ceiling Starmer was talking about - and among the answers is the better teaching of something called oracy in state schools.

"Oracy - it’s a new word, thought up in the 1960s - and it means fluent, grammatical, self-confident speaking, the kind of smooth ease in front of an audience that an Old Etonian would barely notice they have; but which many others, from less privileged backgrounds, struggle with all their lives."