Starmer puts six key pledges


Commitments include stabilising the economy, cutting NHS waiting times, setting up Great British Energy, cracking down on antisocial behaviour and recruiting 6,5000 new teachers…reports Asian Lite News

Keir Starmer unveiled his version of New Labour’s pledge card for the next general election with six key commitments “put up in lights” as part of his party’s offer to swing voters.

The campaign material, which will be distributed to voters on doorsteps across England, will be revealed at an event in Essex as the Labour leader launches the party’s biggest advertising blitz since the 2019 election.

His commitments, which include stabilising the economy, cutting NHS waiting times, setting up Great British Energy, cracking down on antisocial behaviour and recruiting 6,5000 new teachers, are the latest step in his five “national missions”.

However, he is also pledging a sixth – the launch of a new border security command – after the party was criticised for not having a separate mission for migration with the topic of small boats rising up the political agenda.

A Labour spokesperson said the electorate was right to be concerned about migration and, dismissing the Tories’ Rwanda deportation plan, added “we have a plan for the whole problem. They have a plan for 1% of it.”

Labour insiders said that the six “consumer focused” issues were chosen as they were expected to go down well in battleground areas where the party is hoping to pick up swing voters at the general election.

However, they denied it meant that other policy issues, such as housing and workers’ rights, had been “de-prioritised”, citing the example of the national minimum wage, one of New Labour’s biggest achievements, which had not been on Tony Blair’s pledge card in 1997.

A party spokesperson said the pledges were “not the sum total of what a Labour government hopes to achieve”, and that it stood by other commitments already made. He did not, however, say whether there would be new pledges in the manifesto.

Instead, the spokesperson said the policies were a “bridge to longer-term plans” with each of the commitments to be achieved in the first term of a Labour government.

The party conceded the word “pledge” had lost its currency as trust in politics has been eroded over recent years, but suggested they would aim to explain exactly how policies would be implemented and paid for.

The campaign event, which will be attended by the whole shadow cabinet off the back of a successful set of local results, represents the party’s biggest spend on advertising since the race against Boris Johnson in 2019.

It will include vans and billboards, as well as regional newspaper adverts in battleground seats, with local campaign materials to hand out to voters. There will be different versions for Scotland and Wales.

Starmer is pictured with his sleeves rolled up and text about “my” first steps for change, with party insiders admitting there was a deliberate decision to put his “personal stamp” on the campaign, despite mixed personal approval ratings.

Amid frenzied speculation about a surprise guest at the event, senior party figures have ruled out there being another defection from the Conservatives today, after rightwinger Natalie Elphicke’s shock move to Labour last week.

Labour has denied any significance launching its pledges in Essex, saying it was just one of many battleground areas, although party elections chief, Pat McFadden said it is planning to target the south of England heavily at the general election.

At a shadow cabinet meeting before the event, Starmer said the pledge card showed his “first steps” towards delivering his missions were “a down payment on change”.

“What is crucial about these commitments is that they are part of a long-term plan to get Britain back on its feet,” he added. “Each of the first steps would chime with voters’ aspirations, show a clear set of priorities and a powerful direction of travel.”

Labour begins selection for Corbyn’s seat

Meanwhile, Labour has kicked off candidate selection to run in Jeremy Corbyn’s seat of Islington North, with the contender for the seat expected to be confirmed by 1 June.

Corbyn, who is still suspended for comments he made in the aftermath of the equalities watchdog report into antisemitism in Labour, has been barred from standing again for the party. He won the seat with a majority of more than 26,000 in 2019.

The former Labour leader is likely to run as an independent in the seat he has held for more than 40 years. Labour insiders said local members would not take part in shortlisting candidates, which would be determined by the party’s ruling national executive committee.

Applications will close on Monday with shortlisting taking place over the following days. A postal ballot and online voting will take place over the next weekend with an online hustings on 29 May. The final result will be announced on 1 June.

Although the party is expected to impose a shortlist of candidates on the local constituency party, it will then be up to members to decide. There has been significant anger in the constituency party about the exclusion of Corbyn, with many members still loyal to him.

Senior insiders said there was a recognition in the party that they would need a local candidate to beat the former Labour leader.

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