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Starmer sets out what Labour would do first – BBC News

  • By Sam Francis
  • Political reporter, BBC News

Video caption, The Labour leader says he leads a “charged party” as he outlines plans for government with six steps

Sir Keir Starmer has set out what Labour would do first if it wins this year’s general election.

The Labour leader unveiled a pledge card with six key policies, including delivering “economic stability” and providing 40,000 more hospital appointments each week.

Some of the pledges are more modest in scale than the five “national missions” Sir Keir announced last year.

But he said they were the “first steps” towards Labour’s bigger plans.

Sir Keir’s five missions include making the UK the fastest-growing major economy by the end of a first Labour term in government and achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2030.

He rejected claims the party had scaled back its ambitions as an election approached, saying the party had a “big, bold plan” but “we need first steps”.

He also rejected being a Tony Blair “copycat” – despite handing out pledge cards, as Sir Tony did before his 1997 landslide election victory, and posing for pictures in a white shirt with rolled up sleeves.

But he welcomed comparisons between himself and past Labour leaders who had led the party to general election victories.

“Well the first thing I’d say about Tony Blair, other than he took his tie off at big events, is that he won three elections in a row,” Sir Keir added.

But he insisted the circumstances in 2024 were much different to those experienced by Labour when Sir Tony took power, describing it as a “very different moment to 1997”.

Sir Keir’s six “first steps” are:

  • Sticking to tough spending rules in order to deliver economic stability
  • Cutting NHS waiting lists by providing 40,000 more appointments each week – funded by tackling tax avoidance and non-dom loopholes.
  • Launching a border security command to stop the gangs arranging small boat crossings
  • Setting up Great British Energy, a publicly owned clean power energy company
  • Providing more neighbourhood police officers to reduce antisocial behaviour and introduced new penalties for offenders
  • Recruiting 6,500 teachers, paid for through ending tax breaks for private schools.

Pledges on healthcare, policing and teaching only apply to England as powers over these matters are devolved in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Labour will make separate policy pledges for Scotland and Wales.

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption, John Prescott – Labour’s deputy leader from 1994 to 2007 – displaying the party’s pledge cards

Labour has put no precise time frame for delivering these policies, but shadow business secretary and Labour’s national campaign coordinator Pat McFadden, said his party will implement them “as soon as possible”.

Mr McFadden told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme “as soon as we get elected we will put in place the changes that we need to put in place to make these first steps happen”.

The six pledges “were the foundation” for proving showing the party can be “trusted with public money and trusted with defence”, he said.

The party also launched an advertising campaign – including ad vans and billboards – which will constitute their largest ad spend since the last general election in 2019.

Labour is expected to hold separate launches for voters in Scotland and Wales in the coming weeks.

The event is a further sign that political parties are in full pre-election mode.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak can choose when to hold an election, but it has to take place before by 28 January 2025.

Earlier this week, he delivered a wide-ranging speech which included strong criticism of his Labour opponent, attacking Sir Keir’s record on defence spending and arguing that he would make the UK less safe.

Labour has insisted the six steps are “not the sum total” of the party’s election offer and insisted the party also stood by its other policy commitments, such as housing and workers’ rights.

Conservative chairman Richard Holden said the British public would not be “conned” by Sir Keir, saying the Labour leader had “dumped every pledge that he made during the Labour leadership campaign” and when he was “trying to get Jeremy Corbyn in to be our prime minister”.

“I think people need to take with an enormous pinch of salt anything that he is putting forward,” added Mr Holden.

“It’s quite clear Labour don’t have a cohesive plan.”

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