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Keir Starmer to set his sights on consecutive election victories


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Sir Keir Starmer will set his sights on consecutive general election victories as he promises a “decade of national renewal” in his speech to the Labour party conference in Liverpool on Tuesday. 

With a general election expected next year, the Labour leader will tread a thin line between demonstrating his vision for the country and seeking not to sound triumphalist with his party an average of 16 points ahead of Rishi Sunak’s ruling Conservative party in the polls. 

Starmer will promise that Labour would “turn our backs on never-ending Tory decline with a decade of national renewal”. In an attempt to strike an optimistic note he will say: “What is broken can be repaired, what is ruined can be rebuilt.”

Labour strategists are not complacent about their chances of electoral victory accepting that the party’s poll lead has been driven more by anger against the Tory government than enthusiasm for Labour. 

Starmer’s aides said his speech would answer the question “why Labour?” by explaining how a change of government could deliver economic growth, safer streets, cheaper homegrown power, better opportunities and a rejuvenated NHS.

Delivered on a stage bedecked with a vast Union Jack, the leader’s speech will follow a move by Rachel Reeves, shadow chancellor, on Monday to assure the country that Labour would run an economy with “iron clad” fiscal discipline.

At times the mood has more closely resembled a Conservative rally, with activists enthusiastically applauding Reeves’ defence of strict fiscal rules. Mark Carney, the former Bank of England governor appointed by ex-Tory chancellor George Osborne, gave his endorsement to Reeves in a video message on Monday.

Starmer’s speech will attempt to convince people that they can vote for change without triggering more uncertainty, with language aimed at offering “security” and economic discipline.

“People are looking to us because they want our wounds to heal and we are the healers. People are looking to us because these challenges require a modern state and we are the modernisers,” he will say. “People are looking to us because they want us to build a new Britain and we are the builders.” 

The phrase “we are the builders” was first used by Labour’s Nye Bevan and more recently copied by Osborne in 2015.

The Labour leader will commit to fighting the next election on economic growth, criticising the Tory government’s decision to scrap the northern leg of the HS2 railway as an example of ministers’ failure to plan for the country’s future.

As prime minister, Starmer said he would oversee public investment — funded by borrowing — into a “green prosperity plan”, in which the state would co-invest in low-carbon energy schemes, a mass home insulation programme and other green projects. 

Ed Miliband, shadow energy secretary, announced on Monday plans for an energy independence act that would enable big planning reforms and create a state-owned company called GB Energy to invest in low-carbon energy schemes.

Starmer will also criticise his own party for veering sharply to the left for several years under his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn, saying that under his leadership Labour is “no longer a party of protest”.

“Those days are done. We will never go back.” Instead, he will say, Labour is now, “a party of service . . . country first, party second”. 

Starmer told business leaders on Monday morning that he expected the election to happen in either May or October next year. 

“I’m not going to predict the outcome of the election nor when it will be but it will obviously be in May or October. Our team is ready for May,” he said.

On Monday Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, called on the government to pause the sell-off of HS2 land to give local leaders a chance to put together an alternative plan. 

        



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