Keir kills off Corbyn era: Starmer will use first ‘real’ Labour conference speech TODAY to vow to put ‘winning’ above left-wing dogma and pledge thousands more teachers – as allies say he is hoping Boris ‘can’t stay popular forever’
- Keir Starmer is delivering his keynote speech to the first in-person Labour conference since becoming leader
- Leader will try to move on from Jeremy Corbyn era in hour-long speech saying Labour focussed on ‘winning’
- Allies say he will make pitch to voters that party is pragmatic rather than obsessed with left-wing dogma
Keir Starmer will try to draw a line under the Jeremy Corbyn era today as he declares winning the next election is more important than left-wing dogma.
In his first in-person Labour conference speech, Sir Keir will vow that under his leadership the party is ‘back in business’ and focussed on pragmatic solutions for Britain’s problems.
Aides said Sir Keir will use his biggest political moment yet to promise to recruit thousands more teachers, and call for improvements to mental health care.
He is also expected to mount an effort to rehabilitate Labour’s reputation for managing the public finances, as well as committing to creating a greener economy.
But the leadership’s main aim is to show voters the party has changed since Mr Corbyn – at that time backed by Sir Keir – led it to electoral catastrophe in 2019.
Shadow cabinet members privately accept that SIr Keir has an almost impossible task to overturn Boris Johnson’s 80-strong majority in a single election.
They are already urging him to cling on if he loses the poll but manages to make significant progress against the ‘popular’ PM.
‘No politician stays popular forever,’ one frontbencher told MailOnline of Mr Johnson. ‘He’s been through a whole list of scandals which would have killed any other politician’s career and I think a tipping point will come when people look at him and decide they don’t like what they see.’
In his first big conference speech, Keir Starmer will slam the door shut on the Jeremy Corbyn era as he declares winning the next election is more important than party unity
Sir Keir, who served in Jeremy Corbyn’s (centre) shadow cabinet, said the former Labour leader would not have the party whip reinstated unless he apologised for his claim that the extent of Labour’s anti-Semitism crisis had been overstated
Positioning Labour as a credible government-in-waiting, Sir Keir will tell supporters: ‘Too often in the history of this party our dream of the good society falls foul of the belief that we will not run a strong economy.
‘But you don’t get one without the other. And under my leadership we are committed to both. I can promise you that under my leadership Labour will be back in business.
A source said the hour-long speech, which will be his most personal to date, will be ‘noticeably different from what you’ve heard from Labour in recent years’ and will be ‘more optimistic, more focused on the future, more outward looking’.
‘It will be a clear indication that Labour will never again go into an election with a manifesto that isn’t a serious plan for government,’ the insider added.
Trying to capitalise on the current fuel crisis, Sir Keir will describe the Government as ‘lost in the woods’.
In a round of interviews this morning, Justice Secretary David Lammy said Sir Keir had proved this week – amid spats with the hard-Left and one resignation from his senior team 0 that he is a ‘fighter’.
‘The road may have been a bit bumpy at points but he has come out, as cool as a cucumber, and as a fighter,’ he told Times Radio.
Sir Keir was someone with ‘compassion and kindness running through him’ and he is ‘in touch with suburban Britain’, he said.
In a series of policy announcements, Sir Keir will say Labour would guarantee access to mental health treatment in less than a month.
The party would create a National Excellence Programme for education, and recruit more teachers to enhance the prospects of the 40 per cent of young people who leave compulsory education without essential qualifications.
Mr Lammy said the party will not make the same ‘mistake’ as Mr Corbyn by endlessly splashing cash without explaining where it is coming from.
‘We will not be making proposals that cannot be costed, the public need to know where the money is coming from.
‘Clearly it was the case at the last general election, we were coming up with policies like free broadband, policies on pensions for women, a four-day week, and the public were saying ‘how much is this going to cost’?
‘It was coming at the last minute, they felt confused and they didn’t feel able to trust us because of some of the issues that were dominating the party.’
He believes voters who had given Mr Johnson the benefit of the doubt are now concerned about his competence.
Rich people are the ‘magic money tree’ who must be taxed more heavily to fund a ‘green new deal’, a schoolboy Labour activist has claimed.
Aden Harris’s rebuke to shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves won him a standing ovation at the party conference as she tried to make her party’s economic policies sound more credible than those of the Corbyn era.
Aden, 16, from Bristol, said: ‘There is a money tree. It’s called the top 1 per cent.
‘We will tax them and we will save this planet. And it can be done and we will do it.’
A Labour spokesman said: ‘We know the shine is coming off Boris Johnson, we know that we are in a situation where there are serious questions around the competency of the Government, its ability to deliver.
‘So therefore what we will be using the speech to do is to show that these are serious times that require a serious leader, and that is Keir Starmer.
‘What we will be doing in between now and the next election is making sure that we’re setting out the policies that we’re going to stand on.
‘And when we do so they will be costed, affordable, practical, and that’s the type of party that we’ll have.’
A shadow cabinet minister said: ‘If you look at history, it’s very rare for one prime minister to be followed by another with a similar character. Voters decide it’s time for a change.’
The mood in Brighton has been one of grim resolve as Sir Keir and his allies try to get a grip on the party machine.
But efforts to highlight policies have been largely overshadowed by rows over party rule changes, splits with his deputy Angela Rayner, and the surprise resignation of shadow cabinet minister Andy McDonald, who accused Sir Keir of making the party ‘more divided than ever’.
In a round of broadcast interviews last night, the leader shrugged off Mr McDonald’s criticism.
Sir Keir told BBC News: ‘My focus is on how we get Labour into a position to win a general election.
‘Two years ago, we were here in Brighton for our Labour Party conference. And within a few short months, we’d crashed to the worst general election results since 1935. I am not prepared to let that happen.
‘And if that means tough decisions, to change our party, then I’m going to take those tough decisions.
‘There will be some people who don’t agree with those changes. I understand that, we’re a broad church in the Labour Party. But I’m not going to be deflected from my central mission, which is to get a Labour government so we can change it live.’
Asked what was more important to him – winning or unity – he replied: ‘Winning. Winning a general election.’
Sir Keir said Mr Corbyn would not have the Labour whip reinstated unless he apologised for his claim that the extent of the party’s anti-Semitism crisis had been overstated.
‘It has been going on for months and the ball is in Jeremy’s court,’ he told BBC News.
‘Jeremy was asked to apologise to take down the post that caused the problem the first place and to work with us.’
Despite his criticism of Mr Corbyn, Sir Keir served in his shadow cabinet and stood on his 2019 election manifesto.
Asked what was more important to him – winning or unity – Sir Keir replied: ‘Winning. Winning a general election.’
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