Published: 11:33, May 17, 2024
Starmer sets out Labour Party’s first steps in govt after election
By Reuters
Labour Party leader Keir Starmer speaks during his visit to the Backstage Centre for the launch of Labour's doorstep offer to voters ahead of the general election, in Purfleet, Essex, England, May 16, 2024. (PA VIA AP)

LONDON – Britain's opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer pledged on Thursday to "rebuild Britain", setting out what he called the first steps in government if his party wins a national election later this year.
Starmer, who has pulled his party towards the political center ground after it had veered to the left, set out his six priorities at a campaign launch, but was cautious in what he offered saying he would only promise what could be afforded.
Labour Party suffered a heavy defeat at the last election in 2019, but is well ahead of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's governing Conservatives in opinion polls, making Starmer favorite to be Britain's next leader.

READ MORE: Labour Party deals double blow to PM Sunak's Conservatives

In a speech in Essex, Starmer said if in government Labour would focus on growing the economy while keeping tax, inflation and mortgage rates as low as possible, reducing waiting times in the state-run health service, cracking down on people smuggling gangs and boosting green energy supplies.

I am very conscious that we're facing the challenges that are now here in 2024 and have to provide the answers to those challenges.

Keir Starmer, Leader, Labour Party

The other priorities would be tackling antisocial behavior with more neighborhood police and recruiting thousands of new teachers paid for by ending tax breaks for private schools.
"One card, six steps in your hand, a plan to change the country. This is a message that we can take to every doorstep across the country," he told the audience, referring to credit card-sized checklists – a tactic reminiscent of one used by former Prime Minister Tony Blair when he won office in 1997.
"With patience, with determination, with these first steps we can rebuild our country with Labour," he said, standing in front of his policy chiefs.
The six policies, alongside a picture of a stern-looking Starmer with his sleeves rolled up, will be put on billboards, vans and published in regional newspapers in the party's biggest advertising campaign since the 2019 general election.

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With the next election due in the second half of the year, Britain's parties are setting out their solutions to issues including a healthcare system in crisis, years of slow growth, and rising threats from authoritarian states.
Starmer, his deputy Angela Rayner and finance policy chief Rachel Reeves repeatedly referred to a "changed Labour Party" in their speeches, which came just days after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called on voters to "trust him" and hand him another term.
Conservative Chairman Richard Holden accused Labour of lacking a coherent plan and said families would only face a brighter future by sticking to the government's plan.
Labour is running about 20 percentage points ahead of Sunak's Conservatives in the polls but some party officials are concerned their advantage is not as solid as it could be, fearing thousands of voters are still undecided.
The party announced five "national missions" last year. But the six priorities now include tackling illegal immigration – an issue that is set to be a major battleground in the election.

READ MORE: UK's Labour claim big early win over PM Sunak's Conservatives
Asked if he was little more than a Blair tribute act, Starmer said the former prime minister had won three elections in a row to hand him power from 1997 to 2007.
"It's not copycat," he said. "I am very conscious that we're facing the challenges that are now here in 2024 and have to provide the answers to those challenges."