Labour’s Keir Starmer sets out ‘five missions,’ promises detail later
Labour leader wants to achieve highest economic growth in the G7 ‘by the end of Labour’s first term.’
MANCHESTER, England — Labour’s Keir Starmer has outlined the beginning of five “national missions” that will drive his 2024 election manifesto — but said they will take up to a decade to deliver.
The Labour leader wants the U.K. to achieve the highest sustained economic growth in the G7 “by the end of Labour’s first term” — likely in 2029 — as a keystone of “my Labour government.” His missions also include making Britain a “clean energy superpower,” with zero-carbon electricity by 2030.
Polls suggest the Labour leader is the favorite to become the U.K. prime minister at the next election, which must take place by January 2025. His speech in Manchester marks a continuation of his strategy to position the Labour Party as an effective alternative government, though he is yet to set out a detailed policy platform.
Speaking in the 15-story atrium of Manchester’s Co-Op building, Starmer quoted Tony Blair’s “tough on crime” mantra and Boris Johnson’s promise to “take back control,” pledging a “Britain that gets its future back.” “Some nation is going to lead the world in off-shore wind. Why not Britain?”
But Starmer told POLITICO that while he was “humble” about his prospects, he would need “a decade of national renewal” to achieve everything he set out.
“Some of these issues are not going to be fixed within five years, they’re longer-term than that,” he said. “These missions come with measurable goals along the way, the underpinning, the first specific first steps that will put us on that journey.”
The other pledges are to “build an NHS fit for the future” with health and care reform, “make Britain’s streets safe” by improving the police and justice system, and “break down the barriers to opportunity” with childcare and education reforms.
Starmer’s speech promised “laser-targeted” policies with “clear, measurable outcomes,” which he contrasted with “Rishi Sunak’s five promises to clean up his own mess” announced in January.
But missing from Labour’s five-page document is a list of deadlines, hard numbers, or full detail. Labour said it would only set out “a measurable goal” and “timeline” for each mission “in the coming months.”
Starmer added his pledge on GDP growth would not be measured “on a graph” or “gamed by clever statistics.”
Meanwhile the party leader faced repeated questions about whether he could be trusted, after he jettisoned many of the “10 pledges” from his 2020 leadership campaign. A spokesperson for the left-wing pressure group Momentum said “his promises lie in tatters, ditched in favor of reheated Third-Way Blairism.”
Starmer told BBC Radio 4’s Today program his 10 pledges “haven’t all been abandoned,” adding: “Oh come on, are you telling me you foresaw COVID, are you telling me you foresaw conflict in Ukraine? … The kamikaze mini-budget of last year? Because you’ve got incredible foresight if you’re telling me that.”
Despite his push for growth, Starmer indicated he would not oppose Conservative plans to raise corporation tax in April, saying “very few” businesses believe it is their biggest problem.
In a lengthy press Q&A, he defended saying “national security has to come first” in a row over the U.K. revoking ISIL bride Shamima Begum’s citizenship, despite previously saying it was wrong to withdraw it.
He also swerved backing former leader Jeremy Corbyn’s aim to end homelessness as his first act in government, or saying whether he would reshuffle his shadow cabinet before the election.
Thursday’s Labour Party document promises to devolve power away from Westminster, avoiding “growth where London races ahead and the rest of our country stagnates.” It also suggests new statutory obligations for ministers to report to parliament, and replacing some Cabinet committees with “delivery-focused cross-cutting mission boards.”
It slips into detailed management-speak, saying Labour would be “embedding rigorous evaluation into everything that is done, seeking out creativity, and diffusing and scaling up best practice.”
Starmer told 400 Labour activists, MPs, Co-Op staff and press there would be a “massive role for the private sector in mission-driven government.” He added: “I’m not concerned about whether investment or expertise comes from the public or private sector — I just want to get the job done.”