Keir Starmer: We must persuade voters of the bright future Labour can deliver
The world of today poses major challenges for whoever is in government. As we emerge from the restrictions and devastation of the past 18 months, we must acknowledge and address the weaknesses and long-term inequalities exposed by the pandemic.
These inequalities and the lack of security enjoyed by too many in Britain are not inevitable. A decade of Conservative rule weakened our nation’s foundations and left us vulnerable to coronavirus.
The 2010s saw the Tories strip back the state and watch as hundreds of thousands of children fell into poverty, anti-social behaviour soared, and a generation of young people struggled to find work, housing or a route out of debt. It left us an unhealthier society. Life expectancy stalled for the first time in a century. Our NHS had lost one in 10 hospital beds and gained record waiting times. Our care system suffered from cuts to local councils and high staff turnover thanks to low pay and insecure contracts.
Britain now stands at a crossroads and our choice is stark. Down one path is the same old Tory approach that has been exposed by Covid. It leads to insecurity and lack of opportunity. The very well off thrive, but too many are held back. Boris Johnson’s government may sound different, but their instinctive reaction to the Covid crisis has been to hand public contracts to their donors and mates, flaunting the rules as if they don’t apply to them, while raising taxes on working people and cutting universal credit by £1,000 a year.
If we choose the other path open to us, there is a bright future ahead for our country. One in which we lead the fight against climate change and, by securing the jobs of the future, we ensure opportunity for all so everyone can make a contribution, not just those workers who go to university. Labour’s path would see us buy, make and sell more in Britain; create 400,000 secure jobs in low carbon industries; and introduce a New Deal for working people, so people can earn a proper wage, have job security, and balance work with their lives.
Our path would see us properly fund the fight against crime and anti-social behaviour, providing the safety and security everyone deserves to feel in their own community. We can deliver world class public services that prevent people from falling through the cracks, something that I saw all too often as director of public prosecutions. And we can save our politics from a government careless about eroding our public standards and dismissive of ordinary British decency.
Britain now stands at a crossroads and our choice is stark
Since the restrictions eased, politics has opened up, and the everyday issues that affect people’s lives are being heard again. People’s patience with Boris Johnson is wearing thin, as they increasingly see the consequences of his incompetence and chaotic approach. His government has shown it is simply not up to the job. His decision to bash ordinary people with a tax rise while protecting the most wealthy has revealed whose side he is on.
People are willing to give Labour a hearing again. It’s up to us to persuade them that we have changed, that it’s Labour who has their interests at heart, and that we are ready for government. That’s what we will be doing this conference.
We will be setting out our clear vision for how, with a Labour economy, a Labour society, a Labour worldview, a Labour politics, we can enjoy a stronger future together.
I can‘t wait to get going.
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