Sir Keir Starmer pledges to ‘tread more lightly’ on lives of voters (2024)

Sir Keir Starmer promised to “tread more lightly” on the lives of voters during his first address to the nation as Prime Minister. Speaking outside 10 Downing Street following his landslide victory, he pledged that his Labour Government would be one of “service” and said he would “unite our country”.

He was speaking after returning from Buckingham Palace where he had his first audience with the King and accepted his invitation to form a new government.

The remarks will be seen as an overture to socially conservative voters who are concerned that there will be more state interference in their lives under a Labour administration.

Labour won nearly two-thirds of seats (63.7 per cent), but just a third (33.8 per cent) of the popular vote. Combined, Reform and the Conservatives gained 37.9 per cent of the vote, but collectively have just 19 per cent of seats.

Sir Keir used his speech to make an appeal to the public, saying: “I say to you directly: Whether you voted Labour or not, in fact, especially if you did not, I say to you directly: My government will serve you.”

He said the Government had been given a “clear mandate” by voters, adding that “we will use it to deliver change, to restore service and respect for politics, end the era of noisy performance, tread more lightly on your lives and unite our country.

“Four nations standing together again facing down, as we have so often in our past, the challenges of an insecure world, committed to a calm and patient rebuilding.

“So, with respect and humility, I invite you all to join this Government of service in the mission of national renewal. Our work is urgent and we begin it today.”

Sir Keir paid tribute to Rishi Sunak, praising his “achievement” as the “first British-Asian Prime Minister of our country”.

He said: “The extra effort that will have required should not be underestimated by anyone. We pay tribute to that today and we also recognise the dedication and hard work he brought to his leadership.”

Sir Keir said he would work to repair the “lack of trust” the British public had in the Government, acknowledging that this could “only be healed by actions not words”. He used his speech to remind voters that he “changed the Labour party” and is “returning it to service”.

His comments will be seen as an attempt to distance his leadership of the party from that of Jeremy Corbyn, his predecessor. Mr Corbyn resigned as Labour leader in 2019 after the party suffered its worst election defeat since 1935. Sir Keir went on to expel him from the parliamentary party less than a year later, accusing him of undermining efforts to tackle anti-Semitism.

Sir Keir also highlighted a list of issues he hopes to tackle, including getting the NHS “back on its feet”, as well as ensuring Britain has “secure borders” and “safer streets”.

Hinting at Labour’s plan to “make work pay”, which will be overseen by the party’s deputy leader Angela Rayner, he mentioned that he wants everyone to be “treated with dignity and respect at work”.

Next he turned to the party’s net zero goals and plan to set up GB Energy, a new state-owned energy investor that will be based in Scotland and take stakes in renewables and nuclear projects. “The opportunity of clean British power cutting your energy bills for good,” he said.

Finally, Sir Keir outlined Labour’s plans to turbocharge housebuilding by addressing planning reform and boosting social housing stock. “And, brick by brick we will rebuild the infrastructure of opportunity,” he said. “The world-class schools and colleges. The affordable homes that I know are the ingredients of hope for working people, the security that working class families like mine could build their lives around.”

Sir Keir promised that his government will be “unburdened by doctrine” and “guided only by a determination to serve your interests [and] to defy, quietly, those who have written our country off.”

During the election campaign, Sir Keir was criticised for providing a lack of detail about what his government would do if elected. In particular, questions remain over whether there will be increases to taxes such as capital gains tax and inheritance tax, although the party has ruled out raising income tax, national insurance or VAT other than on private school fees.

Sir Keir Starmer pledges to ‘tread more lightly’ on lives of voters (2024)
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