Keir Starmer presents first steps to rebuild Britain with six pledges to voters

Keir Starmer promised Brits that a better future lies ahead as he set out his first steps to rebuild the country after 14 years of Tory rule.

The Labour leader admitted there would be “no quick fixes” but said he was offering a “down payment on change”. Appearing alongside his top team at a rally in Purfleet, Essex, Mr Starmer debuted a pledge card spelling out Labour’s election offer.

The promises include sorting the economy, cutting NHS waiting times, tackling anti-social behaviour, setting up publicly owned GB Energy, recruiting 6,500 new teachers and securing the border. The Labour leader said offering people stability would be a radical change after years of political turmoil.

“I’m not going to give you gimmicks. There’s no quick fix to the mess the Tories have made of this country,” he said. Labour will prove to voters that “decline is not inevitable, politics can make a difference”.

Mr Stramer added: “Britain will have a better future and you can choose it with Labour. Stop the chaos with Labour. Turn the page with Labour. Return politics to service with Labour. And with patience, with determination, with these first steps, we can rebuild our country.”

Labour leader Keir Starmer said the party was setting out its first steps to rebuild the country

Labour leader Keir Starmer said the party was setting out its first steps to rebuild the country
Ian Vogler / Daily Mirror)

Pacing the stage with his shirt sleeves rolled up, the Labour leader described his horror at visiting Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, in Liverpool, where the single biggest cause of admission is tooth decay. “I came away from that hospital also feeling really angry,” he said. “They are paying a very heavy price for what this government has done.”

He also described meeting a couple in Wolverhampton who decided they couldn’t afford to have a second child after the economic chaos triggered by Liz Truss’s mini-Budget. Mr Starmer said: “They’re going to live with that decision for the rest of their lives. I’m not prepared to allow an incoming Labour government, ever, to do that kind of damage to working people.”

He also spoke of meeting a group of 16 and 17-year-old girls in Stoke who said they were too scared to walk down their local high street in the daytime. “That is massive for those young women. They don’t feel safe on their high street, in daylight, because of antisocial behaviour. That’s what losing control of your streets feels like.”

In a Q&A session with journalists, Mr Starmer insisted he wasn’t scaling back Labour’s ambitions with the new pledges, which don’t include key areas such as housing and workers rights’ reforms. And he said the public could trust him to deliver – despite him ditching some of his leadership pledges such as scrapping tuition fees. He said: “When the facts change, the circumstances change, good leaders have to adapt and change with it.”

Labour's new pledge card will form a key part of their campaigning in the coming weeks and months

Labour’s new pledge card will form a key part of their campaigning in the coming weeks and months

He also rejected a plea from Gordon Brown to scrap the two-child benefit limit, which the former Labour PM said was driving children into poverty. Mr Starmer said: “Ending child poverty is central… If we’re privileged enough to come in to serve, we will put a strategy in place for it.” But on the two-child benefit limit, he said: “What I can’t do is make promises that I can’t deliver.”

His refusal to ditch the austerity-era policy triggered criticism from campaigners. Child Poverty Action Group boss Alison Garnham, who said: “A child poverty reduction plan is essential, but scrapping the two-child limit would have to be step one.”

The Labour leader dismissed a question of whether he was a “copycat” Tony Blair with his casual dress and the new promises, echoing the pledge card used in the run up to the 1997 election. Mr Starmer joked: “The first thing I’d say about Tony Blair, rather than whether he took his tie off, is that he won three elections in a row.”

“What Blair did in ’97 is what (Harold) Wilson did in ’64 and (Clement) Attlee did in ’45 – which is take Labour from the opposition into power. The thing that unites them is the ability to glimpse at the future and to persuade people to go on that journey to a changed future.” He said the Tories had “beaten the hope out of people that politics can be a force for good”.

The launch event also featured speeches on the key policy areas from Labour’s top team, including Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves, Wes Streeting, the Shadow Health Secretary, and Shadow Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson. Messages of support from campaigners, members of the public, and business leaders were also played throughout the event.

In an eye-catching coup for Labour, David Cameron‘s Bullingdon Club pal Sebastian James endorsed the party’s message. The old Etonian, who is Managing Director of Boots UK, gave a video message after Ms Reeves, saying: “A stable economy provides the right platform for sustainable economic growth.”

Also endorsing Labour’s economic message was Rob Boughton, chief executive of Thakeham Housing, which has donated nearly £1million to the Tories since 2017.