‘We want a basic election now, the nation is crying out for change’

Dear Mirror reader

A woman stopped me at Knutsford service station last weekend, as I travelled up to Old Trafford to watch Arsenal play Man Utd. She was visibly in pain. Her eye was swollen – an in-growing eyelid. She’d waited 18 months for an operation to fix it. “Now I’ve been told I’ve got to wait another 12 months”, she said. “I can’t bear it. Keir, you’ve got to get in and fix the NHS.”

As too many Mirror readers know, her story is not unusual. With the NHS waiting list at almost 8 million, it feels like everyone is either on a waiting list or knows someone who is. It’s one of many symptoms of 14 years of broken, sticking plaster politics. Of a Tory Party who crashed the economy. And a Prime Minister who flies above Britain’s problems in his jet, always ‘relaunching’, always acting for the short-term.

It’s why nothing seems to work properly in Tory Britain. No stability, no vision, no leadership. That is why today I launch Labour’s first steps to change Britain. These are our key priorities. Six first steps to make Britain work again for working people. A ‘down payment’ on change.

To start getting our NHS back on its feet, we’ll pay doctors and nurses more to work evenings and weekends, busting the waiting backlog with 40,000 more appointments and treatments every week.

But we know working people face a hard time too with the cost of living. That is why everything we do will be underpinned by economic stability. Tough spending rules to keep inflation, mortgages, taxes as low as possible. So that we grow the economy in all parts of the country. Create more jobs. Make people better off.

We will launch Great British Energy, a new publicly-owned clean power company. To cut bills for good. To create jobs. And to give Britain independence from dictators like Putin.

When people go out, they should feel safe. That’s not the case today. Too many high streets are plagued by anti-social behaviour, fly tipping, gangs, drugs. That is why we will introduce tough new penalties for offenders, more neighbourhood police and a new network of youth hubs to prevent those at risk of getting into crime.

We need secure borders as well as safe streets. The Tories have not stopped the boats. They are still coming – in record numbers. Labour will replace Tory gimmicks with tough action. We will create an elite Border Security Command with counter terrorist powers to smash the vile people smuggling gangs.

All of this will provide the security on which we can build new opportunities for the British people. Education matters for our future. We will recruit 6,500 more teachers in key subjects, ending the teacher shortage and preparing young people for the jobs of the future.

All of these first steps are fully costed, fully funded and ready to go. This will be the choice at the coming election: serious change, not hopeless gimmick. Grip, not drift. And in the face of Tory decline, a changed Labour Party that will roll up our sleeves, do the hard graft and deliver a decade of renewal for Britain.

We need that election, now. The country is crying out for change, now. With your support, I’m ready to step up and change Britain.

Keir Starmer