Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of Labour, has announced bold plans for the creation of a new generation of towns, in addition to the construction of 1.5 million homes. This proposal comes as part of a broader initiative for a period of rejuvenation under Labour leadership.
Stating his intention to overhaul the current planning system in England should his party gain control, Sir Keir warned of a dark future in which homeownership would be a prospect only for the select few without immediate action.
During the preparation for his conference address, the Labour leader experienced a colourful interruption in the form of a demonstrator advocating for electoral reform, who doused him with glitter. Keeping his composure under glittering pressure, Sir Keir continued his address and received applause for his assertion that he had transformed Labour from a party of protest into a governmental entity ready to step up.
Throughout his address, Sir Keir positioned himself as a champion for reform, promising to facilitate economic growth and stability. He has proposed fast-tracking the construction of new townships in unused urban areas proximal to English cities, invoking memories of similar projects undertaken by the inaugural Labour government following the Second World War.
The Labour leader further iterated that wherever good jobs and solid infrastructure are present, a Labour government would waste no time in commencing work. However, he assured audiences that this would in no way entail ravaging the green belt, reinforcing Labour as the party for the preservation of green spaces.
Regarding this initiative, Sir Keir emphasised the necessity of private sector investment to fund the bulk of these new towns. He revealed that local areas desirous of securing these new towns would need to proactively seek out private sponsors.
He also vouched to construct 1.5 million new homes over the next five years, which he recognised as an essential step towards bolstering economic growth. Sir Keir proposed two terms in power for his party aimed largely at healing the nation from 13 years of Conservative-led governance.
Sir Keir delineated his belief that without economic security and stability, unbreakable social class barriers would persistently remain. His address in Liverpool could potentially mark his last before an anticipated general election the following year. It constitutes his conclusive chance to present his Premier candidature to his party.
Courageously, he extended an invitation to disheartened Conservative voters to switch loyalties to the reformed Labour party. He contrasted its new outlook with the Tories’ descent into populism and conspiracy theories devoid of actionable economic change strategies. Several jibes directed at the former Prime Minister Boris Johnson laced his address, particularly those in reference to various scandals related to Downing Street.
His criticism also extended to Labour’s Scottish counterparts, the Scottish National Party for their inability to provide direct ferry service to the Hebrides.
Despite a security-induced pause occasioned by a protester’s removal from the stage, Sir Keir remained unperturbed, even dusted in glitter, declaring that these actions had no substantial impact on him. It merely validated the change he was advocating for within his party.
This address underscored the confidence he has garnered as the party leader, applauding the contributions of former Premier Tony Blair, while laying out plans for widespread NHS reform and declaring his support for Israel. However, he warned that a winning Labour government would face more significant challenges than those encountered by Blair and other previous Labour figures. Changes born out of significant transformation often exist beyond the realms of instant magic solutions.
Although the response from Trades Unions was mostly favourable, Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham noted that Labour needs a well-articulated vision for the economy, remarking that the devil is always in the detail. Martin Mctague, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, commended the party for giving small businesses due consideration in their conference.