Keir Starmer has set out his vision for the nation in his 2021 Labour Party conference speech.
In a feature film length speech, which marked the first time the leader addressed the whole party in this manner after last year’s conference was cancelled due to coronavirus, Starmer spoke about why he got into politics in the first place, the problems he believes are plaguing society and how Labour would “fix them”.
Although it was criticized for being too long and hounded by hecklers, the speech did well.
Let’s take a look at the highlight reel:
Opening song: Right here, Right Now, Fatboy Slim
Much is made of the song a politician chooses to walk out to when delivering their conference speech and people may speculate that choosing a 90s track showed that Starmer is more New Labour than he will ever admit. Later, however, he stated that he had taken music lessons from Fatboy Slim at school.
“Sunday was particularly nerve wracking then the results started coming through… Arsenal 3, Tottenham 1!”
Changes have been made by the Labour Party, which gives MPs greater power to elect leaders. Although the controversial reforms mean that candidates must now get support from 20% (instead of 10%) to be eligible for the selection paper, the left-leaning party has criticized them. However, the proponents claim it will help the party win the elections.
Starmer, who made a joke that appeared to refer to this argument, was unaffected by the opposition and placed his One Major Personality Trait (liking soccer) at its centre. Good stuff.
“Level-up? You can’t even fill up!”
Starmer next attacked the Conservative government regarding the ongoing petrol shortage. He mocked Johnson’s slogan and policy and said the party was blaming everyone else except themselves.
“It’s been important to get our own house in order and we have done that.”
He is not going to forget the past. Starmer thanked those who supported the party but did not vote for Conservatives in 2019. He welcomed those returning to the party and said he would not go to elections without “a serious plan” for the country, in what seemed a clear dig at former leader Jeremy Corbyn.
“At this time on a Wednesday it’s normally the Tories who are heckling me. It doesn’t bother me then and it doesn’t bother me now.”
During his speech, Starmer was repeatedly heckled. Starmer was unaffected by the heckling and he managed to overcome them. “Shouting slogans or changing lives conference?” He later responded to more hecklers and the crowd cheered for him.
“I’m not from a privileged background, my Dad was a toolmaker but in a way so was Boris Johnson’s.”
Starmer went on to describe his family history, and how it led him to the beliefs he holds today. He said “family and work” were two key values important to him and that his upbringing gave him a “deep respect for the dignity of work”. “Good work and fair growth will be the priority of a Labour government,” Johnson, he stated while laughing.
“That is why under my leadership the fight against crime will always be a Labour issue.”
Starmer spoke about his childhood and then moved onto the policies that a Labour government would implement under his premiership. Starmer, who has worked in crime for many years, touched on the first topic and stated that a Labour government would pass tougher sentences for stalkers and rapists as well as domestic violence victims. He also stated that he would not tolerate anti-social behavior.
It has been said that Starmer emulated Tony Blair with this policy but this was all the “tough on crime” without the “and the causes of crime”.
“I don’t think Boris Johnson is a bad man I think he is a trivial man. He is a showman with nothing left to show.”
Starmer also attacked Johnson and his government. Johnson wrote newspaper columns, which he claimed were unscientific, while he was trying to prosecute terrorists. He also said that Johnson appeared on TV to make quips. Starmer also said Johnson was not strict enough when Dominic Cummings and Matt Hancock breaking coronavirus rules and that he acts as if rules don’t apply to him. “Politics has to be clean, wrongdoing has to be punished,” He stated.
“A Labour government will always fund the NHS properly.”
To policy. Starmer attacked the Tories for their handling of the pandemic, but claimed that it was worsened by their management of the NHS over the past 11 years. He said their reforms were “pointless” and made “cracks” that Covid “seeped into”.
“Labour would shift the priority of the NHS away from emergency care towards prevention”He also promised that mental support would be available in a matter of months.
He waxed poetic about the role technology plays in medicine.
“Education is so important I’m tempted to say it three times.”
Starmer also made a reference to Blair when he spoke about education. “I want every parent in the country to be able to send their children to a great state school,” Starmer said.
He mocked the government for trying to reintroduce Latin into schools and instead talked about the importance and practicality of music, art and drama and the access to career counselors. He wants every child to have the chance to play sports and for them to leave school “ready for work and ready for life,” whatever that means.
“Make Brexit work”
Starmer also criticized the Tories for their slogan politics and claimed they had no other plans for the country.
But Starmer did have a slogan of his own, paying mocking homage to Johnson’s “get Brexit done” and moving the country away from the Brexit debate despite his previous calls for a second referendum.
“I do see a way forward after Brexit,” he said, though said the Tories had “botched” the exit.
“The economic inheritance from the Tories will be appalling,”
Starmer reversed the script, claiming that Labour governments would damage the economy as Conservatives do so often. He criticised their tax changes and Universal Credit cuts and said Labour would offer “value for money”.
As briefed to the press as a key line, “Labour will be back in business” He stated.
“Too often in the history of this party our dream of the good society falls foul of the belief that we will not run a strong economy… under my leadership we are committed to both,” he saidHe said.
“Time is short and we have a duty to act”.
Starmer then spoke about climate change including installing “wind turbines” and creating “green jobs”. Whether Greta Thunberg would have found that part a bit “blah, blah, blah”, we don’t know.
Like in his essay, there was a lot of stuff to be excited about in Starmer’s vision for Britain and he spoke with integrity.
Like his essay, Starmer’s messages and policies were hidden in a lot waffle so viewers had to look for them.
Starmer has often criticized Johnson for his punchy comms and lack of substance. Starmer is certain to have the former, but if Starmer wants to be Prime Minister, he’ll need to master the former.
Here’s what other people had to say about it: