Labour leader Keir Starmer will lay out major new policies in speech today - how to watch it

Thursday, 18th February 2021, 10:03 am
Updated Thursday, 18th February 2021, 10:03 am
Labour leader Keir Starmer will lay out major new policies in speech today - how to watch it (Photo by Ian Vogler - Pool/Getty Images)

Labour leader Keir Starmer will make a major public speech today (18 Feb), seeking to lay out his own political philosophy and a raft of new policies.

Mr Starmer is expected to say that there can be “no return to business as usual” after the Covid pandemic, and that “this must now be a moment to think again about the country that we want to be”.

‘Looking for more’

In the speech, which will be streamed online at 11am, the former director of public prosecutions will lay out his case to the public.

He will compare the UK’s current situation to the post-war period, saying: “I believe people are now looking for more from their Government - like they were after the Second World War.

“This must now be a moment to think again about the country that we want to be. A call to arms, like the Beveridge Report was in the 1940s. A chance to diagnose the condition of Britain and to start the process of putting it right.”

The Beveridge Report was a set of policy proposals which would lay the foundations for the welfare state and national health service. These were implemented after World War Two by Labour prime minister, Clement Attlee.

‘Fork in the road’

The speech will come just weeks before the Conservative party unveils the next budget. Mr Starmer will describe this moment as a “fork in the road” for the UK.

The Labour leader is expected to criticise the current government’s plans to reverse the Universal Credit uplift, as well as proposing that local councils are given more funding to prevent council tax rises.

He will also argue that the business rate holiday and VAT cut for hospitality and leisure businesses should be extended.

While allies of Mr Starmer insist that he has been working on the speech and ideas behind it for at least six months, some have suggested that the speech comes as a reaction to criticism Mr Starmer has received over the last few weeks.

A number of commentators and figures who were broadly supportive of Mr Starmer when he assumed the Labour leadership have written recently of his failures to really break through to the public and set out what he stands for.

Speaking to Politico’s Playbook, one Labour MP said: “It is going to need to be something to rival Attlee in 1945. Not sure there are many ideas as big as the creation of the welfare state”