Starmer's Blairite vision for UK as leader outlines plan for Labour

We dissect Keir Starmer’s Blairite vision for Britain (so you don’t have to): Labour leader’s monster 14,000-word essay outlines plan for a patriotic, pro-work and pro-business party

Keir Starmer laid out his plans for Labour’s future today – in an astonishing 14,000 essay.

The 35-page opus sets out plans for the party to be patriotic and a ‘partner to private enterprise’ in what appears to be an attempt to draw a line under the party’s leftward spiral under Jeremy Corbyn.

He attacks infighting that has dogged the opposition in the past and demanded it be more future-focused – while learning from the reforming Governments of Clement Attlee in 1945 and Tony Blair in 1997.

The document is largely a musing on the state of the party and the nation, split between the past, the present and the future.

But it also sets out 10 principles which he claims would form the basis of a new contract between Labour and the British people.

But his decision to spend some not inconsiderable time on the document for the Fabian Society when he could have been publicly taking on Boris Johnson, has been met with criticism  from within Labour.

One party figure from the moderate wing told MailOnline the 35-page pamphlet was a ‘waste of time’ and normal people would not engage with the content. 

‘If ordinary voters suspected he was a weirdo before, now they know he is,’ they said, adding gloomily: ‘He’d be gone if he was leading the Tories, but there’s no-one else.’ 

Former Cabinet minister Lord Adonis said: ‘When you haven’t got anything new to say, it’s best not to say it in 14,000 words.’ 

However Oliver Dowden, Conservative Party co-chairman, said: ‘If this is Starmer’s ‘big vision’ then he should have gone to Specsavers.

‘Labour are talking to themselves about themselves. They’re all essays and no action.’ 

Here we set out the key points of the document:

He attacks infighting that has dogged the opposition in the past and demanded it be more future-focused – while learning from the reforming Governments of Clement Attlee in 1945 and Tony Blair in 1997.

The 35-page opus sets out plans for the party to be patriotic and a ‘partner to private enterprise’ in what appears to be an attempt to draw a line under the party’s leftward spiral under Jeremy Corbyn.

Keir’s 10 principles 

  • We will always put hard-working families and their priorities first. 
  • If you work hard and play by the rules, you should be rewarded fairly. 
  • People and businesses are expected to contribute to society, as well as receive. 
  • Your chances in life should not be defined by the circumstances of your birth – hard work and how you contribute should matter. 
  • Families, communities and the things that bring us together must once again be put above individualism. 
  • The economy should work for citizens and communities. It is not good enough to just surrender to market forces. 
  • The role of government is to be a partner to private enterprise, not stifle it. 
  • The government should treat taxpayer money as if it were its own. The current levels of waste are unacceptable. 
  • The government must play its role in restoring honesty, decency and transparency in public life. 
  • We are proudly patriotic but we reject the divisiveness of nationalism

Ten steps to power?

Cutting ties with the broad nationalisation policies that belittled ex-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s previous election bids, Sir Keir explained he wants his party to ‘once again be Britain’s bricks and mortar’.

Sir Keir said Labour cannot ‘wait around for the public to decide we are right’ and must instead grasp the opportunities the current political atmosphere provides. 

The paper ends with a series of 10 principles which steer the party very much towards the centre ground.

At its heart is what he has dubbed a ‘contribution society’, where everyone has a part to play. 

Most eye-catching perhaps is the claim ‘The role of government is to be a partner to private enterprise, not stifle it’. 

Under Jeremy Corbyn Labour ran on an election manifesto in 2019 that pledged to ‘bring rail, mail, water and energy’ and ‘the broadband-relevant parts of BT’ into public ownership. 

Facing claims about a lack of patriotism under the previous regime, the pledges also include ‘We are proudly patriotic but we reject the divisiveness of nationalism’.

Elsewhere he writes: ‘Nationalists like to portray themselves as patriots. But patriotism and nationalism are not the same. In fact, they are opposites. 

‘Nationalism represents an attempt to divide people from one another; patriotism is an attempt to unite people of different backgrounds. 

‘Nationalism is about the casting out of the other; patriotism is about finding common ground. Nationalism is the flag as a threat. Patriotism is the flag as a celebration.’ 

But Sir Keir is already repeatedly on the record on this issue, identifying it as a way to regain lost working class Red Wall voters put off by Corbyn.

In February he insisted he was ‘very comfortable’ with displaying his patriotism, saying: ‘Yes, I’m patriotic … I want to be prime minister of this country because I want this country to be even better than it is now.

‘Actually, the whole Labour movement is very patriotic, we are in politics to change our country for the better, you can’t be more patriotic than that, and I’m very, very comfortable with it.’

Learn from the past but don’t be consumed by it


Sir Keir cites the two most high profile Labour Governments as inspirations – the 1945 administration of Clement Attlee  and the 1997 Government of Tony Blair

Sir Keir cites the two most high profile Labour Governments as inspirations. The 1945 administration of Clement Attlee is a gimme, referenced by all sides of Labour.

But he also cited the 1997 Government of Tony Blair – almost a swear word for the party’s left.  

‘Out of the rubble of the Second World War and the economic depression of the 1930s, the Attlee government rebuilt Britain, with millions of homes for the heroes of the conflict and the creation of the NHS,’ he wrote.

‘Perhaps its greatest achievement was that the Tory governments that followed had no choice but to try and build upon this legacy rather than dismantle it. 

‘The Blair and Brown governments were similarly ambitious for Britain: from introducing the minimum wage and reducing child and pensioner poverty, to the hospitals and schools that were built and the nurses and teachers that were trained.’

However he cautioned against becoming ‘the party of sepia-tinged nostalgia’, adding: ‘We must take inspiration from 1945 – but that cannot mean dwelling on the past.

‘When we win, it is not because the country has come around to our way of thinking but because we have seized the future and moulded it. The arc of history will not bend towards us unless we force it to.’

Love-bombing business 

In a thinly veiled jib at Corbynism and its calls for nationalisation, Mr Starmer lashes out at 20th century ‘command economies’ with everything under state control.

‘Building that better country is not going to happen with the erratic approach to the economy of the Conservatives. But nor will it be created by a throwback to the planned economies of the 20th century.

‘The first task in remaking the nation will be resetting the relationship between the government and business to create an economy that works. 

That will require a new, commonsense, practical approach: one in which we don’t treat the economy as a battle for supremacy between public sector and private sector, but a joint effort. 

‘We need to drive innovation and change and drive up standards for employers and employees. 

‘The state must become an investor and a leader. British businesses large and small must know the government has their back. 

‘Workers must see their pay, skills and conditions improve. Business is a force for good in society, providing jobs, prosperity and wealth.’

Fight the Tories, not ourselves

Sir Keir admits: ‘The Conservatives are not an easy opponent to pin down – and even less so when Labour has tied its own arms behind its back.’

He added: ‘We cannot go back into our comfort zones. We must embrace this new world and deal head on with the fundamental question of how Labour would remake Britain for the 2030s and beyond. ‘

But his comments come at a time where Labour is again gripped in an internal civil war over potential changes Sir Keir wants to make to leadership rules. 

Sir Keir has enraged left-wingers and unions by pushing to scrap the current ‘one member, one vote’ system for electing leaders.

Instead he wants to return to a version of the old arrangements, where trade unions, MPs and party members each get a third of the voting power. Critics complain that probably would have meant Jeremy Corbyn losing in 2015.

Shadow communities secretary Steve Reed suggested in interviews this morning that the proposals will be put to conference, which starts this weekend, despite the opposition. 

But Sir Keir suffered another blow when London mayor Sadiq Khan dodged saying if he supported the changes, swiping that ‘internal party rules isn’t at the fore of my mind’.    

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