Sir Keir Starmer has warned the government that if it wants a fight on workers’ rights and working people’s priorities then the Labour Party ‘will take them on’ and it ‘will win’.
Delivering his keynote speech to the Labour Party conference in Liverpool today, the Labour leader outlined his plans for a Labour government, including a new publically owned energy company, generating more than a million new jobs.
He attacked the Conservatives’ 12 years in office, criticising last week’s tax cuts for the highest earners and the lifting of the ban on bankers’ bonuses.
Addressing delegates in Liverpool today, Sir Keir said: “After 12 years, what’s their big idea? Unlimited bonuses for bankers? Back the billionaires? Go easy on the oil and gas companies?
“It’s a nonsense – everyone earning less than £155k a year loses out with their plans. They say they don’t believe in redistribution, but they do – from the poor to the rich and they’re loading up the country with debt to pay for it.
I’m not just pro-business, I want to partner with business. So we will scrap business rates, level the playing-field for start-ups and the high street, give employers new flexibility to invest in the world class training they need” – Sir Keir Starmer
“Working people don’t graft hard enough. No. We’re not going to take this. This is the fight.”
Starmer announced the launch of Labour’s Green Prosperity Plan, to turn the UK into a “green growth superpower”, promising 100% clean power by 2030 by doubling onshore wind capacity, trebling solar power, quadrupling offshore wind, and investing in tidal, hydrogen and nuclear energy.
“This will require a different way of working – the biggest partnership between government, business and communities this country has ever seen,” he said. “It will mean new jobs – more than a million new jobs, training for plumbers, electricians, engineers, software designers, technicians, builders. And it will all start within the first 100 days of a new Labour government.”
He argued that business leaders don’t want to “rip up” employee rights. “They don’t tell me the problems they face will be solved by corporation tax cuts. They want fair taxes, high skills and the long-term confidence to invest.
“I want to be crystal clear about this: I’m not just pro-business, I want to partner with business. So we will scrap business rates, level the playing-field for start-ups and the high street, give employers new flexibility to invest in the world class training they need.”
He attacked the Tories’ mini-budget announcements last week. “If they want to fight us on redistribution, if they want to fight us on workers’ rights, if they want to tell us working people don’t come first, we will take them on – and we will win.
“We will win not just because we have fairness on our side but because we have economic reason on our side too. Trickle-down economics doesn’t work. Britain won’t be better off just because we make the rich, richer.
“The real problem is we create too many jobs that are low paid and insecure. Lock too many communities out of the wealth we create. And public services aren’t strong enough to help working people succeed.”
He acknowledged that, like Liz Truss, he voted to remain in the EU, but said that the policy of his Labour government would always be to make Brexit work
“I didn’t hear that Brexit was about slashing workers’ rights. I didn’t hear people wanting to lower standards on food, animal welfare or the environment. I didn’t hear them wanting to end redistribution,” he said.
Commenting on Starmer’s proposals for a new publicly-owned energy champion called Great British Energy, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This is a big, bold move that will cut bills and secure our energy future. This new national energy champion can provide high-quality jobs to every corner of the UK. And it’s about time the public shared in the profits of British energy.”
Brian McBride, president of the CBI, said: “Against the backdrop of a cost-of-living crisis, it’s welcome to hear Labour re-state its pro-business credentials and double down on a commitment to sustainable growth.
“Business shares Labour’s commitments to transform business rates, give firms greater flexibility over training and turn the UK into a green growth superpower; achieving this in partnership.”