In Manchester last week, Sir Keir Starmer set out how five ‘missions’ will drive a Labour government. The new missions are designed to set a clear framework for Labour’s policy platform – and effectively launched the next General Election Campaign from the opposition.
Sir Keir has faced continued attacks from left and right over the perceived lack of a policy platform or clear ideological standing that will bring Labour into the next general election. This speech, and his new missions, offered a direct attempt to quell these criticisms and demonstrate to stakeholders, businesses and the wider voting public that Labour is a viable alternative Government.
Labour’s Five Missions
- Secure the highest sustained growth in the G7
- Build an NHS fit for the future
- Make Britain’s streets safe
- Break down the barriers to opportunity at every stage
- Make Britain a clean energy superpower
Focusing on the long-term
The launch of the new Missions also saw some direct hits aimed at the Conservative internal party-political challenges. Briefings to the press described Labour as “unashamedly long term”, and the speech promised to restore Britain’s “ambition, raise our sights above the quick fixes, the pandering to the noisy crowd, the short-termism that will only ever provide the sticking plaster”.
The first mission offers a level of ambition that is unusual for Sir Keir’s comparatively cautious approach, vowing to make the UK the fastest-growing major economy in the G7 by the end of a first Labour term in Government. And pledged that the economy must be “powered by good jobs and strong productivity in every part of the country.”
A message reinforced by Labour Party briefing document – which promises to devolve power away from Westminster, avoiding “growth where London races ahead and the rest of our country stagnates” – a Labour variation on levelling up that seems to challenge the more recent London-centric nature of Labour support.
It also suggests new statutory obligations for Ministers to report to parliament and replacing some Cabinet committees with “delivery-focused cross-cutting mission boards.”
More details to come… and possibly some challenges
In terms of messaging, this was more in the style of President Biden than Tony Blair. A focus away from clear, specific pledges and more on generic statements of renewal and optimism. Beyond the growth pledge, only a 2030 commitment to zero-carbon energy appeared even in the briefing documents.
While Sir Keir’s speech was light on policy details, we should expect more details to be revealed as the prospects of a General Election become more apparent. He also spelled out more details on the economy with a speech in the City of London today.
The City of Lord Speech
Sir Keir said he wanted to return the UK to being a “rock of economic stability”, but also develop a “new model for economic growth” that will require a “partnership – between business, unions, civil society, communities, between all our four nations.” The party want to use the annual rate of GDP per capita as a measurement tool, in which to close the gap in disposable income between medium households in Britain.
What matters most today is not Starmer’s speech on economic growth itself, but the fact that leading chief executives and other prominent business and economists were in the room. The single most significant take away today, is that Labour’s credibility is up, and they may soon be in Government.
Labour has a lead of around 20% over the Conservatives in opinion polls, suggesting the party is on course to win the General Election, which will most likely be held next year – we remain a long way out. There is still a question of if and how Starmer will rein in the left-wing of the party. Momentum, the grassroots pro-Corbyn campaign group, has accused Starmer of “ditching” left wing policies he espoused three years ago — when he won the leadership — in favour of “reheated Third Way Blairism”.
With Starmer pulling Labour into the centre-ground, setting a framework for Labour’s policy development, 2023 is the crucial manifesto year. Now is the time for businesses to engage and help shape what policy and regulation could look like from a Labour Government. There is a unique opportunity to be part of the policy, regulatory and economic programme for government – but that opportunity will only last so long!
Please get in touch if you would like to have a briefing call with our Public Affairs team, for further information on how businesses and organisations can maximise this opportunity.