Keir Starmer: A vote for Labour is a vote for change

Opposition leader to show voters how he plans to win general election and deliver on his five main election pledges

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Keir Starmer has taken on the challenge of placing the Labour Party in UK government, saying of Rishi Sunak's announcement of a general election that “a vote for Labour is a vote for stability – economic and political”.

Mr Starmer vowed Labour has “a long-term plan to rebuild Britain – a plan that is ready to go, fully costed and fully funded”.

He promised to deliver economic stability, cut NHS waiting times, secure the UK’s borders, harness British energy to cut bills, tackle antisocial behaviour and get more teachers into children’s classrooms.

“On July 4, you have the choice,” Mr Starmer said of the general election date.

“And together we can stop the chaos, we can turn the page, we can start to rebuild Britain and change our country.”

He and his team hope their policy priorities will be enough to remove the Conservative government from power after 14 years.

Since late 2021, Mr Starmer has maintained leads in opinion polls over the Conservative Party, building his confidence as a potential future leader of the country.

Early life

Keir Starmer was born on September 2, 1962, in London, and grew up in Surrey.

He was active in politics from a young age, joining the Labour Party Young Socialists in East Surrey as a teenager.

Mr Starmer graduated from the University of Leeds with a law degree in 1985 before gaining a postgraduate bachelor of civil law at the University of Oxford.

Work before politics

Mr Starmer was called to the bar in 1987 and practised criminal defence work, specialising in human rights cases.

In 2008, he became the Director of Public Prosecutions and the head of the Crown Prosecution Service, holding these positions until 2013.

Mr Starmer was awarded a knighthood for his “services to law and criminal justice” in 2014.

He married Victoria Alexander in 2007 and they have a son and a daughter.

Life in politics

Keir Starmer became an MP in 2015 after winning the safe Labour seat of Holborn and St Pancras.

Under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership, he was shadow minister for immigration and shadow secretary of state for exiting the EU.

After Mr Corbyn's resignation following Labour's 2019 general election defeat, Mr Starmer won the party's leadership vote in 2020.

What are his policies as Labour leader?

“Britain needs a mission-driven government to end short-term, sticking-plaster politics,” Mr Starmer said before outlining his vision for the future of a Labour government.

He believes his policies will give “Britain back its future and to restore pride and purpose in the country”.

Mr Starmer says each policy is built on the strong foundations of economic stability, national security and secure borders.

First, he pledges to achieve the highest sustained growth in the G7, “with good jobs and productivity growth in every part of the country, making everyone, not just a few, better off”.

He also wants to make Britain a clean-energy superpower “to create jobs, cut bills and boost energy security with zero-carbon electricity by 2030, accelerating to net zero”.

Health care is also a focus. He has promised to build an NHS “fit for the future”.

He pledges: “It will be there when people need it, with fewer lives lost to the biggest killers; in a fairer Britain where everyone lives well for longer.”

Mr Starmer says a Labour government would make Britain's streets safe by halving serious violent crime. He also pledges to raise confidence in the police and criminal justice system to its highest levels.

He promises to break down the barriers to opportunity “at every stage, for every child, by reforming childcare and education, raising standards everywhere and preparing young people for work and life”.

What is his leadership style?

Many of Mr Starmer's allies believe his formal suits, speaking style and thoroughly researched Commons questions are what the party needs to take them to victory in the next general election.

So far, this old-fashioned persona is returning positive feedback in the polls.

But critics suggest his methodical approach to strategy, as well as his voice and body language, suggest he is not a political natural.

During his Labour leadership Mr Starmer has opposed the government on several issues, including its response to the Covid 19 pandemic, Partygate, the September 2022 mini-budget and the cost-of-living crisis.

Eliminating anti-Semitism in the Labour Party has been another focus of his leadership.

Gaza rift

There is also growing evidence that Mr Starmer’s policy on Israel is having an impact on communities outside London.

This was most apparent in the Greater Manchester town of Oldham, which is 22 per cent Muslim, where Labour unexpectedly lost control of the local council.

This year several councillors quit the party over its position on Gaza.

Pat McFadden, Labour’s campaign co-ordinator, admitted the Middle East crisis “had been a factor” in their polling and there “wasn't any point in denying that”.

“It does get raised and I understand why people have strong feelings about that,” he told the BBC.

Polling analyst Chris Hopkins told The National it “would be wrong” to underestimate the impact of alienating some voters.

“There are some lessons for Labour to learn here, in that they need to engage better with the grumbling within this community because they will lose votes,” said Mr Hopkins, director of market research consultancy Savanta.

“There is dissatisfaction with the party and how they've handled the Muslim community.”

There is now growing concern within Labour that the Gaza war will split their vote in the general election and cost them seats.

Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy this month made Labour's first call for a “pause” in arms sales to Israel and shifted the party's position earlier this year when he called for an “immediate sustainable ceasefire” in Gaza.

The UK government’s relations with these Middle East countries are often strained over Gaza and other conflicts in the region.

Updated: May 23, 2024, 8:14 AM