Labor will need to offer voters at the next general election a radical vision that “goes further and deeper” than Tony Blair’s government due to the scale of the crisis facing the country, Keir Starmer is said to
In a speech on Saturday, he will say reforms are necessary as a future Labor government will have a bigger job than Blair, given the major challenges the country now faces on top of 13 years of Conservative rule.
Starmer likened the scale of the changes he would make to “Clause IV on steroids.” “If you think our job in 1997 was to rebuild a crumbling public sphere, in 1964 to modernize an economy overly dependent on foreign benevolence, in 1945 to build a new Britain in an unstable world out of the trauma of mass casualties – in 2024 it will have to be all three, he will say.
It will highlight Blair’s controversial 1995 move to rewrite Labour’s constitution, known as Clause IV, abandoning the party’s then-current commitment to mass nationalization in a dramatic shift towards the centre.
“It’s about getting our party back to where we belong and where we should always be … back to doing what we were made to do,” Starmer told the Progressive Britain conference. “That’s why I say this project goes further and deeper than New Labour’s rewriting of Clause IV … It’s about rolling up our sleeves, changing our whole culture, our DNA. This is point IV on steroids.
Starmer’s comments are likely to alarm those on the party’s left who are already angered by his decision to waive tuition fees and nationalize the media. He defended these changes, saying that his proposals were adapted to unprecedented events in the world.
In his speech, he will say that this zeal for reform stems from the fact that working people “no longer have faith in an unreformed state.”
“We have to accept that no one will unite behind the traditional way of doing things at Westminster. Seriously, walk around any working-class community and you’ll be hit over the head with it,” he will say, describing his plans as “a new partnership between politics and working people: Labour’s new project for our times.”
In the local elections held this month, Labor gained 500 seats at the expense of the Conservatives, becoming the largest party in local government. However, the Liberal Democrats also performed well, fueling speculation about a possible suspension of parliament and the coalition.
Speaking to the Guardian, Shabana Mahmood, party leader of the Labor Party, stressed that the party was on track to secure an absolute majority in the next election, based on last week’s local vote across England.
She said there was a “kind disagreement with some psephologists” who extrapolated local election data to predict the suspension of parliament, given that last week’s vote was not held in Scotland, Wales or London. Labor is particularly confident about gains in Scotland.
“So I think looking at the bigger picture, we think we’re on the right track,” Mahmood said. “But of course there is a long way between now and actually completing this course. And that’s another piece ahead of us. It’s not like any of us are sitting there thinking it’s in the bag. I would be the first person to belligerently suppress it. We just know it’s doable. We know there is a path for us. And we care a lot about that.”
Starmer’s speech comes at a time when Labor is under pressure to lay out more ambitious rules. Sources said more details on the party’s bid for the electorate would be made available in the coming months and at the fall conference. Earlier, the national political forum process in July will begin to shape the Labor government’s priorities.