Sir Keir Starmer sounds like a Tory, with one crucial difference - analysis by Christopher Hope

Sir Keir Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer addressed Conservative voters head on

Christopher Hope

By Christopher Hope

Published: 10/10/2023

- 17:57

'Starmer was able to present Labour as the clear alternative to two tired administrations in London and Edinburgh'

Sir Keir Starmer today delivered a speech that a Tory leader could have given. And he knows it. In fact at one point he made a direct appeal to Conservative voters.

After listing the economic meltdown triggered by the Truss administration over a year ago, Starmer addressed Conservative voters head on.

He said: "If you feel our country needs a party that conserves, that fights for our union, our environment, the rule of law, family life, the careful bond between this generation and the next, then let me tell you: Britain already has one. And you can join it. It’s this Labour Party."

The crux of Starmer's speech was to list the problems afflicting the country and offer up very Conservative solutions for them.

WATCH: Starmer targeted by protester

Sir Keir Starmer protester storms stage

A Labour government would build on unloved parts of the Green Belt and construct new garden cities - both ideas which a Tory leader might champion.

He promised reform of the National Health Service. And he wanted to create a Britain "built to last where working people are respected”.

This was a country where “crime is prosecuted. Ambulances come. The minimum wage is enforced. Infrastructure gets built. Children feel safe in their classroom. Business and workers unite in partnership”.

Which Tories would argue against that? The main difference was how Labour would pay for all this: by forcing non-domiciled millionaires to pay more tax in the UK, and adding VAT to private school fees.

But few believe that these measures will pay for Labour's plans, and Starmer was notably silent on how else he made raise more cash as Prime Minister.

\u200bSir Keir Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer gave a speech to that many Conservative leaders could have done


Some of the loudest cheers were for Starmer's comments about supporting Israel in its war with Hamas and making clear that antisemitism had no place in the Labour party.

Starmer was offering "a changed Labour Party. No longer in thrall to gesture politics. No longer a party of protest. A party of service".

The audience - bar the protester who 'glitter-bombed' the Labour leader - loved it. I counted 53 rounds of applause, a dozen of which were standing ovations.

A measure of how far Labour has come was that Starmer did not even need to say his party would not do a deal with the SNP to get hold of the keys to 10 Downing St.

He was able to present Labour as the clear alternative to two tired administrations in London and Edinburgh.

This feels like a party hungry for power, a complete change from the chaotic annual conferences when Jeremy Corbyn was leader between 2015 and 2019.

Labour needs to be careful though. Starmer wanted to see: "Britain strong enough, stable enough, secure enough for you to invest your hope, your possibility, your future".

Strong and stable government? This was the slogan of the Tories’ 2017 election campaign, when Theresa May defined the Conservatives against a chaotic Labour party as she to win a landslide for the Conservatives. And we all know how that ended.

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