Keir Starmer unveils six election ‘first steps’ for a Labour government

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Sir Keir Starmer will on Thursday set out Labour’s central policy promises ahead of the general election in a move that echoes the party’s “pledge card” published before its landslide 1997 victory.

Speaking at an event in Essex, the Labour leader will say the six “first steps to change Britain” represent a “downpayment on change” rather than the full extent of the party’s ambitions for government.

Five of the priorities have already been outlined in Labour’s “five missions” to deliver economic stability, cut NHS waiting times, set up a state-owned energy company, tackle antisocial behaviour and recruit more teachers.

But the party will now emphasise a sixth policy to launch a Border Security Command in an attempt to try to match Tory efforts to counter illegal immigration.

There is increasing scrutiny of Labour’s policies with the party 20 points ahead of the Conservatives in the polls and the national voted expected in the second half of the year.

The policies will be key to Labour’s political messaging campaign in the coming months, and will feature on a poster and local newspaper advertising drive starting on Thursday.

“These are things that we’ve been saying for some time. We are not changing our strategy every week or every month,” said Pat McFadden, Labour’s campaign co-ordinator, in a media briefing.

“The prime minister [Rishi Sunak] has been using I don’t know how many strategies in the past six months, we have had Mr Change, Mr Continuity, Mr Security . . . whereas these policies are in line with what we have been consistently saying,” he added.

One Tory official said: “Keir Starmer has junked every single pledge that he was elected on and deleted the record from his website.”

The first of Labour’s “steps” is to provide economic stability and “tough spending rules” to grow the economy and keep taxes, inflation and mortgages as low as possible.

McFadden said his party wanted to enshrine financial stability in contrast to the Tory government whose “mini-Budget”, under the leadership of then-prime minister Liz Truss in 2022, triggered panic in financial markets.

The second is to cut NHS waiting times by delivering 40,000 more appointments each week during evenings and weekends, to be paid for by cracking down on tax avoidance including by those with non-domiciled tax status.

The third is the establishment of a Border Security Command with hundreds of specialist investigators in an attempt to smash criminal gangs that carry asylum seekers across the English Channel.

Those first three pledges echo some of the Conservative’s “five priorities” under Sunak, reflecting how both parties are seeking to fight the election on the political centre ground.

However, the Labour package also includes a new publicly-owned clean power company called Great British Energy, a crackdown on antisocial behaviour with more neighbourhood police, and the recruitment of 6,500 teachers.

“These first steps will make a real difference to people’s lives,” Starmer will say. “If you’re waiting in pain for NHS treatment, if your child is at school and you want higher standards, if your local area is plagued by antisocial behaviour, if you want cheaper energy bills for good, these first steps show what a Labour government will do to help you.”

McFadden insisted the party was not jettisoning its previous list of five “missions”, saying: “These are the first steps towards the fulfilment of those five missions.”

The Labour MP said the party was focused on meeting two “tests” with the public, whether it could be trusted with the public finances and with national security.

“Before we even get to policy these are the two tests that we have to take extremely seriously . . . you can see that with everything that we’ve said on the economy, in our support for Nato, and standing four-square behind the government on Ukraine,” he added.

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