Sir Keir Starmer brushed off his encounter with a protester at the start of his speech to conference to promise a “decade of renewal” for Britain if Labour wins the next election.
Starmer said: “We will face down the age of insecurity together, break the stranglehold of Tory decline, walk towards a decade of national renewal.”
Starmer promised to transform Britain by building on the “grey belt”, the unused abandoned land in green belts and create the “next generation of new towns” near England’s cities.
Labour will “get shovels in the ground,” the leader declared to huge cheers from the audience. It did not mean “tearing up the green belt”, Starmer assured, because “Labour is the party that protects our green spaces.”
“But where there are clearly ridiculous uses of it, disused car parks, dreary wasteland – not a green belt, a grey belt, sometimes within a city’s boundary – then this cannot be justified as a reason to hold our future back.”
If elected, his government would “bulldoze through” the planning system otherwise so that home ownership does not become “a luxury for the few”.
Starmer also took the opportunity to remind listeners of the Labour policies already announced, including setting up GB energy, abolishing non-dom tax status and more devolution for local communities.
Conveying a long-term vision for Britain and his own ambition, Starmer said a Labour victory will herald a “decade of national renewal” after 13 years of Conservative government failings.
And he appealed directly to Conservative voters who “despair” at their own party’s ineptness, reminding them that he now leads a “changed Labour party no longer in thrall to gesture politics”.
Compare that to the Conservatives, Starmer said, who have descended “into murky waters of populism and conspiracy with no argument for economic change.”
Reminding people too about the record of Conservative prime ministers and their disdain for the electorate, Starmer made a sharp dig at Boris Johnson’s record in Downing Street and referenced the treatment of staff cleaning up after illegal lockdown parties in No 10.
Buoyed by last week’s byelection victory in Rutherglen, Starmer also took aim at the SNP, mocking the global ambition of a party in power at Holyrood that can “barely provide a ferry to the Hebrides”.
But electoral success is not a given, Starmer stressed and Labour must not take anything for granted. Especially, he said, because “dangerous” Tories “will be up for the fight”, adding: “They are always up for the fight to save their own skins and this isn’t over. In fact it has barely begun.”