Sir Keir Starmer has laid out his vision for the Labour party and the UK – one he hopes will be funded by the £250 billion saved by Britons during the pandemic.
The Labour leader has called for a ‘moral crusade’ to create a fairer, more prosperous society, saying the pandemic has demonstrated “a deadly ability to find the most vulnerable and to expose deep inequalities and injustices” across the UK.
“A fair society will lead to a more prosperous economy,” said Starmer. “It’s not the choice of one or the other, as the Conservatives would have you believe.
“We either have both or we have neither. Harold Wilson once said that the Labour party is a moral crusade or it is nothing – he was right.”
British Recovery Bond funded by savers’ lockdown billions
Explaining how they will pay for policies has always been a problem for Labour leaders, and Starmer’s answer is the British Recovery Bond – an idea based on the Bank of England’s (BoE) forecast that many households had saved money during the pandemic.
BoE figures show households had accumulated savings in excess of £125 billion by November 2020 – which is expected to double to £250 billion by June 2021.
The bank believes only around 5% of these savings – £12.5 billion – will be spent with the rest kept in savings. Starmer is hoping his vision will appeal to those savers to buy British Recovery Bonds enabling those funds to be spent directly on Covid recovery schemes.
Start-up loans for 100,000 firms
Starmer also proposed start-up loans for 100,000 new small firms in a speech designed to appeal to proponents of the private sector as much as to traditional Labour voters campaigning for social justice.
The Labour leader said his party had for too long regarded the private sector as “something just to be tolerated or taxed” and insisted Labour must build “a strong partnership with businesses” if a more just and equal post-pandemic society is to be realised.
A partnership with business is “pivotal to my leadership and to my vision of the future”, Starmer said, underlining the private sector’s responsibilities for social issues and climate change.
Conseratives claim Stramer has stolen ideas
The Conservative party reacted by dismissing Starmer’s speech, claiming he had stolen most of his ideas from them. “After 10 months of Keir Starmer, all Labour has to offer is others’ ideas, empty rhetoric and calling for things the government is already doing,” said Conservative Party co-chair Amanda Milling.
The Daily Mail’s consultant editor Andrew ‘ToryBoy’ Pierce tweeted: “it just gets worse for Sir @Keir_Starmer New poll shows 43% think @BorisJohnson is better leader for tackling @coronavirus than Labour leader on 28%. Captain Hindsight has been rumbled”.
When asked if Labour had gone soft on the government during the pandemic “in a bid to avoid political point scoring, Sir Keir told the Telegraph he had offered constructive criticism, alongside support where it was warranted.”
Starmer said: “I don’t think that is going soft – at times like this you back the Government where you think they are getting right… everybody is concerned that we pull through this, and pull through it together.”