05 January 2023

Sunak offering only ‘promises and platitudes’, says Starmer

05 January 2023

Sir Keir Starmer accused Rishi Sunak of offering the country only “more promises, more platitudes” as he hit out at “sticking plaster politics” in a new year speech in east London.

The Labour leader, speaking only a short distance from where Rishi Sunak delivered his own vision for the country on Wednesday, hit out at the Prime Minister for being in denial about the problems facing the country.

Flanked by party members, Sir Keir told the audience in Stratford that his promises “should not be taken as code for Labour getting its big government chequebook out again”.

“Of course, investment is required – I can see the damage the Tories have done to our public services as plainly as anyone else.

“But we won’t be able to spend our way out of their mess – it’s not as simple as that.

“There is no substitute for a robust, private sector, creating wealth in every community,” he told the audience.

His first speech of 2023 comes as the Government grapples with severe pressures in the NHS and ongoing strike action, as households continue to struggle with cost-of-living challenges.

Mr Sunak was accused of being light on detail in his own speech in Stratford, in which he promised to halve inflation, deal with NHS waiting lists, and tackle small boat crossings in the Channel.

Sir Keir told the audience that Mr Sunak had only offered “commentary without solutions”.

“More promises, more platitudes. No ambition to take us forward. No sense of what the country needs. Thirteen years of nothing but sticking plaster politics.”

The Labour leader, whose party would abolish and replace the House of Lords if it wins the next election and replace it with a regionally elected chamber, said that the country needs a new approach to politics and the economy.

Sir Keir said: “This year, let’s imagine instead, what we can achieve if we match the ambition of the British people.

“That’s why I say Britain needs a completely new way of governing.

“You can’t overstate how much a short-term mindset dominates Westminster, and, from there, how it infects all the institutions which try, and fail, to run Britain from the centre.”

“I call it sticking plaster politics,” he said.

“The long-term cure, that always eludes us.”

On the NHS, the Labour leader said that crises affecting the country have each been “an iceberg on the horizon”.

People know we care, they always know the Labour party cares and they can now see a party that is both competent and compassionate

The new approach to governing, Sir Keir said, will be driven by “national missions”, which the party will set out in the coming weeks.

His own party, he said, had changed too under his leadership.

To applause, he said: “People know we care, they always know the Labour party cares and they can now see a party that is both competent and compassionate.”

Introducing her party leader on Thursday, the shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves asked the audience: “Are you and your family better off than you were 13 years ago?

“Does anything in Britain work today better than it did 13 years ago?”

She said that the country faced the choice of following the path of “managed decline” under the Conservatives, or “we can change course, to build a greener, fairer, and more dynamic Britain”.

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