Labour can fix ‘broken’ Britain, Starmer rallies party before election

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LIVERPOOL, England – Labour leader Keir Starmer appealed to voters on Tuesday to back his vision for Britain, saying his revamped opposition party was best placed to turn the country’s fortunes around by boosting economic growth, building houses and restoring hope.

In possibly his last speech as opposition leader to the party faithful before an election expected next year, Starmer shrugged off a protester’s attempt to derail his address to the Labour conference by throwing glitter over him.

The Labour leader responded by saying his behaviour was why “we changed the party” to one which could challenge the governing Conservatives.

In a personal speech, Starmer set out his frustration and anger over what he described as an out-of-touch Conservative Party, and his belief in Britain, aware that, while voters were angry at the government, they might not yet be enamoured with Labour despite its hefty lead in opinion polls.

“I have to warn you: our way back from this will be hard,” he told a packed conference hall in the northern English city of Liverpool, where party members cheered his message.

“But know this. What is broken can be repaired. What is ruined can be rebuilt. Wounds do heal. And ultimately that (Conservative) project … will crash against the spirit of working people in this country. They are the source of my hope.”

He promised to help rebuild “a Britain strong enough, stable enough, secure enough for you to invest your hope, your possibility, your future”, one where there was certainty “that things will be better for your children”.

After becoming leader in 2020 following Labour’s worst election defeat for 84 years under veteran left-winger Jeremy Corbyn, Starmer said his party was now ready to govern with a programme for two five-year terms or a “decade of renewal”.

He said he would “get Britain building”, promising the construction of new towns and urban renewal schemes to offer people a better chance of buying their own homes, to restore the state-run National Health Service and to spur investment.

Policies, he said, that were “totally focused on the interests of working people” – a message to ease concerns on the left of the party that Labour had become too close to big business, and would press on with a green agenda.

“We will take this fight on,” he said of those blocking new construction. “That’s a Britain built to last.”

Buoyed by a victory in an election for a parliamentary seat in Scotland last week, Starmer and his party are increasingly confident of their chances at the next election, but the message from Labour lawmakers is still one of not becoming complacent.

“We have to be a government that takes care of the big questions so working people have the freedom to enjoy what they love,” he will say.

“More time, more energy, more possibility, more life. We all need the ability to look forward, to move forward, free from anxiety. That’s what getting our future back really means.” REUTERS

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