First there was ‘New Labour’ and now there's ‘New Leadership’, with Sir Keir Starmer turning on the charm offensive in a bid to bag your vote. But does Keir's Labour Party do what it says on the tin? Has he abandoned the hardline socialist platform the party stood on in the last two elections?
Starmer was elected leader on 10 key pledges. Amongst them is a commitment to increase tax on the highest earners and reverse corporation tax cuts. Keir also promised to abolish universal credit, tuition fees, nationalise rail, mail and energy, as well as repeal the Trade Unions Act. These commitments amount to nothing less than a nightmare for hard pressed taxpayers. With the tax burden at its highest for fifty years, the last thing Britain needs is a heavy handed state increasing taxes and nationalising services.
In a surprising turn though, this week’s Labour conference highlighted some promising changes which taxpayers across the nation ought to welcome. Shadow Chancellor Annelise Dodds struck the right tone when she held the government to account over its ‘cavalier pandemic spending’. As chancellor she "would ensure that public money was always spent wisely. Targeted where it's needed most. Not splurged where it isn't." At last!
It’s refreshing that the opposition is bringing examples of wasteful spending to the fore - demonstrating a new found concern for fiscal prudence. We couldn’t agree more and have previously criticised the government's handling of lucrative private contracts during the pandemic. Mismanaging taxpayers’ money is unacceptable under a Labour or Conservative administration. It appears the penny has finally dropped for the opposition: the public want their hard earned cash spent wisely.
Starmer himself echoed concerns about government waste, but any suggestion of Labour breaking away from Rishi Sunak’s economic consensus was nowhere to be seen. Labour commended government support schemes, but demanded they be bolstered with more money. If Labour wants to help businesses retain their workforce and keep people off the breadline, we need lower taxes and less red tape.
Other than a multitude of soundbites, the conference lacked any detail on Labour's long term economic plan. It’s this ambiguity that has made some trade unions worry that Starmer is abandoning the pledges he made in the leadership race. But ditching that outdated dogma is exactly what he must do - after all, they would be nothing short of a disaster for Britain and the Labour Party. What working class voters really want is taxes that are lower, simpler and fair, plus business friendly reforms to boost employment, and for government to be more accessible. The opposition cannot promise evermore money down the drain. That would be an excellent way to lose the ‘Red Wall’ forever - and many other voters for that matter.
So will Labour abandon the dogma and embrace fiscal responsibility? Only time will tell. But the would-be Prime Minister could certainly be on the path to power if Kier can become a champion for taxpayers.