Keir Starmer is like a 'gift for Boris Johnson' says Tory voter
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Sir Keir, who has faced criticism over his leadership in recent weeks, will use a speech on Thursday to set out a long-term vision for the economy. He will commit Labour to a policy of “financial responsibility” but with an active Government that “knows the value of public services not just the price in the market”. But Jeremy Corbyn’s former spokesman James Schneider picked holes in the Labour leader’s plans.
Speaking to BBC Newsnight, Mr Schneider said: “I think the job of the leader of the Labour Party is to show that big change can happen and that Labour can lead the big change.
“I think that’s what Keir should be doing as much as possible in his leadership.
“I’m pleased that we’re starting to get a bit of that vision, I hope there’s a lot more tomorrow because the scale of change that’s needed in the country is enormous.
“It’s a hugely rich territory for him to lay out a vision but what we’ve seen so far is all quite small and some of it is things that Boris Johnson could say or has said in his conference speech.
“Saying we can’t go back to business as usual, no one is arguing that we should go back to business as usual.
“I think what we need a bit more of from Keir is a bit more showing what the vision is rather than saying there needs to be a vision.”
Sir Keir will portray Rishi Sunak’s March 3 Budget as a defining moment for the country.
“We can go back to the same insecure and unequal economy that has been so cruelly exposed by the virus, or we can seize this moment and go forward to a future that is going to look utterly unlike the past,” he will say.
BBC host grills Anneliese Dodds on Keir Starmer’s speech
“That choice will define the Budget and it will define the next election.”
Labour is calling for the Government to scrap the planned £20-a-week cut in Universal Credit, give extra cash to local authorities to avoid council tax hikes and extend the business rate holiday and VAT cut for hospitality and leisure firms which have been devastated by lockdowns.
Sir Keir will say it is now a “moment to think again about the country that we want to be” and time for a “call to arms” like the Beveridge Report that paved the way for the NHS and welfare state in the aftermath of the Second World War.
The Labour leader’s speech comes after a difficult few weeks in which he has faced sniping over his failure to achieve a decisive breakthrough in the polls ahead of elections across Great Britain in May.
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In a sign of unease within the Labour ranks, Tom Kibasi, one of the architects of Sir Keir’s leadership campaign, used a Guardian column on Wednesday to say “If Starmer were to depart as leader tomorrow, he would not leave a trace of a meaningful political project in his wake”.
But setting out his plans, Sir Keir will say: “Under my leadership, Labour’s priority will always be financial responsibility.
“I know the value of people’s hard-earned money – I take that incredibly seriously – and I know that people rightly expect the Government to look after it too.
“To invest wisely and not to spend money we can’t afford. Those are my guiding principles.
“But I think that Covid has shifted the axis on economic policy: both what is necessary and what is possible have changed.”
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