Keir Starmer today said he would be happy to follow in the footsteps of Tony Blair as he set out his plans for Labour to offer voters a “contract with the British people” at the next general election.
The Labour leader said the party will offer a platform based on the principles of security, prosperity and respect at the election which he expects in May 2023.
In a speech in Birmingham designed to kickstart his bid to position Labour as the government-in-waiting, he said that he wanted to deliver an administration worthy of the British people, rather than treating politics as a “branch of the entertainment industry”, as he accused Boris Johnson of doing.
Starmer said he wanted to follow the examples of former Labour prime ministers Clement Attlee, Harold Wilson and Tony Blair as he attempts to “create a new Britain in the 21st century”.
But he notably made no mention of predecessor Jeremy Corbyn, saying he had name-checked the trio from Labour’s past because they were proven election-winners.
Starmer was asked by The Independent whether he was seeking a clash with followers of Corbyn, who accuse him of breaking a set of leadership contest pledges to maintain elements of his forerunner’s programme and for many of whom Blair’s name is toxic.
He replied: “I don’t apologise for mentioning Attlee, Wilson and Blair.
“The thing that unites those three very different prime ministers is that they all won, they introduced Labour governments that changed Britain for the better.
“And I want to be the fourth on that list, writing the next chapter of our history.”
Sir Keir rejected accusations that he has yet to spell out a clear picture of what Labour stands for under his leadership.
But he set out no new policies in today’s speech, with aides saying that they would be launched over the months leading up to Labour’s annual conference in September.
Instead, he said that Labour’s “contract” with voters would include:
• A “solemn agreement” to uphold standards of selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty, leadership.
• A “basic right” for individuals to feel safe in their community, to know that the NHS is there for them when they need it and to have job security if they work hard.
• The opportunity to thrive, realise ambitions, gain skills and make a good life.
• The right to “live in places we care for and to have our lives and ambitions taken seriously, to be valued for who we are and what we do”.
But he added: “Any successful contract is a two-way deal.
“You can expect access to high quality healthcare, but there will be zero tolerance for abuse towards NHS staff.
“You can expect the opportunity to acquire new skills but you will be expected to work hard and do your bit.
“You can expect better neighbourhood policing but you will be expected to behave like good neighbours in your own community too.”