Keir Starmer abandons pledge to abolish House of Lords

Keir Starmer abandons pledge to abolish House of Lords
The Labour leader has abandoned a number of policy promises in recent months

Keir Starmer has refused to recommit to his leadership election pledge to abolish the House of Lords, the latest in a string of policy U-turns.

Asked on Sunday whether he stood by the promise made in 2019 the Labour leader would only say the institution “needs change”.

During the 2019 Labour leadership campaign Sir Keir made ten pledges – including a commitment to “abolish the House of Lords” and “replace it with an elected chamber of regions and nations”.

He was asked about the policy on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show in light of revelations that Tory donors are habitually being given seats in the body.

“We certainly need change in the House of Lords. What I’ve done, Andrew, is I’ve set up a commission to look at the future of the UK, including the institutions such as the House of Lords. Gordon Brown is leading that and I’ll look at it,” he said.

Asked whether he had abandoned the promise to abolish the chamber, he said: “I’ve said we need to change the House of Lords. I stand by that. I’ve asked Gordon Brown to look into exactly what those changes should be.”

Most peers in the Lords are appointed by the government or opposition, with some there because they have a hereditary title dating back to the feudal era.

The upper house gets to vote on all government legislation, which it can delay and revise.

The Lords pledge is not the first from the leadership election to be abandoned by Sir Keir.

To win the contest the former shadow Brexit secretary laid out a left-wing platform similar to the party’s 2017 manifesto – including commitments to taking utilities into public ownership, tax increases for the highest earners and corporations, and free movement with the EU.

But these pledges have gradually been jettisoned by Sir Keir, who apparently does not consider the promises binding on his leadership now in office.

Asked on the same programme whether he had ditched a Labour manifesto promise of banning MPs from holding second jobs, Sir Keir said he agreed with the “principle” of the plan but avoided saying he still endorsed it.