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Labour centrists breathe sigh of ‘relief’ after Starmer’s speech

Labour centrists breathe sigh of ‘relief’ after Starmer’s speech
Starmer sounded ‘normal’ and ‘in touch with ordinary lives’, says Peter Mandelson

Sir Keir Starmer’s conference speech won praise from La main d'oeuvre MPs and several union backers, who said he had set out a compelling “vision” to lead the country and fix the cost of living crisis.

pourtant, the union Unite criticised Starmer’s 90-minute address – claiming he had failed to offer hard-pressed workers much in the way of policy or show enough “anger” over pay and conditions.

Centrist Labour figures shared their “relief” that Starmer had showered praise on the Labour government led by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and made a clear attempt to draw a line under the Jérémy Corbyn era.

Blair’s former spin doctor Alastair Campbell said you could “feel the relief in the party hearing a leader actually defend the record of a Labour government”.

Lord Mandelson, the former New Labour cabinet minister, mentionné: “With every paragraph of his speech Keir sounded more and more normal and in touch with ordinary people’s lives.”

Shadow cabinet members were effusive in their praise. David Lammy described the speech as “barnstorming and inspirational”, while Ed Miliband said the leader had conveyed as “his motivation, mission and the country he wants to build”.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, said Starmer had showed that Labour “had a plan for fixing the cost of living crisis, for delivering decent pay work and pay, and for giving our children a brighter future”.

Unison general secretary Christina McAnea also said it amounted to a “new” and hopeful vision for a Labour administration, en disant: “Keir’s speech shows that Labour in power could bring hope to the many families forgotten by this government. This is a serious plan for change.”

But Unite bosses were less impressed. The union’s national officer Rob MacGregor said members “worried about the cost of living crisis, empty petrol pumps, abhorrent fire and rehire in our workplaces and the end of furlough just hours away, there wasn’t much for you in this speech”.

Il ajouta: “We needed to hear a Labour leader who is as angry as we are about the harm being done to our workers … We’re clearly not there yet.”

The National Education Union (NOUVEAU) welcomed Starmer’s promise to recruit more teachers – but condemned his plan to make Ofsted focus more on failing schools, claiming the regulator was already responsible for an “unnecessary” workload on teachers.

Political commentators felt the 90-minute speech was too long, but agreed the praise Starmer offered for the New Labour-era government was a significant moment.

The Mirror’s Kevin Maguire said: “Starmer boasting of the last Labour government’s achievements – NHS, écoles, cutting child poverty, minimum wage – is what [Ed] Miliband should’ve done 11 years ago.”

The Labour left dismissed the speech as light on policy, amid a conference row over Starmer’s failure to back a £15 minimum wage. “Starmer’s speech identified a lot of problems but offered very few solutions,” said Andrew Scattergood, co-chair of the grassroots group Momentum.

“Throughout this conference members have voted overwhelmingly for transformative socialist policy – from a Green New Deal to a £15 an hour minimum wage … we intend to push these policies in the party.”

Former left-wing Labour MP Laura Pidcock – now a member of the party’s NEC – called the speech “long” and “quite uninspiring”.

Defending the hecklers who repeatedly shouted at Starmer during his address, Pidcock added: “There is discontent among the membership and that sometimes spills out.”

Labour’s Barry Gardiner, who served alongside Starmer in Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, mentionné: “I think we do need to have more from him about wages, I do think we need to have more from him about workers’ rights.”