U.K.’s Labour sets out plans for government

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer speaks during an event to launch Labour’s election pledges at The Backstage Centre on May 16, 2024 in Purfleet, United Kingdom.
| Photo Credit: Getty Images

Britain’s main opposition Labour party on May 16 set out its stall for this year’s general election, outlining six key pledges to voters in a de-facto campaign launch.

The vote is likely months away but the U.K.’s two main parties are already positioning themselves to the electorate in what is looking like a long run-in to polling day.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak outlined his plan on Monday, urging voters to keep faith with his ruling Conservatives even after 14 tumultuous years in power.

Labour leader Keir Starmer laid out his party’s “first steps” for government at an event in Essex, a key battleground area in southeast England, promising economic stability, shorter health service waiting times and a new border security command to tackle irregular immigration.

He also vowed to set up a publicly owned clean energy company, crack down on anti-social behaviour with more neighbourhood police and recruit 6,500 new teachers.

“I’m not going to give you gimmicks,” said Starmer, who paced the stage in a white shirt, sleeves rolled up, as his top team, many of whom also made speeches, looked on.

“There’s no quick fix to the mess that the Tories have made of this country, but this is a changed Labour party with a plan to take us forward.

“I have ambition for this country and like all ambition that starts with first steps,” he added.


The pledges, which have largely been made before, are intended to add some flesh to the bones of five “missions” that Labour says will spur a “decade of national renewal” after 14 years of Tory rule.

They are set to feature on advertising vans and billboards in target constituencies across England in what Labour says is its most expensive ad campaign since the 2019 general election.

At that vote, Labour under the leadership of left-winger Jeremy Corbyn suffered a landslide defeat to the Tories, then led by ex-prime minister Boris Johnson.

Starmer has since moved Labour to the centre ground, while the Conservatives have been riven by infighting and seen its reputation for economic credibility shattered by Liz Truss’s short reign.

Labour have enjoyed double-digit leads in most opinion polls since Truss’s disastrous mini-budget of unfunded tax cuts spooked financial markets and sank the pound in autumn 2022.

Sunak, who took over from Truss in October 2022, must hold the election by January 28, 2025.

He has tried numerous resets to revive his party’s fortunes. On Monday he insisted the Tories can still win, despite indications from polling, and warned that Labour would threaten U.K. security.

He also again refused to set a date for the general election.

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