Labour leader Keir Starmer will “wrap himself in the flag” and stress his British patriotism in his speech at Labour’s conference today, according to Labour sources.
In an online broadcast, he will appeal to voters who abandoned the party at December’s election that “we love this country as you do”. He will ask them to return to Labour, stressing it is “under new leadership”.
His comments will signal a break from the previous leader Jeremy Corbyn who was depicted in some parts of the press as lukewarm on British nationalism.
“We love this country as you do,” Keir Starmer will say. “This is the country I grew up in and it’s the country I will grow old in. And I want it to be the country I know it can be.
“That, in the end, is why I do this. To change lives for the better.”
Speaking from Doncaster, he will list “security for our nation, our families and all of our communities” as “values I hold dear”.
Last week he visited Scotland and warned that the governments of Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the UK should adopt a “four nations approach” on Covid-19.
“At this crucial time, we cannot have a situation where the four nations of the UK are pulling in different directions,” he said.
‘Change in tone’
A Labour source told the Sun newspaper that the aim is to change Labour into “the party of patriotism”.
“The most successful Labour leaders have always been patriotic and optimistic about Labour’s future and that definitely describes Keir,” the spokesperson said.
“You don’t become Britain’s most senior prosecutor without a love of your country.”
The online event replaces the party’s traditional party conference due to be held in Liverpool, which was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy told BBC Today this morning there had been a “real change in tone and approach” under Sir Keir’s leadership, with the party focused on “listening to what people have to say and acting on the very real problems they have in their lives”.