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Starmer vows Labour would devolve power to ‘take back control’

05 Jan 2023 4 minute read
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer arrives at UCL at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London with Shadow chancellor, Rachel Reeves. Photo Stefan Rousseau PA Images

Labour has promised to cede fresh powers to local communities away from Westminster, as Sir Keir Starmer pledged that his party will “take back control”.

In his first major speech of the new year, the Labour leader said that his party would properly deliver on the Brexit campaign message from 2016 as he promised to turn it from a “slogan to a solution”.

Sir Keir said that Labour would bring forward a “Take Back Control Bill” that would devolve power from London to communities across the UK, granting new control over employment support, transport, energy, housing and a host of other areas.

Labour, which has promised to abolish and replace the House of Lords, would see that councils will have a greater say over their own finances while also giving communities a right to request more powers, he said.

“The decisions which create wealth in our communities should be taken by local people with skin in the game, and a huge power shift out of Westminster can transform our economy, our politics and our democracy,” Sir Keir said told an audience in Stratford.

“I go back to Brexit. Yes, a whole host of issues were on that ballot. But as I went around the country, campaigning for Remain, I couldn’t disagree with the basic case so many Leave voters made to me.”

Sir Keir, whose party continues to poll ahead of Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives, delivered his speech only a short distance from where the Prime Minister spoke on Wednesday.

Platitudes

He accused Mr Sunak of offering the country only “more promises, more platitudes” as he hit out at “sticking plaster politics”, but warned that Labour would not be able to spend its way out of the current challenges facing the country.

“None of this should be taken as code for Labour getting its big government chequebook out. Of course investment is required – I can see the damage the Tories have done to our public services as plainly as anyone.

“But we won’t be able to spend our way out of their mess – it’s not as simple as that.”

“There is no substitute for a robust, private sector, creating wealth in every community,” he told the audience.

His first speech of 2023 comes as the Government grapples with severe pressures in the NHS and ongoing strike action, as households continue to struggle with cost-of-living challenges.

The Labour leader, who described his party as “competent and compassionate”, said that the country needed a drastically changed politics.

Ambition

Sir Keir said: “This year, let’s imagine instead, what we can achieve if we match the ambition of the British people.

“You can’t overstate how much a short-term mindset dominates Westminster, and, from there, how it infects all the institutions which try, and fail, to run Britain from the centre.”

“I call it sticking plaster politics,” he said.

“The long-term cure, that always eludes us.”

Sir Keir accused the Prime Minister of being in denial about the problems facing the country, as he took aim at the five pledges Mr Sunak set out on Wednesday.

“More promises, more platitudes. No ambition to take us forward. No sense of what the country needs. Thirteen years of nothing but sticking plaster politics.

Introducing her party leader on Thursday, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves accused the Conservatives of overseeing the “managed decline” of the UK.

“Are you and your family better off than you were 13 years ago?

“Does anything in Britain work today better than it did 13 years ago?,” she asked.

New funding

Sir Keir’s plans to seize on the “Take back control” slogan were not met with universal acclaim from the Labour benches.

Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP Diane Abbott, an ally of former party leader Jeremy Corbyn, suggested new funding is needed to underpin the pledge.

She tweeted: “Starmer promises to bring in a ‘Take Back Control’ Bill and give new powers to cities and communities. But without new money to go with the powers it is an empty promise.”

The Conservatives hit out at Starmer’s speech too, with Foreign Secretary James Cleverly calling it a “whole load of nothing”.

“The only thing we did hear from him in that speech was a complete contradiction about Labour’s spending plans.”


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THOMAS William Glyn
THOMAS William Glyn
1 month ago

Time for Welsh labour to become independent as Llafur and stop being lemmings being led by the nose by ENGLISH Labour

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
1 month ago

Puppetmaster; T. Bliar.

Dr Keith W Darlington
Dr Keith W Darlington
1 month ago

This was claimed to be a major policy speech. But all we have is vague guff as always from Starmer. No detail on how power would be devolved. He rightly says the Westminster system is broken but he won't even commit to changing the unfair voting system. He won't even say whether student fees are going to be removed. Everything in this speech is a list of vague platitudes without detail. I very much doubt that Starmer is going to offer anything significantly different to what the Tories are offering now. After all, one of the few things he has… Read more »

Dr Keith W Darlington
Dr Keith W Darlington
1 month ago

More vague guff from the Labour leader. He has included no detail on how power would be devolved. He rightly says the Westminster system is broken but he won't even commit to changing the unfair voting system. He won't even say whether student fees are going to be removed. Everything in this speech is a list of vague platitudes without detail. I very much doubt that Starmer is going to offer anything significantly different to what the Tories are offering now. After all, one of the few things he has committed to is no change to the Brexit agreement. Yet,… Read more »

NOT Grayham Jones
NOT Grayham Jones
1 month ago

Keir Starmer is the next Tory prime minister!! Can anyone see any difference between him and Sunak because i can’t

Dafydd
Dafydd
1 month ago

Rachel Reeves is one to watch….

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
1 month ago

Again the Westminster parties have slogans, but solutions???? I have always said that the UK system at Westminster is far too centralised which has created the problem of monopoly wealth and power. Keir Starmer wants to continue the UK as reforming government but what is needed to do that is a federal constitution. England needs to have autonomous regional governments and Wales needs control over its legal, justice, [police, transport, energy, economic and welfare and well as taxation. Anything less will not solve the question of concentrated wealth and power. Local councils have always been constrained by the unfair council… Read more »

Rob
Rob
1 month ago

If we are going to have a federal constitution then England would need to have its own devolved parliament with powers equal to that of the Scottish Parliament, the Senedd and the NI Assembly.

Doctor Trousers
1 month ago

b******s, b******s and more b******s. We’re supposed to trust them on this, when they take a completely identical approach to the tories on the question of how the union can possibly be voluntary if the devolved nations do not have the power to hold a referendum on it? Which is to flat out pretend the question hasn’t been asked, and waffle on about how great the union is instead. You want us to trust you to deliver home rule within the union, then the absolute first thing you must do is to offer the choice to every nation, by revising… Read more »

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