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UK Political News and Opinion

Starmer gives first party conference speech as Labour leader

3 min read
22 September 2020 | UK NEWS

The Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer gave his speech to the Labour Party conference this morning. He gave the speech to an online audience rather than in person, due to the current pandemic. His full speech can be watched here:

Speaking from Doncaster, Sir Keir started his speech by attacking the Conservative Party’s handling of coronavirus. He said: “Instead of getting a grip, the Government has lost control. Our testing system collapsed just when we needed it most.

“The British people want the Government to succeed in fighting this virus. We all need the Government to succeed. This is the time for leadership.”

He then went on to elaborate on how much the UK has helped him throughout his life and his gratitude to the opportunities it afforded him. He touched on his path to becoming a lawyer, the service the NHS provided his mother and the knighthood he was awarded “for services to criminal justice”. In this segment, he also touched on the importance of family values: “Family values mean the world to me. I was lucky enough to grow up in a loving family and I have the great joy now of a family of my own.”

He then said the mission of the Labour Party under his control was to “extend that same opportunity to everyone”. He continued: “My vision for Britain is simple: I want this to be the best country to grow up in and the best country to grow old in.”

Starmer then turned back to the Government’s handling of the virus. He accused the Government of underfunding the NHS and other public services, saying: “If you neglect your public services, you won’t be ready when a crisis hits. Nobody blames the government for the existence of the virus.

“But the under-funding of the NHS, the abandonment of social care and the lack of investment in prevention, that’s all on their watch. That’s all down to them.

“And it always ends this way with Tory governments. Public services are neglected, cut back, and left to decline. For a party called the Conservative Party, they don’t seem to conserve very much.”

The Labour leader went on to launch a personal attack on Boris Johnson’s leadership, saying: “I think we’ve learnt a lot about this Prime Minister. Tory backbenchers know it. His Cabinet knows it. We all know it.

“He’s just not serious. He’s just not up to the job. Whenever he encounters a problem, Johnson responds either by wishing it away or by lashing out.

“He kept wishing away the problems with testing, pretending they didn’t exist. He wished away the problems with the Irish border. Then, when he finally realised what he’d signed up to, he lashed out and decided to break international law.”

In the speech, he also discussed Brexit and the need for a deal to be negotiated between the UK and EU. He said: “And on Brexit, let me be absolutely clear. The debate between Leave and Remain is over.

“We’re not going to be a party that keeps banging on about Europe. The Prime Minister has repeatedly promised that he will get a deal.

“So go on and get one. British business needs a deal. Working people need a deal. Our country needs a deal.”

He also seemed to take a swipe at the previous leadership under Jeremy Corbyn, saying: “As I promised on my first day as leader, we will root out the antisemitism that has infected our party. We’re making progress – and we will root it out, once and for all.

“We’re becoming a competent, credible Opposition.”

He rounded off his speech by making a plea to all those from the Labour heartlands who voted Tory in the last election. “So to those people in Doncaster and Deeside, in Glasgow and Grimsby, in Stoke and in Stevenage, to those who have turned away from Labour, I say this: we hear you.

“Never again will Labour take you or the things you care about for granted. And I ask you: take another look at Labour. We’re under new leadership.

“We love this country as you do. This is the country I grew up in and this is the country I will grow old in. And I want it to be the country I know it can be.”

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