Net-Zero Transition News

Madano Analysis - Keir Starmer's Speech at The Labour Party Conference

By Ben Gascoyne, Senior Account Director, Net-Zero Transition
By Ben Gascoyne, Senior Account Director, Net-Zero Transition

Today Sir Keir Starmer gave his leader's speech at Labour Party conference whereby "national renewal" and a "Britain built to last" were the key themes.

Starmer recovered well after a protestor interrupted him before he began, remaining calm and focussed, and winning the crowd with a strong, measured response: Labour was a "party of power, not of protest."

His speech was more relaxed, and more confident than last year's version, when a leadership challenge was rumoured to be on the cards. Starmer is now the undisputed master of the party, having vanquished the hard left, for now at least. The message discipline this conference has been impressive. The party membership were enthused.

Starmer's main message was an appeal to hope, a conscious throwback to Tony Blair's promise that "things can only get better”. Starmer claimed Labour would "give Britain its future back through a decade of national renewal", with "mission government" based on his five (high level and vaguely defined) national missions:

  • Economic growth
  • Clean energy
  • NHS
  • Safe streets
  • Opportunity

Starmer noted that the "race is on" for new jobs and industries, and called climate change a "recipe for instability”. Key Labour talking points were repeated; working people's cost of living pressures; "our NHS" (which was a major focus); and Great British Energy.

Starmer repeated points from Rachel Reeves' speech earlier in the week: more funding for but also reform of the NHS; the end of non-dom tax status; the need for fiscal responsibility; a determination to renew the planning system and "get Britain building again," including 1.5m new homes and towns; and (undefined) infrastructure.

He set out a vision of Britain built on mutual respect, "a Britain built to last,” on the need for public service and responsibility. Above all though, Starmer argued, Labour would fight the next election on economic growth, which could in turn power social mobility. Starmer called for a close partnership with business and a competitive tax regime, while recommitting to ending zero-hours contract and more public investment.

  1. A new national wealth fund
  2. Long-term policy stability, combined with Labour's British jobs bonus
  3. A new skills programme driven through a "new generation of colleges"
  4. A "new mindset", specifically Great British Energy, on which Starmer cited recent US policy successes, and to "speed ahead on climate change" in contrast to the Conservative announcements in Manchester.

On climate and net zero, Starmer cemented a new narrative position for the party that leadership in this area is actually about national security, the cost of living and long term growth. Miliband had labelled the Prime Minister’s change of policy as unpatriotic earlier in the week.

You will see many of today's big themes clipped and used to drive increasingly targeted digital political advertising in the next year, ahead of the election.

However, the speech had few new policy announcements or spending commitments. Partly that reflects a desire to avoid having policies criticised (or stolen) by the Conservatives for months to come, or to allow self-inflicted division within Labour on policy detail. But it will not have answered the many calls for Starmer to set out a more detailed policy offer, which Labour will have to do between now and an election in, most likely, autumn 2024, as manifesto commitments are discussed, crafted and agreed over the coming months.