The key points from Keir Starmer's Labour Party conference speech

Hard-left Labour is laid to rest: From tax to Tory ‘tricksters’, the key points from Keir Starmer’s party conference speech

  • Sir Keir described 2019 election loss as worst defeat for Labour Party since 1935
  • Major section of his speech devoted to positioning Labour as the party of work
  • Harking back to Tony Blair, he emphasised importance of young and education


The Labour leader described the 2019 general election as the ‘worst defeat’ the party had suffered since 1935.

In a swipe at Jeremy Corbyn, he said Labour had been on the brink of ‘obliteration’ and it needed to win back voters.

Sir Keir Starmer told the conference: ‘To those Labour voters who said their grandparents would turn in their graves, that they couldn’t trust us with high office, to those who reluctantly chose the Tories because they didn’t believe our promises were credible.

‘To the voters who thought we were unpatriotic or irresponsible, I say these simple but powerful words: We will never under my leadership go into an election with a manifesto that is not a serious plan for government.’


A major section of Sir Keir’s speech was devoted to positioning Labour as the party of work. He said: ‘I am not from a privileged background. My dad was a toolmaker in a factory.’ He described work as the ‘bedrock’ of a good economy, adding: ‘That’s why I am so proud to lead a party whose name is Labour.’

In a swipe at Jeremy Corbyn, Keir Starmer (pictured) said Labour had been on the brink of ‘obliteration’ and it needed to win back voters


Sir Keir filled his speech with references to his family as he regularly spoke of his parents, Rodney and Josephine Starmer. ‘The two rocks of my life – the two sources of what I believe to be right and good – are family and work,’ he said.

He also revealed his mother was a long-term patient of the NHS, having suffered with Still’s disease – a rare form of arthritis. He ended the family message by bringing his wife Victoria on to the stage as he received a lengthy standing ovation.


Harking back to Tony Blair, Sir Keir said the issue of education was so important, ‘I am tempted to say it three times’.

The Labour leader said he would improve schools, guarantee children work experience and improve digital skills.

‘When you don’t invest in young people, the whole nation suffers and the less fortunate are left behind,’ he said.

‘If you can’t level up our children. You’re not serious about levelling up at all.’ He said he wanted every parent to be able to send their child to a ‘great’ state school.

Labour would reinstate two weeks of compulsory work experience and guarantee that every youngster talks to a careers adviser. He added the party would write a ‘curriculum for tomorrow’ with digital skills, reading, writing and arithmetic, as well as sports and music lessons.

He also joked that he had learned to play an instrument with DJ Fatboy Slim whose music he used to open and close his speech.


Sir Keir set out his values, which he defined as ‘British’, and said they were where Labour should always be.

In a swipe at the Left, he said Labour should seek to uphold these values.

He told the conference: ‘This is a big moment that demands leadership. Leadership founded on the principles that have informed my life and with which I honour where I have come from.

‘Work. Care. Equality. Security. I think of these values as British values. I think of them as the values that take you right to the heart of the British public.’ He added: ‘That is where this party must always be.’

Harking back to Tony Blair, Sir Keir said the issue of education was so important, ‘I am tempted to say it three times’


He described Boris Johnson as a ‘trivial’ man – but said he was not a bad person.

The Labour leader’s remarks contrast with those of his deputy Angela Rayner who called the Tories ‘scum’.

He said in his speech: ‘It’s easy to comfort yourself that your opponents are bad people. But I don’t think Boris Johnson is a bad man. I think he is a trivial man. He’s a trickster who has performed his one trick. Well Prime Minister, either get a grip or get out of the way and let us clear up this mess.’

He also criticised Mr Johnson – and other senior Government figures such as Dominic Cummings and Matt Hancock – for their interpretation of Covid rules.


Sir Keir pledged to spend taxpayers’ money wisely as he unveiled three principles he would use before deciding whether to increase taxes. ‘The public finances we will inherit will need serious repair work,’ he said. ‘I take the responsibility of spending your money very seriously.

‘That’s why our approach to taxation will be governed by three principles. The greater part of the burden should not fall on working people. The balance between smaller and larger businesses should be fair. And we will chase down every penny to ensure that people, working people paying their taxes, always get value for money.’ He added: ‘There will be no promises we can’t keep.’


Sir Keir celebrated MP Dame Louise Ellman returning to the party after she quit Labour because of anti-Semitism.

He told her ‘welcome home’ after she said she would rejoin the party after he sought to draw a line under the scandal.

The pair met yesterday at the Brighton conference after delegates backed internal rule changes aimed at stamping out the problem. She resigned her membership in 2019 over the problems under Mr Corbyn’s leadership but said on Monday that Labour was now being led by someone in whom ‘Britain’s Jews can have trust’.

Sir Keir said he was ‘heartened’ by her decision to return to the party and he welcomed it as a ‘poignant moment’.

The Labour leader vowed that his party could win the next election if activists get ‘serious’


Sir Keir proudly listed the achievements of Tony Blair’s government – a defence that has been missing from Labour conference speeches over the past decade.

He said hospital waits went down, GCSE results improved, there were 44,000 more doctors, 89,000 new nurses, child poverty was down by 1million, pensioner poverty down by 1million and rough sleepers down 75 per cent.


The Labour leader said he wanted the UK to be the ‘healthiest nation on earth’. He said: ‘We would shift the priority in the NHS away from emergency care, towards prevention. We can catch problems early. And, at the same time, we can use the resources of the NHS better.’

He added the party would have ‘8,500 more mental health professionals supporting a million more people every year’ and spending on mental health will never fall.


The Labour leader vowed that his party could win the next election if activists get ‘serious’.

He said: ‘Imagine waking up the morning after the next election in the knowledge that you could start to write the next chapter in our nation’s history, bending it towards the values that bring us year after year to this conference hall to seek a better way.

‘In a few short years from now, I want to be here with you talking about the difference we are making, the problems we are fixing as a Labour government. That is what this party is for.’

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