Britain’s Labor leader accuses government of wrecking economy
LIVERPOOL, England — The leader of Britain’s main opposition Labor Party on Tuesday accused the ruling Conservatives of losing control of the economy and vowed to pull the UK out of an “endless cycle of crisis” if his party regained power after more than a decade.
Labor leader Keir Starmer is seeking to persuade voters – and, more importantly, businesses – that his centre-left party can be trusted with the economy. Premier Liz Truss’ new Conservative government has helped her campaign with one of its first acts.
The value of the pound tumbled and the cost of British government borrowing soared after the government announced the biggest package of tax cuts in decades on Friday without providing a detailed breakdown of its cost.
Financial markets reacted with concern, sending the British pound to a record high against the US dollar of 1.0373. It then recovered to around $1.08, but still lost around a fifth of its value against the dollar over the past year.
“What we have seen in recent days has no precedent,” Starmer said in a speech to the Labor Party’s annual conference, held in Liverpool, northwest England. . “The government has lost control of the UK economy – and why? They crushed the pound, and for what? … For tax cuts for the richest 1% of our society.
Labour, one of Britain’s two main parties, has lost four consecutive elections, the last in 2019 being its worst showing since the 1930s. Britain has had four Conservative prime ministers since Labor took power in 2010: David Cameron, Theresa May, Boris Johnson and now Truss.
Starmer, who replaced far-left Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn in 2020, is determined to end that race. The 60-year-old former district attorney aims to persuade voters that Labor is the ‘party of the centre’, not the highly taxed party of the urban left that its critics like to portray.
A risky set of conservative economic policies with the stated aim of boosting economic growth by reducing regulation and lowering taxes for businesses and high earners helped Starmer portray Labor as the prudent choice. Opponents say the measures will send inflation, already close to 10%, even higher and worsen a cost of living crisis triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
” Do not forget. Don’t forgive,” Starmer said. He promised that under Labor ‘every policy we announce will be fully costed’.
Starmer also presented a plan to boost the UK economy by investing in alternative energy. Vowing to make the UK a ‘green growth superpower’, he said the Labor Party would set up a public clean energy company to develop solar, wind and wave power and make Britain’s electricity supply carbon-neutral Britain by 2030.
Starmer’s speech was enthusiastically received by conference delegates who are in a jolly mood as opinion polls put Labor ahead of the Conservatives by up to 17%.
The response from businesses has been largely positive. Confederation of British Industry chairman Brian McBride said “it is welcome to hear the Labor Party reaffirm its pro-business credentials and double down on its commitment to sustainable growth”.
In one of the few negative notes from the conference, Labor MP Rupa Huq was suspended by the party on Tuesday after he said of Conservative Finance Minister Kwasi Kwarteng: “On the surface he is a black man”. She was talking about her elite experience at a private school.
Huq later said she reached out to Kwarteng to offer “a sincere and sincere apology” for her “misjudged” comments.
With the next UK general election not due until 2024, Labor’s current popularity has helped Starmer unite his often restless party, at least for now.
But there is still concern among some who want Labor to stick to the policies of nationalization and increased spending promised by socialist Corbyn.
Others want the party to reverse Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, but Starmer said Labor would “make Brexit work”. He also promised that a Labor government would maintain Britain’s NATO membership and support Ukraine’s resistance to the Russian invasion.
In a gesture that symbolized Starmer’s determination to court common ground, Labor members observed a minute’s silence in memory of Queen Elizabeth II and sang the national anthem, “God Save the King”, as that the conference opened on Sunday – a rebuff to opponents who accuse the party of a lack of patriotism.
Starmer was also keen to quote former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s maxim that Labor is “the political wing of the British people”.
Blair is a divisive figure within the party, reviled by many for dragging Britain into the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. But he is also the only Labor leader to win three consecutive elections.
Former government minister Peter Mandelson, architect of Blair’s first landslide victory in 1997, said the Tories had “run out of steam” and the next election could bring “a sea change in attitude among the electorate of the kind of the one we saw in 1997”. .”
Victoria Honeyman, associate professor of British politics at the University of Leeds, said a Labor victory in the next election “is absolutely not a done deal”.
“If the Conservatives lose, they will lose because the economy has collapsed,” Honeyman said. “If Labor wins the next election, they will have to sit down and find a way to sort this all out.”
Lawless reported from London