Starmer says Labour would create new state energy company, Great British Energy
Starmer talks about visiting an insulation scheme in Kirklees. Energy bills were next to nothing. And tenants were delighted. Why not? Their energy bills had been cut by £1,000.
That is what levelling up should look like, he says.
And he says Labour would not make the mistake the Tories made in the 1980s, when they wasted the wealth from North Sea oil.
That is why Labour is proposing a wealth fund.
He says Labour would set up Great British Energy – a new company – within the first year of a Labour government.
It would take advantages of the opportunities for clean power.
And it will be publicly owned, he says.
That gets a sustained round of applause.
The proposal to set up a Great British Energy company has been welcomed by the thinktank Common Wealth, which published a report at the weekend saying that having a state-owned company producing green energy would “help create a clean energy system faster, fairer and more affordably than leaving development of renewable generation purely to the foreign state-owned entities, private equity actors, and multinationals that currently dominate the renewable sector, while ensuring the public directly benefits from the UK’s common resources”.
Common Wealth has also released polling showing that 72% of voters – including 72% of Conservative supporters – suppor the idea of having a government-owned company producing green energy.
Labour suspends whip from Rupa Huq over Kwarteng comments
Rupa Huq has had the Labour whip suspended after she described Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng as “superficially” black during a fringe meeting at Labour’s conference.
The move by Labour’s leadership came after Jake Berry, the chairman of the Conservative party, wrote to Keir Starmer to express concerns about Huq’s comments.
In audio published online, Huq can be heard discussing his elite school background, before adding that “you wouldn’t know he is black” when listening to him on the radio.
The comments from the MP for Ealing Central and Acton, in west London, appeared to have been made at an event at the Labour conference in Liverpool on Monday.
In the audio, Huq could be heard saying: “Superficially he is a black man.”
She added: “He went to Eton, I think, he went to a very expensive prep school, all the way through, the top schools in the country. If you hear him on the Today programme, you wouldn’t know he is black.”
Berry said in his letter to the Labour leader: “I trust you will join me in unequivocally condemning these comments as nothing less than racist and that the Labour whip will be withdrawn from Rupa Huq as a consequence.”
Labour’s proposed state-owned Great British Energy could be like EDF in France, says party
The Labour party has released some more details about the plan in Keir Starmer’s speech to set up a state-owned Great British Energy company. In a news release Labour says:
The role of GB Energy will be to provide additional capacity, alongside the rapidly expanding private sector, to establish the UK as a clean energy superpower and guarantee long term energy security.
A publicly-owned company is the best way to ensure that the British people can derive the benefits from the power that we create on our own shores – delivering cheaper bills, good local jobs, and bringing money back into the public purse. This will enable strategic partnership between the private sector and government to deliver its plan for clean power.
Many European, Asian, and American countries have public generating companies, like EDF in France and Vattenfall in Sweden, which partner with the private sector to increase capacity and build clean energy at scale.
A lack of domestic champions has often compromised the UK’s sovereign capability. It is clear that the Conservative government’s preference for foreign investors stalled our nuclear programme in the 2010s – even to the point that national security was compromised through Chinese encroachment into the UK’s nuclear capacity.
Starmer’s conference speech – snap verdict
Occasionally a party conference speech gets remembered and quoted for years, but more often they are largely forgotten soon after conference season and this speech was in the latter category – a standard conference speech, rather than a belter. It was calm, rather than excitable; sensible, rather than audacious; realistic more than inspirational. But after three years of Boris Johnson, and with Liz Truss as PM, there is a lot to be said for calm, sensible and realistic. It was a successful speech for Starmer, in that it did the job.
There was policy in it, but the key takeway from the speech – and the feature for which it will be remembered – is what it said about Labour being back in the centre-ground of British politics. Starmer said:
Conference, on climate change, growth, aspiration, levelling-up, Brexit, economic responsibility we are the party of the centre-ground.
Once again, the political wing of the British people and we can achieve great things.
Last year, in his conference speech, Starmer was doing battle with leftwingers in his party – quite literally, because they were heckling him loudly. Today he performed a victory lap after marginalising the Corbynite left. One feature of this was the willingess to quote Tony Blair directly. Another was the explicit messaging about being pro-Nato and pro-business, and about putting country before party. The delegates seemed to lap this up, and there was particularly loud applause when he spoke about how he had to “to rip antisemitism out [of the party] by its roots”. That sounded like a reference to Jeremy Corbyn no longer being allowed to stand as a Labour candidate, and it was significant he could say this without anyone in the hall objecting.
But it was not all undiluted Blairism. Starmer included a direct appeal to leave voters in which he went further than he has gone before in adopting what he described as the aims of those voting leave in 2016, and committing to implement them. (See 2.53pm.) This was not a message for the Brexit-hating remainer wing of Labour.
On policy, the big announcement was the creation of a new, state energy company. (See 2.39am.) This meets the Labour demand for nationalised energy, without committing the party to the extremely costly option of buying back energy companies sold off by the Tories. Without having seen the detail, it is hard to know how significant this might be. The home ownership goal firms up Labour’s claim to be the party of aspiration, and his comments about a prevention-first approach to public services implies that – at least behind the scenes – some creative thinking about policy might be happening.
Starmer did not say anything about electoral reform, which the party conference voted for yesterday and which he opposes. But he made a clever concession to leftish Labour thinking when he framed support for Ukraine in terms of opposition to imperialism.
Some of the anti-Tory material was particularly well crafted, with the jibe about Kwasi Kwarteng being the best of the lot. (See 2.42pm.)
Overall, it was solid, confident speech from someone whose authority as leader has never been higher, and whose party expects to win the next election. Like Tony Blair – but without the ego and the evangelism.
But one other aspect of Blairism was missing too. Blair, in his capacity as a “warrior against complacency”, was forever telling his party before 1997 not to take victory for granted. Starmer did not really do that today, but perhaps he should have done. A Labour election win seems closer than it has been for at least a decade, but it is not a certainty.
Starmer concludes speech saying ‘this is a Labour moment’ – like 1945, 1964 and 1997
Quoting Tony Blair, Starmer says Labour is once again the political wing of the British people.
They are the party of the centre ground again, he says.
This is a Labour moment, he says – as in 1945, and 1964 and 1997.
We can do it, he says. “Thank you, conference.”
That’s it. The speech is over.
Starmer turns to the SNP. They will not deliver change, because they are not interested in the UK succeeding, he says.
He says Labour will not do a deal with them.
Starmer tells leave voters he will deliver greater control and higher wages they voted for
Starmer says the government has not made Brexit work.
He voted remain, he says – like Liz Truss. But people voted leave because they wanted more control.
They did not vote leave because they wanted to see services and standards cuts.
Addressing people who voted leave directly, he tells them they have been let down.
UPDATE: Starmer said:
So I want to speak directly to the people who left Labour on this issue. Whether you voted Leave or Remain, you’ve been let down.
And with Liz Truss, the Tories are changing the meaning of Brexit before your eyes.
If you voted for government to step in on your side for better work, higher wages, more opportunities in your community, for an NHS that is modern and reliable.
If you voted to take control of your life and for the next generation to have control of theirs, then I say to you: that is what I will deliver.
I will make work pay for the people who create this country’s wealth. I will make sure we buy, make and sell more in Britain. I will revitalise public services and control immigration using a points-based system. I will spread power and opportunity to all our communities. And I will never be shy to use the power of government to help working people succeed.
Starmer says Labour would adopt more prevention-first approach in public services
Starmer says Labour would invest more in the NHS.
But he says he cannot say Labour will fix everything. The damage done by the Tories means “this time the rescue will be harder than ever”.
There has to be reform, he says.
And technology has to be used.
And services need to be built around users.
And there must be a shift towards a prevention-first policy.
He says he saw that as DPP. Every time he read a serious case review, the story was the same – a life that could have gone differently if change had been made earlier.
(Starmer is fleshing out the intriguing point about childhood trauma that Steve Reed made in his speech this morning. See 11.03am.)
Starmer says Labour would set goal of getting home ownership up to 70%
Starmer says home ownership has been rising for most of his life. He saw what it meant himself. Their pebbledash home meant everything to his family.
But home ownership has stalled, he says.
He says Labour will set a target to get home ownership up to 70%. (It is currently 65% in England.)
There will be priority for people getting on the housing ladder for the first time, and mortgage guarantees.
Starmer says the economic foundations of the UK are weak.
The Tories have accepted that.
They are the ones not prepared to graft. They are the ones not prepared to do the hard yards on growth.
Starmer says the future wealth is in our air, our seas, our skies.
Government should harness that wealth and share it with everyone.
The Tories record has been appalling, he says. He says even Kwasi Kwarteng says there has been a “vicious cycle of stagnation”.
As a former prosecutor, he is always pleased when “someone caught bang to rights pleads guilty at the first opportunity”. He goes on:
[The Tories] say they do not believe in redistribution. But they do – from the poor to the rich.
He quotes from the recording, revealed by the Guardian, of Liz Truss complaining about British workers not having enough graft.
He says if the Tories want to fight on that issue, Labour will take them on and win.