Keir Starmer speech at Labour’s six steps for change in Wales

Thank you, Michael. That was a really powerful address from you, and it’s a big thing, to come up here and say what you just said, and it’s means a huge amount, to make the big decision to change the party you vote for, as a life long Tory voter, is a really big thing. 

For me, it vindicates all the hard work of the last four and a half years. I was determined to change this Labour Party and put it back in the service of working people, and your words are so important to me, to all of our candidates, to all of our staff, to all of the Labour movement, when you say: life long Tory voter, I’ve had enough, I’m voting Labour. Thank you, Michael. 

Vaughan, thank you for your words. Thank you for your leadership here in Wales, it’s been really good to work with you so far in my position as Leader of the Opposition. I’m really looking forward to a new partnership, where we can both deliver together for Wales. Thank you Vaughan. 

And thank you all for that incredibly warm reception when we walked in. It was fantastic to see everybody in the room, such a great feeling, and Abergavenny, what am amazingly beautiful place. We arrived last night and the sun was shining, absolutely stunning. 

Not that long ago, Vic and I and the kids were at Crickhowell, we holiday up there. It is a really beautiful part of Wales, and many people in this room will have been to the Bear Pub, I’m sure in Crickhowell. If you haven’t been, make sure you go before you leave this part of the world.  As Caroline Harris will attest, Vic and I holiday in Wales every year. We go down to Swansea, she looks after and last year we were in The Gower near Oxwich and it’s really really beautiful. 

So I love being here, and it’s fantastic to be back here today in Wales. And what an opportunity, what a chance to launch our campaign. Because Rishi Sunak has finally called the General Election. He has given us our chance to take our case to the country, and I don’t know about you, but I think Wales has been waiting for this General Election for a very very long time. 

And we in the Labour Party have been working for, and waiting of this general election for a very very long time. And if just over a week ago, Rishi Sunak thought he was laying a careful trap of an ambush, he didn’t get catch us. He caught himself in his own ambush, so now we get the chance. What went through all of those speeches this morning, is this strong sense that now is the time for change. 

Change and hope for a better future. With that sense of national renewal, taking our communities, our countries forward for the future. So I say to you, if you were a family, that’s been struggling with the cost of living for a long time now. And I mean struggling. Struggling across Wales, struggling elsewhere, if you are a business that has been absolutely up against it these past few years, and if you have been serving your country, or serving your community, then this election, this election is for you. 

Because this is the chance to end the chaos and the division, to turn the page, to rebuild Wales and rebuild our entire country together to elect a government that as Vaughan said, would serve working people here in Wales and make that connection – a government in Westminster, and government in Wales, working together and delivering for Wales. 

I don’t know about, but I think we have all had enough of fourteen years of chaos and division. Chaos and division, feeding chaos and division. And it feels like we’re spinning round and round in circles and getting absolutely nowhere. 

And there’s a cost to that. There’s a human cost to that. Go to Port Talbot, talk as I did who are facing the prospect of losing their job in the steel industry. And I say to Rishi Sunak, go and look those people in the eye as I’ve done, and you’ll see their anxiety about the damage that is being done by a government that doesn’t have a plan. A government that is too divide to take our county and our industries forward. Go and talk to those workers, those families, years and years of investment, skills that they have put in, facing now an uncertain future. That is the human cost, that they are paying, for a Government that is divided, chaotic and for a Prime Minister who won’t pick up the phone to the former First Minister in Wales to do a blind thing about those jobs. 

I’ve been there, I’ve looked them in the hours, and I’ve told those workers: I will fight for every single job that they have there and for the future of steel here in Wales. We must fight. 

Because this is a change election. There are two futures, two futures out there on the 4th of July. Two paths that we can take. It is a very very clear choice. And we need to spell it out. More chaos and division, cos they’re not going to change. It would be more – fourteen years already – another five years of chaos and division, non-delivery and failure. 

Or, turn the page, hope and unity, and rebuild our communities and our countries with Labour. A Government that works for you. That tires cup no more conflict, between the first minister here and the prime minister in London, but both working together for Wales Imagine what could be delivered for Wales, with that combination of two government. This is a huge prize. To elect a Government that wants devolution to work. That doesn’t want the conflict, will get around the table, will work together, and every day deliver for the working people of Wales. 

So the first thing we have to do is end that chaos and division. The good news is, the good news is, you don’t have to put up with it anymore. 

A vote for Labour is a vote to turn the page to change our country. We’ve changed the Labour Party. Put it back in the service of working people. We are humbly asking permission from people for the opportunity to change our country and put it back in the service of working people. 

Now I know that will be difficult. I’m not going to stand here and say it will be easy. It will be difficult. Tireless work. But I’ve never shied away from the difficult. When I was heading up the CPS, we had to change it, it was difficult. Many people said don’t do It, slow down. But we changed it. 

When I worked in Northern Ireland, it was difficult work. We were trying to change the police service, so it served all communities. It was difficult, painstaking work, but we did it. 

And here in the Labour Party, we had to change our party, and put it back in the service of working people. That wasn’t easy. Lots of people said don’t do it that way. Don’t go so fast. But we did it. We will never shy away from that. 

Because driving through this for me has always been country first, party second. 

And the opportunity is now there to work together to deliver for Wales. And there is no brighter future without Wales. Because I believe that the solidarity of working people is not just our identity, it is our argument. It’s the most powerful force for uniting all four nations across the United Kingdom. So this is the change that we must bring about. 

It is difficult. It is ambitious. And like any ambition, you need first steps. You need to set out what the big thing is that you want to change, and what the first steps are going to be realise that change. 

And that’s why I’m proud to set out our first steps here today. As you would expect, ruthlessly well-prepared. Thought through. Ready to deliver. Fully costs and fully funded. Which is more that can be said of the ideas the Tories are flinging on the table on the daily basis, rummaging around in the toy box of bad ideas and putting one on the table very day. Unfunded and uncosted. 

Step 1: Economic stability. 

In 2024, it feels odd to have to say to you that stability is change. But it is. That’s what we haven’t had. Stability. Because stability is the foundation of growth. We won’t get economic growth without stability. And we all know that if you lose control of the economy, it’s working people who pay the price. 

Liz Truss lost control of the economy. And in Wales, working people on a mortgage, are now paying an average £240 more each and every month. 

Rishi Sunak says we’ve turned a page. 

Liz Truss says – put the people who helped me in the House of Lords. 

Rishi Sunak says “OK”. 

And in Wales, each and every day, families are paying hundreds of pounds more, a reminder of the cost, they are paying of the damage the Tories did. TATA Steel are paying the price. We have to invest if we want the future of steel in this country. We have to invest in all of the sectors that need it. That’s why we want to set up a National Wealth Fund. Other countries have it. We can drive our industries forward, with the growth that we need, the businesses, the partnership that will help us deliver. And that’s why economic stability is step one. 

Step 2: Working with Vaughan, bringing down those waiting list. 

There’s too many people on waiting lists. And we’ll do that – fully funded and fully costed. We’re going to get rid of the non-dom tax status. Properly. That’s the tax that allows the super rich to be here in this country, making their money, but not pay their tax here. I don’t agree with that. I think you should be paying your tax here, and we’ll make sure that people do.

And we’ll also crack down on those who are avoiding their tax. And with that money, we’ll bring down the waiting list. And that means we can invest in England in the NHS, 40,000 appointments each and every week. What a difference that will make. And that of course, as you all know, also means more money for the NHS in Wales. SO that in Wales are can build on the work that is being done. 

Now this matters to me. My mum was a nurse. She was a really proud nurse. There are some fantastic pictures of her in her nursing uniform. Such pride. We say this yesterday buy the way as well, we were in Worcester at the college there where they ar training up the next generation of nurses. I saw the same pride there that  I saw on the pictures of my mum. It was her livelihood. But of course, it became her lifeline. Because she was extremely ill for most of her life, and literally her life depended on the care that the NHS gave her time and time and time again, in her particular case. 

There other cases in this room as I look around. SO it matters to me, and it matters to Vaughan, because of cause the NHS saved his life earlier in his life. So it matters to me. And the idea of us being able to work together, to make sure the NHS is at its very best, capable of delivering. Not just back on it’s fit, but fit for the future.

Of course we are proud of the NHS. Roots right here. We look back great pride every year. Every year in the Labour movement we celebrate the NHS. It is one of the greatest achievements of any government ever, that Labour achievement. I want not just to look back, proudly, I want to look forward and be able to say that the NHS that we will build will be there for the next seventy years to be able toy rely on it in the way that Vaughan and I and my mum relied on it. 

Step 3: Boarder Security Command.

Now the government has lost control of our borders. Lost control of our borders. 10,000 people this year alone have crossed the channel in small boats. Ten thousand. That is a record. So for all of the rhetoric, that is a record number coming across. 

Nobody but nobody should be making that dangerous journey across the channel, and it’s a test for all governments as to how they respond to it – and would be governments – it’s a test for the current government, and for us: what is your response to this serious problem? Exploited vulnerable people being put in boats to go across the channel by gangs that are making huge amounts of money from them. And there is a choice, as there is a choice in pretty well everything political, what is your response: 

You can either have a gimmick, or a serious response. 

What has the government gone for? A gimmick. The Rwanda Scheme. Now Rishi Sunak never believed in it. When he first saw it, as Chancellor, he didn’t back it. He tried to block it. He didn’t think it would work. I’m not surprised. Because if the numbers going to Rwanda are less than one percent of those that arrive by small boat, the ninety nine per cent of them are not going.

And if you don’t think that the criminal gangs running this trade are telling that tot the people that they’re exploiting, then you don’t know criminal gangs. IT was never going to work. He knew it wouldn’t work,. But what did he do. He caved in to his party. He didn’t stick to his guns. He caved in. £600 million later, of taxpayer money – it’s not working, and what has he done, he has called an election before it can be tested. 

Weakness upon weakness. In the Labour Party this changed Labour Party, we go for serious solutions. This is a serious problem. So, Border Security Command: A new elite force, with a new commander, bringing together MI5, the police, national security agencies, the crown prosecution services: an elite force, a new command with new resources and new powers drawing on counter terrorism powers. Because when I was Chief Prosecutors had to work with police and law enforcement across Europe to bring down terrorist gangs. These were sophisticated terrorist gangs, and we did it, and we bought them down, and they’re now serving time.

I will never accept that somehow the only gangs that apparently we can’t take down by the same means are the vile gangs running this smuggling trades. I’ll never accept that. We will break it. 

Step 4: Great British Energy.

A publicly owned company. This is a company owned by the taxpayer, making money for the taxpayer, and investing in green British power. And I’ll tell you why we need it, Because we have been overly exposed by the terrible decisions of this government. Ten years or so ago, they said “cut the green crap”.

Remember that? Cut the green crap. And they stopped investing in renewables. They stopped the insulation that we need on our homes, and they left us exposed to the sort of challenges that we have internationally. Exposed. 

And so when Ukraine was invaded, and Putin invaded. We were more exposed than other countries, and you’re paying more on your bill because of the approach that they took. Bills are up. We have got to turn that around. 

It is a challenge, we’ll rise to that challenge. We’ve lost ten years because of the approach of the Tories. But it is also probably the single biggest opportunity that we have – not just for lower bills – but for the next generation of jobs. And Vaughan and I went to Holyhead Port just a few weeks ago, to look at the potential of that port, for floating offshore wind. 

And we have a plan to transform that port to make sure it can handle floating off shore wind. Floating offshore wind is the next generation. It is going to be the gamechanger. And some country is going to get ahead and be the leader in the world. We’ve got the skills, we’ve the potential, we’ve got the ports, we need to take advantage of that, and what we’ve got from this government, is such a lack of direction that just as all the other countries are getting in to the race, they’re in the changing room. 

Not prepared to let that happen. The race is on. I want to be not just in that race, but as you’d expect with me, I want to win that race. And I think we can win that race. 

Step 5 – Tackling anti social behaviour.

Now I don’t know how many times people have said to me, when I was prosecutor, since I’ve been in politics: Keir, anti social behaviour, it’s low level, it’s low level crime. Shouldn’t really concentrate on it. 

I don’t want to hear that ever again. It blights the lives of so many people. 

Whether they are living in a huge community, a small community, a middle sized community. If you feel that you can’t open your front door after dark, if you feel can’t walk down your own street, or walk around your own community, if you feel as some of our young people do, that they can’t even walk down their high streets without antisocial behaviour, that has a huge impact on people’s lives and how they feel about taking themselves forward. 

And, of course, on our business. It is not low level. And that’s why we’ll have 13,000 new neighbourhood police, working in their communities and dealing with antisocial behaviour, because I am determined that we will have a safe and secure environment for every single person in Wales and across the United Kingdom to live in, so that they can take themselves forward, and build the lives that they deserve.

Step 6 – Working with the Welsh Government, to ensure that we have, and are able through our education, to prepare our young children, your young people, for the lives that they are actually going to live and the work they’re actually going to do. 

Now I was the first in my family to go to university. I know the power that education can have on a young person’s life. And I want every single young person, wherever they come from, whatever their background, to feel that success belongs to them. 

Vaughan shares this approach. And Welsh Labour is already doing so much. The biggest I think school and college building programme since the 1960s. That’s the investment already happening here in Wales. Imagine how much more we could with the Government in Westminster working with the Government in Wales and delivering for our children, the future that they deserve. 

So six steps, one card, make sure you’ve got yours. We’re going to take this to every single doorstep across Wales to make our case for a changed future. One card, six steps. Wales and Westminster working together. Turning the page. A change election. Where we can stop the chaos and division. Put an end to it. We can turn the page and rebuild Wales and the United Kingdom together, working together for the future. That is the way forward, that is the choice, Vote Labour.