The journey towards a fairer Britain starts now | Keir Starmer

Labour will set the country on a more dynamic path by handing powers to cities and regions and reining in the unaccountable cliques of Westminster – beginning on Monday

If you work hard, you can achieve whatever you want.” That’s what parents have told their children for generations. It is more than just something we say: it is part of the social contract of our country that people and places are able to realise their potential. It is a matter of pride. It is the reason people the world over dream of making Britain their home.

But for the first time in living memory, we are in danger of breaking that promise: young people unable to achieve the dream of home ownership, pensioners stuck on waiting lists for operations, working people paying more but getting less. Everywhere you go, the story is the same. Everywhere you look, things are broken.

The government’s response to this is to pretend all our problems started with Covid or Putin’s barbarism. No one is fooled by their complacency. The cries for change emanating from every corner of our country long precede the current crises. The upheaval of the past decade was not just about in or out, yes or no, stay or go – it was about people telling a remote and unmoored centre that it was time to start paying attention.

The tragedy is that the message has still not got through to those running the country. Rishi Sunak’s government is arguing with itself about opening up old Brexit wounds. Nicola Sturgeon is seeking another independence referendum. The SNP and the Tories have become masters in stoking up division to mask their own failures to deliver. They are determined to carry on down this ruinous path, setting neighbour against neighbour and nation against nation in pursuit of their own narrow political interests.

There is a different option available to us, one where we deliver what people across these isles deserve: the chance to build a better, fairer future for themselves and their families. I am determined we take it.

But to do so, we must first be honest about what it is that is responsible for holding Britain back. As the country’s director of public prosecutions, I took on MPs over the expenses scandal. In doing so, I came face to face with a political elite that had turned inwards and forgotten who they served.

Over 12 years, the Tories have made the situation immeasurably worse by hoarding power in Westminster and lowering ethical standards. These forces have festered and grown to such an extent that their twin Gorgon gaze now petrifies British growth, dynamism and prosperity.

To give the country its future back, we need to chop the heads off both. To do so will require nothing less than a fundamental reimagining of our broken political model.

On Monday, we will begin to set out exactly how the next Labour government will meet that challenge. The proposals published by Gordon Brown and the Commission on the UK’s Future will set the path for the biggest-ever transfer of control from Westminster back to the British people. It means that, at the next election, Labour will stand on a promise of new powers for towns, cities, regions and nations to reignite our economy, while scrapping unaccountable ones in Westminster, and restoring trust in our politics.

This is a matter of personal conviction for me. I have always believed that the people best placed to decide what works in Stirling, Sunderland or Swansea are the people there. If we expect these places to drive growth, we must first hand them the keys.

But as well as bringing people closer to decision-making, I want to change the very idea of who our politics serves. The way this Tory government keeps blithely putting up taxes while endlessly pearl-clutching over the prospect of oil companies or non-doms or Eton College paying their fair share, leaves working people with one sense: that Britain is being run for someone, but that it isn’t them. That will change.

Similarly, under the next Labour government, prime ministers will no longer mark their own homework. That won’t be about demanding that people are perfect or honest mistakes being punished. Of course not. It will be about ensuring our politics works for the British people rather than for itself.

No longer will taxpayer money be doled out to ministers’ mates or in crony contracts. Sunak’s reaction to losing billions to fraud was to shrug his shoulders. That will change too.

This week will be the start of a journey that will see power pushed out of Westminster and standards driven up. The start of showing how politics can once again be a force for good. The start of Britain becoming a fairer, greener, more dynamic country. But more than that – it will be the start of ensuring the tools to build that better future are directly in people’s hands.


Keir Starmer

The GuardianTramp

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