Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has slammed his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn for the party’s 2019 landslide election defeat and vowed that the party will never “not be trusted” on national security or the economy again.
Starmer said in his first conference speech as Labour leader that the party “deserved” to lose last year’s General Election and that losing four elections in a row had been a “betrayal of what we believe in”.
He also said he was “not the sort of leader who wants to turn the clock back” in an apparent jab at Corbyn and his rigid socialist views.
“In the 75 years since the historic victory of 1945 there have only been three Labour winners – I want to be the fourth,” Starmer said.
“All three of the post-war Labour winners – Attlee, Wilson and Blair – saw it as their task to modernise Britain.
“We need to be thinking about the questions of 2024 and the 2030s, not the questions of the past.”
The theme of this year’s virtual Labour conference has been “A New Leadership” as Starmer and his top team try to put daylight between themselves and the Corbyn era.
Today’s speech was at times a direct plea to the working class voters that Labour lost in last year’s election as Starmer preached about how the party “loves this country”.
Corbyn’s stance on many foreign policy issues – such as his refusal to blame Russia for the 2018 Salisbury poisoning and his historic links to the IRA – chided with many traditional Labour voters in the North and Midlands as he was seen to be unpatriotic.
“To those people in Doncaster and Deeside, in Glasgow and Grimsby, in Stoke and in Stevenage to those who have turned away from Labour, I say this – we hear you,” Starmer said.
“I ask you – take another look at Labour. We’re under new leadership.”