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Your New Prime Minister - And God Help You, It's Keir Starmer

This election is one to forget for all parties. The worst that British politics has to give has been on display – no matter your political persuasion.

We’ve had candidates suspended for political betting, with several Conservatives investigated for betting on the election date and a Labour candidate betting on himself to lose. A Reform UK campaigner directed a racist slur at Rishi Sunak which Reform UK Leader Nigel Farage vehemently claimed was a set up – but who are you meant to believe? And we’ve ended up with a Prime Minister who’s walked into 10 Downing Street as the leader of the least hated party.

That’s a car crash of an election, whichever way you look at it. Nobody can be proud of that. It exposes a real problem in British politics, which is that we haven’t got the best people running the show. That’s why nobody has brought to life a real vision for the country. It’s why all the talk before polling day was of tactical voting. And it’s why we should all be rather dismayed if this is the best we can come up with as a nation.

But enough of the depressing poetry. We’ve got a Labour government with a 174-seat majority – the biggest majority since Tony Blair’s avalanche victory in 1997. So what of it? You’ve all been calling for change, so what change are you going to get?

The top line is that any change will be extremely small. Flea-sized. Change that is nothing more than a drop in the ocean.

Keir Starmer’s problem is that he has been so conservative – I suspect to show voters he’s not just a younger Jeremy Corbyn with glasses – that Labour don’t have the money to do anything at all. They pledged not to increase income tax, National Insurance or VAT. Immediately, then, you’re looking at a shoestring budget to change the world. And that simply isn’t possible. Unless tax by stealth or even austerity is deployed further down the line.

Labour’s biggest spending commitment is £23.7 billion for the environment. They’re spending more on the colour green than health or education, which is a rather bold statement. Great British Energy is supposed to accelerate renewable energy to help cut UK emissions.

This sounds excellent, but it won’t look so good when villagers armed with pitchforks start rioting about a solar farm in their green belt or wind turbines on their coastline. And let’s not forget the UK now accounts for just 1% of all global emissions. In short, we’re camping in a hurricane of climate change and hoping that spending £23.7 billion to turn our tent green will solve the problem.

And then we come to homebuilding. Keir Starmer wants to build 300,000 new homes a year for the next five years – precisely double the average number of homes built over the past decade. Unless Bob the Builder is planning to come out of retirement, this seems vanishingly unlikely. Estimates show we need about 225,000 construction workers by 2027 to fulfil demand. That is more than the entire population of Herefordshire. It seems Starmer is, quite literally, trying to build houses by starting with the roof.

We haven’t even got to the money side of things yet. You’ve been wanting change – and that’s all your pockets will be left with under Labour if you own as much as two grains of rice.

First off, pensioners will end up paying what has been dubbed a ‘retirement tax’ after Starmer failed to match the Conservatives’ triple lock plus policy, which raises the personal allowance for pensioners. Starmer has also abandoned his pledge to abolish tuition fees for university to prioritise getting NHS waiting lists down. When Starmer repeatedly accused the Conservatives of “unfunded promises” during the election debates, I don’t think this is what the student union faithful had in mind.

Returning back to the catastrophically poor tax and spend pledges of this Labour government, which make up a dismal 0.2% of UK GDP, there remains a spending gap. Starmer has been so reluctant to put up taxes, that he’s got to get the money from somewhere. That means one of three things. Taxes later on down the line, more abandoned spending pledges, or both – and that’s austerity. It’s not just me saying that – it’s The Guardian which, if it were a footballer, would be firmly left-footed.

So it’s all looking pretty bleak. Expensive green pledges that nobody wants, promises for homes with no builders, and a looming threat of taxes or austerity by stealth.

And there’s one major issue we haven’t even covered yet. Immigration.

The rise of Reform UK, winning 4 million votes, 4 seats and electing Nigel Farage to the Westminster, confirms that controlling illegal immigration is important to voters.

Now, the Conservatives had a policy plan that was quite literally ready to take off. Maybe you disagree with the principle of the Rwanda plan – but it was a plan that would definitely have removed illegal immigrants from our country.

Labour, on the other hand, have no plan. Keir Starmer wants to negotiate with the French, just as he wants to get round the table with Britain’s striking workforce. This isn’t Dragon’s Den. We’ve already tried endless haggling and negotiating. And it has not worked.

Keir Starmer wants to send illegal immigrants back to where they came from. But, as Rishi Sunak pointed out in the BBC debate, what’s Starmer going to do? Sit down and talk to the Iranians or the Taliban?

Keir Starmer wants to smash the gangs. 1,000 criminals have already been arrested so far under a new law passed by the Tories – but Starmer voted against it in Parliament. Make it make sense.

So, you voted for change with Keir Starmer and Labour. But you aren’t going to get it. I don’t say this out of bitterness, I say it out of truth.

The policy strength simply is not there. I have seen no articulation of a clear vision for the country over the course of the entire election campaign, or in fact since Starmer became Labour Leader in 2019. And on top of all that, Jeremy Corbyn is undoubtedly still whispering in your new Prime Minister’s ear.

Image: Chris McAndrew/Prime Minister's Office, 10 Downing Street

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