Starmer’s ‘security, prosperity, respect’ tour continues with jobs focus in Burnley

Sienna Rodgers
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Keir Starmer’s three-day tour of the North and the West Midlands continues. On Monday, he was accompanied by local MPs – rising star Bridget Phillipson, his parliamentary private secretary Sharon Hodgson and backbencher Julie Elliott – plus police and crime commissioner Kim McGuinness in Sunderland, where the focus was security. There, he accused the Tories of being “soft on crime and soft on the causes of crime” (the Blairite slogan making a comeback in Steve Reed’s interview was clearly no coincidence) and particularly highlighted youth violence. The Labour leader then did some member engagement in the evening, launching the Sunderland local elections manifesto with Phillipson (25 out of 75 of the Labour council’s seats are up in May).

The tour follows Starmer’s three-word ‘contract with the British people’ slogan – security, prosperity, respect – which is expected to take Labour into the next general election. The theme today is therefore prosperity. Starmer is in Burnley, where he will talk about the kind of things Rachel Reeves and Lisa Nandy have been exploring: good jobs, specifically the Shadow Chancellor’s ‘buy, make and sell more in Britain’ plan and the Shadow Levelling Up Secretary’s emphasis on young people not having to move away from their hometowns to secure the employment they want.

The Labour leader has promised to reverse the “shocking decline” in manufacturing jobs across the country over the past decade, caused by “the government’s failure to back British business”. The key messages are that such decline is presumed to be inevitable but in fact it happens under the Tories, and that Labour believes those places responsible for powering the country in the past need to be rebuilt. LabourList is told Starmer will be attending a fundraiser in the evening. In Burnley, which is under no overall control with a Labour/Lib Dem coalition in leadership, 15 of 45 seats are up in May. It also elected a Tory MP for the first time in over a century in 2019, so this is exactly the kind of place in which Labour needs to build support.

On LabourList, we have also revealed why ASLEF’s link to the Labour Party is at risk of being severed. A motion proposing disaffiliation is going to the annual conference of the train drivers’ union in May – and insiders believe there is a real chance of it passing. For analysis and lots of detail about what has been happening between the Labour leadership and the union, and what could happen with the vote, read my full write-up. If Labour does lose another small trade union from its affiliates, it represents not only a weakening of the union link but also a dent in the party finances, which are already in a poor state. LabourList understands that the party leadership is optimistic about private donors coming through, as former Tories and Lib Dems want to back Starmer. However, it is difficult to replace union donations when they can be such large sums and, as people in the labour movement like to say, trade union money is the cleanest in politics.

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