Labour election pledge launch as it happened: Shadow cabinet unveil doorstep pitch to voters

Labour leader Keir Starmer and shadow cabinet members unveiled six pledge card-style “first steps” for the party’s missions today, with speeches taking place at an Essex launch event alongside a new ad campaign as the general election campaign steps up a gear.

You can watch the event back below or read through our liveblog as it unfolded earlier on today.  A spokesperson described the plans as “a distillation of Labour’s core retail offer” at the general election.

Traditional pledge cards have been swapped for six “first steps” towards Labour’s missions, a “down payment on change” that taps into voters’ aspirations, shows Labour’s priorities and signals a “direction of travel”, according to Starmer.

The party’s six “first steps to change Britain”, now on its website and part of an ad campaign too, centre on economic stability, NHS waiting lists, tackling “criminal boat gangs”, green cheaper energy, an antisocial behaviour “crackdown” and 6,500 new teachers.

2.45pm: Starmer on being no Blair copycat, and on past Labour leaders

One final thing worth flagging from earlier, before we wrap up this blog: what Starmer said when he was asked by a reporter whether he was a “copycat” of former Labour leader Tony Blair.

He said the first thing to highlight was: Blair won three elections, and that “effectively” it’s only Tony Blair, Clement Attlee and Harold Wilson who’ve ever taken Labour from opposition to power (editors’ note: of course Ramsay MacDonald’s supporters might flinch at his omission…).

What united them was the “ability to glimpse the future” and persuade people to go on that journey to a changed future, he said, and both understanding the country’s challenges and having “serious answers”.

But to the point – he said we were “now, what, 27 years on?” The challenges we face are not the same, he added.

Ever since he’s been leader, everyone’s tried to say which leader he’s most like, “who have you got tattooed on the inside of your arm” – the answer is none of them, he said.

“We have to face the future.”

(Of course Labour history geeks will find it interesting he can’t help but nod  to history with that final line, unwittingly or otherwise – the ’45 manifesto being called ‘Let Us Face The Future’…)

2.30pm: Bridget Phillipson on the education pledge

We also caught up briefly with the Shadow Education Secretary. She echoed Streeting’s message that the first steps are about showing “tangible deliverable change”, and a “hopeful, ambitious message”.

She said we know the biggest impact on children’s fortunes in schools comes from teaching quality, and that that explains one of the six key first steps is the party’s promise of 6,500 teachers in key areas where we’re facing shortages.

“Brilliant teachers at my local state school transformed my life, and I want that for every child.”

2.20pm: Wes Streeting tells us this is a ‘doorstep tool’ of practical policies

We grabbed a quick word with Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting at today’s event, and asked what our readers should take away most from it.
He said: “What these first steps set out are practical, credible, achievable policies that we can take to every doorstep in the country.
“We know from past bitter experience that unless you boil down your policies to those five or six memorable pledges, voters end up saying: what are your policies? And they don’t hear the message.
“We’ve given every Labour member in the country a doorstep tool, which is a set of really credible, practical, achievable policies, and every one of them will make a real difference to people’s lives.”

2.15pm: Watch back the event

Watch the shadow cabinet deliver their piece on each of the missions earlier today here, plus the speech from Starmer:

2pm: Labour’s ad blitz and pledge cards

Labour had said it was “evolving” traditional pledge cards, but while they may be digital too they look a lot like pledge cards to me…


1.50pm: This is not the manifesto…nor a rowback..but pledges will make manifesto

Worth flagging that a Labour spokesperson told us before the event that six first steps represent a “distillation of Labour’s core retail offer to the voters in the upcoming general election campaign”.

“All the way through, these are geared at the priorities of the voters, to make a real difference to people’s lives,” they said.

They said the steps would be in the party’s general election manifesto but “are not the sum total of the manifesto”, describing them as a “bridge to the longer-term plan set out in the missions”.

Meanwhile Starmer said in the Q&A these pledges are not a rowback on the ambition of the missions; they’re showing the “tangible steps” Labour will take first. They’re not the only steps Labour will take either, and the missions remain.

“We’re not reducing the missions, we’re putting flesh on the bones.”

1.40pm: Angela Eagle and Owen Jones trade blows

Google Trends data shows a lot of people are searching for this clip so here you go…watch aas Angela Eagle attacks journalist Owen Jones for criticising Labour, saying she would welcome pressure in government but he’s rather “taken for granted” the next election is won when the party has a “mountain to climb”.

Jones – who now says he’ll support some rival parties or candidates on the left–  hits back and defends exerting pressure on Labour to “stand up for the things Keir Starmer originally promised”.

1.35pm: Rachel Reeves interview on pressures on the public purse

We shot a quick clip of Rachel Reeves while she answered journalists’ questions after the speech – here she is after being asked how she’d handle the pressures any Chancellor faces to splash the cash.

She said tough spending rules will ensure mini budget mistakes aren’t repeated, and she will always put economic stability first.

1.10pm: Read the full Keir Starmer speech and watch highlights

“One card, six steps in your hand, a plan to change the country. This is a message that we can take to every doorstep, across the country… and make that argument – decline is not inevitable.”
We’ve now published the full text of Starmer‘s speech this morning here.

12.25pm: Starmer’s speech was ‘a full embrace’ of the New Labour project

Anna McShane, director of The New Britain Project think tank, has written for LabourList on Starmer’s speech, arguing that it “was not just a restoration of the New Labour project but a full on embrace of it”.

She wrote: “At the core of that New Labour tradition is the recognition that Labour is at its strongest when it occupies the centre ground, speaking for the entire country – from Dundee to Doncaster – and yes, to Dover too.

“And given in the same week he has been able to win over both Natalie Elphicke and Sharon Graham, Starmer has certainly demonstrated his aptitude for this approach.

“Doubtless there will be those who feel that what Keir Starmer set out today, a central promise of economic stability, along with smaller ‘first steps’ of more teachers, shorter NHS waiting times and cracking down on anti-social behaviour, doesn’t go far enough.

“But those who make that criticism misunderstand where the public are after 14 years of Tory failure, chaos and a cost-of-living crisis, along with a near-total collapse of public services.”

You can read the full piece here.

12.10pm: First steps campaign materials

Shadow Welsh Secretary Jo Stevens has posted a picture on X of the new campaign materials setting out Labour’s first steps:

12.05pm: ‘Danger it looks like [Starmer is] scaling back’

Political journalist Zoë Grünewald has argued “there is a danger it looks like [Starmer is] scaling back” with his six first steps compared to the five missions he set out at the beginning of last year, though she noted the Labour leader said the steps are the “first down payments” on the missions.

“A decent speech well delivered. But notably missing building, tackling poverty and worker’s rights. A lot of people want to hear about housing,” she added.

11.55am: Starmer’s fixes ‘fall desperately short’, Momentum argues

Left-wing campaign group Momentum has argued that Labour’s six steps “fall desperately short of the bold policies needed to fix the Tories’ broken Britain, from mass building council housing to renationalising our public services”.

Its statement continues: “Worse still, Starmer is failing to break with the Conservatives’ disastrous austerity dogma. Faced with similarly huge challenges in 1945, the post-war Labour government brought sweeping change and investment to a country on its knees. Britain needs a real Labour alternative today, too.”

11.50am: ‘The most impressive event this leadership has assembled’

The Guardian’s deputy political editor Jessica Elgot described today’s event as the “most impressive… this Labour leadership has ever assembled” and a “big contrast” to Rishi Sunak’s speech on Monday.

11.45am: ‘A message we can take to every doorstep’

11.20am: Starmer not downsizing his ambitions, he says

Some tough questions from Westminster hacks. Sky’s Beth Rigby questions why the first steps are less ambitious than the missions, such as focusing now on economic stability rather than the highest growth in the G7 group of countries, or launching Great British Energy rather than clean power by 2030.

She asks if he has ‘downsized” his promises.

Starmer replies bluntly: “I’m not.”

He says he’s not scaling back ambitions; this is not about reducing the missions, but making a first down-payment on the first steps we can take towards them.

They’re also not the only first step, he adds. “The missions remain.”

11.16am: New party clip highlight first step pledges

11.15am: ‘Politics can make a difference’

Apologies for delays to this, the party that once promised free broadband nationwdie has chosen a venue where many journalists can’t connect to the wi-fi properly…or get much phone signal.

Anyway more importantly – much of Starmer’s speech was geared around reeling off existing pledges in each of the new first steps/missions (scroll to bottom for full list of the six first steps).

He ended by emphasising that politics can make a difference, decline is not inevitable.

But voters have to chose it with Labour.  “Stop the chaos, with Labour. Turn the page, with Labour. Return politics to service, with Labour.”

“With patience, with determination, with these first steps, we can rebuild our country, with Labour.”

10.59am: Starmer gets personal

The leader uses a string of anecdotes about voters to drive home key points.

He highlights one couple he met shortly after Liz Truss’ disastrous mini-budget. They were not only gutted to see mortgage costs go “through the roof”, but decided they weren’t going to have a second child because of the costs, he said.

He sounds angry as he says he is “not going to let a Labour government do that kind of damage”.

Later he tells another story about recently being en route to Old Trafford to watch Arsenal beat United, and a voter recognising him. They talked about having an in-grown eyelid, causing “huge pain”, and telling him she’d waited 18 months for an operation and just been told she would have to wait many more.

She “virtually pleaded with me to win the election. And that’s not unusual.”

10.52am: Starmer begins key speech

Keir Starmer is  nowon the stage, sleeves rolled out in a white shirt and no tie, unlike his jacket-and-tie-on shadow cabinet colleagues…

He starts on mainly familiar themes, saying Labour has credible plans and will give government a “driving sense of purpose”.

Sticking plasters are easy but don’t work. Starmer has “never shied away from tough decisions”, from reforming a public service to changing the Labour party and “putting it back in the service of working people”.

It will be “country first, party second”, he says to applause.

10.45am: Bridget Phillipson on education  – and special guests

The Shadow Education Secretary is up now.

She highlights the Tories’ dire record, on everything from schools “literally crumbling” to missed teacher recruitment targets, staff leaving “in droves” and many children not in class.

But she highlights Labour’s plans to recruit 6,500 teachers, and her determination to deliver change for children.

She introduces an LSE student called Tito, who spells out the difference a great teacher at school in London made to her life. Teachers are “the backbone of our society”, and her own teacher gave every student their “complete attention”.

Then another voter who lives in Thurrock speaks to introduce Keir Starmer. He says things are getting worse, from struggling to get appointments to less police presence. He’s always voted Conservative but “won’t be doing that again”, as they’ve let the country down, he says.

Labour “gives me hope” and “Keir is a good man”, he says.

10.37am: Cooper on ‘the party of law and order’

Yvette Cooper

Labour are showing videos of voters talking about why they back the party on issues linked to key missions, from those supporting its energy plans to someone talking about his experiences as a victim of crime.

Now Yvette Cooper, Shadow Home Secretary, says Labour will be “a government of law and order, putting the safety of our communities right at its very heart”.

She says “everything starts” with the first step of getting more police back on the beat, highlighting plans for 13,000 more officers.

She says people say on the doorstep they call the police but no-one comes. The party will crack down on antisocial behaviour, violence against women (drawing applause), and take action on shoplifting.

Communities will “take back the streets” from organised crime, she adds.

10.30am: Ed Miliband says mission to make Britain ‘energy independent’

Miliband says energy we control at home is cheaper than fossil fuels, and more secure because “dictators can’t control it”.

“Our first step is to set up Great British Energy”, a clean energy company “by and for our citizens” – and funded by asking oil and gas firms to pay their “fair share”.

10.24am: Powerful testimony on cancer

Wes Streeting introduces Nathan Dye, who in turn introduces himself as “dying of cancer” – leaving the hall silent.

He says it is “all but certain” he will be dead within a few years. He says he tries not to think about what would have happened if tests, appointments and scans had been quicker, and if he’d spent less time waiting on a waiting list.

But he says he can’t bring himself to be angry, with staff “struggling” to maintain a system “at breaking point”.

He says though that he hopes a Labour government can help fix the problems, and he trusts Streeting having had cancer and been treated on the NHS himself.

10.18am: Wes Streeting says basic NHS promise ‘broken’

Streeting is speaking now, starting by saying everyone in the room will owe a debt of gratitude to it.

But he highlights poor statistics under the Tories, and says the “basic promises that the NHS is there for us when we need it” is “broken”.

The NHS must be turned around, the Shadow Health Secretary adds, and he says it falls to us as the party which created the NHS to “rescue and renew” the service, drawing applause.

He highlights Labour’s pledge of 40,000 more appointments a week, paid for by “cracking down” on tax dodgers and non-doms. “Heathclare for the many, paid for by the few”

10.16am: Seb James, Boots CEO addresses event

Seb James, CEO of Boots, is speaking in a pre-recorded video address, in which he backs up Reeves’ emphasis on the importance of economic stability.

10.09am: Reeves says economic vision not just about ‘lines on a graph’ – and ‘stability is change’

“With Keir’s leadership, we have changed the Labour party,” Rachel Reeves begins as she takes the podium.

She says Labour’s economic plan is about money in people’s pockets, thriving high streets and revenue to rebuild public services, not just lines on a graph.

“I will never play fast and loose with the public finances,” she says, as it means playing fast and loose with family finances.

She stresses her work at the Bank of England in a previous role, adding: “I know how much stability matters.”

Labour’s first step in the mission for growth is economic stability, with “tough” spending rules.

“After the last 14 years, stability is change.”

10.08am: Rayner says ‘we have your back’

Rayner says the message to many kinds of people let down by Tories is: “We have your back.”

And Labour won’t take you for granted, she adds. A Labour government once had her back, with a secure home and decent wage when she had her son at 16, and helped her get from a council estate to parliament, she says

“Labour has a plan to get Britain back on its feet.”

10.05am: Rayner on ‘tangible deliverable policies’

Rayner says it’s great to be here in Thurrock, where Labour won at the locals.

Labour is under no illusions about the challenges Britain faces, but it offers tangible, deliverable policies that will deliver where the Tories have failed, she says.

She says many voters will feel cynical over Tory chaos and decline, but it came because of Tory choice.

“This is a country that once built homes for heroes from the rubbles of war,” she says, and highlights the way the NHS was founded after the war too,  arguing change is possible. We’re expecting Angela Rayner

The deputy leader should kick things off shortly…

9.55am: Labour’s new ad campaign

The party’s ‘First Steps’ artwork will be “available across the country” on ad vans, billboards and regional papers on Thursday, according to party officials.

9.50am: What are the Labour’s six new ‘first steps’ election policies?

  1. “Deliver economic stability with tough spending rules, so we can grow our economy and keep taxes, inflation and mortgages as low as possible.”
  2. “Cut NHS waiting times with 40,000 more appointments each week, during evenings and weekends, paid for by cracking down on tax avoidance and non-dom loopholes.”
  3. “Launch a new Border Security Command with hundreds of new specialist investigators and use counter-terror powers to smash the criminal boat gangs.”
  4. “Set up Great British Energy a publicly-owned clean power company, to cut bills for good and boost energy security, paid for by a windfall tax on oil and gas giants.”
  5. “Crack down on antisocial behaviour with more neighbourhood police paid for by ending wasteful contracts, tough new penalties for offenders, and a new network of youth hubs.”
  6. “Recruit 6,500 new teachers in key subjects to prepare children for life, work and the future, paid for by ending tax breaks for private schools.”

If you have anything to share that we should be looking into or publishing about this or any other topic involving Labour, on record or strictly anonymously, contact us at [email protected]

Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for a briefing everything Labour, every weekday morning. 

If you can help sustain our work too through a monthly donation, become one of our supporters here.

And if you or your organisation might be interested in partnering with us on sponsored events or content, email [email protected].

More from LabourList


We provide our content free, but providing daily Labour news, comment and analysis costs money. Small monthly donations from readers like you keep us going. To those already donating: thank you.

If you can afford it, can you join our supporters giving £10 a month?

And if you’re not already reading the best daily round-up of Labour news, analysis and comment…