Starmer ‘prepared to make enemies’ over planning to grow the economy

James Moules
Keir Starmer. Credit: Ian Vogler

Keir Starmer has suggested he is willing to “make enemies” over planning to ensure critical infrastructure gets built as part of Labour’s broader plan for economic growth.

He was grilled by journalist Nick Robinson on BBC Panorama this evening on many of his key policy pledges as the general election campaign crosses its halfway point.

Robinson questioned Starmer on his plans to grow the economy after the Labour leader promised that “we’re not going back to austerity” – and reiterated his support for economic growth and not raising taxes.

After pushing back on the argument that growth would be a ‘magic wand’, Starmer was challenged over what his commitments over planning could mean.

READ MORE: ‘Victory will be short-lived unless Labour fixes broken services with proper funding and public ownership’

Robinson asked: “Are you saying now, because I need to get the economy growing, what I will do is say to someone who’s objecting to electricity pylons going across the field near their house – sorry, they’ve got to be built, we’ve got to get the economy moving.

“If you’re worried about that huge new housing development, sorry, that has got to be built. Are you prepared to make enemies to make the economy grow?”

But Starmer responded: “Yes, we’re going to have to be tough, we’re going to have to change the way things are done. I’ll give you one short example, I won’t take long, but it makes my point.

“I spoke to the CEO of an energy company saying, ‘How long would it take you to put a wind turbine farm up?’ He said, ‘I could do it in two years. You wouldn’t get any power out of it for 13 years because I’d lose five years to planning, and another six or seven years before the grid connected.’ We cannot go on like that.”

The Labour manifesto pledges to build 1.5 million new homes over the course of the next parliament while also protecting green belt zones in England.

READ MORE: ‘Labour manifesto shows a new centrism – with the state key to driving growth’

Other big commitments in the party’s policy platform include the creation of a publicly-owned Great British Energy, launching a new Border Security Command and recruiting 6,500 teachers.

Robinson also flagged the promise to recruit more teachers, challenging it as “quite a small first step” and claiming it would only represent one extra teacher for every three schools.

Starmer replied that it was listed “very clearly as a first step” and that the policy was aimed at finding teachers for specific subjects.

He added: “We don’t have enough maths teachers in our state secondary schools. So people watching this who’ve got children in state secondary schools will know that, you know, will be familiar with the supply teacher, the PE teacher, teaching maths.

“We have to fix that, and that’s what this 6,500 teachers is about. It’s a first step, it’s billed as a first step.”

Find out more through our wider  2024 Labour party manifesto coverage so far…


Manifesto launch: Highlights, reaction and analysis as it happened

Full manifesto costs breakdown – and how tax and borrowing fund it

The key manifesto policy priorities in brief

Manifesto NHS and health policies – at a glance

Manifesto housing policy – at a glance

Manifesto Palestine policy – at a glance

Manifesto immigration policies – at a glance


‘The manifesto’s not perfect, but at the launch you could feel change is coming’

 IPPR: ‘Labour’s manifesto is more ambitious than the Ming vase strategy suggests’

‘Victory will be short-lived unless Labour fixes broken services with proper funding and public ownership’

Socialist Health Association warns Labour under-funding risks NHS ‘decline’

 ‘The manifesto shows a new centrism, with the state key driving growth’

 Fabians: ‘This a substantial core offer, not the limit of Labour ambition’

 ‘No surprises, but fear not: Labour manifesto is the start, not the end’

 ‘What GB energy will do and why we desperately need it’

 ‘Labour’s health policies show a little-noticed radicalism’

 GMB calls manifesto ‘vision of hope’ but Unite says ‘not enough’

 IFS: Manifesto doesn’t raise enough cash to fund ‘genuine change’

 Watch as Starmer heckled by protestor with ‘youth deserve better’ banner


 Labour vows to protect green belt despite housebuilding drive

 Manifesto commits to Brexit and being ‘confident’ outside EU

 Labour to legislate on New Deal within 100 days – key policies breakdown 

 Labour to give 16-year-olds right to vote

 Starmer says ‘manifesto for wealth creation’ will kickstart growth


Read more of our 2024 general election coverage here.

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