‘We’re under new leadership’, Sir Keir Starmer tells voters who abandoned Labour

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Romilly Weeks

Sir Keir Starmer has urged dissatisfied voters who turned their back on Labour at last year’s general election to vote for the party again, telling the electorate: “We’re under new leadership.”

In his first set-piece speech since taking over from Jeremy Corbyn, Sir Keir said Labour will “put family first” as he declared his patriotism for the UK.

Labour had been losing support in traditional heartlands over successive elections, but December’s vote saw swathes of seats fall to Boris Johnson’s Conservatives.

Appealing directly to voters, Sir Keir said: “I ask you: take another look at Labour. We’re under new leadership. We love this country as you do.”

Some voters questioned whether Mr Corbyn was patriotic, but Sir Keir stressed his own values in an attempt to restore support for the party.

“My vision for Britain is simple: I want this to be the best country to grow up in and the best country to grow old in. A country in which we put family first,” the Labour leader told members at the conference being held online because of coronavirus.

“A country that embodies the values I hold dear. Decency, fairness, opportunity, compassion and security. Security for our nation, our families and all of our communities.”

That vision will include “properly-funded public services” and a “world-class education which unleashes everyone’s potential”.

Sir Keir, having been warned by the party’s left not to stray too far to the right in trying to win support, said the way forward was “working hand-in-hand with businesses and trade unions” to create high-quality jobs.

The current Labour leader paid tribute to former leader Tony Blair in his speech, describing him as a "winner" after Mr Blair's electoral success was often marginalised under Corbyn's stewardship.

And he will said that the nation should be committed to “a greener, cleaner and fairer society”, in which policies are judged by what they do “for the planet tomorrow”.

After the prime minister came under widespread criticism for threatening to break international law over Brexit, Sir Keir pledged to ensure the UK is “once again admired and respected”.

Sir Keir said the nation should lead by example in tackling the climate crisis while being “an active force for good in the world”.

Mr Corbyn was expected to make his first major public appearance on Monday evening when addressing an online rally of the Socialist Campaign Group.

“My vision for Britain is simple: I want this to be the best country to grow up in and the best country to grow old in.

Sir Keir Starmer

His ally, the Unite general secretary Len McCluskey, is among those to have warned Sir Keir that he could “steer the ship on to the rocks” if he tried to ignore the Labour left.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer arrives with former MP Ruth Smeeth to deliver his speech Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Sir Keir also called on Boris Johnson to bring forward a national strategy enforced by an independent body “to close the education gap” as he pressures the prime minister over the exams fiasco and delays in getting children back to school during the pandemic.

Amanda Milling, co-chair of the Conservative Party, responded: “If you take another look at Labour, the leadership may be new, but the attitudes to Brexit, immigration and the economy remain the same.

“For all his platitudes, the reality is that Sir Keir refuses to take a position on the most important issues facing our country, always preferring to carp from the sidelines.”

Watch: Sir Keir's full address at Labour's online party conference