Labour conference opens with national anthem and tribute to the Queen

There's a feeling in Labour that for the first time in many years, this is a party that can see a route to power, as Political Correspondent Romilly Weeks reports

A minute’s silence in memory of the Queen was observed at the start of the Labour conference in Liverpool, before members sang the national anthem, in a break with tradition.

Many people in the hall were seen joining Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and Deputy Leader Angela Rayner in singing God Save the King and applause was heard once it concluded.

Sir Keir had earlier paid tribute to the Queen, telling party members it “still feels impossible to imagine a Britain without her.”

He said: “Because our Queen’s devotion to Britain was underpinned by one crucial understanding – she knew that the country she came to symbolise is bigger than any one individual or institution.”

He added: “Conference, as we enter a new era, let’s commit to honouring the late Queen’s memory. Let’s turn up our collar up and face the storm, keep alive the spirit of public service she embodied and let it drive us towards a better future.

“For 70 years, Queen Elizabeth II stood as head of our country, but, in spirit, she stood amongst us.”

The Labour leader earlier on Sunday laid out his plans to tackle soaring energy bills.

ITV News reporter Romilly Weeks explains the key issues the Labour conference will be focusing on

Sir Keir announced plans to end dependence on fossil fuels, with all the country’s electricity generated by renewable and nuclear power by 2030.

Labour claims the plan would save UK households a total of £93 billion over the rest of the decade – or an average saving of £475 for each household every year.

Sir Keir also said he would reinstate the top income tax rate of 45% but supports the Government cutting the basic rate to 19p.

Asked if Labour would reintroduce the 45% rate, he told the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme “Yes.”

“I do not think that the choice to have tax cuts for those that are earning hundreds of thousands of pounds is the right choice when our economy is struggling the way it is, working people are struggling in the way they are… that is the wrong choice,” he said.

“I would reverse the decision that they made on Friday.”

But Sir Keir said he supports the Government cutting the basic rate of income tax to 19p.

“I’ve long made the argument that we should reduce the tax burden on working people. That’s why we opposed the national insurance increase earlier this year, which of course the Government is now reversing,” he said.

Speaking from the Labour Party conference, Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham echoed Sir Keir's comments on tax cuts and said they will do nothing to help "those who need it most".

Mr Burnham told ITV News: "They’ve borrowed to give away billions to people who are some of the wealthiest in this country...

"And the markets are showing that they don't have confidence in what the government is doing. They’re giving away money the country hasn’t got."

He accused the government of "throwing money out everywhere" and said a more "responsible strategy" would be to offer targeted support to struggling families.

"We need to help people who are really struggling with the cost of living crisis whose heads are in danger of slipping beneath the water," he continued.

"They should be getting all of the help right now and these tax cuts are doing it."

What are the key issues for the Labour conference?

The party is expected to focus on capitalising on the controversy over the Truss government's tax package, and to outline how it would reform the energy sector and drive down bills.

Other key issues for the party over the coming days include employment rights, strikes, and reforming the justice sector, as it reiterates its new slogan: "Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime."

The conference opened with a speech from Labour's deputy leader.Ms Rayner, who is shadow secretary of state for the future of work, said her party would “oversee the biggest wave of insourcing for a generation”.

She told the Labour conference: “The Tories have become too dependent on handing away our public services on the cheap, and now we are paying the price.

Sir Keir Starmer and shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper with Assistant Chief Constable Paul White in Liverpool. Credit: PA

“We will oversee the biggest wave of insourcing for a generation.

“Today I can announce that before any service is contracted out, public bodies must show that the work could not be better done in-house.”

On employment rights, Ms Rayner announced a “fair work standard”, adding: “It will underpin a new fair work code for the public sector, guaranteeing fair conditions, job security, wellbeing, proper training, rights at work, and union access.

“We will also create a fair work gold standard to champion the very best of employers, and a Labour government will be on the side of the self-employed too.

“We will give genuinely self-employed workers the right to a written contract and timely payment by law so they aren’t left out of pocket and chasing invoices.

Labour will hire an extra 13,000 police officers if it wins the next election, the shadow home secretary has said.

Yvette Cooper said a Labour government would recruit more police officers, PCSOs, and special constables in an effort to cut crime and restore confidence in the police.

She told a fringe event at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool that the party would also bring back the last Labour government’s focus on neighbourhood policing.

Recruiting an extra 20,000 police officers was a key part of the Conservatives’ election-winning manifesto in 2019, reversing cuts to police numbers since 2010.

But police and crime commissioners have claimed that they still do not have the numbers they did in 2010, while warning that some new officers would be doing jobs previously done by police staff, whose numbers have also fallen.

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