Protester covers Starmer in glitter during speech as Labour leader makes pitch to be next PM

Keir Starmer's speech was interrupted before it started by a protester who covered him in glitter on stage, ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston reports

Sir Keir Starmer was covered in glitter by a protester who stormed the stage moments before the Labour leader's keynote speech in which he pledged to give Britain "its future back".

The protestor, who has been identified as Yaz Ashmawi from the group, People Demand Democracy, shouted "true democracy is citizen led" and "politics need an update" as he ran onto the stage in Liverpool on Tuesday.

Security guards dragged the man off stage before he was taken to a police van outside the venue. Merseyside Police said a 28-year-old man from Surrey had been arrested.

The interruption happened moments after the Labour leader walked out to a packed hall filled with delegates, journalists and shadow frontbenchers, with the lyrics 'to be fearless like a lionheart' blaring from the speakers.

People Demand Democracy confirmed it was behind the disruption, writing on its website: "So, today Starmer’s speech was disrupted, and the disruption is planned to continue, targeting both Labour and the Conservative parties."

The group claims it is calling for electoral reform and has written to political leaders with no response, and will now be using "civil disobedience" as a means to get its message across.

"People Demand Democracy is a new group calling for an upgrade to the UK political system using civil disobedience to get their message across," a statement said.

"They are calling for a fair, proportional voting system for Westminster elections and a permanent, legally-binding national House of Citizens, selected by democratic lottery." Responding to what happened, Sir Keir said: "If he thinks that bothers me, he doesn't know me."

"Protest or power. That's why we changed our party conference. That's why we changed our party. Thank you," he added, as he was bolstered by applause in the conference hall.

A protestor was dragged off stage, screaming and shouting after he threw glitter over Labour leader Keir Starmer

Sir Keir's keynote speech went on to detail a host of proposals if Labour wins the general election, ranging from an overhaul of house-building to getting the NHS "off its knees".

Speaking to the audience, he pledged to prioritise working people and heal the "wounds" of 13 years of Westminster "chaos and crisis".

The "way back" from more than a decade of Tory rule would be hard, he warned, but he vowed that Labour would be the party to rebuild Britain.

"I have to warn you, our way back from this will be hard," Sir Keir said.

"But know this. What is broken can be repaired. What is ruined can be rebuilt. Wounds do heal.

“And ultimately that project – their project – will crash against the spirit of working people in this country. They are the source of my hope.”

Sir Keir said the tide is turning towards Labour - a party consistently maintaining a double-digit lead in the polls - while he stressed some voters still need convincing to back his party.

Some of the proposals outlined by Keir Starmer:

  • 1.5 million homes across five years

  • Roads, tunnels and power stations built 'quicker and cheaper'

  • Not destroying green space, but building on it when the use of it 'is ridiculous'

  • Abolishing the non-dom tax status to pump more money into the NHS

  • More operations, more appointments and more diagnostic tests to help cut waiting lists

  • Mental health treatment 'when you need it'

  • Safer streets with more police tackling anti-social behaviour

  • Higher economic growth - started by developing a National Wealth Fund

  • A new energy company to lower bills that will be based in Scotland

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Admitting that the "biggest challenge" in the NHS for a prospective Labour government would be cutting waiting lists, Sir Keir pledged to abolish the non-dom tax status and use the extra revenue to take the health service off "life support".

He said: "So we will invest that money in boosting capacity. We will get the NHS working round the clock. And we will pay staff properly to do it.

Promising more operations, more appointments and more diagnostic tests, Sir Keir said people could expect to be seen more quickly and also get mental health support when they need it.

Sir Keir also promised to “bulldoze” his way through restrictions to build a new Britain, with modern homes and businesses. The Labour leader said he would reshape the country with 1.5 million homes including new towns, modernised infrastructure and support for green industries. The "fire of change still burns in Britain", the party leader said, and it “lives on in Labour”.

But, Sir Keir warned, the "dangerous" Tories would "scorch the earth just to get at us", preparing audience members for a challenging road ahead of the general election, and an even more challenging future if he makes it into Number 10 Downing Street.

"If you think our job in 1997 was to rebuild a crumbling public realm, that in 1964 it was to modernise an economy left behind by the pace of technology, in 1945 to build a new Britain out of the trauma of collective sacrifice, then in 2024 it will have to be all three," he said.

Starmer had to continue his speech covered in glitter. Credit: PA

This year's annual party conferences are expected to be the last before a likely general election next year, with Labour arriving in Liverpool bolstered by electoral success in last week's Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election.

On Monday, Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves addressed a packed out conference hall in Liverpool and said a Labour government would "never allow" a repeat of the economic "devastation" caused by the Conservatives' mini budget last year.

Sir Keir's speech followed the same path, setting out plans to modernise Britain by reforming its “antiquated” planning system so new infrastructure gets built.

He said Labour would create “a Britain built to last. Where working people are respected, crime is prosecuted, ambulances come, the minimum wage is enforced, infrastructure gets built, children feel safe in their classroom, business and workers unite in partnership”. “No more bonuses for people pumping sewage into our rives. No more pensioners freezing while energy firms make record profits," he pledged. “No more government contracts awarded via the back door. No more cleaners mocked as they scrub mess off the walls of illegal parties in Westminster.” He concluded by saying Labour would serve British interests, grow every corner of the country and get Britain building again.

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