Keir Starmer « risks being outflanked by the Tories », left-wingers in the Labour Party have warned – as the governing party accused him of poaching their policies.
Reacting to a major policy speech by the Labour leader on Thursday, campaign group Momentum said his new proposals lacked substance and ambition and were vulnerable to a Tory counter-attack.
Sir Keir had pledged to give start-up loans to over 100,000 new businesses across the country, and announced he would create « British Recovery Bond » modelled on NS&I bonds.
The Labour leader billed his approach as inspired by the same spirit as the 1945 Labour government, which built the welfare state, oversaw decolonisation, and nationalised swathes of industry.
But Momentum co-chair Andrew Scattergood suggested the policies unveiled so far would not match this.
“Opposing austerity and supporting investment is a good start, but it’s nowhere near enough. The pandemic demands a program that can deliver transformative change for working people, » he said.
« Rishi Sunak is not George Osborne, and if he decides to invest in the economy and the NHS, Labour risks being outflanked by the Tories.
“Today’s speech showed no ambition and little substance. We can’t win in 2024 by promising to be better managers of the same system. »
Mr Scattergood said Sir Keir should have announced policies like « a Green New Deal based on an expansion of public ownership that would fundamentally and irreversibly alter the balance of wealth and power in Britain ».
Conservatives seized on the similarities between Labour’s plans and their own. Jake Berry, the MP for Rossendale and Darwen who chairs the party’s Northern Research Group, said the recovery bond plan was similar to another pushed by his own organisation earlier this week.
« Labour criticised the Northern research Groups ‘Big Bang’ report on Monday – now the ‘recovery bond’ we brought forward is the centre piece of their economic plan, » he said.
Tory MP Amanda Milling, co-chair of the Conservative party, said: “Keir Starmer said this speech would deliver his big vision for the future of the country, a ‘policy blitz’ with ideas to rival Beveridge and relaunch his failing leadership.
« But there are only two new policies – one taken from the Conservatives and the other from the CPS, the think tank co-founded by Margaret Thatcher.
“After ten months of Keir Starmer all Labour has to offer is others’ ideas, empty rhetoric and calling for things the Government is already doing. »
Speaking on Thursday, Sir Keir he believed there was « a mood in the air which we don’t detect often in Britain ».
« It was there in 1945, after the sacrifice of war, and it’s there again now, » he said
« It’s the determination that our collective sacrifice must lead to a better future. »
Other than announcing the two new policies, he also used to speech to reiterate calls for the government to hold off cutting Universal Credit benefits and to extend tax cuts for the hostapltly sector.
And he said the furlough scheme should be extended « so it’s better able to help people back into work », while council tax should be frozen.
« This is no time for a second wave of austerity, » he said.
« And this is no time for tax rises on businesses and families either. That would waste the sacrifices of the last year and it would choke off our recovery. »