On the occasion of the launch of Labour’s Comprehensive plans for constitutional changeKeir Starmer was asked a question that has been troubling some of his own shadow cabinet for months: “After 12 years out of power, is that really the first thing you’re going to be handed?”
Labor The leader, despite some briefings over the weekend that tried to tone down parts of the 155-page report, was clear that if he ends up in office after the next election, there will be no time for delay. Will not done.
“Yes,” she replied. “But I don’t see it as giving power away. I see it as returning power back to where it should be.”
Evidence shows that the closer the public is to the authority, the more it trusts it. If Starmer is, as he claims, concerned about restoring faith in Britain’s broken politics, then promoting the UK’s nations and territories is one way of doing that. More people trust their local council, after all, than they do the Westminster government.
Yet, after a decade of austerity in which local councils have been on the front lines of service cuts, there are deep doubts about the central government’s intention to decentralize power. If they come without the means to pay for them, people ask, what’s the point?
Labour’s report, titled A New Britain, suggests giving communities new powers over skills, transport, energy, housing and planning to spur growth. We’ve, clearly, heard this one before. But Labor is also suggesting that local authorities get new financial powers to raise revenue, which could be a gamechanger.
The most attractive of 40 proposals put together by a commission headed by Gordon Brown destroy the house of lords, replacing it with an elected chamber. Previous attempts at reform, from New Labor to coalition government, have bogged down the legislative agenda and ultimately weakened or been abandoned.
But Brown has spent the past few months telling Labor MPs they will have to be bold if they come to power, reminding them that as Labor chancellor in 1997 he granted independence to the Bank of England After only four days.
Starmer has indicated that reform will happen in the first term, even though some in his own team are reluctant to spend political capital on an issue that is not at the top of the political agenda – or, when you look at the economy, immigration, the NHS and Other more pressing concerns, maybe even in the top 10.
Yet Labor pursuing a degree of Lords reform has its advantages: it looks radical, without costing the country’s strained finances anything; And it seems that Starmer is cleaning up a system that has been abused by the Tories, with respect to Boris Johnson’s resignation still to be published, and that few are willing to defend.
Then there’s Scotland. Brown lists a number of ideas to strengthen a future Labor government’s devolution proposal – which the party hopes can persuade enough Scottish voters that Britain can work for them, and that another future is available. Beyond the bitter and binary debate around freedom versus the status quo.
There will – crucially – be a consultation on increased borrowing powers for Holyrood. The SNP has long argued that its ability to fully use the levers of power is hampered by fiscal constraints. Scotland is included in international arrangements such as Erasmus plana reflection of the fact that it voted to remain within the European Union.
The straightest route is to win the back seat in Scotland labor majority – a mammoth task despite some perceptions going on in Westminster. This section of the report, and how it is received north of the border, could be crucial to Starmer’s hopes of making it into Downing Street.
He will now go over and review the report, which bits will be in the manifesto and which bits will be removed as too complex or contentious for a new Labor government that will inevitably have many other pressing issues in its tray.
But at the Leeds launch, Starmer dismissed questions about whether it had been out of touch to discuss wider constitutional and devolution issues, instead focusing on immediate crises, saying it was a “sticking plaster” approach. Politics was cursed for a very long time.
“Whenever a politician sets out to answer the underlying issue, the medium and long term, every journalist says: ‘But I want an answer to what’s going to happen in the next few weeks,’ and on we go,” he said. Told. “We’ve been doing this for 12 years. It’s one of the reasons we’ve gotten nowhere.