Starmer Talks Five ‘National Missions’ After Criticism of Balls | Keir Starmer

Keir Starmer defended his five “national missions” against criticism from former Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls that they were too vague and “non-retail” enough to win the next election.

Last week, the Labor leader defined the five themes that will form the foundations of the party’s next manifesto.

Speaking on Monday at a packed City of London venue full of business leaders including Deborah Meaden of Dragons’ Den, Starmer outlined one such mission: ensuring the highest sustained growth in the G7 until the end of Labour’s first term in government.

He promised that the growth labor model would raise living standards “across the country” as it would “fix the economy in such a way that it really helps people pay their bills”.

Starmer defended his missions after Balls, who lost his seat in Morley and Outwood in the 2015 general election, said that missions would not be remembered or “talked about by voters at the door”.

Speaking on Channel 4’s Andrew Neil programme, Balls said: “These are not labor pledges, they are the start of a process. The opposition has to fill the space, so there may be more speeches to come.

“I guess I didn’t think they were very retail yet. They would not be talked about by voters at the door. There’s a lot of work to be done to translate them into things that make sense, that speak to nurses, doctors and police. I was surprised that welfare was not a mission. Talking about the fastest growing economy within the G7, I’m not sure it makes a lot of sense to people.”

Starmer responded by talking about plans to launch a visa scheme to address the “decade-long” skills shortage.

“We will not be anti-business. We will not allow short-term problems to creep into the system in a way that further damages our economy. We want to fix the fundamentals.

“I’m still amazed at how many kids leave school without the skills they’re really going to need for the jobs they’re likely to have, the lives they’re likely to lead.

“I know we’ve had this problem for 10 years. But I don’t want to come up with ideas that fix immediate problems and don’t really fix the fundamentals because, in a way, that goes to the heart of what mission-led government is.”

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He added: “I know it’s not very retail, quite true. But if you want to fix your economy in a way that really helps people pay their bills and improve their living standards, you have to fix the fundamentals.”

The Labor leader went on to say that working on short-term solutions only serves to stifle policy as the Conservatives had hoped, “until we are at a crisis point before we put a band-aid on the problem. They’ll wait until the next problem and there goes another sticking plaster.

A document detailing the party’s plan to meet and measure its progress in its growth mission says a future Labor government “will create stronger links between our evidence-based, points-based immigration system and our skills bodies to ensure we have the skilled workforce it needs”.

Following the speech, Starmer and the parallel chancellor, Rachel Reeves, hosted a roundtable of business leaders, including Meaden and Professor Jagjit Chadha of the National Institute for Economic and Social Research.

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