British opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer will on Monday support plans to spread power away from the political centre of Westminster, aiming to offer people more control over their lives and local politicians a greater say on transport, housing and jobs.
Starmer, whose centre-left Labour Party is leading the governing Conservative Party in opinion polls, is moving to outline his agenda to show voters how he might govern before an election widely expected to be held in 2024.
In response to the government’s effort to “level up” the country by tackling regional inequalities, Starmer will say this can only be achieved by delivering “the biggest ever transfer of power from Westminster to the British people”.
“People up and down this country are crying out for a new approach,” he will say, according to excerpts from his speech to be delivered at the unveiling of a report he commissioned entitled “A New Britain”.
“People know Britain needs change. But they are never going to get it from the Tories (Conservatives). I am determined that, with Labour, people will get the change they deserve.”
The report will present 40 recommendations including handing local communities new powers over skills, transport, planning and culture to drive growth, Labour said in a statement. This, the party says, will enable the emergence of hundreds of “clusters” of economic activity in cities and towns.
Starmer will say there would now be a consultation on the proposals.
Labour is holding a more than 20 point lead over the Conservatives in opinion polls, but Starmer’s approval ratings have fallen overall since August, and several in the party are calling on him to do more to set out his plans.
On Sunday, Conservative Party Chairman Nadhim Zahawi told Sky News his party was “in rebuilding mode now to make sure that we will be ready and fit for purpose … for a general election in 2024”, and questioned the robustness of Labour’s lead.
“Now, if you dig beneath the data, I’d be worried if I was Keir Starmer, because if you look at his numbers, it’s very soft.”