Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has promised to lead a “moral crusade” to tackle inequality and open a “new chapter” in the UK’s history.
Starmer announced he would create a “British recovery bond” as Prime Minister to help pump billions of investment into rebuilding the country after the pandemic.
The MP made a keynote speech this morning after facing criticism over Labour’s poll ratings.
He turned his fire on Boris Johnson’s Tory Government, saying: “We’ve the worst death toll in Europe and the worst economic crisis of any major economy.
“Now, I’ve said a lot about the incompetence of the Government’s handling of the pandemic and I make no apology for that.
“They have been slow at every stage. They’ve ignored advice. They haven’t learnt from their mistakes.
“Yet a Government out of its depth is not even half the story.”
He said the Conservatives “simply don’t believe that it’s the role of government to tackle inequality or insecurity”.
Starmer added: “I fear that the Conservatives are incapable of seizing this moment. That what we will get on March 3 will be short-term and it won’t even be a fix.
“Successive Conservative prime ministers have used the rhetoric of change of ‘northern powerhouses’, ‘burning injustices’, ‘levelling up’.
“But all it ever adds up to is a few soundbites and the odd photo opportunity.”
Starmer has been accused of being light on policy, but he said: “If I were prime minister, I would introduce a new British recovery bond.
“This could raise billions to invest in local communities, jobs and businesses.
“It could help build the infrastructure of the future – investing in science, skills, technology and British manufacturing.
“It would also provide security for savers and give millions of people a proper stake in Britain’s future.”
He also said he would create a “new partnership” between Labour and businesses, announcing plans to offer 100,000 start-up loans if he comes to power.
In another section of the speech, Starmer said the wartime generation had been “let down in their time of need” during the pandemic.
Sir Keir said: “During the last year, my thoughts have returned time and again to the wartime generation.
“Those who suffered through the horrors of World War Two, who rebuilt Britain from the rubble of the Blitz, created the NHS and built millions of homes fit for heroes.
“I contrast that with how so many of them were let down in their time of need – exposed to Covid in underfunded care homes, unable to say goodbye to families and loved ones.
“How can the Prime Minister now look those families in the eye and say: ‘We did everything we could?’”
Mike Cherry, Federation of Small Business (FSB) National Chair, said: “The past twelve months have been incredibly difficult for all small firms right across the country as well as the wider economy, which is why it’s especially welcome to see the Leader of the Opposition’s pro-enterprise proposals to help people start their own businesses.
“Small firms are the backbone of the country and without vital support for them including key help for entrepreneurs we won’t be able to get the country’s economic engine roaring once more.”