Yesterday Keir Starmer set out the five ‘missions’ which will form the “backbone of the manifesto and the pillars of the next Labour government”, in the first of many pre-general election speeches to come over the course of the next year.
With Labour maintaining a commanding lead in the polls, and the Conservative government in constant crisis mode, the Labour leadership’s main concern is not to do anything to upset that trajectory.
However, it’s not the first time Starmer has tried to “reset” Labour’s vision and there is still work to be done by him and his top team to fully rehabilitate the Party’s image before voters go to the polls. Starmer needs to prove that he – and his Party – can take up the mantel of Government and deliver significant reform in a short time frame.
Importantly though, for the first time in a long time for a Labour leader, the national media treated the speech as a significant political event, giving it the live broadcast, rolling news coverage and instant analysis that is usually reserved for a Prime Minister’s speech.
Bearing all this in mind, this was, understandably, a carefully crafted (and clearly heavily focus grouped) speech, designed to reassure the public that Labour has the ideas and clarity of purpose to address the challenges facing Britain and the long-term vision that has been found lacking from the Conservative benches.
Drawing heavily from management theories used commonly in the business community, Starmer was setting out his goals – painting a picture of what success would look like by the end of his government’s first term in office:
For businesses and investors there was the strongest possible message that a Starmer led government’s approach to the economy would be neither “state control” nor “pure free markets” with Starmer stating that “I’m not concerned about whether investment or expertise comes from the public or private sector – I just want to get the job done.”
With the foundations set, the window for influence is open. Work is clearly well underway to put more meat on the bones of these missions, with measurement criteria and granular detail to follow as we get closer to a likely Autumn 2024 general election, with Starmer due to speak on Monday to set out his thinking on the economic mission.
For businesses looking to future proof and inform policy in the long term, these missions provide a framework for engagement at a critical time for the Labour Party.