Starmer: I’m ready to break pledges to make Labour electable

Keir Starmer has said he is willing to tear up the promises he made during the Labour leadership election if it is needed to make the party electable.

In comments which will infuriate Labour’s left wing, Starmer said that his “most important pledge” was to make the party fit for government.

During the contest to replace Jeremy Corbyn, Sir Keir issued a list of 10 pledges to continue with key elements of his predecessor’s policy platform, including common ownership for industries like energy, rail and mail.

The move won him the support of large swathes of the Labour left, but many have since accused him of breaching his promises.

There was fury at Labour’s annual conference in Brighton this week when he said he would not nationalise the big six energy firms.

Speaking to BBC News, Sir Keir made clear that he is ready to break with the promises made in early 2020 if he feels they are standing in the way of election victory.

“I stand by the principles and the values behind the pledges I made to our members, but the most important pledge I made was that I would turn it into a party that would be fit for government, capable of winning a general election, I’m not going to be deflected from that.”

Asked what is most important to him, unity within the party or winning, Sir Keir said: “Winning. Winning a general election.

“I didn’t come into politics to vote, over and over again in Parliament and lose, and then tweet about it. I came into politics, to go into government to change millions of lives for the better.”

Sir Keir denied that he had broken his pledge by ruling out energy nationalisation.

“I didn’t make a commitment to nationalisation,” he said. “I never made a commitment to nationalisation, I made a commitment to common ownership.

“They are worlds apart, but the central thing is that those commitments I made, those pledges are made of values that I hold dear.

“The world has changed since they were made. But now the question is, how do we apply them in the reflective circumstance we might go into election.”

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