‘Preying on hopes of working people’: Keir Starmer launches Labour local election campaign in West Midlands

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Labour Party Leader Keir Starmer and Deputy Leader Angela Rayner are visiting the West Midlands to launch the party’s local election campaign

Keir Starmer, Leader of the Labour Party and Angela Rayner, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, are set to launch the party’s local election campaign in the West Midlands 

BirminghamWorld has been informed that Starmer will accuse the Tories of “preying on the hopes” of working people by failing them on delivering flagship “levelling-up” policy promised four years ago by Boris Johnson this morning (Thursday, March 28). 

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While no date for a General Election has yet been set, the Labour leader is expected to say the biggest tragedy of the past 14 years has been the destruction of hope – the idea that nothing can change. The West Midlands is a key Conservative-Labour battle ground and the local council elections in the Black Country will be a major test of public opinion.

Labour will want to win all the seats the party possibly can to have a fighting chance of seeing Sir Keir Starmer move into No 10. The votes will be shaped by local issues but national influences are never far away.

Starmer will say his Labour Party doesn’t promise easy answers but knows change can and will come: “I know some of you may have heard this kind of thing before. Four years ago, the former Prime Minister gave his big ‘levelling-up’ speech, a project he said would turn the tide on regional inequality in this country. 

 “People say to me the worst thing you can do in politics is prey on peoples’ fear. Yet in some ways, preying on their hopes is just as bad. That’s what the Tories did with levelling-up. It is a good ambition for Britain. But it requires, not just a new plan, also a fundamental shift in how we govern.”

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What local elections are taking place in Birmingham and the West Midlands in 2024?

The speech comes five weeks before The West Midlands Mayoral elections and Police and Crime Commissioners elections in Birmingham on Thursday, May 2. Incumbent Mayor Andy Street is standing against Labour's Richard Parker, the Liberal Democrat's Sunny Virk, the Green Party's Siobhan Harper-Nunes and Elaine Williams for Reform UK.

There are no full council elections in Birmingham this year - they are now held every four years, with the next one being due in 2026. However due to the resignation of Councillor Brigid Jones, there is now a vacancy in the Bournbrook and Selly Park ward. A by election to fill this vacancy is also being held on Thursday, May 2. 

In addition, there will be local elections across the Black Country and parts of Staffordshire. A third of seats will be up for grabs at three Black Country authorities, while every position will be contested at Dudley and Cannock Chase Councils. 

Labour Party leader Sir Keir StarmerLabour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer | Getty Images

When is the General Election due to take place?

In a direct pitch to voters up and down the country, Starmer will slam a Prime Minister too afraid to call a general election: “I was hoping we’d be launching a different election campaign here today. But unfortunately the Prime Minister has bottled it.  

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“He wants one last, drawn out summer, with his beloved helicopter. And so, we’re going to have to use these local elections to send him another message and show his party – once again - that their time is up. The dithering must stop, the date must be set, because Britain wants change, and it’s time for change with Labour.”

Starmer and Rayner will launch the party’s campaign document which includes new detail on how Labour will unlock the true power of the regions. Starmer is expected to say: “As well as deploying the full power of the government to deliver security for working people, we give power away and put communities in control. 

“A new Take Back Control Act that sets a presumption towards devolution, and new powers for mayors over transport, skills, energy, and planning, so they can rejuvenate our high streets and generate growth for every town and city – a full fat approach to devolution.

“The argument is simple. Democratic decisions are better made by local people with skin in the game. And devolution is absolutely essential for taking on regional inequality and unlocking that pride.

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“It wasn’t some central planner that built the old Round Oak Steel Factory. It wasn’t a big politician that made Stourbridge famous for glass production. No, that sort of pride is not in the gift of politicians. It’s built up over the decades by the people, the businesses, and the workers of a community.”

Promise of a ‘changed Labour Party’

Reflecting on his own upbringing and family politics, the Labour leader will assure the British people that his changed Labour Party is in the service of working people and understands the rich contribution of communities up and down the country: “We in the Labour Party understand what towns and cities have been through over the decades. It’s our history, our communities, and in many cases, the story which has shaped our families. 

“The ‘chest-out’ pride that grows when you are certain that your contribution is respected is still there. But over the years it’s become a little less sure of the ground beneath its feet, in need of a stronger foundation, and a government willing to see communities like this, not as a charity case or a political client but as a source of growth and dynamism ready to be unlocked.

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“My dad was a toolmaker and he always felt, particularly when this was playing out during the 1980s, that he was looked down upon and disrespected in certain circles. Equally, my sister is a care worker, so I will never accept that it’s only the work of the past which deserves our pride and respect. The working people of this country: the carers, the couriers, the drivers, the teachers, the warehouse workers, nurses and supermarket staff, my Labour Party stands for them.”

Starmer is expected to outline the choice facing millions of voters: continued decline after 14 years of Conservative rule, or national renewal with Labour: “Britain has an economy that hoards potential and a politics that hoards power. And it’s no coincidence or accident that this leaves us with more regional inequality than anywhere else in Europe. 

“So if we want to change our economy, we must also change our politics and put an end to politics that is done to communities, not with them. No more political hero complexes, no more fantasies, no more easy answers that require nobody – politicians or people – to lift a finger. 

“The Tory era of politics as performance art is coming to an end. But to get Britain out of this hole, we all need to roll up our sleeves, because national renewal is a partnership.

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“Here’s what voting Labour means this year. A plan that starts, as it must - with economic stability. Look at the Tories now, once again in desperation, committing to the madness of unfunded tax cuts. £46 billon to abolish national insurance, with no way of funding it other than risky borrowing or cutting your pension and our NHS. 

“It’s like they think Liz Truss never happened. And maybe for their bills, for their mortgage, for their cost of living – it didn’t. But beyond the walls of Westminster, working people have paid an enormous price.  

“On that rock of economic stability, we lay our new foundation. Five national missions. Five steps - to turn the page on Tory decline. Higher growth, with a reformed planning system; safer streets with 13,000 extra neighbourhood police officers; cheaper bills with GB energy; more opportunities for your children with expert teachers in every classroom; our NHS back on its feet with two million extra appointments every year.” 

Deputy Labour Party Leader Angela RaynerDeputy Labour Party Leader Angela Rayner
Deputy Labour Party Leader Angela Rayner | Getty Images

What will Deputy Leader Angela Rayner say about the local election manifesto?

BirminghamWorld has been told that Angela Rayner will blast Tory division which has led down working people, and will urge the voters in England to stop the chaos, division and decline and vote Labour on 2 May: “We have come to the Black Country today as a signal of the change we want to make. Because somewhere in the time since the furnaces closed and the towering chimneys were torn down, the ambitions of its people have been stolen by the greed of a certain type of politics.

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“Politics which centralises power, takes decisions away from the places and people that know best, and hoards the profits of growth at the centre, away from those who first created it. Today in Tory Britain, our regions and nations are more divided than ever. Living standards are stagnating, and the foundations of a good life are crumbling.

“We seek power so we can hand it back to the people. That is the Labour way. It belongs to them - not us. Because more of the same just isn’t good enough. Three-word slogans. Empty promises. Broken as quickly as they were made. Leaping from crisis to crisis. Driven by vested interest. Cronies, oligarchs and lobbyists who have had more say over the shape of last decade than working families have.

“Never again. We could now be months away from the reset of a nation. On 2 May, the country has a chance to send the Tories a clear message: put an end to the chaos and the failure visible in every community up and down the country. Sewage in our streams, crime on our streets, mortgages and rents sky-high. It is time for change on 2 May.”

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