Starmer launches Labour’s pro-business, pro-worker manifesto with £8.6bn of new taxes

Sir Keir Starmer arrived at his manifesto launch with his jacket off and sleeves rolled up as he launched his vision to “turbo charge” Britain but revealed that he intends to raise £8.6billion in new taxes.

The increase in revenues will by the manifesto’s own admission give the UK its highest ever tax burden, even though Sir Keir claimed he did not want to increase taxes.

The Labour leader emphasised the change in his own party and the need for change from “Tory chaos” as he unveiled a programme for government which appeared to deliberately ape traditional Tory policies.

This was emphasised when he was confronted by a heckler early in his speech: “We gave up being a party of protest five years ago, we want to be a party of power.”

Sir Keir Starmer launches Labour manifesto (REUTERS)
Sir Keir Starmer launches Labour manifesto (REUTERS)

Labour’s manifesto featured pictures of Sir Keir 34 times in what has become a presidential style election campaign.

He arrived easily ahead in the polls by around 20 points ahead of Rishi Sunak’s Tories but still not persuading many undecided voters and disaffected Conservatives.

He has been besieged by claims he will put up taxes to pay for his plans and unable to deny that levies like council tax or capital gains tax will soar under his leadership.

And the manifesto fiinally dealt with questions around tax with a careful costings page at the end on how Labour policies would be paid for with £8.6billion of new taxes. This included £5.23billion closing non-dom loopholes and tackling tax avoidance, £1.51billion adding VAT to private school fees, £565million closing the carried interest rate loophole and £40million increasing stamp duty for non-UK residents buying properties in the UK.

Added to that is a £1.2billion windfall tax on energy companies.

Sir Keir was asked if this was a “captain caution manifesto” and pushed on his many U-turns in the past including on leftwing policies and supporting Jeremy Corbyn.

But Sir Keir insisted his manifesto is “a serious plan” and vowed to have a “pro-business, pro-worker” government which will be focussed on “wealth creation”.

The manifesto is based around his five missions and builds on the six “first steps” he put on to a pledge card for voters last month.

The launch took place at the Co-op headquarters in Manchester in a symbolic move that Labour can get business and worker friendly policy to work together. The history of the Cooperative Movement melding workers rights with business in a mutualisation model is one Labour wants to project on the country.

Sir Keir noted: “The Co-op is an organisation that, like us, believe that the pursuit of social justice and economic growth must go hand in hand.”

Starmer meets Nathan who spoke of his terminal cancer (Getty Images)
Starmer meets Nathan who spoke of his terminal cancer (Getty Images)

The Labour leader vowed that his government would “not pay fast and loose with the country’s finances” and promised it would be based on “sound money” as he again remindeed people of how Liz Truss’s mini budget had prevented people getting mortgages.

Directly taking on the tax questions, he insisted: “I do not think that it is fair to raise the taxes of working people in a cost of living crisis.”

Sir Keir said that not raising the major taxes - VAT, income tax and national insurance - “is a manifesto commitment.”

However, he avoided mention of the council tax and capital gains.

But there were also no new policies. When addressing the lack of “a rabbit out of the hat” Sir Keir made a joke about those wanting a political pantomime going to Clacton where Nigel Farage is standing.

This brought an angry response from Farage whose team have discovered his Labour Javon Owusu-Nepaul opponent five years ago said on social media that he liked to “drink the tears of white people” and is now standing in a constituency with 93 percent white British well ahead of the national average of 82 percent.

Mr Farage said: “If Starmer thinks that the race in Clacton is a pantomime, perhaps he should look no further than his own candidate.”

He added: “I’m shocked that this man is an official candidate for a Labour Party that says it has changed”

He was introduced by his deputy Angela Rayner who said that the manifesto “offered change”.

In another highly symbolic move, Iceland boss Richard Walker, a businessman who defected from the Tories to Labour last year, spoke ahead of Sir Keir arguing: “Only Labour can change this country’s trajectory from dismal economic performance.”

He added: “I like what I see in Labour’s plan to... run the most pro growth most business friendly Treasury our country has ever seen.”

He said that Labour’s plans can “turbo charge the country.”

Nathaniel, a music teacher with cancer, also took to the stage ahead of the Labour leader to emphaisise the need to reform the NHS adn failure of Rishi Sunak’s government to bring down waiting lists.

He described how instead of “inspiring young rockstars for decades to come” he will soon die of cancer because he was unable to get the treatment he needed in time.

The audience also heard from a father with two young daughtrs unable to get on the property ladder and Holly, an 18-year-old first time voter, as Labour moved to illustrate the breadth of people they hope to help.

Sir Keir insisted: “Growth is our main mission. Nothing can be achieved without growth.”

He added: “We are the party of wealth creation.”

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