Sir Keir Starmer calls on Labour to rediscover patriotism in first conference speech as leader

Sir Keir Starmer is to give a highly personal speech about his own background and opportunities as he calls on Labour to rediscover patriotism and pride.

In his first speech to a Labour conference as party leader, he will talk about the NHS caring for his sick mother and how he was the first in his family to go to university.

Sir Keir is speaking on the final day of Labour Connected, an online event with speeches by video link, which has replaced the traditional party conference because of coronavirus.

The Labour leader has now been forced to bring forward his speech from 11am to 9am so he can return to Westminster to respond to Boris Johnson‘s House of Commons statement on new lockdown measures.

On patriotism, distancing himself from his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn, Sir Keir will say: “I ask you: take another look at Labour. We’re under new leadership. We love this country as you do.

“This is the country I grew up in and it’s the country I will grow old in. And I want it to be the country I know it can be.

“That, in the end, is why I do this. To change lives for the better.”

Sir Keir, 58, who is the second of four children of Josephine, a nurse, and Rodney, a toolmaker, will stress the importance of family.

His mother suffered from Still’s disease, an incurable condition that causes painful swelling of joints and organs.

“My mum was very ill for a lot of her life,” Sir Keir told The Sunday Times at the weekend.

He went to Reigate Grammar School where he learned the violin, and later graduated with a law degree from Leeds University in 1985 and then did a postgraduate degree at St Edmund’s Hall, Oxford.

Sir Keir will be addressing Labour Connected from Doncaster, on what was to have been a visit to so-called “Red Wall” seats Labour lost to the Conservatives in the December 2019 election.

In a message to people who switched to the Tories, he will say: “Trust takes time. It starts with being a credible opposition. With taking the job seriously. That’s what we will do.

“So, to those people in Doncaster and Deeside, in Glasgow and Grimsby, in Stoke and in Stevenage to those who have turned away from Labour, I say this: we hear you.”

On his own vision, he will say: “My vision for Britain is simple: I want this to be the best country to grow up in and the best country to grow old in. A country in which we put family first.

“A country that embodies the values I hold dear. Decency, fairness, opportunity, compassion and security. Security for our nation, our families and all of our communities.

“I can see in my mind’s eye the country I want us to be. Properly funded universal public services. World-class education which unleashes everyone’s potential.

“A huge investment in skills and a plan, working hand-in-hand with businesses and trade unions, to create high quality jobs.

“An economy that doesn’t force people to move hundreds of miles from family and friends just to find a decent job.

“One that truly works for all regions and nations of this United Kingdom, with opportunity and security in every part of the country and at every stage of our lives.

“A country committed to a greener, cleaner and fairer society. Where every policy is judged not just by how much it costs today but by what it does for the planet tomorrow.

“A country which would be an active force for good in the world, once again admired and respected leading the world – and leading by example – in tackling the climate emergency.”

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He will also urge the prime minister: “Bring forward a national strategy to close the education gap.

“Enforce it through an independent body, such as the children’s commissioner, and make sure no family loses out because of the exams fiasco or delays in getting children into school.”

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