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British politics

Starmer is more radical than you think

Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty

For the first two years of his leadership, Keir Starmer seemed “policy-phobic”, says Michael Jacobs in The Guardian. Labour’s strategy was “almost entirely” centred on presenting him as “neither Boris Johnson nor Jeremy Corbyn”, with little insight into his own plans. But in recent months, Starmer has adopted a slate of policies “considerably more radical” than many imagined. Just look at his economic stance. For all his talk of “fiscal discipline”, he has pledged to spend £28bn a year on climate action this decade – more than Corbyn promised – and to establish a huge state-owned energy company to drive a decade-long, £60bn efficiency programme to fix Britain’s leaky homes.

Then there are the plans for sweeping tax reforms: equalising the tax rates paid on capital gains and dividends with those paid on wages; charging national insurance on investment income; and abolishing non-dom status. Starmer has also promised to ban zero-hours contracts, raise the minimum wage in line with the living wage, and work with trade unions to set a floor for salaries in key public sectors. The idea that he’s “opposed to nationalisation” is bogus: he has promised to take rail operators “back into public ownership when their franchises expire”. These policies are “well to the left” of anything New Labour did, and closely resemble the “economic prospectus” set out in Corbyn’s 2017 manifesto. “Don’t be fooled by Starmer’s conservative persona.” His government will likely be “more radical than you think”.

😶‍🌫️🤫 Successful opposition leaders always play down their radicalism, says Daniel Finkelstein in The Times. Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair kept schtum about major reforms, knowing that once victory is secured, voters are more willing to “let you finish what you have started”. It’s highly likely that, upon being elected, Starmer would similarly “return to something closer to his natural instinct”, and govern to the left of every British leader “since he was in his twenties”.