Keir Starmer praises Margaret Thatcher for bringing ‘meaningful change’ to UK
Labour leader says former PM ‘set loose our natural entrepreneurialism’ in appeal to Tory voters to back him
Keir Starmer has praised Margaret Thatcher for effecting “meaningful change” in Britain in an article directly appealing to Conservative voters to switch to Labour.
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, the Labour leader said Thatcher had “set loose our natural entrepreneurialism” during her time as prime minister.
“Across Britain, there are people who feel disillusioned, frustrated, angry, worried. Many of them have always voted Conservative but feel that their party has left them,” he said. “I understand that. I saw that with my own party and acted to fix it. But I also understand that many will still be uncertain about Labour. I ask them to take a look at us again.”
In the article, Starmer pointed to Labour prime ministers of the past – Tony Blair and Clement Attleee – as well as Thatcher, as examples of how politicians can effect meaningful change.
Starmer said it was “in this sense of public service” that he had overseen a dramatic change in the Labour party – cutting its ties with former leader Jeremy Corbyn and expelling him from the party.
“The course of shock therapy we gave our party had one purpose: to ensure that we were once again rooted in the priorities, the concerns and the dreams of ordinary British people. To put country before party,” he said.
Starmer claimed his party was “moving back towards voters” while “the Tory party has been steadily drifting away”.
His praise of Thatcher – a divisive figure in British politics – is likely to raise eyebrows on the left of the Labour party.
Elsewhere in the article, Starmer criticised the government’s handling of Brexit, arguing it had wasted economic opportunities made possible by the split from the EU.
“They have squandered economic opportunities and failed to realise the possibilities of Brexit. They will bequeath public finances more akin to a minefield than a solid foundation,” he wrote.
The same day he removed his "ten pledges", every one of which he broke, from the Labour Party website: