Keir Starmer's endless policy U-turns
As Wales faces a crucial Westminster election, we've gathered Labour leader Keir Starmer's seemingly endless policy U-turns in full.
Hold on tight...
1. Private schools
January 2023: Shadow Secretary of State Bridget Phillipson says that charitable status for private schools "should come to an end”.
September 2023: Labour ditches its pledge to end the charitable status of private schools.
2. Devolution of policing to Wales
2017: The Labour Party manifesto – which Starmer campaigned on - promises the devolution of policing to Wales.
2022: Carolyn Harris, deputy leader of Welsh Labour and a close Starmer ally, says “I wouldn’t be very enthusiastic to devolve policing.”
December 2022: In a major speech, Starmer pledges "the biggest ever transfer of power from Westminster to the British people.” The new report he launches only mentions the devolution of youth justice and probation, despite the Labour Welsh Government’s support for the devolution of justice and policing in full.
3. Two-child Benefit Cap
June 2023:Labour’s then Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary calls the policy “heinous” and pledges to repeal the policy.
July 2023: Starmer pledges to maintain the policy.
4. Tuition Fees
2020: Starmer pledges to scrap tuition fees in England.
2023: Starmer abandons the commitment.
2020: Starmer pledges to the Labour membership during his successful leadership campaign to commit to the “common ownership” of rail, mail, energy and water.
2021: Starmer rules out nationalising the Big Six energy firms.
July 2022: Rachel Reeves clarifies that Labour would not nationalise rail, water or energy.
September 2022: Louise Haigh partially U-turns on the U-turn and says Labour would nationalise rail.
6. Wealth tax
2021: Rachel Reeves criticised a plan by Rishi Sunak, then chancellor, for a £12bn hike in national insurance to fund the NHS and social care. She had previously said it would be better to tax “people who get their income through wealth”.
7. Raising income tax for the highest earners
2020: Keir Starmer’s top pledges included increasing income tax for the top 5% of earners.
2023: Keir Starmer backed away from the pledge, saying, “obviously, in principle, I want to lower taxes, so that’s the driving principle.”
2020: Starmer promises “An immigration system based on compassion and dignity.”
2022: Starmer says he will stick with the Tories' points based immigration system.
2023: Starmer says he has “no plans” to repeal the Government’s Illegal Migration Bill and will stick with the p
9. Freedom of Movement
2020: Starmer says “We have to make the case for freedom of movement.”
2022: Starmer rules out a return to freedom of movement, saying the policy is “a red line for me.”
10. House of Lords
2022: Starmer pledges to abolish the second chamber, to “restore trust in politics.”
2023: Reports reveal that Starmer plans to pack the chamber with dozens of new members if elected.
11. Trans Rights
June 2021: Starmer says “We’re committed to updating the GRA [Gender Recognition Act] to introduce self-declaration for trans people.”
April 2023: Starmer backs a review of the Equality Act by the Equality Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC), despite grave concerns from the trans community.
July 2023: Starmer opposes Scottish Labour and Welsh Labour’s support for gender recognition reform: “Yeah, we don't agree. We don't think that self identification is the right way forward.”
2020: Starmer pledges to pull down obstacles that limit opportunities and talent, as “the party of the Equal Pay Act, Sure Start, BAME representation and the abolition of Section 28.”
September 2023: Labour’s National Executive Council (NEC) approves proposals to scrap the duty for Constituency Labour Parties to have equalities officers on their executives.
13. Workers' Rights
2020: Starmer pledges to strengthen workers’ rights and trade unions.
2022: Starmer refuses to commit to repealing Conservative anti-strike laws, despite calling them “unworkable” and “grandstanding”.
July 2023: Starmer supports Sadiq Khan’s expansion of Ultra Low Emission Zones in London, saying “I accept that the mayor has no choice but to go ahead because of the legal obligation on him.”
August 2023: Reports suggest that Labour’s commitment to introduce clean air zones across the UK has been scored out from the party’s programme.
15. Green Prosperity Plan
2021: Rachel Reeves promises to become the first “green chancellor” and announces £28bn a year in climate measures to protect Britain from disaster.
June 2023: Plans to borrow £28bn a year to invest in green jobs and industry as the party’s leadership looks to review its spending in an attempt to prove its fiscal credibility.
16. No new oil and gas
May 2023: Starmer said that he plans to block all new North Sea oil and gas developments
September 2023: Starmer says that a Labour government at Westminster would honour the Tories’ decision to approve the Rosebank oil field.
17. Jeremy Corbyn
2020: Starmer pays tribute to his “friend” Mr Corbyn for energising the Labour movement and leading the party through difficult times.
2023: Starmer claims Corbyn was “never a friend.”
18. Levelling Up
May 2023: Starmer pledges that Labour will back 'builders not blockers' with planning rules shake-up.
August 2023: Starmer’s then Shadow Levelling Up Secretary pledges support for controversial amendments to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill (LURB), to “support effective measures that get Britain building”.
September 2023: Labour peers block the "deeply problematic" proposals.
19. Devolution of taxes to Wales
March 2023: Starmer announces that the next Labour government will return power over its economic destiny to Wales
February 2023: Plaid Cymru’s proposal for more tax devolution rejected by Welsh Labour.
20. The Iraq War
2003: Starmer writes an article for the Guardian criticising the Blair Government for the “unlawful use of force” in Iraq.
2020:Starmer sacks three shadow ministers for voting against a bill designed to stop soldiers from being prosecuted for torture and killings in Iraq and Afghanistan.