The Spectator

Full text: Keir Starmer’s conference speech

I’m delighted that we’re here in Doncaster. My wife’s mum was born and grew up here – just next to the racecourse. We’re regulars here. Visiting family friends but also to go to the Ledger. Though of course sadly not this year.

I’m also told that this is the first Labour leaders’ speech in Yorkshire since Harold Wilson in 1967. The circumstances were a bit different then.

For one thing, Wilson was able to update conference about Labour’s achievements after three years in government. So I look forward to coming back one day in the same circumstances that brought Wilson here!

I want to say a heartfelt thanks to the Labour party staff and volunteers who have moved a virtual heaven and earth this week. To all the speakers, the panellists and the thousands of members who’ve taken part.

I also want to say thank you to the Labour party members, supporters and affiliates for putting your faith in me to be your new Leader.

When you grow up in a small town in Surrey, you rarely thank your parents for naming you “Keir”. And when, as a teenager, I became the fourth member of the East Surrey Young Socialists, it didn’t seem likely that one day I would stand before you as the second Keir to be Labour leader. But I am, and it’s the honour of my lifetime to lead this great movement.

These are extraordinary circumstances. The warnings yesterday from the government’s advisors were stark. They can’t be ignored.

Labour will act in the national interest. We will be a constructive opposition. We will support whatever reasonable steps are necessary to save lives and protect our NHS.

But I also want to say this: There should be nothing inevitable about a second lockdown.

It would be a sign of government failure, not an act of God.

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