Starmer quotes famous Kinnock put-down in attack on Tories’ ‘grotesque chaos’

The Labour has accused Prime Minister Liz Truss of clinging to power.

15 October 2022

Sir Keir Starmer referenced his own party’s history of factional infighting as he attacked the “grotesque chaos” of the Liz Truss Government.

After an extraordinary day in Westminster on Friday that saw Ms Truss ditch her friend and first choice as chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, as well as axing a significant chunk of her mini-budget, the Labour leader used a speech in Barnsley to accuse the Prime Minister of clinging to power.

Speaking to Yorkshire and the Humber Labour’s conference, he drew parallels with his party’s divisive decade in the 1980s – quoting Neil Kinnock’s famous 1985 attack on the left-wing Militant group in Liverpool.

Sir Keir, apparently comparing the current instability in Downing Street to the disarray that hit the Labour-run council of the 1980s, pointed to the “grotesque chaos of a Tory Prime Minister handing out redundancy notices to her own chancellor”.

Kinnock Conference 1985
Neil Kinnock used his 1985 Labour conference speech to attack the hard-left of the party (PA)

In one of the most memorable speeches in modern British political history, Mr Kinnock lambasted the hard left of his party.

In a set-piece conference speech, he said Militant’s dogma had only led to “the grotesque chaos of a Labour council hiring taxis to scuttle round a city handing out redundancy notices to its own workers”.

In Barnsley, Sir Keir was equally scathing about the self-inflicted crisis that has befallen the Government and accused the divided Conservative Party of lacking a mandate to stay in power.

“There are no historical precedents for what they have done to our economy,” he said. “Britain has faced financial crises before but the prime ministers and chancellors who wrestled with them all acted fast.

“When their policies ran against the rocks of reality, they took decisive action.

Jeremy Hunt
Jeremy Hunt was appointed Chancellor on Friday (PA)

“But this lot, they didn’t just tank the British economy, they also clung on as they made the pound sink. Clung on as they took our pensions to the brink of collapse.

“Clung on as they pushed the mortgages and bills of the British public through the roof.

“They did all of this – all the pain our country faces now is down to them.”

Labour is well ahead of the Tories in the polls and demanding a general election, after the mini-budget saw the pound plunge while interest rates – and therefore mortgage payments – rose.

Sir Keir added: “There is still one person clinging on. The Prime Minister.

Liz Truss
Prime Minister Liz Truss has rowed back on some of the mini-budget plans, and sacked Kwasi Kwarteng as chancellor (PA)

“No doubt we will hear plenty of laughable excuses in the coming days. After 12 years of stagnation, that’s all her party has left, but even they know she can’t fix the mess she has created.

“Deep down, her MPs know something else. They no longer have a mandate from the British people.”

But Sir Keir also had a sobering message for his own party as the Government attempts to rebuild credibility ahead of the next election with new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt.

“It won’t be easy,” he said. “I would love to stand here and say to you that Labour will fix everything. But the damage that they’ve done to our finances and public services means things are going to be really tough.

“We can’t take irresponsible risks with the country’s finances. We must be the party of sound money. You can’t build a fairer, greener Britain without first restoring economic stability.”

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