Labour Leader Keir Starmer (Image: PA)
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Keir Starmer has begun reshaping Labour's policy agenda as the party grapples with recapturing support in the 'red wall' and the prospect of a snap general election in 2023.
Speaking in Bristol on Thursday, the Labour leader vowed to create a united Britain post-Covid, saying the country had become “too divided” under the Conservatives.
The review indicated Labour would avoid so-called 'culture war' battles with Boris Johnson and instead focus on six key policy areas, including jobs, families, work-life balance and security.
It comes ahead of the crucial Batley and Spen by-election on July 1, and after a bruising set of elections in May which saw Labour lose the Hartlepool by-election to the Tories and embark on an awkward reshuffle of Starmer's top team.
While no new policies were announced, the project is aimed at building a flagship agenda and the Labour leader said the policy offer would "harness" the spirit of the British public’s response to the coronavirus crisis.
(Image: Darren Cool)
“When the pandemic hit Britain was too divided," he said.
“We were too fractured as a country after a decade of the Conservatives. That meant we weren’t as well prepared as we could have been, so the pandemic hit us harder.
“But the way the British people responded showed we can achieve incredible things when we come together: looking after our neighbours and communities, getting behind key workers, supporting local businesses, volunteering to help our NHS and supporting the vaccine effort.
“Labour wants to harness that spirit to start building a better future for everyone in Britain.”
Speculation is mounting that the Prime Minister is preparing to call an early general election.
The review is being led by party chair Anneliese Dodds, who was moved from the role of shadow chancellor last month.
She said the pandemic "showed the very best of Britain".
"It proved that we’re stronger together," she said. “That belief is at the heart of everything Labour does – and it’s central to the exciting, hopeful vision for Britain under a Labour government that this roadmap will begin to set out.”
The lack of policy announced will frustrate left-wing groups such as Momentum, however.
Many activists and MPs on the left have been pushing Starmer to stick to ten pledges set out during his bid for the Labour leadership, which include strong positions on tax avoidance and public ownership.
One Labour left source told the Mirror: "After the biggest crisis in decades, we need to be a lot bolder than this.
"We should be offering the change that the country is crying out for with policies that tackle the deep inequalities, poverty pay and underfunded public services that scar our communities."