Keir Starmer scraps pledge to end NHS private sector outsourcing

Starmer's pledges
Andrew Marr lists Sir Keir Starmer's pledges before becoming Labour leader, testing whether he stands by them now.

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What’s the point of Labour…

Sir Keir Starmer has dropped a policy pledge to end private sector outsourcing in the NHS, disappointing some Labour supporters.

In an interview on Thursday night the opposition leader was asked whether he stood by a leadership campaign commitment to end private sector involvement in the health service.

He replied: “Well look, there is some private provision in the NHS and we’re likely to have to continue with that.”

The statement is the latest campaign promise to be repudiating by Starmer following U-turns on tuition fees, free movement, and public ownership.

They were promises not meant to be kept but tactics for powers sake…the only thing he’s now promising is the delivery of his promises broken in full

Responding to a question from LBC presenter Andrew Marr, Starmer added: “I’m not going to resile from my belief in the NHS as a public health provider. My wife worked for the NHS, my mum worked for the NHS, my sister worked in the NHS, it runs through our blood.”

Marr replied: “That was a very specific pledge, however, which has now gone.”

Labour left-wingers said members had “gotten used to Keir Starmer breaking his word” and offering them “reheated Blairism”.

It comes after Starmer’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting in January this year said a Labour government would make more use of private providers – apparently contradicting the leader’s earlier promise.

The policy is a reversal from that of previous leaders Ed Miliband and Jeremy Corbyn, who promised to protect the NHS from privatisation.

Sir Keir Starmer made 10 pledges to Labour members laying out his policy platform during the 2019 leadership contest.

The pledge on common ownership said that “public services should be in public hands, not making profits for shareholders,” elaborating that he would “end outsourcing in our NHS” among other services.

A number of the 10 pledges have been explicitly repudiated as the opposition leader tacks to the right, including on tuition fees, nationalising utilities, and taxation.

In his LBC interview Sir Keir appeared to suggest that he believed breaking the pledges could help him become prime minister.

Full interview below…

“I would say this, just about those pledges. We went through the hustings that all the Tory candidates are going through now,” he said.

“Everybody at every hustings had a closing speech and my closing speech was the same every single time: if we don’t win all the things that all the candidates are saying will never come to pass.

“So I made it clear that anyone voting for me as leader of the Labour Party would have somebody who is laser-like focused on winning an election. That was my pitch to our Labour Party members.”

The Labour leader also ditched the previous Labour manifestoes, stating in June:

“We’re starting from scratch. The slate is wiped clean.” During the leadership campaign he said the 2017 manifesto should be “our foundational document”.

A spokesperson for the left-wing campaign group Momentum said: “Labour members have gotten used to Keir Starmer breaking his word – we were promised unity, integrity and radicalism, and given factionalism, deception and reheated Blairism instead.

“But Keir’s acceptance of private provision in the NHS, coming soon after Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting said the same, is particularly disturbing.

“It was a radical Labour government who established the NHS as a lasting and cherished public good – but creeping privatisation is designed to undermine this achievement, and transition to a US-style, profiteering Wild West health system. This agenda is highly unpopular and deeply damaging – there can be no justification for Labour adopting it.”

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