Labour is to launch a “new deal for working people” this week, as Keir Starmer seeks to put creating more secure, better-paid jobs at the heart of his offer to voters.
The world of work is one of two areas, together with tackling crime, where Starmer’s team believe they have a distinctive offer and a strong line against Boris Johnson’s government.
His deputy, Angela Rayner, will launch the programme on a visit to a social enterprise on Monday, where she will say Labour wants to see jobs that are a “source of pride, security and dignity” and which pay a “proper wage that people can raise a family on”.
Starmer’s team has been cautious about announcing reams of new policy since he took over the party last spring, and even when they have done so, it has often been hard to get a hearing as the pandemic raged.
The party hopes to bring together policies already announced, including a minimum wage of at least £10 an hour, a guarantee of work or training for young people, and a buy-British approach, intended to use government procurement to support employment.
Announcing the programme, Starmer highlighted his background – his mother was a nurse, his father a toolmaker – and said a “new deal for working people” was necessary as the economy emerges from the Covid crisis.
“It often feels remote when politicians talk about this thing called the economy, but our economy is just the sum total of the work of the British people. If we create good work for everyone, we will all benefit. With Labour, we can make Britain the best place to work,” he said.
Rayner, Starmer and other shadow cabinet members are expected to announce new policies over the summer that fit into the theme of its new deal, in an effort to hammer home the fact that Labour is the party on the side of hard-working voters.
The phrase “new deal” was originally used by Franklin D Roosevelt in the US to describe policies used to boost the economy after the Great Depression, but politicians have frequently appropriated it since. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown offered a new deal to the young unemployed in 1997 that involved jobs or training.
Rayner secured the post of shadow secretary of state for the future of work in May’s reshuffle. Part of the agreement she made with the leader’s office at the time was that she would play a key role in developing party policy in this area.