Saturday, July 22, 2023

Keir Starmer's speech to National Policy Forum: full text

Full text of Keir Starmer's speech to National Policy Forum, 22nd July 2023 (check against delivery)

"As we learn from Thursday's by election results, and prepare our policy platform for the next election, whenever it might be, we have to remember that our party has changed and our campaign has always been different.  

The reason we began this improbable journey after that awful defeat in December 2019 is because it's not just about what I will do as prime minister. It is about you, the people who love this country, the citizens of our great nation, accepting that we cannot change it.

We've been asked to pause for a reality check. We've been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope. And we know that false hope is worse than no hope at all. As your leader, I will never offer false hope of a better future.


For when we have faced impossible odds, when we've been told we're not ready or that we shouldn't try or that we can't, generations have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people: 

No, we can't. 
No, we won't. 
No, we shan't.

It was the creed unwritten and yet shaping the destiny of a nation: No, we can't.

It was whispered by slaves and abolitionists as they blazed a trail towards freedom through the darkest of nights: No, we can't.

It was sung by immigrants as they struck out from distant shores and pioneers who built an empire on which the sun never set: No, we can't.

It was the call of workers who organized, women who reached for the ballot, a miner from South Wales who believed healthcare should be free for all, and all those in our great movement who believe that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more together than alone: 

No, we can't, to justice and equality.
No, we can't, to opportunity and prosperity. 
No, we can't heal this nation. 
No, we can't repair this world. 
No, we can't.

And so, tomorrow, as we take the campaign across the country, as we learn that the struggles of the textile workers in Leicester are not so different than the plight of the car owner in Uxbridge, that the hopes of the little girl who goes to the crumbling school in Fife are the same as the dreams of the boy who learns on the streets of Liverpool, we will remember that we are not as divided as our politics suggest, that we are one people, we are one nation, and that we have to take the tough choices not to help any of these people until our fiscal rules are met.

And, together, we will begin the next great chapter in our island story, with three words that will ring from coast to coast, from sea to shining sea:

No. We. Can't." 


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