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Starmer warns Labour not to take election victory for granted

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Sir Keir Starmer has warned the Labour party not to take the result of Thursday’s general election for granted as he said there were still “millions” of undecided voters across the country.

With Labour 20 points ahead of the Conservatives in the opinion polls, the party is trying to avoid looking complacent on the eve of what could be a historic landslide victory after 14 years in opposition.

Speaking at a rally of activists and high-profile supporters on Saturday afternoon, the Labour leader said it was still possible for his party to wake up on Friday to yet another Conservative government if it were to “take our foot off the gas” and think victory was in the bag.

“This is the final furlong. This is the last push. The last mile, the hardest mile,” he told a crowd of hundreds of people — many in red T-shirts — at the Lindley Hall in Westminster.

Starmer wants to avoid the humbling experience of Neil Kinnock, Labour leader in 1992, who held a notoriously over-exuberant rally in Sheffield shortly before that year’s general election defeat.

Labour last won a general election in 2005 before enduring a string of losses in 2010, 2015, 2017 and 2019.

Starmer, standing onstage in his customary white shirt with the sleeves rolled up, critiqued the “doom loop” of Tory rule.

“British people want change but hope has been kicked out of so many voters. They need to be convinced that change is possible and most of all convinced to vote for it,” he said.

“Change doesn’t happen unless you vote for it. Nothing is decided, not a single vote has been won or lost, and each and every vote is out there . . . we must earn it.”

Labour revealed a number of celebrity backers at the event including pop superstar Sir Elton John as well as comedian Bill Bailey, who gave a warm-up talk. June Sarpong, a television presenter, was the compère.

“These last few days are critical,” Bailey said to enthusiastic applause. “It’s impossible to overstate the importance of these next few days.”

Messages were sent by video from figures including Deborah Meaden, entrepreneur and judge on the Dragons’ Den television programme, and actor Kit Harrington from Game of Thrones.

Sir Elton, who has been an intermittent Labour supporter in the past — and a critic of Brexit — said in a video message: “There is only one choice . . . let’s show the world what a creative, prosperous and forward thinking nation Britain is. Let’s get behind Labour to win on July the 4th.”

Elton John and David Furnish adress the Labour rally
Sir Elton John and David Furnish addressed the rally via video © REUTERS

Other attendees included shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner and London mayor Sadiq Khan.

Starmer thanked activists for giving up so much time to campaign for the party.

“We have one job: to make sure it’s a summer of change,” he said. “To restore hope, spirit, and belief in a better future so that we can take our country forward together.”

The Labour leader promised to revive the National Health Service, rebuild public infrastructure, revive ailing town centres and show leadership on the climate crisis.

He won his loudest applause for criticism of the Conservative party.

“Don’t forget what they have done, don’t forget Partygate, don’t forget the Covid contracts, don’t forget the lies, don’t forget the kickbacks,” he said. “Don’t forget . . . the scapegoating of minorities, the failure to invest, the trips to the bookies, the decimation of your public services.”

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