Sir Keir Starmer has ruled out nationalizing the UK’s biggest energy companies, apparently watering down a leadership campaign commitment during a major Labor party departure under Jeremy Corbyn.
As a spiraling bill crisis looms, the current party leader has said he will take a “pragmatic” approach to “common property” if he becomes prime minister.
In an interview at the Labor Party conference in Brighton, Sir Keir also did not rule out raising income taxes if he formed a government as he laid out his principles for fairer taxation.
And he detailed plans to end England’s private schools charitable status to raise Â£ 1.7bn and invest money in public schools.
Sir Keir has put the party back on the middle lane after taking over from Mr Corbyn following the disastrous general election defeat to Boris Johnson.
A key ambition of his predecessor was a massive renationalization program, but Sir Keir rejected it despite a promise when he ran for leadership last year.
When asked if he would nationalize the Big Six energy companies, Sir Keir told the Andrew Marr Show on BBC One: “No”.
He was shown one of his 10 campaign pledges stating that “utilities should be in the hands of the public” and that he “would support common ownership of railways, mail, energy and the water “.
“I don’t see any nationalization there,” Sir Keir told Marr. âRegarding common property, I’m pragmatic about it. I don’t agree with the argument that we have to be ideological.
But he did not say what form common property would take if it were not for nationalization, and neither did his collaborators.
“I would be pragmatic about this, and where common ownership is profitable for the taxpayer and provides better services, then there should be common ownership,” added Sir Keir, giving the example of tracking and traceability. .
Sir Keir is likely to come under pressure from some unions not to go back on the nationalization vision.
A motion from Unite and the Communications Workers Union slated ahead of his comments urged him not to make “timid tweaks” and said there were clear arguments for “extension of ownership. public “after Covid.
Former shadow cabinet minister Richard Burgon, secretary of the Left Socialist Campaign MP group, said: âI actually think Keir’s 10 promises, the 10 promises he made to party members who Helped him become leader of much of the party, but more importantly they could unite the country, even more importantly they could be supported by the majority of the people of the country.
âBut it’s not a good idea to break your promises. “
Earlier this month, shadow secretary for shadow affairs Ed Miliband emphatically insisted Labor still supports a common property policy.
“I can tell you that we are in favor of common ownership, absolutely,” he told BBC Newsnight.
“Keir Starmer has said in his leadership campaign that he is in favor of public ownership in these areas, we have not changed that commitment.”
After criticizing the Conservative government’s national insurance hike as unfairly hitting workers, Sir Keir has not ruled out raising income taxes to boost public finances.
“We are looking at taxes, nothing is on the table, but we do not know what the state of the national finances will be as the elections approach,” he told Marr.
“What we don’t want to do – whether it’s income tax or any other type of tax, national insurance – is unfairly hitting working families, which made this government. “
Phantom Chancellor Rachel Reeves previously told The Sunday Times that she had “no plans” to raise income tax, adding: “I think people who derive their income from wealth should pay more. “
Sir Keir also alluded to a wealth tax to rebalance the fairness of the tax system.
“Look at the choice the government is making under its provision of its tax that it announced the other week, those who own a lot of properties as owners do not pay a dime more than their tenants do. active, âhe added.
Citing the gap between children from rich and poor families even more exposed by the coronavirus pandemic, Sir Keir presented a plan to increase the tax burden on private schools.
A Labor government would end the charitable status of England’s private schools, collecting around Â£ 1.6bn from VAT and Â£ 100m from corporate rates.
Sir Keir told Marr: âIt is a political choice to take this money and transfer it to our public schools so that the children and youth in our public schools have the best chance to come out of schools ready for life, ready for work. “