Election 2024

Starmer pledges to ‘repair our public services’ after historic victory

Incoming prime minister promises 'mission of national renewal to rebuild our country' after Labour landslide

Incoming prime minister promises 'mission of national renewal to rebuild our country' after Labour landslide

Sir Keir Starmer has pledged to “repair our public services” under a “mission of national renewal to start to rebuild our country” after Labour won a landslide victory in the general election this morning.

Bridget Phillipson is now set to become the next education secretary, with Gillian Keegan among the high-profile casualties in a dramatic night that saw the country turn red.

The Conservatives were on track to lost almost two thirds of the 344 seats they held before polling day.

The exit poll predicted they would have just 131 MPs after the election. Labour was due to win 410 seats.

‘Change begins now’

Speaking this morning, Sir Keir Starmer said: “We did it. Change begins now. A changed Labour party, ready to serve our country, ready to restore Britain to the service of working people.”

He vowed to “return politics to public service” and “show it can be a force for good”.

“We have the chance to repair our public services because we changed the party… I don’t promise you it will be easy.

“Changing a country is not like flicking a switch, it’s hard work, patient work, determined work. And we will have to get moving immediately.”

He talked of the “comfort” his parents took from believing that “Britain would always be better for their children… a hope that working class families like mine could build their families around.

“It is a hope that might not burn brightly at the moment, but we have earned the mandate to relight the fire. That is the purpose of this party and of this government.

“Today we start the next chapter. A mission of national renewal to start to rebuild our country.”

‘Hope and unity, not decline and division’

Speaking later on the steps of Downing Street after being appointed prime minister, Starmer said: “Brick by brick, we will rebuild the infrastructure of opportunity. The world class schools and colleges…The security that working class families like mine can build their lives around.

“Because if I asked you now whether you believe that Britain will be better for your children I know too many of you would say no. And so my government will fight every day until you believe again.”

Earlier in the night, Phillipson’s north east seat of Houghton and Sunderland South was the first to declare its results.

The shadow education secretary said that “after 14 years the British people have chosen change”.

“They have chosen Labour and they have chosen the leadership of Keir Starmer. Today our country, with its proud history, has chosen a brighter future. The British people have decided that they believe, as Labour believes, that our best days lie ahead of us.

“Hope and unity, not decline and division. Stability over chaos. A government powered by hope. By the belief that tomorrow could not just be different from today, but better. A government of service.”

Speaking after her loss in Chichester, Keegan said it was “not the outcome we wanted, but clearly, the people have spoken across the country”.

Other Conservatives who have served in the education that lost their seat include children’s minister David Johnston and former schools minister Jonathan Gullis.

Labour inherits an education system beset with problems. Schools are starved of funding, classrooms are crumbling, almost as many teachers leave as join the profession each year and councils face bankruptcy because of ballooning SEND costs.

The party will almost immediately have to make a decision on teacher pay, a choice kicked down the road by the Conservatives when they called the election.

A decision on how much funding schools will receive from next year will likely come as part of a spending review in the autumn.

Funding tops teachers’ priorities

Teacher Tapp poll respondents were asked which one topic they would pick to raise with a new education minister visiting their school next week.

Thirty-six per cent said school funding, 16 per cent said recruitment and retention, 15 per cent said SEND and 14 per cent said behaviour.

The new Labour administration will also take advice on education issues from a very different line-up of experts to their Conservative predecessors.

Sir Kevan Collins, the former head of the Education Endowment Foundation who quit as the Conservatives’ catch-up tsar after they failed to fund his £15 billion recovery package, is advising Phillipson on school standards.

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