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Rachel Reeves makes audacious political land grab after months of Tory own goals | Politics News

Rachel Reeves wore a dark blue power suit, spoke of iron fiscal discipline and was introduced and endorsed by former Chancellor George Osborne’s pick for Bank of England governor, Mark Carney. 

She told her audience that only Labour could be trusted on the economy and asked voters if they wanted to risk another five years of chaos with the Conservative Party.

If the imaging and messaging sounded familiar, that’s because it was: undertones of Thatcher and fiscal discipline overlaid with Tory attack lines on past Labour leaders.

For all the talk of being cautious with the public finances, this was radical, bold, audacious even: Rachel Reeves delivering a speech to a Labour conference that could have been read out by a Tory chancellor.

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It is a sign of two things: first, the journey the Labour Party has taken under Sir Keir Starmer – shifting from the left back to the centre ground. The shadow chancellor was applauded for insisting “iron clad” fiscal discipline will be put at the heart of a future Labour government’s economic policy.

Secondly, beyond the hall, it was a sign that Labour was confident enough not just to take the fight to the Conservatives but to seize their territory and lay claim to being the party of economic competence.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves with party leader Sir Keir Starmer after making her keynote speech during the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves with Sir Keir Starmer at Labour Party conference

Emboldened by the lasting damage Liz Truss’s brief tenure in Number 10 had done to the Conservatives’ economic record and reputation, Ms Reeves was there to pitch herself as the one to be trusted with the nation’s purse strings.

“We are going to fight the next election on the economy,” said one senior Labour figure.

“Elections are won or lost on the economy and this shows the confidence we have to fight them on the economy. We are not sticking to safe turf.”

Economic growth, and Labour being trusted to deliver it, has become the theme of the party conference.

Sir Keir Starmer kicked that off on Sunday as he described economic growth as the “single defining mission” of an incoming Labour government.

Today his shadow chancellor doubled down on that: “You cannot tax and spend your way to growth,” she told her audience.

“Financial responsibility means knowing when not to spend. But it also means making sure when you invest, you get bang for your buck.”

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Sky’s Political Editor Beth Rigby analysed Rachel Reeves’s speech at the Labour Party conference, who is turning

This was a chancellor-in-waiting clear that she was not going to have the money to spend on public services without growth.

Instead, at the heart of Labour’s economic plan is the green energy strategy, which will see the party borrow £100bn-plus over the course of the next parliament to transition the country away from fossil fuels to green energy.

And even that has been scaled back to avoid taking on more debt as the cost of borrowing rises with higher interest rates.

Instead, Labour will ramp up borrowing to the initial £28bn-a-year at the back end of this parliament.

A senior adviser said it’s not that Labour isn’t prepared to invest but rather “when it is public money going in, it is to unlock growth from which all flows”.

Read more:
The challenge for Starmer at Labour conference
Heckler removed from stage in Liverpool

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It is testimony to Labour’s confidence that the party is sticking to its plan – despite the Tory attacks that “borrowing doesn’t solve problems, it creates them.”

For its part, Labour can argue that the debacle around HS2, canned by the prime minister last week on the back of spiralling costs, rather stunts Conservative attacks on bad economic decision-making by Labour.

Conservative chaos was a big theme in this speech.

Back in 2015, ahead of the general election, David Cameron famously asked the question: “Britain faces a simple and inescapable choice – stability and strong government with me, or chaos with Ed Miliband.”

Having been through five Conservative prime ministers and seven chancellors since 2015, it is Labour that is pitching itself as stable and strong.

It is a land grab only made possible by the Conservative party’s own goals – and now the pitch is rolled, Labour are determined to lock in the win.

Ms Reeves today offered buckets of reassurance.

Sir Keir Starmer’s task tomorrow will be to offer hope.

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