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Tories taken over by ‘crackpots and conspiracy theorists’, says Labour’s Wes Streeting | Politics News

The Tories have been taken over by “crackpots and conspiracy theorists”, Wes Streeting said as he defended Labour’s appeal to voters.

Appearing on Sky News’ Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips programme, the shadow health secretary rejected criticism that his party under Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership is “a bit wet”.

He said he was “proud” Labour is “appealing to the country rather than repelling people” when “the cranks, the crackpots and the conspiracy theorists” have taken over the Conservative Party.

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Pointing to comments made by Transport Secretary Mark Harper – who last week claimed local councils want to “decide how often you go the shops” – Mr Streeting added: “When you’ve got cabinet ministers, notionally serious cabinet ministers like Mark Harper on your programme this morning, peddling conspiracy theories as if he’s been doom-scrolling TikTok trying to find the most bonkers things to say from the conference platform – what are these people doing?

“And how on earth does this address the biggest crises in our country?”

Mr Streeting was responding to criticism from the head of Labour’s biggest donor, who last night warned the party against being “too timid” and “limping into Number 10”.

Sharon Graham, the general secretary of Unite, said she wanted the party to resemble the reforming Labour government of 1945 led by Clement Attlee in the aftermath of the Second World War, when the NHS was founded.

Mr Streeting made the point that Labour’s new plan to spend £1.1bn providing another two million NHS appointments during evenings and weekends is an example of its ambition.

The measure forms part of Labour’s NHS proposals – including extra scanners and dental reforms – worth around £1.6bn, but it relies on NHS staff volunteering for extra shifts despite the lure of lucrative private work.

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Labour peer Peter Mandelson said he agreed with Ms Graham that “we need more than policy tweaks and we need more than small twists of the policy dial”.

However, he said Sir Keir needs to continue doing what he’s doing “taking the party from being ‘weird’ to ‘normal’.”

RMT boss Mick Lynch also called on Labour to be bolder, telling Sky News: “There’s no point in being timid or hiding your light under a bushel. People need something to vote for, not just something to vote against.”

It comes as Labour members gather in Liverpool for what could be the final Labour conference before the expected general election next year.

Wordcloud about Keir Starmer. Pic: BBC
Word cloud about Keir Starmer. Pic: BBC

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After its dire performance at the last election, the party has been buoyed by consistent double-digit poll leads over the Tories and the recent Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election triumph over the SNP.

Speaking to the BBC, Sir Keir said he wanted to use the conference to change people’s minds about those who aren’t convinced by him.

Confronted with a word cloud that suggested the public thought “nothing” about him, he said: “I’ve had a lot worse thrown at me in my life… that is why this week is so important for us.

“We come here to this, the last conference before a general election, to set out our positive case.”

In other developments as the conference started on Sunday:

  • Sir Keir said his plan to grow the economy would raise money to invest in public services – but would not say what would happen if the economy doesn’t grow
  • The Labour leader restated a commitment to build 1.5 million homes over a five-year term, and said he would scrap the Rwanda deportation plan even if it’s approved by the courts and brings down Channel crossings
  • Deputy leader Angela Rayner gave a speech which was interrupted by a heckler talking about the NHS
  • The speech addressed rental reforms, housing and workers’ rights but did not contain new policy

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