How radical should Keir Starmer’s vision be?
Welcome to Tuesday’s Early Edition from i.
“We will fix the NHS. We will reform the NHS. An NHS not just off its knees but running confidently towards the future.” That was Sir Keir Starmer yesterday, as he set out his long-awaited plans for healthcare reform. The Labour leader spelled out a vision that would see better community-led healthcare, more staffing, a greater emphasis on the role of the family doctor, and using AI to boost the service’s continuing digitalisation. At a time when the health service is under unprecedented strain – and the prospect of more strikes looms – his words will be welcomed by many. The mission – one of five he is slowly unveiling as a general election looms – is expected to be a flagship policy ahead of the polls. But despite the boost of the local elections, some big questions are still hanging for the Labour leader. Not only on how he might find the funds for an overhaul of the health services, but how far he should go in harnessing the ideas and policies of the left of his party. We’ll look at that, after the headlines.
Today’s news, and why it matters
Dominic Raab reportedly plans to stand down at the next election after being forced to quit Cabinet over bullying claims. The Telegraph says Mr Raab has informed his local Tory party that he intends to stand down at the 2024 election. In a letter to his local Conservative Association seen by the paper, he wrote: “I have become increasingly concerned over the last few years about the pressure the job has placed on my young family.”
Rishi Sunak pointedly refused to back Suella Braverman’s assertions that she had done nothing wrong following her speeding charge last year as he mulls whether to launch an investigation into her actions. The Prime Minister has demanded the Home Secretary hand him further information around claims she asked civil servants to arrange a private speed awareness course after she was caught speeding.
Junior doctors in England will walk out for 72 hours next month with further strikes expected “throughout summer” after talks with the Government broke down. Next month’s walkout, between 14 and 17 June, will be the third wave of action by junior doctors, with the British Medical Association describing the Government’s offer of a 5 per cent pay increase as an “insult to junior doctors”.
A jet that costs more than £10,000 an hour to hire has been the choice of aircraft for Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, while on tour, The Guardian has reported. He is said to have been taking an Embraer Lineage 1000E – apparently “the crème de la crème of private business jets” – on his eight-day trip around the Caribbean and Latin America. Labour called it a “ludicrous extravagance at the public expense”.
There are fears within ITV Phillip Schofield could face a public backlash when the presenter returns to screens next weekend. The former This Morning presenter is due to host the Soap Awards, live from Salford, on ITV on Saturday 3 June.
Three questions over Keir Starmer’s direction:
What are Keir Starmer’s latest pledges? On Monday, the Labour leader said the NHS will not survive another five years under the Tories as he presented a raft of measures to overhaul it. As Wes Streeting and Jonathan Ashworth write in the i: “After 13 years of the Conservatives, mammoth NHS waiting lists leave patients waiting longer in pain and struggling to access care for mental health, addiction, or musculoskeletal problems. Staggeringly a record 2.6 million people are too sick to work today, with poor mental health the main cause. Under our reforms, health care services and the welfare system will operate closely together ensuring people access tailored support they need to find quality work.” Read the full piece here. A health service based on a preventative model, that reinstates targets and tackles specific health problems is at the heart of the plan. For example, Labour wants to improve cancer survival rates by hitting all NHS cancer waiting time and early diagnosis targets within five years of being in government and reverse the rising trend in the rate of lives lost to suicide so they are declining within five years. A ban on advertising junk food to children would also be introduced – something that has support among the public. You can read more on the pledges here.
How will he pay for it? This is the big question hanging over Sir Keir’s latest plans. The Labour leader said “we’re committed to the biggest expansion of NHS training in its history… fully-funded by removing the non-dom tax status”. But as Andrew Fisher points out: “That doesn’t pay for then recruiting people into the NHS, paying their wages and pensions, let alone funding any pay rise, when low pay is a major factor pushing nurses, healthcare assistants and paramedics out of the NHS.” Sir Keir Starmer has also been accused of failing to explain how he will fund social care – his 10-year strategy for social care reform did not contain detail of how it will be funded, or whether it will ensure more free care access. Experts are urging the party to clarify how it plans to address this. Simon Bottery, fellow at the Kings Fund health think-tank, told i: “Over the last five years, more people have been going to local authorities asking for support, but fewer people have been getting it. And there’s nothing in the Labour proposal which says what they would do about this and in particular, there’s nothing about local authority funding.” Labour sources have said a review into how social care could be funded is due to be published next month.
Are his plans radical enough? Yesterday, Left-wing activist group Momentum urged Sir Keir to show “real ambition” and unveil plans for a free care service. “Fixing the Tories’ failures requires real ambition: a publicly owned and controlled National Care Service, providing free social care to those who need it and a real living wage for care workers, to end the current sticking-plaster model,” a spokesperson said. But their challenge poses a bigger question to the Labour leader – how much does he dare to distance himself from the left of his party? Earlier this year Starmer sought to distance himself from Labour’s recent past when the party’s governing body voted to block Jeremy Corbyn from standing for it at the next election. This has already aggravated some within the party while others are pleased at Mr Starmer’s shift towards the centre. “Keir came along and told these people this party doesn’t belong to you, it belongs to the working people of this country and I will give it back to them,” one aide told Paul Waugh recently. But the left of Labour are now pointing their own local election successes as evidence that a radical agenda can be attractive to voters. Momentum has cited the Labour administration in Worthing, West Sussex, and successes in Broxtow, Nottinghamshire, and Preston, Lancashire as examples of a socialist policy platform winning votes. They argue that, if he continues on his current path of “purging” left-wing candidates and policies he could lose support in areas like these, Chloe Chaplain reports. Read her full piece here.
Around the world
Russian partisans fighting for Ukraine claim to have launched a cross-border incursion into Russia’s Belgorod region with dozens of deaths and injuries reported. Videos circulating on social media appeared to show the aftermath of an attack on a border crossing with smoke rising from an explosion.
Portuguese police looking for Madeleine McCann are about to begin a major search of the Barragem do Arade reservoir in the Algarve that the chief suspect, Christian Brueckner, used to visit. Detectives will close off the area near a reservoir in Silves ahead of the official search, which is due to start today.
The family of British Bollywood actress and former Knightsbridge schoolgirl Jiah Khan, whose mysterious death was the subject of a BBC documentary, have accused the courts of “sweeping her death under the carpet”. Her boyfriend, Indian actor Sooraj Pancholi, was acquitted of abetting the 25-year-old’s suicide late last month in a case that has gripped Bollywood since she was found dead in a flat she shared with her mother in an exclusive part of Mumbai 10 years ago.
WhatsApp says it will allow users to edit messages for up to 15 minutes after being sent. The feature will made be available in the coming weeks.
An AI-generated image that appeared to show an explosion next to a building in the Pentagon complex in the US has circulated on social media platforms. It remains unclear where it originated. The US Department of Defence has confirmed that the image was a fake.
Watch out for…
Rishi Sunak – who will be under increased pressure today to order an investigation into Suella Braverman’s handling of a speeding offence.
Thoughts for the day
The UK’s message to desperate renters who want to buy a home? Get stuffed. Executive homes are the latest bogeyman, argues Mark Wallace.
Martin Amis and me: how one drink at a bar started a dramatic, public debate about Islam. The happenstance and the ensuing drama has been replaying in my head since the demise of the very complicated Mr Amis, writes Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.
If micromanager Rishi Sunak doesn’t trust Suella Braverman to do her job, why should the public? The gaffe-prone Home Secretary is as far from the PM’s preference for competent managerialism as it’s possible to get, says Paul Waugh.
‘Now I know I have ADHD, I finally understand what car I’m driving’. Comedian Josie Long talks to Alice Saville about leaving London and never looking back, her new book of short stories, and being the subject of a hateful online forum.
The Big Read
Digital upstarts like Buzzfeed and Vice have been seen off by the old school they hoped to replace. Their downfall is an illustration of the fickle and precarious nature of the news business, writes Ian Burrell.
England’s Ashes hopes rest on how they manage Harry Brook’s mental and physical health. Brook faces risk of burnout and he needs all the support he can get from his country, writes Chris Stocks.
Something to brighten your day
How to shop reduced labels, from expiry dates to long-life items. As more people rely on yellow-sticker items in their food shops, Sophie Morris investigates how to get the most from your money: avoid soft or prepared fruit, bagged lettuce and pre-made salads.