The future of the left since 1884

The Road Ahead – key extracts

A selection of key lines from the Labour leader's new Fabian Society pamphlet



The choice before the country

When Covid-19 reached these shores, it was hard to find a part of Britain that had not had its foundations weakened disastrously by decisions taken over the previous decade.

Our country is now at a crossroads. Down one path is the same old insecu­rity and lack of opportunity. But down the Labour one is something better: a society built on everyone’s contribution. It is a future where a modern, efficient government works in partnership with a brilliant, innovative private sector to create good jobs and harness the potential of technology. One where workers can expect more flexibility and fair pay for a fair day’s work. One where we update our public services, education and health for the challenges and opportunities of the future. One where the epic challenge of our generation – climate change – is tackled head on and where the jobs created come to our shores.

Labour into power

The next Labour government will be focused on creating jobs people are proud of, reimagining our public services for those who use them, creating a new and better relationship with business and delivering world-class health and education. And we will build this on solid foundations, with security at home, in the workplace, on the streets and from those who would do us harm.

When we win, it is not because the country has come round to our way of thinking but because we have seized the future and moulded it… The Labour party at its best does not wait around for the public to decide we are right. Instead, it adapts and updates. It does not look backwards – it marches forwards.

But the arc of history will not bend towards us unless we force it to. We cannot go back into our comfort zones. We must embrace this new world and deal head on with the fundamental question of how Labour would remake Britain for the 2030s and beyond

I want Labour to once again be Britain’s bricks and mortar – a symbol of solidity, reliability, shelter and the prospect of building something new and better.

10 principles

I propose 10 principles for a contribution society that will form the basis of a new contract between Labour and the British people, rooted in both our party and our country’s values.

  1. We will always put hard-working families and their priorities first.
  2. If you work hard and play by the rules, you should be rewarded fairly.
  3. People and businesses are expected to contribute to society, as well as receive.
  4. Your chances in life should not be defined by the circumstances of your birth – hard work and how you contribute should matter.
  5. Families, communities and the things that bring us together must once again be put above individu­alism.
  6. The economy should work for citizens and communities. It is not good enough to just surrender to market forces.
  7. The role of government is to be a partner to private enterprise, not stifle it.
  8. The government should treat taxpayer money as if it were its own. The current levels of waste are unacceptable.
  9. The government must play its role in restoring honesty, decency and transparency in public life.
  10. We are proudly patriotic but we reject the divisiveness of national­ism.

My message to anyone who agrees with those principles is come with us. Let us take the road to a better, brighter, more secure future together.

The contribution society

People want to emerge from lockdown into something better. They want to see a contribution society: one where people who work hard and play by the rules can expect to get something back, where you can expect fair pay for fair work, where we capture the spirit that saw us through the worst ravages of the pandemic and celebrate the idea of community and society; where we understand that we are stronger together.

It is striking how much of that which has made us proud or given us cause for hope since last March was built on the power of people working together…The pandemic will change the way we work and the way we live, but we must not allow it to atomise society further. People coming together is not just about what we can achieve: it is also about how we can live more fulfilled lives.

It is about the idea of a society based on contribution: being part of something bigger, playing your part, valuing others not just because of what they can offer you.

I believe we are living through a time when the individualism that prioritises personal entitlement, moral superiority and self-interest is receding in society’s rear-view mirror.

Community, family and country are not conservative or backwards ideas – they are the building blocks of strong societies.

Inequality and insecurity

There are two fundamental things we need to fix in this country: insecurity and inequality of opportunity.

Does a working-class child in Britain today have the same opportunities my generation did? It is hard to think they do. It is still the case that your life chances are decided by the circumstanc­es of your birth. That must change. We can only do that if we provide the security and opportunities that will allow us to unlock our country’s potential.

Hanging over [young people] like a cloud is the sense that this is all too fragile: that the opportunities that once existed no longer do and that the link between hard work, fair play and reward has been broken.

That is why we must turn our attention to opportunity and security. They are the sunlight that help liberty, democracy and citizenship grow: in their absence, each one is stunted. To complement them, we also need a renewed focus on the ties that bind us all together. Where Tory individualism decrees there is ‘no such thing as society’, we believe the opposite.

Patriotism and nationalism

The Conservatives and the Scottish National Party may define themselves against each other, but their politics is symbiotic, requiring one another to sustain and grow… Both the SNP and the Conservatives use culture to distract and deflect, creating division between people of these islands. The business of effective governance and improving people’s lives comes second to ideology. Both use nationalism freely to whip up fear of the other.

Nationalists like to portray themselves as patriots. But patriotism and nationalism are not the same. In fact, they are opposites. Nationalism represents an attempt to divide people from one another; patriotism is an attempt to unite people of different backgrounds.

Partnership with business

In order to put contribution and community at the centre of our efforts, we would build an effective partnership of state and private sector to prioritise the things that we have seen really matter: health, living conditions, working conditions and the environment. And together we would flesh out those things that are less immediately tangible but still vital – community, wellbeing, security and opportunity.

My vision for Britain is to make it the best place to do business because it has a government that works in partnership with the private sector. Businesses would be expected to play by the rules, respect their workforce, and contribute to their communities. In return, a Labour government would provide a level playing field, a skilled workforce and a modern infrastructure, from transport to public services.


In the first 100 days of the next Labour government, I will sign into law a New Deal for Working People. It will provide security and opportunities for people across the country, with improved conditions, quality jobs, training and better pay. It will increase the minimum wage, ensuring proper wages that people can raise a family on. It will ensure rights for all workers from day one, such as sick pay, parental leave, and the right to flexible working, reflecting the realities of the post-Covid world. It would ban dubious practices such as fire and rehire and stop firms exploiting loopholes to get out of giving employment rights to their workers. We would give people stronger rights to be represented at work by their trade unions to help raise standards and protect workers. And, crucially, it would guarantee work or training for young people.

Climate change

We would set ambitious targets to eliminate the substantial majority of carbon emissions by 2030, to ensure Britain is an absolute leader and an example to the world. The scale of our ambition will only increase from here.


If the people of Britain put their trust in us and return Labour to power, we will return power to the people of Britain.


We must be ambitious. If we are to remake our nation then we should set ourselves the challenge of making this the healthiest country in the world.

Labour would put wellbeing at the heart of government decision-making.

We know that mental health is at the heart of so many other societal problems and making it as much a priority as our physical health will have so many positive effects for the wellbeing of our nation.


I start with a simple belief: that every parent, no matter where they live, should be able to send their child to a high-quality school that prepares them for the future. Despite all the changes to the economy and job market, UK education policy is currently failing to prepare pupils for the future workplace… I want every child to leave school ready for work and ready for life. That means modernising education.

A Labour government would focus not simply on grades and qualifications, but the so-called ‘soft skills’ that help develop and round young people… That is why I want to ensure that by the time they are 10 years old, every child should have had the chance to play an instrument, join a competitive sports team, visit the seaside, the countryside, or the city, go to cultural institutions, ride a bike and learn how to debate their ideas.

Law and order

I have seen first-hand what we need to do on crime. That is why I’d bring in a new law aimed at ending street harassment, increasing sentences for rapists and stalkers, introducing whole life tariffs for anyone found guilty of the rape, abduction and murder of an individual, a review to increase sentences for domestic murder, as well as providing new statutory protection for domestic abuse survivors and real action to tackle misogyny.

The Tories’ claims to be a party of law and order would be laughable if their failure wasn’t so serious. Security for the British people does not just exist at work and at home – it must also mean security from those elements of society who blight others’ lives.



Keir Starmer MP

Keir Starmer is the Labour MP for Holborn and St Pancras and leader of the Labour party.


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