Sir Keir Starmer holds virtual meeting for people in Cornwall

0

By Molly Gray |

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer held a virtual meeting for Cornish residents on Thursday 21st May. 

Keir Starmer is the Leader of the Labour Party | Chris McAndrew/Wikimedia Commons

The meeting was one of several ‘Call Keir’ events in which members of the public had the chance to ask questions to the newly elected Labour leader. 

Before the event, Starmer said: “Coronavirus is a national crisis and I want to hear directly from the Cornish people about how they are coping. I am committed to working constructively with the Government to help the country through the crisis. I will be listening to people’s concerns and taking those concerns to Ministers.”

He continued: “This event is also about having an open and frank conversation with people in Cornwall who did not feel able to support Labour in December’s election. My job is to listen and learn, and to restore people’s trust in the Labour Party as a force for change.”

Originally the ‘Call Keir’ events were to be held in person, but due to the lockdown restrictions the event was forced to take place virtually. 

“I felt, for example, on testing, they were just so behind the curve on it, on protective equipment on the frontline. People were going into work without the right equipment, so I felt that was the right place to challenge.”

Participants were not solely Labour supporters, and Starmer was very keen to ask everyone what they thought of the Labour party and what advice they would have for him. 

The topics discussed ranged from that of Covid-19 to Labour’s performance in the last General Election. 

Speaking about the coronavirus crisis, Starmer said that the Labour Party did support the Government’s lockdown decision, though they felt restrictions should have been imposed sooner. 

There were also other areas where the opposition challenged decisions: “I felt, for example, on testing, they were just so behind the curve on it, on protective equipment on the frontline. People were going into work without the right equipment, so I felt that was the right place to challenge.”

He continued to say that he did not think that the revised government message of ‘Be Alert’ was very clear. 

Since the easing of restrictions, people in Cornwall have been worried about tourists visiting the area. 

Cornwall Council are supporting the ‘Come Back Later’ campaign, but just last week people were staying overnight in campervans and police had to move them on. 

When this issue was raised, Starmer spoke of the importance of a track and trace system to monitor the spread of Covid-19, as a vaccine for the virus ‘may not be available for some time’. 

He continued to say that he believes the problem to be the lack of a world leader who will connect people in the search for a vaccine. 

Still on the subject of coronavirus, Starmer addressed the re-opening of universities, with reference to Cambridge University’s decision to suspend all face-to-face teaching for the next academic year. 

We can’t clap on a Thursday night for our key workers, our health workers, and other people on the frontline, and then go back to business as usual.

He said: “Different universities are beginning to make provisional decisions and some of them saying they’re not going to do any lectures, at least in person, for the whole of next year, which will impact massively on the ability of students to learn.” 

Another key theme from the event was that of the support for the NHS. 

The Labour leader admitted that the NHS is underfunded and that there is a staffing issue. 

Sir Keir and wife Victoria Starmer applaud for key workers | Cubankite/Shutterstock

Sir Keir shared his ideas on how to help the NHS, including more preventative care measures, where people can get easier access to healthcare in order to prevent illnesses from worsening, and the idea of a National Care Service to help with adult social care. 

He also said: “We can’t clap on a Thursday night for our key workers, our health workers, and other people on the frontline, and then go back to business as usual. Many of these people are undervalued and underpaid and have been for a very long time so there’s a lot of work to do.”  

Speaking on the economic impact of the pandemic, Starmer said that whilst businesses are being supported, there is still a long term issue for the Cornish economy. 

He continued to say that he supported Labour’s previous idea of a regional investment bank, which would loan money according to a regional plan rather than that of commercial criteria.

He also said that Brexit was a factor when people chose how to vote, as well as how people received Labour’s previous leader Jeremy Corbyn. 

He explained: “It’s a long term investment according to a plan and I think that’s what’s needed in Cornwall and the South West, which is a local strategic business plan, industrial plan, and then a regional bank which is loaning not on usual terms, but because it’s got one eye on what the long term consequences of what it’s doing are.” 

The leader of the opposition was also very keen to talk about why Labour has previously failed to succeed and what their strengths are going forward. 

Speaking of the 2019 General Election, Starmer identified Labour’s manifesto to be a key problem: “Our manifesto was overloaded. There was too much in it to a point where people didn’t believe what was in it and therefore it didn’t matter what was in it because it was deemed not credible.”

He also said that Brexit was a factor when people chose how to vote, as well as how people received Labour’s previous leader Jeremy Corbyn. 

Speaking of what to do going forward, Sir Keir said that the Labour Party need to provide a sense of opportunity and assure people that the next generation will see improvements. 

He further reiterated the importance of events like these in order to listen to people and gain credibility, before concluding with the message ‘remain safe and well’. 

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.