OPINION - The Standard View: Keir Starmer wants to grow the economy. The question is: how?

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer at the launch of the party’s manifesto at Co-op HQ in Manchester (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer at the launch of the party’s manifesto at Co-op HQ in Manchester (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)

Election campaigns are full of “moments”. Some are unscripted and unforeseeable, such as a Tory Prime Minister who is facing a populist threat to his Right, volunteering to leave D-Day commemorations early in order to do a pre-recorded interview. Others, such as Labour’s manifesto launch, are more expected.

Torn between a desire to change the country and not wanting to hand his opponents any ammunition with which to attack him, Sir Keir Starmer set out his stall for government. The priority was restated — that Labour wants to get the economy growing again. But so did Liz Truss. The question, as ever, is how?

The other 800lb gorilla in the room is tax. Sir Keir has already ruled out raising income tax, national insurance and VAT. That, of course, still leaves a myriad of other levers the Treasury can pull, not least capital gains tax and council tax — albeit none pain-free.

Sir Keir has undoubtedly changed the Labour Party from the wreckage inherited from Jeremy Corbyn. But transforming a UK economic model buffeted by Brexit, Covid and war in Ukraine will be more difficult by magnitudes.

Reforming justice

The railways are the latest arena in which the unjust Single Justice Procedure is wreaking havoc. Back in 2016, the Government permitted train companies to pursue alleged fare dodgers using this process, whereby  magistrates convict and sentence defendants in private hearings based on written evidence only. But the Standard has uncovered swathes of cases that should not be allowed under SJP.

Northern Rail — government-owned since 2020 — is one of several rail firms which have brought criminal cases in this way, now acknowledging that 29,000 cases went through SJP between March 2020 and January 2024.

These revelations come as both main parties have signalled a willingness to reform SJP, following a long-running campaign spearheaded by this newspaper’s courts correspondent, Tristan Kirk, winner of this year’s Paul Foot award from Private Eye for the investigation. It is vital and urgent. Before justice can be seen to be done, it first has to be done.

Top of the class

When it comes to positive Ofsted ratings, a new category may have to be added: “World’s best”. Two London schools — Kingsford Community School in Newham and Avanti House Secondary School in Harrow — have been placed on the shortlist of T4 Education’s World’s Best School Prizes.

Congratulations to the students, teachers and parents on their remarkable achievements.