Keir Starmer finally declares his hand in manifesto with plan to recognise a Palestinian state

Labour’s manifesto will include a plan to officially recognise a Palestinian state “as part of the peace process”, The Independent can reveal.

The bold new move also takes aim at Israel, saying that “neighbours should not be able to veto” the recognition of Palestine.

The eye-catching commitment is aimed at resolving deep differences within Labour, which have given rise to huge splits between its left and centre and saw Muslim voters punish the party in the local elections last month.

With thousands of Labour members involved in the weekly pro-Palestine marches, and concerns that Muslim voters are turning their backs on the party, Sir Keir Starmer has moved to try to reunify the warring factions ahead of the election.

But it may be too late to convince those who have been angered by his support for Israel alongside what was seen as a purge of pro-Palestinian candidates including Faiza Shaheen, the candidate for Chingford and Woodford Green, who was replaced by a member of the Jewish Labour Movement.

Details of Keir Starmer’s manifesto have been revealed – including a plan to recognise a Palestinian state (PA Wire)
Details of Keir Starmer’s manifesto have been revealed – including a plan to recognise a Palestinian state (PA Wire)

The selection of candidates such as pro-Israel activist Luke Akehurst in North Durham and director of legal affairs Alex Barros-Curtis, who led the drive against antisemitism and Jeremy Corbyn in Cardiff West, has also fuelled divisions.

The wider manifesto appears to be aimed at building a wide coalition of support for Labour around business, unions and Labour activists.

In terms of the much-debated new deal for workers, there will be a commitment to “end exploitative contracts”, which some hope will include zero-hours contracts. The practice of fire and hire, as happened with P&O Ferries, is also to be banned.

Overall, the new deal is described as “a partnership between business and trade unions”. There is, though, a promise not to end collective bargaining agreements, as exist in some sectors, which is being taken as a promise not to create new pay-review bodies.

The manifesto is over 50 pages long, and has been built around Sir Keir’s five missions.

The left will be angered that the two-child cap on some benefits will stay in place, although the party will seek a way to get round it. Added to that, the party has not backed down on keeping voter ID, although it will add veterans’ cards as an acceptable form of ID at polling stations.

There is support for Nato, and a commitment to bring down immigration, but no specific target or timeframe.

The manifesto will be officially launched next week by Sir Keir and his top team, and has been circulated among stakeholders ahead of the event.

So far, Sir Keir has revealed his six first steps on a pledge card, and has said he intends to deliver them within a five-year term in government. These include delivering economic stability, cutting NHS waiting lists with weekend appointments, cracking down on antisocial behaviour, recruiting 6,500 new teachers (paid for by charging 20 per cent VAT on private school fees), launching a new border security command, and setting up a new, publicly owned clean energy company, Great British Energy, as an investment arm of the state.

When he launched these six first steps, Sir Keir warned that his programme of government “will be hard to achieve” but promised there would be other priorities in the manifesto. He said: “We can deliver this over five or 10 years, a decade of national renewal.”

Labour has also committed to not increasing the three main taxes – VAT, income tax and national insurance – but said there will be targeted tax increases.

The manifesto will be built around the five missions Sir Keir set out at the start of the year: “Get Britain building again”; “Switch on Great British Energy”; “Get the NHS back on its feet”; “Take back our streets”; and “Break down barriers to opportunity”.

Sir Keir has promised a “mission-led government”. However, he has been criticised for going back on previous pledges, including to end tuition fees and to nationalise various services. He also ditched his plans for a £28bn green deal.

There were concerns that his new deal for workers had been “watered down”, but the manifesto appears to reflect the agreement made in an emergency meeting with unions last month.