KEIR Starmer struggled to explain why he abandoned a leadership contest pledge to support common ownership of key sectors like rail, mail, energy and water during an appearance on the Jeremy Vine Show.

When running for Labour leader back in 2020, Starmer made a series of 10 pledges which he said demonstrated his “promise” to maintain the party’s “radical values”.

During his time as leader of the opposition, he has come under fire from the left-wing of the party for failing to uphold a number of his pledges.

The series of promises saw Starmer vow to “work shoulder to shoulder with trade unions” – before he banned his shadow cabinet members from appearing on picket lines months later.

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The former lawyer also vowed to “defend free movement as we leave the EU”, but then U-turned when in power and declared Labour did not support bringing back the policy.

With energy bills skyrocketing, Starmer has developed a plan to freeze them and stop people from having to hand over huge amounts of their pay packets to big corporations.

But nationalisation of the firms was not a part of the plan, despite Starmer’s fifth pledge. It read: “Public services should be in public hands, not making profits for shareholders. Support common ownership of rail, mail, energy and water; end outsourcing in our NHS, local government and justice system.”

Channel 5 presenter Vine pressed the party leader on this.

“When you become Labour leader this is what it said,” he told Starmer. “You remember this?”

“There are many things …” Starmer replied. “I’ve looked at common ownership in all the plans that we’ve made, we’ve been through Covid and looking at the cost of common ownership we’ve had to make a decision about realistically what we can do …”

The National:

Asked if the policy was a “mistake”, Starmer squirmed. “No, no no,” he told viewers before insisting the public debt is in a different place to where it was when the pledge was made pre-pandemic.

Aaron Bastani of Novara Media commented: "A bare faced liar with no honour. It’s got me thinking - he’s certainly got what it takes to be a Prime Minister!"

Also speaking during the appearance on Wednesday, Starmer confirmed that he would not be joining striking workers on picket lines but insisted he supported unions.

Members of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) at nine train operating companies as well as Network Rail will walk out from midday on September 26, during Labour’s autumn conference.

He told Vine: “When it comes to industrial action, I completely understand why people are voting to go on strike, I understand how much they’re struggling – wages have been stagnant for the best part of 10 years, we’ve now got a cost-of-living crisis, so prices are going up.”

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People are “really struggling”, he said, adding: “I support the right to strike, the trade unions are representing their members, but my job is different, my job is to get a Labour government elected.

“My job, if there’s a Labour government, is to make sure that we can resolve the issues because nobody really wants strikes to go ahead, they’re hugely disruptive, they’re pretty awful for those on strike.”

Asked if he would join TSSA workers on the picket line he said: “No. I want a Labour government, I want to be a Labour prime minister. You can’t sit around the Cabinet table resolving issues and then walk onto a picket line, they are different jobs.”