SIR Keir Starmer has triggered a furious backlash after signalling his party is set to abandon its commitment to free university tuition.

The reported scrapping of this pledge means the Labour leader has retreated from yet another promise he made during his campaign to become leader in 2020.

Speaking BBC’s Today programme, he claimed that the “vast majority” of those promises “stand”, although he had been forced to adapt to the “different economic situation”.

Here we look at the 10 pledges made by Starmer – and how many still actually remain.

The broken promises...

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Common ownership

Plans to nationalise railways, Royal Mail, energy companies, and water companies have been essentially scrapped, with Starmer saying the current economic situation meant this would be too expensive.

Instead, the Labour leader has backed a “pragmatic” approach involving greater regulation, telling the BBC last year: “The answer is going to lie in regulating the market, changing the market, rather than simply taking things into public ownership.”

Plans to end outsourcing have also been watered down, with both Starmer and shadow health secretary Wes Streeting acknowledging that the private sector would continue to play a role in the NHS.

Labour has promised to set up a state-owned energy company – Great British Energy – to invest in clean energy projects, and shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh said at the party’s 2022 conference that it would take railways companies back into public ownership gradually as current contracts expire.

Economic justice

Starmer promised to increase income tax for the top 5% of earners, reverse planned cuts in corporation tax, and clamp down on tax avoidance.

Now Labour has backed away from tax rises, with shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves saying she has “no plans” to increase income tax and Starmer choosing to focus on growing the economy and criticising the current high tax burden.

The promise to reverse the corporation tax cut is no longer relevant as the Government has already U-turned on its plans, however Labour does remain committed to cracking down on tax avoidance and has pledged to scrap the “non-dom” tax status.

Social justice

Several policies under this pledge of Starmer’s have been abandoned, including the promise to scrap tuition fees.

Abolishing universal credit and ending the current sanctions regime, described as “cruel” by the party, also appear to have been dropped or watered down.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Ashworth has instead promised to “fundamentally reform” universal credit, but will keep “conditionality” as part of the system.

Starmer’s promise to set a “national goal for wellbeing” to “make health as important as GDP” appears to remain.

While Labour also remains committed to investing in public services, Starmer has said the country cannot spend its way out of its problems and denied Labour would be “getting its big government chequebook out again”, in his 2023 new year speech.

Promoting peace and human rights

Starmer’s promise of “no more illegal wars” appears to remain valid, but he has stepped back slightly from his proposal for a Prevention of Military Intervention Act.

In an interview he said this would have a different name and simply formalise the recent convention of requiring a vote in the Commons before military action.

Promises to “put human rights at the heart of foreign policy” have been reiterated by David Lammy, shadow foreign secretary – but plans to review all UK arms sales have not been mentioned recently.

READ MORE: Watch Keir Starmer dodge question on trimming down monarchy

Defend migrants’ rights

Starmer’s promise to defend free movement during Brexit is no longer relevant given the UK has now left the EU, and the Labour leader has ruled out any plan to return to free movement.

Last year a speech by Starmer calling on UK businesses to wean themselves off “immigration dependency” even won praise from former Ukip leader Nigel Farage.

Similarly, the promise to secure full voting rights for EU nationals has been largely made redundant by government policy, with Labour having a commitment to “making Brexit work”.

It is unclear whether Labour still supports ending indefinite immigration detention, however the party has strongly criticised the length of time that asylum seekers spend in hotel accommodation and has called for action on the asylum backlog.

Effective opposition to the Tories

Starmer promised “forensic, effective opposition to the Tories in Parliament” – but the SNP has warned his party is becoming “increasingly indistinguishable from the Tories”.

Recent polls have put Labour with an 18-point lead over the Tories, but the opinion of voters will be tested on Thursday when more than 8000 council seats across 230 authorities in England are up for election.

A promise to “eradicate the scourge of antisemitism” by Starmer still stands, with the Equality and Human Rights Commission saying it was “content” with Labour’s actions on antisemitism in February, and Labour’s “collective link with the unions” remains.

And the promises that remain…

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Radical devolution of power, wealth and opportunity

Devolving power away from Whitehall also remains a key part of Labour’s agenda, with Starmer promising a “take back control bill” in January to give more power to local and regional government.

Abolishing the House of Lords and replacing it with an elected chamber of regions and nations also remains party policy and in late 2022 Starmer said he would look to do this in the first term of a Labour government.

READ MORE: Keir Starmer accused of 'working in shadows against Scottish democracy'

Climate justice

Net zero and climate change remain a significant part of Labour’s pitch for the next General Election, with the party pushing proposals including decarbonising the power system by 2030 and creating a net zero mandate for all regulators.

The proposal for a new clean air act also remains, although shadow justice secretary Steve Reed has suggested this may form part of a wider plan to extend legal protection to certain “social and economic human rights”.

Strengthening workers’ rights and trade unions

Labour still plans to repeal the 2016 Trade Union Act and has opposed the introduction of minimum service levels in the Strikes Bill currently going through Parliament.

Insecure work and low pay also remain on the party’s agenda, with deputy leader Angela Rayner most recently recommitting to banning zero-hours contracts, at the STUC conference in April.


Plans to “pull down obstacles that limit opportunities and talent” included in the 10 pledges have been repeated as one of the “five missions” that Starmer laid out at the start of 2023.