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Starmer’s big challenge? Prioritising growth over popularity

Keir Starmer must, in truth, be willing to be unpopular.
Keir Starmer must, in truth, be willing to be unpopular.

Tomorrow morning, barring the most dramatic polling failure since the last one, Britain will have a new Prime Minister. Keir Starmer may be tempted to use his new-found role to hop on a plane to Dusseldorf and enjoy the football over the weekend; he may enjoy the somewhat methodical, and distinctly cautious, approach of Gareth Southgate’s England.

We won’t begrudge him the weekend to take stock but he’s got quite the in-tray to deal with on his return.
At the very top is a simple objective, difficult to achieve. Growth. Because without it, nothing else works.

Over the past few years we have come to the conclusion that the single biggest barrier to Britain moving forward is the regulatory blocks to building.


Infrastructure that costs twice, three, even ten times as much to build here as elsewhere in the world.

A chronic housing shortage that has inflated renting and mortgage costs to the point of the absurd.
Tech-enabled warehouses and data centres, the engine rooms of the modern economy, unbuilt.

Energy projects that require long-term thinking and planning held up in the long-grass thanks to short-term political concerns. Keir Starmer is likely to have a large majority. He must use it.

He must, in truth, be willing to be unpopular.

At the start of his term, only a root and branch reform of planning, one which changes the presumption of ‘why’ to ‘why not’ on every planning application across the country, will do.

There are other things he should consider, and indeed some things he should very much rule out. But busting open our planning system would be the closest thing he has to a silver bullet.

He may lose a few points in the polls and his constituency MPs may squeal about it.

However, it’s time to get on with it.