Wes Streeting’s three-word formula for how Labour will govern

Wes Streeting has set out a three-word vision of the guiding philosophy of a Labour government if, as expected, it wins power on 4 July.

The shadow health secretary had echoes of Tony Blair’s New Labour when he promised that his party would be “compensatory, not confiscatory”.

Mr Streeting was in discussion with The Independent’s editor-in-chief Geordie Greig in front of an audience at the Hay Festival, discussing the election, politics and his book One Boy, Two Bills and a Fry Up.

Mr Greig noted that the UK is now “in the foothills of an election campaign” and asked: “Where is Labour going to find out that common centre ground? What is the formula? What are the words?”

Wes Streeting insists Labour is a party which celebrates success and encourages ambition and aspiration (PA Wire)
Wes Streeting insists Labour is a party which celebrates success and encourages ambition and aspiration (PA Wire)

Mr Streeting replied: “A Labour Party which wins a mandate to govern and govern well is compensatory, not confiscatory.”

When pressed on what this means, he insisted it is one which celebrates success and encourages ambition and aspiration, although he denied that it is a version of “Toryism”.

The discussion had followed an in-depth interview with The Independent in which Mr Streeting had brandished his Blairite credentials, insisting that he would not bow to junior doctor demands for a pay rise and taking on critics from the left of his party about including private health providers in the NHS to bring down waiting lists.

Before the election was called he had been actively involved in talks with potential defectors from the Tory party and had been one of the first to welcome right-wing Dover MP Natalie Elphicke to his party’s ranks.

He also made it clear he is not in favour of “handouts” as a means to end poverty in opposing an end to the two-child benefit cap, even though in his book he described how he and his mother had survived on benefits.

But speaking at the Hay Festival, he insisted that a Labour government would be about “rewarding people” who work hard.

He noted: “The anxiety about Labour governments and what traditionally stops people from voting Labour, that we need to vote Labour to form a government, is that in the pursuit of social justice and equality, we will be anti-success and if you are successful, we will take from you and we will resent your success. Because that’s how you level the country and create equality.”

Taking this characterisation on, he said: “I think it has to be the other way round.”

Going back to his life story in his autobiography, he said: “The thing that myself, Keir [Starmer], Angela [Rayner], Bridget Phillipson and others around the shadow cabinet table have in common is through different routes – in my case the University of Cambridge, in Angela’s case the university of life and trade union movement – we've worked our way up and understand the barriers that are in the way of people from working-class backgrounds like ours.

“We know that to build a successful country, you have to create a culture in which people can be successful to be successful, in which everyone has a stake in it, in which everyone makes a contribution.

“One where everyone derives a benefit through the provision of good public services, good social infrastructure, the right culture, the right leadership, and entrepreneurial country where business leaders can succeed, and why this country is a destination for global talent.”