Sir Keir Starmer said he had changed his mind about the nationalization due to the post-pandemic debt surge, indicating that the Labor government would first fix “broken” water and energy markets through regulation.
The Labor leader distanced himself from his own pledge when he ran for party leader in 2019 to support “common ownership of rail, post, power and water”.
He told BBC Breakfast: “We have to recognize that we are in a different financial situation after the pandemic than we were before and we want a responsible government to say if we are going to do something, we will tell you, how are we going to pay for it.
“The most important thing is how we develop the economy, revitalize the economy, and this cannot be reduced to a discussion of nationalization.”
Sir Keir emphasized his “pragmatic” approach, stating that for most utilities, “the answer will be to regulate the market, change the market, and not just put things into public ownership.”
I am not ideological when I say that public is good, private is bad, or private is good and public is bad.Sir Keir Starmer
However, he said that Labor would stick to plans to nationalize the railways if they won the next election.
He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “Railways are a bit of an exception because obviously most of the railways are already state owned and we will continue to do so, so the situation with railways is different due to how they make contracts.
“But for me, I am not ideological when I say that public is good, private is bad, or private is good, public is bad.”
Asked about the nationalization of Royal Mail, Sir Keir said: “It’s very difficult to see how you can nationalize within fiscal rules, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem to solve.”
He stressed the party’s “strict fiscal rules” to control public spending and said “after Covid, the question is what can we afford in this election.”
Sir Keir reiterated that he was abandoning his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn’s manifesto for government and starting with a “clean slate”.
“I don’t want the Labor Party, like they did in 2019, to basically say we can spend on anything.
“We changed these positions of the 2019 manifesto because we needed to show the country that we are trustworthy, we are responsible for the economy.”
Sir Keir was forced to clarify the party’s position on the nationalization the day after conflicting statements from members of his shadow cabinet caused some confusion.
Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said the policy was inconsistent with the party’s new tax rules, and Shadow Transport Secretary Louise Hay said Labor was “committed to public ownership of the railroad”.
On Tuesday morning, Sir Keir criticized Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss for the first in-person televised debate on the Conservative leadership, which he said showed the Conservatives had “lost the plot.”
According to the Labor leader, after “10 years of people not seeing their wages rise” and “really worried” about their bills and inflation, “what I’m not hearing from these applicants is the answer to this problem.” .
He declined to say whether the Labor government would give public sector workers the inflation-matching pay rise they want.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today program: “I totally understand why so many working people with stagnant wages and high prices need some movement.
“I support the right to strike, but I think the government’s role is to facilitate, to ensure that these negotiations lead to a negotiated settlement.”
He said he would again tell his shady bench not to picket outside train stations during upcoming strikes, arguing that “the government doesn’t picket, the government is trying to resolve disputes.”