Exclusive: Keir Starmer discusses Gracie’s Law, the red wall and Derbyshire’s green spaces

In an interview with the Derbyshire Times, Labour leader Keir Starmer gave his views on Gracie’s Law, green spaces and how he plans to win back red wall towns such as Bolsover.

Friday, 7th January 2022, 8:43 pm

Keir Starmer said that the Labour Party was committed to tackling stalking, after discussing Gracie Spinks and the ‘Gracie’s Law’ campaign to allocate greater funding to stalking investigations.

“As Director of Public Prosecutions, I ran criminal prosecutions in England and Wales for five years. Sadly, I had too many cases of stalking come across my desk, each one tragic, and I know firsthand the impact this can have - as well as the fact that it often goes on for months or even years,” he said.

“It has a profound impact on the lives of all victims, including in the tragic case of Gracie. We put a green paper forward last year that said we must increase the minimum sentence for stalking, we’ve got to give it more focus, more priority, and we’ve got to signal that tough sentences can be expected for anyone that engages in stalking.”

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Starmer also emphasised Labour’s focus on regaining trust in red wall constituencies.

When asked about what he was doing to regain the support of towns such as Bolsover, which voted Conservative for the first time in 2019, Starmer said Labour had three core principles that he felt would help the party reconnect with voters.

“I’m very focused on the things that matter most to people in Bolsover and across Derbyshire, and my mission is to win their trust again, so I want to set out three principles that we are going to concentrate on. The first is security- do people feel safe in their own home, their own environment, their own community - particularly in relation to anti-social behaviour?

”The second is prosperity - are there good, well-paid jobs and a thriving local economy? Obviously, the limb of HS2 from Birmingham up to Yorkshire was scrapped, which is going to have an impact on places like Chesterfield, which will not receive the benefits they would have otherwise.

“Finally, respect - do we value people for who they are and what they do? As I set out those three principles, upon which we will campaign to earn the trust again of people in Bolsover and other places, the government is sinking deeper into sleaze and rule-breaking.”

Starmer also spoke about the rising cost of living, and said that the actions of the Conservative government were having a real financial impact on people in Derbyshire

“What we’re now seeing is that complacency at Number 10 is costing working families, and it’s a toxic combination. Inflation is high, it’s about to hit 6%, the highest it’s been since John Major’s government.

“Bills are going up, whether that’s food or fuel, and particularly energy bills, which people are really feeling this winter. Just at that moment, the government is going to whack on tax rises from April- that means in Derbyshire, your average worker is going to pay £325 more, which is a huge increase for them.

“Across Derbyshire, there’s 50,000 people on Universal Credit, and each of them has had £1000 taken away because of government cuts- that money therefore will not be spent in Derbyshire. There is a very clear link between the complacency at Number 10, who are more concerned about covering up their rule-breaking, and the direct impact it is going to have on people in Derbyshire.”

With a range of housing developments causing controversy in North Derbyshire, Starmer said that, if elected, his government would give greater weight to environmental issues in planning debates.

“I think green space is important wherever you live, and one of the things we will introduce as an incoming Labour government is the ‘green pen’.

“As well as the economic pluses and minuses of any policy, we will consider the impact on the environment, the local environment and the spaces in which people live.”