ir Keir Starmer said he would get “tough” with Labour MPs who stand in the way of his plans to rip through planning red tape to build homes and modern infrastructure.
The Labour leader, who has promised to “bulldoze” his way to a new Britain, said he would stand up to his own party in order to achieve his goal.
After his keynote conference speech was interrupted by a glitter-throwing protester, Sir Keir said he would not let an “idiot” derail his efforts to get into power and begin a 10-year programme of reform.
Promising that he would overcome objections from “nimby” MPs to build 1.5 million homes, he said: “We are going to have to be tough with anybody who stands in the way of that and that will include any Labour MPs who say: ‘Well, I’m signed up to the project but just not here.’”
He told Times Radio he was confident he could hit his house-building target, which would include plans for the next generation of new towns.
The Labour leader said he had been “bombproofing” the party’s policies in the past year: “Some people have interpreted those shifts of position as somehow a weakness – actually it’s a strength to say: ‘I will not put anything before the electorate after what they’ve been through, which I do not think is credible, that can’t be delivered.’”
He added: “In five years’ time, if we’re lucky enough to get elected next time to serve, the electorate will have their chance to judge whether we are delivering on what we’ve said. I’m confident we will. But of course the electorate will have to judge.
“But what I don’t want to do and didn’t want to do yesterday was to pretend that all of this can be done in one five-year term – the damage that’s been done to our country is huge. And that’s why I talked in terms of a 10-year project of national renewal.”
Sir Keir’s position could mean riding roughshod over local objections to major developments, with the Labour leader confronted with his own opposition to HS2 because of the impact of the Euston development on his constituency.
“You will always get – and quite understandably and quite rightly – individual MPs standing up for the communities in their patch,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today.
“The role of government is obviously different. The role of government is to deliver on big projects. And we’re going to have to get that balance right.”
Asked if he would be prepared to tell people that their concerns were being ignored, Sir Keir said: “Yes. We’re going to have to do that. Now, that’s not going to be a crude exercise. I think one of the problems we have is that planning is at the moment very, very localised.
“There isn’t the ability to look across a wider area and say: ‘Where would the best place be for this development? Where could we have a new town?’ And so we need to bulldoze through it, but we also need to be pragmatic about how we do it.
“But I’m going to be clear: we aren’t going to have to do things which previous governments haven’t done because otherwise we’ll end up where we are now, which is talking about housing – this has been the story of the last 13 years – but not actually getting very much done.”
He said the drive to build more homes was “absolutely about social justice” and his speech was an attempt to reach the “inner soul of the British public”.
The start of Sir Keir’s address to the Labour conference – one of the main chances to set out his vision to the country ahead of a general election expected next year – was disrupted by a protester calling for a proportional voting system.
Sir Keir said he would not let an “idiot” disrupt his efforts to get Labour into power.
The Labour leader said he had “ruthlessly” transformed his party in the first phase of the job, then had to “expose the Tories and the SNP as not fit to govern”. But he has now set out on the third stage, which is “setting out the positive case” for change after a “decade of decline”.
He told Times Radio that when he saw the protester mount the Liverpool stage, “my overwhelming feeling was: ‘I am not going to let you ruin four years of hard work in this party.’”
Asked if he feared for his safety, he said: “I just wanted to get on with the speech and that’s why I rolled up my sleeves and got on with it.
“I didn’t want that idiot to interrupt that and I don’t want that idiot to dominate what I’ve got to say today.”
Labour’s conference draws to a close on Wednesday with a focus on public service reforms.
Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting will tell activists a Labour government would “turn the NHS on its head” as he argues reform is more important than pouring money into a health system “that isn’t working”.
He will warn that the NHS faces bankruptcy unless it is overhauled as he sets out plans to shift its focus from hospitals to providing more care in the community, from analogue to digital, and from sickness to prevention.
Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson will also address the gathering’s final day to pledge that Labour would tackle the “chronic cultural problem with maths” by making sure it is taught better to children from a younger age.
Mr Streeting will say that Labour’s changes to the NHS will provide a better service for patients while securing better value for taxpayers’ money.
He is expected to say: “Be in no doubt about the scale of the challenge. In the longer term, the challenge of rising chronic disease, combined with our ageing society, threatens to bankrupt the NHS.
“Pouring ever-increasing amounts of money into a system that isn’t working is wasteful in every sense.
“A waste of money we don’t have. A waste of time that is running out. A waste of potential, because the NHS has so much going for it.”
He will vow to create “a neighbourhood health service as much as a National Health Service, pioneering cutting edge treatment and technology, preventing ill-health, not just treating it.
“Achieving our mission will take time, investment, and reform. Reform is even more important than investment.”
Labour has unveiled details of its NHS reform agenda at the conference, including paying staff overtime and providing extra scanners in a bid to bring down record waiting lists.