The promises are ambitious. The issues riddled with complexities. The stakes, high.  

So it’s perhaps no surprise that Sir Keir Starmer’s speech was also peppered with caution.

The Labour leader’s commitments – which include stabilising the economy, cutting NHS waiting times, setting up Great British Energy, cracking down on anti-social behaviour and recruiting 6,500 new teachers – form the party’s “mission” should it win the election.

But dig into the words and phrases of the policies – about the time it might take to achieve them – and you get a glimpse into a party that seems reluctant to promise too much for fear of not delivering enough.

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Keir Starmer unveils Labour's 'plan to change the country'
Starmer spoke with his sleeves rolled up, aiming to show he and his party are ready to govern

Labour says these policies are a “bridge to longer-term plans” – no quick fixes here.

But Sir Keir spoke of delivering them within the first term of parliament – that’s five years.

And describing them as a “down payment on change” suggests something gradual, something that will need time.

Read more:
What are Labour’s pledges for government?

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Given Labour is so far ahead in the polls, you’d think the party would be more bullish.

So when Sir Keir talks of a “decade of national renewal”, it’s clear that this is a party that’s oddly desperate to play things down just a bit.

One big reason is that Labour wants to win an election, clearly.

But Sir Keir’s party will also want to win a second, even a third, and keeping a lid on the promises now might serve Labour well later down the line.

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