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Reeves says she is ‘social democrat’ after Starmer declares himself ‘socialist’

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said she was a ‘social democrat’ when asked if she was a socialist (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said she was a ‘social democrat’ when asked if she was a socialist (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Rachel Reeves declined to say she was “a socialist” just a day after Sir Keir Starmer described himself as one.

Asked whether she was a socialist during a campaign visit to Rolls-Royce in Derby, the shadow chancellor said she had “always called myself a social democrat”.

She said: “What I mean by that is that I believe that children from whatever background they come from should get an equal start in life to the opportunities that our country offers.

“I believe in strong public services to support people all through their lives from the cradle to the grave, and I believe that work should always pay and offer security to people.”

Ms Reeves added that looking at Labour’s proposals and record in government was more important than “fixating on labels”.

Asked whether she was “relaxed” about people getting rich, she said: “I want businesses to be successful, and that includes paying people at the top properly for the work that they do.

“But I’m also committed to turn the minimum wage into a real living wage so that ordinary working people also benefit when the economy grows and is successful.”

In 1998, then-minister Peter Mandelson famously said he was “intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich, as long as they pay their taxes”.

On Monday, party leader Sir Keir Starmer said he was both a “socialist” and a “progressive” when asked the same question, adding: “I’d describe myself as somebody who always puts the country first and party second.”

Shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds told the BBC earlier on Tuesday that he was a “Christian socialist” in “the best traditions” of the term.

He added: “That’s about putting people first and to do that, you’ve got to have a set of policies that will deliver for people.”