Keir Starmer puts six key pledges ‘up in lights’ to win over swing voters | Keir Starmer

Keir Starmer will on Thursday unveil his version of New Labour’s pledge card for the next general election with six key commitments “put up in lights” as part of his party’s offer to swing voters.

The campaign material, which will be distributed to voters on doorsteps across England, will be revealed at an event in Essex as the Labour leader launches the party’s biggest advertising blitz since the 2019 election.

His commitments, which include stabilising the economy, cutting NHS waiting times, setting up Great British Energy, cracking down on antisocial behaviour and recruiting 6,5000 new teachers, are the latest step in his five “national missions”.

However, he is also pledging a sixth – the launch of a new border security command – after the party was criticised for not having a separate mission for migration with the topic of small boats rising up the political agenda.

Starmer’s six ‘steps for change’. Illustration: Labour party

A Labour spokesperson said the electorate was right to be concerned about migration and, dismissing the Tories’ Rwanda deportation plan, added “we have a plan for the whole problem. They have a plan for 1% of it.”

Labour insiders said that the six “consumer focused” issues were chosen as they were expected to go down well in battleground areas where the party is hoping to pick up swing voters at the general election.

However, they denied it meant that other policy issues, such as housing and workers’ rights, had been “de-prioritised”, citing the example of the national minimum wage, one of New Labour’s biggest achievements, which had not been on Tony Blair’s pledge card in 1997.

A party spokesperson said the pledges were “not the sum total of what a Labour government hopes to achieve”, and that it stood by other commitments already made. He did not, however, say whether there would be new pledges in the manifesto.

Instead, the spokesperson said the policies were a “bridge to longer-term plans” with each of the commitments to be achieved in the first term of a Labour government.

The party conceded the word “pledge” had lost its currency as trust in politics has been eroded over recent years, but suggested they would aim to explain exactly how policies would be implemented and paid for.

The campaign event, which will be attended by the whole shadow cabinet off the back of a successful set of local results, represents the party’s biggest spend on advertising since the race against Boris Johnson in 2019.

It will include vans and billboards, as well as regional newspaper adverts in battleground seats, with local campaign materials to hand out to voters. There will be different versions for Scotland and Wales.

Starmer is pictured with his sleeves rolled up and text about “my” first steps for change, with party insiders admitting there was a deliberate decision to put his “personal stamp” on the campaign, despite mixed personal approval ratings.

Amid frenzied speculation about a surprise guest at the event, senior party figures have ruled out there being another defection from the Conservatives today, after rightwinger Natalie Elphicke’s shock move to Labour last week.

Labour has denied any significance launching its pledges in Essex, saying it was just one of many battleground areas, although party elections chief, Pat McFadden, has told the Guardian it is planning to target the south of England heavily at the general election.

At a shadow cabinet meeting before the event, Starmer said the pledge card showed his “first steps” towards delivering his missions were “a down payment on change”.

“What is crucial about these commitments is that they are part of a long-term plan to get Britain back on its feet,” he added. “Each of the first steps would chime with voters’ aspirations, show a clear set of priorities and a powerful direction of travel.”