Jo Johnson, when he left government, became the first minister to resign his post in order to spend LESS time with his family. Dianne Abbott included this observation in her inspired address to conference this afternoon. More on that in the other post . . .
I felt very honoured and proud today to be part of the Labour movement. It seems to me that the Labour Party is a structure that exists to support the Labour movement – which is the really important part. The structure is needed, even if it does sometimes get in the way. It is the Labour movement that matters!
Labour have had some important successes. In 2010, the Tories and Lib Dems decided to ignore economists’ advice and historical evidence; instead they implemented austerity measures in response to the financial crash, claiming that it was a good thing to do. Many Labour MPs, including Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell voted against it and said that austerity was bad for people and for the country. The People’s Assembly Against Austerity and Labour have consistently argued that austerity is cruel, unjust and damaging to the economy more generally. These days even the authors of austerity – the Tories and Lib Dems – are claiming that “austerity is over” and/or that it is damaging. Labour have WON this battle!
That win is the basis for winning the upcoming general election. Engaging people – one on one – in discussion about the changes they would like to see in their world: local government, education, NHS, employment circumstances, utility bills, train fares, and so forth. Almost all of the problems that people experience with respect to public services can be traced, at least in part, to the actions of the Tory-LibDem coalition government 2010-2015, with subsequent aggravation by a Tory government. Labour is assembling a manifesto that is even better than the last one – a manifesto that will help demonstrate to people that what they really want – whether they initially believe it or not – is a Labour government. People may not believe it the first time, or even the second time they encounter this idea – but after a few encounters, it will take hold.
If you’re not sure that you can do it – perhaps practice a bit on people closest to you. Consider some of the following problems that Labour has addressed just this weekend, and notice how all of them are linked to the years of austerity that we have endured. Note that each of these plans have been fully funded and signed off by the Shadow Chancellor:
- Prescription charges are too high à Labour will eliminate them
- Schools suffer from underfunding and are often not accountable to the parents and community à Labour will take all publicly funded schools back under local authority control and fund schools properly. All new schools will be under local authority control. Existing academies will answer to democratically accountable local education committees with stakeholder representation. Labour will also replace the admin-heavy league-table approach of Ofsted with a system of peer review and cooperation between schools and local authorities.
- Ordinary people have no access to legal advice and representation à Labour will reinstate legal aid.
- The NHS is not able to provide the services needed à Labour will end all privatising and outsourcing and will properly fund the NHS through general taxation to ensure that it remains free at the point of need.
- Social care is inadequate and underfunded à Labour will provide a universal system of social care and support based on a universal right to independent living.
There is so much more we could list – and more will arise in the next couple of days. Collect the problems that people face and map them onto the improvements and solutions that Labour will provide. When we share and apply this knowledge in discussions with other people, we will contribute to winning the next general election.
Let’s talk when I get back. Please let me know if you’re interested; I think that together we can wage a serious campaign. I’m monitoring email@example.com while I’m at the conference.