This summer, Labour party members, registered supporters and affiliated supporters were again asked what sort of party they want Labour to be and what sort of leadership they want.
Under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership over the last year Labour has become more clearly identified as a party that will stand up for the living standards of the overwhelming majority of people against the Tories’ ideologically driven austerity. With their overwhelming support for Jeremy in this summer’s contest this summer our members and supporters have shown that they want us to continue on this path, which can lead us to defeating the Tories and then transforming Britain.
It was this path that was outlined throughout our Party Conference this week, with a number of policies announced and adopted that can provide the basis for a Labour victory at the next General Election.
Britain’s problems come from successive government policies that have promoted the financialisation of our economies and public services. They come from a Tory government slashing public services and widening inequality under the dubious banner of austerity.
Austerity continues to decimate our vulnerable communities, with the worst effects of cuts to public services and reforms to welfare still to come for many.
To give just one example, a recent report from Shelter showed that one in three families in England could not pay their rent or mortgage for more than a month if they lost their job.
But it is not just those on low incomes being hit. Across the country each household lost £1,127 on average under the last government just through tax and benefit changes. Real wages fell for seven years — and the decline only technically stopped because inflation dropped even lower than wages.
At the same time the wealth of the richest 1,000 people in Britain has doubled since the financial crash.
Labour is now offering strong opposition to this reactionary agenda across the board.
To give just some examples, Angela Rayner launched our ‘Education Not Segregation’ campaign, Debbie Abrahams announced we will scrap the discredited Work Capability Assessment and replace it with a system based on personalised, holistic support, and I am pleased to be leading our fight to save our proudest creation, the NHS, from Tory cuts and privatisation.
These problems need solutions based on a fundamentally different approach and a radical, credible economic alternative, that as John McDonnell put it this week will “rewrite the rules to the benefit of working people” on economic institutions, taxes and crucially investing in infrastructure and our future.
As the majority of people of have seen their living standards fall under the Tories, Labour is now offering policies that will raise living standards for the majority. It’s both the right thing to do and the popular thing. Our plan to replace austerity with investment-led growth is the basis for our Party to move forward in the months and years ahead.
As Jeremy Corbyn put it in his acceptance speech,
if you believe that it’s a scandal that here in Britain, the sixth largest economy in the world, four million children are in poverty and six million workers are paid less than the living wage; and if, like me, you believe we can do things far better, then help us build support for a genuine alternative that will invest in our future – a more prosperous future in which the wealth we all create is shared more equally.
Incredibly, alongside and as a consequence of this clear stance for investment not cuts, Labour party membership has risen to over 500,000 since Jeremy became leader – in the face of the most concerted campaign of denigration any Labour leader has ever endured in such a short space of time.
The Jeremy for Labour campaign this summer mobilised 10,000s volunteers in political activity and campaigning, pioneering new methods and techniques of campaigning and organising, which will be of great use to all the party in the year ahead.
We need to continue to build on this momentum, turning this support and enthusiasm into electoral victories.
Labour’s clear message from this week – of investing in our future – can provide people with hope and deliver better living standards. Now is the time for all the Party to come together, to respect Jeremy’s mandate and join in turning our fire on the Tory party, uniting around an agenda of investing in our future so no one and no community is left behind.
- Diane Abbott MP will be speaking alongside Jon Trickett MP, Richard Burgon MP, Catherine West MP and Kelvin Hopkins MP at the Labour Assembly Against Austerity Conference on October 22 in London – details at www.labourassemblyagainstausterity.org.uk