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Diane Abbott on Moving Forward to a Labour Victory

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

7 Comments

  1. John Walsh says:

    Diane, lovely to hear from you but this might not be the appropriate forum for a ‘nice talk to the troops’ kind of message. As far as I can see, the majority of people commenting on here have serious concerns about: the leaderships’ inability to involve members in, for example, policy development which would contribute to the left vision needed for any chance of an election victory; the apparent lack of strategy and tactics so that we allocate so much time to the NEC CLP reps election only to be outmanoeuvred; the cavalier way that the right disregard the rules at conference, safe in the knowledge that the left isn’t capable of any kind of challenge.

    Granted, there are interesting claims in your piece, for example when you claim that the J4leader campaign has been “pioneering new methods and techniques of campaigning and organising, which will be of great use to all the party in the year ahead”. Expanding on this claim would be useful as it certainly doesn’t tally with what I see locally, in particular with regard to the activities of the J4Leader people, or with numerous comments on this issue on this website.

    However, the likelihood of someone from the ‘top-table’ expanding on such claims seem slim. This could be seen as part of the problem – there’s lots of in-depth discussion on here but no conduit to the leadership. We could all learn from an exchange of ideas but despite the promise of the ‘new kind of politics’ that hasn’t happened to date and doesn’t look like happening any time soon.

    1. John Penney says:

      Tragically very, very, true, John Walsh. Diane’s article is patronising guff , to this politically switched on audience in particular .

      Unless the “Leadership Group” atop Momentum allow this , now, mass radical Left movement within Labour to become a proper internally democratic mobilising focus for the Left within our Party – rather than a totally “top down” stage army, the “Corbynite Insurgency” is simply going to be ground down by the Right’s highly experienced, well entrenched, highly motivated by personal rewards, PLP and Party machine cadre.

      Before the latest post Coup Leadership Campaign Momentum had a pitiful 6,000 members, and activity-wise it was pretty dormant – apart from canvassing duties. It now has over 18,000 members apparently – but the Centre still won’t share these contact addresses with us activists in most localities (though I understand some selected organisers do get these names – strange), and no doubt will want to put the organisation back into cold storage again now Jeremy is re-elected. All from a fear of a tiny Leadership group of old Labour Lefties about the possible intervention of a handful of ultralefts into Momentum in localities, and, more importantly, of the anti Momentum abuse of the mass media.

      Having now lost the Left NEC majority – AGAIN – with the malign Right domination of the Party machine therefore still assured – we are in serous danger of having won the battle (Jeremy’s victory) but still losing the war (actual control of the Party and setting it firmly on a Left policy path).

  2. Imran Khan says:

    I don’t think we should be lectured by someone who objects to blonde blue eyed Scandinavian nurses at her local hospital, sends her son to a private school because the ones in her constituency are so bad and blames ” racist” teachers for the failures of African Caribbean male pupils.

    1. human being says:

      I would agree racist bigotry from this lady many times publically

  3. Barry Rodin says:

    For my part I am very appreciative of Diana and other MPs who stood-up and supported Jeremy Corbyn during those very fraught days at the end of June and July and kept the shadow cabinet functioning.

    Diana has steadfastly supported progressive aims and policies since the late 1980s and is a stalwart supporter of the CLPD, the one organisation which has consistently striven for greater democracy, inclusiveness and progressive policies within the Labour Party over the past 40 years.

    Looking forwards most analysts of the Labour Party perceive the NEC having an important role in any progress in increasing democracy and furthering progressive policies. With this regard, I believe there should greater focus/discussion on:

    a) the implication of changes made at Conference to the composition of the NEC (indeed, it is very disappointing after the great success of the Centre Left Grassroot Alliance that things are so still so tenuous on the NEC);

    b) how a Left policy path can be pursued, including increasing democracy and involvement among the LP membership;

    c) how radical/progressive forces within the LP, including Momentum, should develop to combat both reaction to gains already made and further pursue radical policies.

  4. Bazza says:

    I voted for JC and am a Momentum supporter and attend meetings and things are a bit top down.
    We are also often reactive when perhaps from the grassroots upwards we should be setting the agenda.
    I did watch JCs Conference speech on the BBC Parliament Channel and he did say that his ten policy ideas “were not the Ten Commandments and he wanted members to build on them.”
    I said at the last Momentum meeting post-Conference that we could organise a local Saturday Conference within the next 3 months (I was thinking of making them open to the public but this may come later) where we sign up for a workshop on the ten topics (one each group) to look at the topic area to add ideas to.
    In a plenary we then get a brief report back from each group where everyone can add things or amend and then the results are sent up to Momentum.
    Perhaps after our ‘pilots’ we encourage CLPs to hold public conferences on these lines too on each topic i.e. on housing, education, the economy, NHS etc. say once every 3 months or so up to the next General Election.
    For Momentum meetings perhaps we could even ask for volunteers from amongst attendees to write a brief paper with perhaps ten or so bullet points (ideally one side of A4) to bring to the next meeting for discussion for example these could be on ‘Reforming the NEC to make it Grassroots-Led’ and in a similar vein ‘Reforming Conference’.
    Yes Momentum meetings are to help organise but often we are told “and bring someone new” but perhaps these sessions could now be better used.
    But I do recognise there could be concerns, can we trust the bourgeois socialists etc. who may be hanging around waiting to try to introduce their top down ready made programmes?
    But it’s time for the grassroots socialists to be proactive and to start working out what we want and trying to set the agenda.
    By the way as the Tories meet I was thinking about austerity and their message to the rich was always – don’t worry about this austerity stuff, it won’t affect you (tax cuts for millionaires, tax cuts for private landlords with multiple properties, corporation tax cuts, tax cuts for hedge funds who gave £50m to the Tories who later gave hedge funds £150m in tax cuts) and for Tory Southern Councils it was don’t worry about this austerity stuff it won’t affect you.
    With the Tories changing local government settlement rates (with support from the Lib Dems) from being based on population size and need to just based on population size so Tory councils have had few if any cuts.
    The Tories are pretending to be the Party of working people but as Jeremy said they are the party of the rich – it’s just a con.
    As well as the grassroots setting the agenda in Labour we also need to make May’s Masque of Pandora slip.

  5. Bazza says:

    At present at times we may be outmanoeured by the ‘Timid’ and we then we work out what we should have done and should do but we are reactive.
    I want us to be proactive from below and to set the agenda.
    And talking about agendas – at Momentum meetings the Chair should say this is the suggested agenda and does anyone have any other business.
    Then anyone including me could add things like my idea on a local Saturday conference to discuss and build on the JCs 10 policy areas plus the idea of supporters writing one side of A4 papers (in short bullet points) to be discussed at future meetings.
    Then we all create together!
    Solidarity!

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