My Reflections on Labour Party Conference
This may have been a glorious summer for the UK, with warm sunny days and incredible achievements at the Olympic and Paralympic Games, but the last few months have been a bitter winter for the Labour Party. Failing to secure a remain vote for the EU referendum; a vote of no confidence in the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn (followed his re-sounding re-election 6 weeks later); the tragic murder of our dear colleague and friend Jo Cox and the coronation of a new Tory Prime Minister who has made it clear she intends to intensify the policies of her predecessor by imposing unjust junior doctors’ contracts, committing to repeal the Human Rights Act and expanding an education system that is built upon the principle of segregation.
Over the past few days I have attended dozens of events and I have met hundreds of people and listened to the views of our party members, my parliamentary colleagues and of course the welcoming people of the wonderful city of Liverpool. Whilst we did not always agree on some of the finer points of policy, we did agree on one thing: that Labour must now step up to the challenge of being not only a robust and credible opposition, but a Government-in-waiting, energised and united by the principles which underpin our movement.
We do not need to turn back the clock to see what Labour can accomplish when in power; we need only to look to City Hall, where Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim Mayor in any major western city has secured the largest personal mandate in the history of our nation. Sadiq is already delivering policies that are tackling the key problems that Londoners face: the introduction of ‘Hopper’ bus tickets; launching a review into the closure of TfL ticket offices; reaffirming his commitment that fifty percent of new housing developments should be genuinely affordable and launching the Night Tube, a project that was consistently mismanaged by the former Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.
I warmly welcome the policies announced at this year’s conference, in particular Labour’s commitment to allow local councils to borrow against their assets to build more council homes; the introduction of a pupil premium for the arts in schools and of course re-affirming our opposition to a expanding the grammar schools- which in my view is an education system built on the principle of segregation.
We are now the largest party in Western Europe and indeed we have a membership that is now higher than all other major UK parties combined. Our task therefore is to harness the dynamism and energy of our membership to take the fight to the Tories, to ensure we elect a Labour Government again to stand up for Britain and what we believe in: building a strong economy; creating the good homes and good jobs we need; defending our NHS and our public services; and fighting for fairness, equality and social justice. In the coming weeks, I will continue to work hard to hold this Tory Government to account for their appalling lack of a comprehensive plan for Brexit, and more importantly, I will continue to lobby the Government to secure the most positive and progressive relationship with the EU as possible.