Reflections on Labour Party Conference 2017
This year was an exceptionally busy and vibrant conference, at which I spoke at a number of fringe events to discuss a range of issues including:
10th Anniversary of the Financial Crash: Have we done enough to fix the financial system in the past decade Fran Boait and Shadow Treasury Minister Anneliese Dodds supported by Positive Money
Human Rights After Brexit with Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty; Diane Abbott, Shadow Home Secretary and Lisa Nandy, MP for Wigan
Is Westminster Fit to Fix our Cities? Civic Philanthropy’s Role in Local Renewal with People’s Peer Lord Adebowale, Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham in association with the Barrow Cadbury Trust, the Charities Aid Foundation and New Philanthropy Capital.
Labour Against Brexit Rally with Seb Dance MEP, Mary Honeyball MEP and Alison McGovern MP.
It was fantastic see more young people and more members from diverse backgrounds attending conference than ever before to discuss Labour’s ambitious progressive programme for change to build a Britain for the many not the few.
The last seven years of Tory rule have allowed average wages to stagnate while inflation rises, energy bills sky-rocket and rents soar. Workers’ real wages are still lower than where they were in 2010, and this Government continues to stand idly by while this deepening crisis escalates.
In contrast, Labour stands ready to Govern and has officially put Theresa May’s weakening Government on notice. I welcome the announcements from the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell that a Labour Government introduce a Real Living Wage of £10 an hour; protect workers by guaranteeing no tax rises for 95 per cent of earners; bring wasteful PFI contracts back in house; help those trapped by credit card debt by introducing a cap on interest and invest in new homes to rent and buy by building over a million new homes in five years, with at least 100,000 genuinely affordable homes a year by the end of Labour’s first term.
Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn opened his speech by re-affirming our message that only a Labour Government will protect and invest in our public services and build an economy that works for the many not the few.
I support Jeremy’s policy to scrap tuition fees, lift the public sector pay cap, bring utilise back into public ownership and introduce rent controls to tackling a housing market that has spiralled out of control.
In particular I was delighted that Jeremy announced that peace and social justice would be placed at the heart of UK foreign policy and knee-jerk bombing campaigns are not the answer in tackling terrorism and creating a lasting peace.
Finally, I welcome a commitment to forging positive and progressive relationship with the EU, which is focussed around jobs, trade and industry as well as retaining environmental protections and the raft of workers and human rights which the EU has guaranteed to all its citizens. As a staunch Remainer, I have continued to hold this Government to account over their chaotic approach to Brexit, asking more parliamentary questions to the Secretary of State for Brexit than any other MP in the last parliament and founding the All-Party Parliamentary group on UK-EU Relations.
As I left conference, the mood was one of optimism, energy and hope, with a renewed commitment to tackling hate, anti-Semitism, racism, homophobia, sexism, transphobia and other forms of racism and prejudice, enshrined in a new rule proposed by the Jewish Labour Movement. There is no place for hate and discrimination in the party, in parliament or indeed in civil society.
The task for us now is to take this message of hope to the streets up and down the UK to ensure that a Labour Government is elected to implement this fantastic agenda for change.