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Jeremy Corbyn’s speech today in Parliament

Mr Speaker,

The whole House recognises that decisions to send British forces to war are the most serious, solemn and morally challenging of any that we have to take as members of parliament.

The motion brought to the House today by the government authorising military action in Syria against Isil faces us with such a decision.

It is one with potentially far-reaching consequences for us all, here in Britain, as well as for the people of Syria and the wider Middle East.

For all members, taking a decision that will put British service men and women in harm’s way and almost inevitably lead to the deaths of innocents is a heavy responsibility.

It must be treated with the utmost seriousness – and respect given to those who make a different judgement about the right course of action to take.

Which is why the Prime Minister’s attempt to brand those who plan to vote against the government as “terrorist sympathisers” both demeans the office of the Prime Minister and undermines the seriousness of the deliberations we are having today.

Since the Prime Minister first made his case for extending UK bombing to Syria in the House last week, the doubts and unanswered questions then expressed on both sides of the House have only grown and multiplied.

That’s why it is a matter of such concern that the government has decided to push this vote through parliament today.

It would have been far better to allow a full two-day debate that would have given all members the chance to make a proper contribution.

It is impossible to avoid the conclusion that the Prime Minister understands public opposition to his ill thought-out rush to war is growing – and wants to hold the vote before it slips from his hands.

Whether it’s the lack of a strategy worth the name the absence of credible ground troops the missing diplomatic plan for a Syrian settlement the failure to address the impact on the terrorist threat or the refugee crisis and civilian casualties: it’s become increasingly clear that the Prime Minister’s proposal for military action simply doesn’t stack up.

Last week the Prime Minister focused his case for bombing in Syria on the critical tests set by the respected cross-party Foreign Affairs select committee.

Given the holes in the government’s case, it’s scarcely surprising that last night the committee reported that the Prime Minister had not “adequately addressed” their concerns.

In other words, the committee judged that the Prime Minister’s case for bombing has failed its tests.

After the despicable and horrific attacks in Paris last month, the question of whether the government’s proposal for military action in Syria  strengthens – or undermines – our own national security must be at the centre of our deliberations.

There is no doubt that the so-called Islamic state group has imposed a reign of sectarian and inhuman terror in Iraq, Syria and Libya. And there is no question that it also poses a threat to our own people.

The issue is now whether extending UK bombing from Iraq to Syria is likely to reduce, or increase, that threat in Britain – and whether it will counter, or spread, the terror campaign Isil is waging across the Middle East.

The answers don’t make the case for the government’s motion. On the contrary, they are a warning to step back and vote against yet another ill-fated twist in the never-ending war on terror.

Start with the military dimension. The Prime Minister has been unable to explain why extending air strikes to Syria will make a significant military impact on the existing campaign.

Isil is already being bombed in Syria or Iraq by the US, France, Britain, Russia and other powers.

During more than a year of bombing Isil has expanded, as well as lost, territory. Those Isil gains include the Iraqi city of Ramadi and the Syrian city of Palmyra.

The claim that superior British missiles will make the difference is hard to credit when the US and other states are struggling to find suitable targets. In other words, extending UK bombing is highly unlikely to work.

Second, the Prime Minister has failed to convince almost anyone that – even if British participation in the air campaign were to tip the balance – there are credible ground forces able to take back territory now held by Isil.

In fact, it’s quite clear there are no such forces.

Last week, the Prime Minister suggested that Kurdish militias or the Free Syrian Army would be able to fill the gap. He even claimed a 70,000-strong force of moderate FSA fighters was ready to coordinate action against Isil with the western air campaign.

That claim has not remotely stood up to scrutiny. Kurdish forces will be of little assistance in the Sunni Arab areas Isil controls. Nor will the FSA, which includes a wide range of groups few would regard as moderate – and mostly operates in other parts of the country.

The only ground forces able to take advantage of a successful anti-Isil air campaign are much stronger jihadist and Salafist groups close to Isil-controlled areas.

That’s what the Prime Minister’s bombing campaign could well lead to.

It’s why the logic of an extended air campaign is mission creep and western boots on the ground – whatever the Prime Minister may say now …. about keeping British combat troops out of the fight.

Third, the military aim of attacking Isis targets in Syria is not part of a coherent diplomatic strategy.

UN security council resolution 2249 passed after the Paris atrocities and cited in today’s government motion does not give clear and unambiguous authorisation for UK bombing in Syria.

To do so it would have had to be passed under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter to which the security council couldn’t agree.

The UN resolution is certainly a welcome framework for joint action to cut off funding, oil revenues and arms supplies from Isil. But there’s little sign of that happening in earnest.

Nor is there yet any serious evidence that it’s being used to coordinate international military or diplomatic strategy in Syria.

That’s despite the clear risk of potentially disastrous incidents such as the shooting down of a Russian military aircraft by Turkish forces leading to a dangerous escalation.

Fourth, The Prime Minister has avoided spelling out to the British people the warnings he has surely been given about the likely impact of UK air strikes in Syria on the threat of terrorist attacks in the UK.

That is something all those backing the government’s motion should weigh heavily when they vote to send RAF pilots into action over Syria.

It is critically important, Mr Speaker, that we are honest with the British people about the potential consequences of the action the Prime Minister is proposing today.

I’m aware that there are those with military experience, including members on the benches opposite, who have argued that extending UK bombing will – and I quote – “increase the short-term risks of terrorist attacks in Britain.”

We should also remember the impact on communities here in Britain. Since the Paris attacks there has been a sharp increase in Islamophobic incidents and physical attacks.

The message must go out from all of us in the House: we will not tolerate any form of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia or racism in our country.

And the Prime Minister has offered no serious assessment of the impact of an intensified air campaign on civilian casualties in Isil-held Syrian territory or the wider Syrian refugee crisis.

At least 250,000 have already been killed in Syria’s terrible civil war 11 million made homeless and four million forced to leave the country.

Many more have been killed by the Assad regime than by Isil itself.

Yet more bombing in Syria will kill innocent civilians of that there’s no doubt and turn many more Syrians into refugees.

Yesterday I was sent this message from a Syrian constituent of mine.

“I’m a Syrian from Manbij city, which is now controlled by Isil”, he writes. “Members of my family still live there and Isil didn’t kill them. My question to David Cameron is: ‘Can you guarantee the safety of my family when your air forces bomb my city?’”

And there is no EU-wide strategy to provide humanitarian assistance to those victims. You can’t back more bombing without a plan to pick up the pieces.

Finally, and perhaps most important of all the Prime Minister is still entirely unable to explain how UK bombing in Syria would contribute to a comprehensive negotiated political settlement of the Syrian war.

Such a settlement is widely accepted to be the only way to ensure the isolation and defeat of Isil in the country.

Isil grew out of the invasion of Iraq. But it has flourished in Syria in the chaos and horror of a multi-front civil war.

And the government’s bombing proposal clearly does not subordinate military action to international diplomatic efforts.

The Prime Minister’s approach is bomb first, talk later.

Instead of adding British bombs to the others now raining down on Syria, what’s needed is an acceleration of the peace talks in Vienna.

Those negotiations need to involve all the main regional and international powers with the aim of establishing a broad-based government in Syria that has the support of the majority of its people.

In the context of such a settlement internationally backed regional forces could help to take back territory from Isil. But its lasting defeat in Syria can only be secured by Syrians themselves.

The government’s proposal for military action in Syria is not backed by clear and unambiguous authorisation by the UN. It does not meet the seven tests set by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee.

And it does not fulfil three out of four conditions laid down in Labour’s conference resolution passed two months ago.

In the past week, we have given a voice to the growing opposition to the government’s bombing plans – across the country, in parliament and the Labour party.

And the rejection of fourteen years of disastrous wars in the wider Middle East was a central pillar of the platform on which I was elected Labour leader.

In the light of that record of western military interventions, UK bombing of Syria risks yet more of what President Obama called “unintended consequences”.

The spectre of Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya looms over this debate.

To oppose another reckless and half-baked intervention isn’t pacifism. It’s hard-headed common sense.

To resist Isil’s determination to draw the western powers back into the heart of the Middle East isn’t to turn our backs on allies.

It’s to refuse to play into the hands of Isil.

It’s wrong for us here in Westminster to see a problem, pass a motion and drop the bombs pretending we’re doing something to solve it.

That’s what we did in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. Has terrorism increased or decreased as a result?

The Prime Minister said he was looking to build a consensus around the military action he wants to take.

He has achieved nothing of the kind.

He has failed to make the case for another bombing campaign. All our efforts should instead go into bringing the Syrian civil war to an end.

After Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, members thinking of voting for bombing should keep in mind how terrible the consequences can be.

Only a negotiated peace settlement can overcome the Isil threat in Syria. And that should be our overriding goal.

Posted on December 2, 2015 1:50 pm by Paul Gleeson

In memory of Nye Bevan & Jenny Lee

Sue Walsh who is Secretary of Boston & Skegness CLP reports

WP_20151103_11_22_51_Pro 1On 3 November I attended the Unveiling of a Blue Plaque on the wall of a house in Chelsea London.  First impressions were of a rather large 5 story house on a busy London street with no front garden.  What possible relevance could this house have to Boston & Skegness Labour Party?  Why has the Labour History Group sent out this invitation?  Why are Neil Kinnock and Baroness Meacher stood on the pavement outside this house?

Well I will tell you.     This house saw the creation of the NHS, it provided the rooms in which Aneurin Bevin designed, planned and argued for the Labour Party’s greatest achievement.  The house into which he moved in 1944 when it was just a basement with the rest of the house a casualty of Hitler’s Bombs.  It was from this house that Nye Bevan left to go to the commons on 30 April 1946 to deliver the speech that started the NHS act on its Journey through parliament.  

This house also saw the creation of a second great British institution.  For it was here that Jenny Lee wife to Nye Bevan conceived and completed the work needed for the creation of the Open University.  The project was originally called the “the university of the air” a title which Jenny hated.   Working with Harold Wilson who appointed her Minister for the Arts the university was born in the 1960s. 

So this is a house with a history, a house at the centre of the welfare state.  A house that grew from the ashes of the Second World War and gave us something that we need to fight for every day.   A National Health Service free at the Point of need.  And the connection to Boston & Skegness, The Pilgrim, built for the people of this area   .A NHS hospital that never closes, that never turns anyone away, doesn’t ask for payment or means test your finances.


And remember  The NHS will only last for as long as we are willing to fight for it.

Posted on November 13, 2015 6:14 am by Paul Gleeson

Trade Union Bill – Local Members lobby of Parliament 2/11/2015

A report by Sue Walsh who is secretary of Boston and Skegness CLP

On 2 November I joined colleagues from other trade unions and the TUC to lobby the government about the Trade Union Bill.  I had arranged a meeting with Boston & Skegness MP Mat Warman at 2pm in the House of Commons.  We assembled in the Central Methodist Hall across the road for a protest meeting at 11am.  There were people from all unions present including the Fire Brigade Band and engine. 

I met with Matt at just gone 2pm, I told him I wished to discuss the Anti-trade union bill currently before parliament.  I challenged him on 3 points from the bill.  The percentage needed to conduct a legal strike, payroll deductions and electronic voting.

I asked if the cost to employers of payroll deductions was met by the unions would he vote for it.   Mr Warman indicated that he believed payroll deductions were wrong because it costs the employer.  I informed him that some of our vulnerable employees only had basic bank accounts that do not allow direct debits or standing orders.  He stated that the government needs to look at banking regulations and change the rules.  When asked when he replied “probably not soon”.  Regarding the % of votes needed for strike, I pointed out to him that he would not have been elected last May.  Matt agreed and replied that he believed that voting should be mandatory in all elections.  He went on to say that voting was mandatory in Australia and it worked well there.  This is something he wishes to raise with the government.  I then asked why electronic voting is good enough for the conservative party, indeed the choice of London mayoral candidate was determined by electronic voting.  He replied that the election was an internal matter specific to the Tory party.  I pointed out that any union election or ballot would be an internal matter specific to the union involved so the same concerns about security would apply to the tory party as well.  Electronic voting would raise the turnout and potentially give us the threshold needed for strike, exactly what the Tory party does not want. 

I challenged Mr Warman that all the points raised would increase the turnout which is David Cameron’s stated aim.  I pointed out the bill is a direct attack on trade unions and our members.  There is no interest in reducing costs to the employer or increasing turnout.  Payroll deduction is cost neutral and it allows the employer to see union density in the workplace.  His aim is to reduce funding to the main opposition party without effecting the tory party funding and to make union membership more difficult for people.

In summary we have a MP who believes that voting should be mandatory, that vulnerable people should be denied union membership, and that MPs can be trusted with electronic voting but ordinary workers are not trustworthy.   In short a ideology driven attack on working people. 

Matt Warman has consistently voted for measures that adversely affect a large proportion of his constituents.   


Posted on November 12, 2015 8:10 am by Paul Gleeson

Crime figures may give the public false reassurance and do not tell the full story

Andy Burnham MP, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, responding to the latest quarterly crime statistics from the ONS, said:

“These figures may give the public false reassurance and do not tell the full story. Police recorded crime is rising with the biggest increases coming in some of the most serious areas. There has been a major increase in sexual offences and significant increases in violence and knife possession.

“Today’s figures fail to include online crime. Crime has changed and moved online in recent years but the official figures have still not caught up with that. The ONS has estimated there have been 5.1 million incidents of fraud and when they are added in in the next survey, the picture will look very different indeed.

“If the public had the true picture about crime in England and Wales, they would be up in arms about plans in the Government Spending Review to cut our police services back to the bone.

“I say to the Tories – this is no time to cut the Police. If the Government proceed with their proposed cuts, community safety would be put at risk and victims of crime left abandoned. Only this week, the Chief Constable of Lancashire has warned that his force would be ‘unviable’ and the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police has said that his force would be unable to secure the safety of the capital.

“These are warnings of the highest seriousness. This is why the Conservative Party must rethink their plans for drastic cuts and protect frontline policing at a time when crime is changing and appears to be on the rise.”

Posted on October 16, 2015 8:59 am by Paul Gleeson

Grammar schools – David Cameron has turned his back on social mobility – Lucy Powell

Lucy Powell MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, responding to reports that Nicky Morgan will grant permission for a new grammar school in Kent, said:

“Having made social mobility the centre of his conference speech, David Cameron should look at the clear evidence on grammar schools: They do not increase equality of opportunity: they make it worse. Tiny numbers of children from disadvantaged backgrounds pass their tests because they are the preserve of the privately tutored. That’s why Ofsted and educational experts are against their expansion. This is a hugely backward step from a Prime Minister who seems to care little for excellence for all. David Cameron is once again saying one thing but doing the opposite.”

Posted on October 15, 2015 8:38 am by Paul Gleeson

Housing – Over the last five years the Conservatives have completely failed

John Healey MP, Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning, responding to reports of David Cameron’s speech, said:

Posted on October 7, 2015 8:41 am by Paul Gleeson

It is a kick in the teeth for working families to hear Jeremy Hunt – Owen Smith

Owen Smith MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, responding to Jeremy Hunt’s comments on how the tax credit cuts are partly about teaching the British that they need to work as hard as the Chinese, said:

“The Government’s tax credit changes do send a signal and we get the message loud and clear – if you are in work and on low to medium pay the Tories are not on your side.

“It is a kick in the teeth for working families to hear Jeremy Hunt patronisingly say that the reason they are struggling to pay the bills is because they are not working hard enough. When the truth is his government is ruining family finances right across Britain.

“Labour has warned time and again that these tax credit cuts will hurt millions of ordinary working people, yet the Tories are digging their heels in. It’s not too late to change course and Labour will be fighting these cuts to tax credits the whole way.”

Posted on October 6, 2015 11:05 am by Paul Gleeson

Straight talking – honest politics

Posted on October 3, 2015 9:43 am by Paul Gleeson

Speech by Tom Watson to Labour Party Annual Conference

Speech by Tom Watson to Labour Party Annual Conference

Tom Watson MP, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, in a speech to Labour Party Annual Conference in Brighton, said:

Good afternoon Conference. It’s been a good week.

It’s been quite a different experience. I think I’m going to like being your Deputy Leader.

As Jeremy said yesterday, we’ve done 37 events together, though we decided not to gatecrash the Labour students’ disco like I normally do.

This is a great gathering of the Labour clan.

Unlike the Lib Dem conference last week, with their 8 MPs, which could have been held in a broom cupboard. Or, as the Tories call it, the servants’ quarters.

The entire Lib Dem parliamentary party can now fit into two minicabs.

More people joined Labour in a month than the total membership of the Lib Dems. That’s a fact. 2,200 joined yesterday alone.

Did you see the Lib Dem conference in Bournemouth? The slogan was hashtag Lib Dem Fightback. But the only coverage they could get was talking about Jeremy and Labour.

I did go too far though when I compared the Lib Dems to a Banarama tribute band. Some people were angry, and I accept that I crossed the line. What I said was demeaning, unjustified and wrong. Siobhan, Sara, Keren – I should never have compared your tribute acts to that useless bunch of lying sellouts, the Lib Dems and I’m sorry.

And as for the Tories, within hours of Jeremy being elected, that master of understatement, the Prime Minister, tweeted: “The Labour Party is now a threat to our national security, our economic security and your family’s security.”

This from a Tory Government that axed 20,000 service personnel, doubled public debt to £1.5 trillion and increased child poverty.

So we’ll take no lessons from Cameron and Osborne.

I want to thank Jeremy Corbyn and Harriet Harman.

Harriet’s served our party in Parliament since I was at school. She championed the cause of women more consistently than any British politician since the war. As a role model, an advocate, an adversary, she is formidable.

Take it from me, you don’t want to mess with Harriet. And British women have benefited from that.

It’s funny, one of the problems I had to solve when I took over from Harriet was to work out what to do with that famous pink bus. We asked the Lib Dems if they wanted to borrow it for their conference, but apparently they didn’t need a vehicle that big.

Jeremy, you’ve opened up an exciting, energetic debate about the future of the Labour party and the future of our country.

Every fringe meeting, every debate, every discussion this week has fizzed with the opportunity for change.

You’ve been like an asteroid smashing the old certainties.

Thank you.

It’s been very exciting and I’ve enjoyed it.

Because it would have been easy to slide into factionalism this week.

The media would have loved that.

We didn’t do it.

We’ve shown that we can have different opinions, and argue for them passionately, but remain friends.

It’s what normal people in the real world do all the time.

How often have you disagreed with work colleagues, had a bit of an argument, but stuck to a common position?

It’s called working together.

And how often does your family put its differences aside so the whole family can face the world together?

It’s called solidarity.

And how obvious is it that what unites us as a party is far more than what divides?

It’s called unity.

And from unity comes strength. That’s why we’re stronger now, as we prepare to leave Brighton, than we were when we arrived.

We speak with one voice.

We are One Labour.

And let me tell you one thing that unites us, not just with each other, but with comrades in sister parties and mass movements all over Europe and the rest of the world:

We are an anti-austerity party.

To our core and unequivocally, we stand against austerity as a pure expression of our values.

It’s not just what we believe; it’s who we are.

There can be no doubt after yesterday’s speech that we have an anti-austerity leader.

And there should be no doubt at all after today that we have an anti-austerity Deputy Leader too.

Tory austerity’s wreaked havoc on ordinary people. Over 3 million working people are worse off. This winter they’ll have to choose between keeping their children warm or keeping them fed. In one of the richest countries in the world.

That’s what austerity means. It’s disgusting.

For the first time since the war, people now in their twenties and thirties are worse off than their parents’ generation. And unless something changes, they always will be.

And the only change there can be is Labour.

That’s us. We’re the difference.

Leaving the elderly to struggle, closing refuges to desperate women and children, sanctioning disabled people and people with mental health problems,

thousands dying after being declared ‘fit for work’:

That’s why they’re called the nasty party.

It’s horrible. I hate the powerlessness of opposition.

So I’m determined to change it in the only way we can – by winning.

Being an anti-austerity party isn’t just about fairness and decency though; it’s also economic common sense.

George Osborne doubled the debt in his first term as Chancellor.

He racked up more debt than any Labour Chancellor in history.

He’s now presiding over the slowest recovery in 300 years, all because he can’t admit the truth: that austerity doesn’t even work.

You don’t grow your economy with austerity. You grow it with investment, and kill it with it austerity. Ask an economist: killing public sector demand kills private sector demand kills growth and obliterates tax receipts. It’s not rocket science. That’s what’s happened, what’s still happening now.

It’s what always happens under the Tories.

We need to grow our markets for tech and innovation – across all our public services and beyond them. Long-term investment in growth industries, in talent and skill, is what’ll make us prosperous and relevant.

The Tories conned people into believing that austerity was pain we had to go through. It’s not true.

It’s actually austerity that’s making our recovery so slow.

And faster growth – which means more successful businesses – is the antidote.

Yet I still sometimes talk to Labour people who can’t understand why I talk about small and micro-businesses. The 0-9ers, as they’re known – businesses with less than 10 employees.

But if you don’t think these are our people, think again. That’s why Jeremy spoke yesterday about extending basic employment rights to self-employed people. Because these are the same people, with the same values and vulnerabilities that we’ve always stood up for. The woman whose great grandfather was forced by the company to buy his own tools in the slate mines of North Wales now works as a data entry contractor in a call centre forty miles away.

Maybe she’s on a zero-hours contract. Or maybe she’s got no employment contract at all. Maybe she’s self-employed. She works for an agency. On little more than minimum wage, with no holiday pay, no sick pay, no entitlement to nothing, working 60 unsociable hours a week to just about put clothes on the kids’ backs.

That’s one face of the modern-micro business in Cameron’s Britain.

Or the man I met campaigning over the summer who employs 6 people in his low-margin startup, all of whom have mortgages, because they have regular incomes – but he can’t get one because, as the business owner, he doesn’t.

And there are millions like them. 5.2 million private sector businesses in the UK, employing more than 25 million people.

96 per cent of these are micro business, with 0-9 employees. That’s a third of all private sector employees in the UK. More than 8 million people in 5 million businesses. And the proportion’s growing all the time, faster than any other segment of the economy.

These people are not posh. They’re not privileged. They’re not greedy or selfish or stupid. They work hard, they want to get on, but they also care about their neighbours and the communities we share.

They’re our people, and we’re their party – or we are nothing.

If we don’t speak for the 0-9ers, we will never win another election.

And they need a political voice. The Tories don’t care about them. As John McDonnell said on Monday, the Tories are the party of the 1 per cent, the super-privileged who own the land and the money. They live in a different country. They don’t use our schools or hospitals, which feeds their contempt for our public services.

And just as they sneer at our nurses, teachers and local government workers, they have the same patrician disdain for the white van drivers and the self-employed web workers who are the hard-pressed proletarians of the gig economy.

These people need a voice in our democracy: the outsourced self-employed, the web workers who crunch data and information as consultants, the dairy farmers reliant on a few powerful retailers – they all need a collective voice and they need organising.

This whole party, this movement was founded on the belief that workers need their voice amplifying in the age-old struggle with the vested interests of capital.

None of that has changed.

If I was setting up a union today it would be the Union of Web Workers – organising the interests of information workers who use screens and keyboards as the tools of their trade.

We have to be the party of everybody, or we’re the party of nobody.

And we have to be a party that’s – genuinely – led by its members.

We’ve just taken a huge step down that road. We’ve got a leader, and, dare I say it, a deputy leader, who’ve just been resoundingly elected in a great outpouring of democracy.

On which note, please can we pay tribute to John Smith? He started the process 22 years ago that led to the surging wave of democratic engagement we’ve seen this summer. He was a man of great vision and we still feel his loss.

And let’s also recognise what Ed Miliband did. He drove through the rule changes which enfranchised hundreds of thousands of new people who weren’t even members of our party. They’ve utterly changed the face of Labour.

Shaken it up and made it into something it could never otherwise have been.

That’s Ed’s radical legacy that Jeremy now takes on.

Yesterday in his speech Jeremy poked fun at the pundits, as well he might:

He wasn’t the pundits’ choice, after all; he was the people’s choice, the members whose party this really is.

And let’s be clear: because he’s the people’s choice, he’s the right choice.

He wants to reciprocate the trust of our members.

Our party was founded as a democracy. But over the years we began to think the leadership knows best.

Well that was wrong. It didn’t. And that’s why the old days of central command and control are now gone.

Jeremy and I will give Labour back to its members.

Because the party is the membership.

The shadow cabinet and leadership are just privileged servants of the 600,000.

All those members will be part of the big decisions we have to make.

We need to be a truly inclusive party – and the way we’ve conducted ourselves this week has been a great start.

We need to welcome all our new members better than we used to.

And we also need to thank those members who’ve been with Labour for years.

Who stuck by us when thick turned to thin and it wasn’t much fun any more.

You did the right thing. We can make the world a better place.

And Digital technology will be crucial to this process. People think I’m boring about it, but the reason I’ve been banging on for 20 years is that it’s important. It changes everything.

We can only refashion ourselves as a modern party by making ourselves digital. There’s no alternative. We have to relocate online.

Not that there won’t be any meetings any more, but increasingly we’ll do things online that can’t be done in any other way. And there’ll be more and more things we do in the physical world that are only made possible by the digital.

So when I talk about a digital revolution, to be clear, I’m not just talking about doing social media better and spamming members less with fundraising emails – but that would be a good start.

I’m talking about changing the nature of what we are. So that Labour’s embedded in our daily lives through technology we no longer even notice. The party will be in your pocket, on your smartphone, on the tool bar of your tablet – wherever you want it.

Look at what’s happened to books, newspapers, travel agents, factories, shops.

You don’t just sign up to Twitter but carry on as you were.

The very nature of what you are and how you relate to the world changes.

Organisations that survive don’t just do the same things differently. They do different things.

And that’s where we are as a party now. Our challenge is to become a different kind of organisation, doing different things, but with the same objective: a fairer and more equal society.

So reshaping our party for the digital age and returning our party democracy to the members is a single process.

A party in which every member can talk to every other member.

Communities of interest, of all different kinds, inside the online entity we need to become.

And reaching out to communities outside the Labour party.

As the Leader said yesterday: let’s start with voter registration. Let’s mobilise our new army of members and volunteers to make sure that millions of our citizens aren’t cheated of their democratic rights from December.

I’ll be leading that charge, and alongside me will be the unsung heroes of our movement: Labour councillors. We’ve got thousands of them. They do so much, and we thank them so little.

So to every Labour councillor in the United Kingdom, on behalf of the Labour party, as its Deputy Leader, I thank you for the hugely important work you do.

You’re the bridge between the party and communities, the most crucial cogs in our organisational machine. We couldn’t do a fraction of what we do without you.

Thank you all.

There should be no important decision made at the national level on which Labour councillors are not consulted. It’s councillors who actually run services and represent us every day on the front line. They’re among our most undervalued resources. I’m going to put that right.

And an even greater waste of our natural talent is the lack of working class Labour MPs. We need more. Simple as that. No offence to any individual, but there are too many Special Advisers at the top of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Don’t get me wrong, we need Special Advisers, but we can’t afford to be a party which only promotes people like that. We can’t afford a Shadow Cabinet which is monochrome and monocultural. Our movement and our country are richer and better than that.

We need to look like the nation we seek to represent.

So we have to be the party of women. We’re not an old boys’ club like the Tories. We’re nothing like that. The women’s struggle is our struggle. It’s in our DNA. We have to be a feminist party. A party for gender parity, equal representation in the House of Commons and in local government.

Rooting out abuse and misogyny wherever it occurs, as Jeremy rightly said yesterday.

Supporting groups like the Labour Women’s Network, who mentor women in politics.

Supporting the third sector in their fight to restore the vital services women need to be safe from fear and violence, cruelly cut by the Tories.

Labour women will continue to demand the changes we need in our society until we get real gender equality in Britain. And Labour men are going to have to listen.

We can’t let our commitment to women slide. It’s fundamental to who we are.

And so is our identity as Britain’s party for black and minority ethnic people. Labour’s always been the BAME party. We’ve stood shoulder to shoulder with new communities as they’ve grown and become part of our national fabric.

We mustn’t take that for granted now. We have a far better record than the rest, but we need to be better still. We need more BAME representatives and leaders. I was elected on a mandate to make that happen, and I mean to see it through.

And we need to be a European party. In the referendum, we’ve got to campaign to stay in, and working people need us to win.

And after this conference no one can be in any doubt they’ll have a choice at the next general election.

The difference between us and the Tories is that we see the great British spirit of enterprise as the engine of our Welfare State.

To the Tories, the market’s an end it itself.

They’re completely fixated on money, but they don’t understand what it’s for. That’s the Tory tragedy.

We want to build a prosperous Britain.

But we also want a kinder, fairer Britain, in which everybody has a chance for a decent life.

And we’re still a long way off.

The biggest determinant of your wealth at death in this country is still your postcode at birth.

If you’re born poor, you die poor. Born rich, you die rich. Chances are.

And that’s what this is all about. That’s why we’re still in this room after these four amazing days and a frantic four months of campaigning.

Born poor, die poor; born rich, die rich.

That’s not fair.

Every child in our country should have the chance to make something of themselves.

With Labour, they will.

They have before and they will again.

In government we made this country a far, far better place:

Record numbers of new schools and hospitals.

Far better pay for public sector workers.

Led the world on climate change and international development.

The minimum wage.

Tax credits.

The pension credit.

Civil partnerships.

The Disability Discrimination Act.

The Human Rights Act.

The Gangmasters Act.

Paid holidays.

Maternity leave.

Paternity leave.

Union recognition rights.

Temporary and agency workers’ rights.

And literally a thousand more progressive things we did to change our country for the better.

That’s what a Labour government means:

A country that we can be proud of.

And that’s why we have to get back into government.

I’m not in politics to play the game; I’m here to change the game.

Ten minutes of Tory government is too much. Ten years is a nightmare that our people can’t afford.

So now we’ve had our summer of introspection, let’s get back out into the country and start talking to people.

Let’s get out onto every street in every suburb of Britain and start listening to people.

Then let’s harness the power of the great movement we’ve always been.

And let’s kick these nasty Tories down the road where they belong.

Posted on September 30, 2015 2:48 pm by Paul Gleeson

Conference report – Day 4

Labour Party Conference

Brighton 2015


Day 4

IMG_0993Well this is the day, 4th day of conference but probably the most important day of the week.  The sun is shining as we make our way past lines of police, concrete crash barriers and net fencing designed to catch flying objects.  Is the beautiful weather a good omen for the future we are trying to build?  We can only hope.

Once we have been scrutinised, scanned and granted admission to the main foyer you come up against a solid wall of human anticipation and excitement.  There is still 5 hrs to work through before the main event but people are already in a panic.  The party desk is surrounded by people who have lost, mislaid or just plain forgotten to bring their invitations to the leader’s speech.  No invite, no admission that is the final word.  Also you has better be prepared to stand in a line for a long period.  Once all the delegates are in and seated empty seats will be offered on a first come basis.

Before the great event we still had a lot of work to get through.

Co-op party report from Stella Creasey MP.  Because the co-op party is sister party to labour this is the only other political party labour members may join. Many of our MPs are members of and supported by the Co-Op party.

We moved into Living standards and sustainability followed by “taking the fight to the Tories” Now there is something the floor is very happy to do.    All the time people had a part of their mind on “the Speech”.  What will be in it?  What will the media say? How long will it be? Will there be some policy?

We discussed stronger, safer communities then the composite motions on housing and Licence fee.  Yes we are very happy to build council houses, no we do not want to sell what we have now, Motion passed.  Yes we like the BBC to be impartial and independent even though most of us don’t think they are.  Yes we are happy to pay for Downton Abbey by licence fee.  Can we change the Dr Who theme back please?  It’s too modern. Yes Motion passed.

Look at that, doesn’t time fly when you are having fun, lunch at last. Grab a sandwich and drink, get in line, now wait.   Wait while the hall is scanned, sniffed (dogs), poked and all dark corners lit up.  Then in we go to sit and wait again.

Then Jeremy is there, nice new red tie.  The noise level is high, the clapping and cheering just goes on forever.  We are asked if he can start please but we just continue.  It is nice to have something to cheer about.

The speech starts with jokes at the Media expense. They do publish some stupid things.

Meteors wiping out the football.  Not policies we are going to pursue. Jeremy thanks the other leadership candidates and talks about his shadow cabinet.  We hear about building council houses. The railways will be ours again.  He doesn’t like trident but the party has decided. (Not too sure about that).  We are going to pay down the budget but not at the expense of the poorest people. We want to stay in Europe.  We hear jokes but we also hear that he does not like personal attacks, will not make any or respond to them. No Grammar schools, all children to have equal opportunities.  A fair, equal country where politics is kinder and gentler than it is now.  He handed us a challenge, to go out and get as many people as possible back on to the electoral roll.  Boston College here we come.  We heard our leader denounce the trade union bill and demand help for Redcar people, our people.

We cheered and clapped, then clapped and cheered some more.  We liked what we were hearing. We didn’t want it to end.  I have said “we “all through this because the Labour Party is our party, the work is ours to do or not. We have choice to make our country better.

Of course now the real work begins, all those new members need to be contacted, talked to, invited into and welcomed to our growing party.

We left at the end, back into the real world. The Tories are still there, people are still dying, benefits and public services are still being cut.  The difference is that we now have a clear path ahead. We know where our socialist party is heading.

Solidarity to the people of Redcar from Boston & Skegness CLP.  Anything we can do to help we will.

Tomorrow, the last day.  We have an emergency motion on Columbia, the most dangerous country to be a trade union rep.

We will debate the NHS, listen to our mayoral candidate and close with Tom.

Posted on September 30, 2015 8:51 am by Paul Gleeson