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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

Speech by Jeremy Corbyn to Labour Party Annual Conference 2015

Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Labour Party, in a speech to Labour Party Annual Conference, said:

Posted on September 29, 2015 5:44 pm by Paul Gleeson

Conference report – Day 3

Labour Party Conference

Brighton 2015

Day 3 

Day 3 started a lot quieter than yesterday did.  The full list of composite motions was published for debate.   Austerity and public services, Employment Rights, Europe, Housing, Licence Fees, Mental Health, NHS and the Refugee Crisis will all come up for debate today and later in the week.

We also had an Emergency Motion tabled in response to the closure of the Redcar Steel Works and the 1700 jobs lost there.

Following a report from Glenis Wilmott MEP covering the work of the labour group in Europe we moved to debate the first composite motion, Europe.  The motion calls for Labour to campaign for the UK to remain in the EU. It proposes that 16/17 year olds should be allowed to vote and opposes working with any group that threatens employment or social rights for our citizens.  Many people from the floor had a lot to say about this. Diane Abbott and Hilary Benn both spoke in support of the composite. Eventually the motion was carried overwhelmingly.

We then moved on to Employment rights. This subject and the Tories treatment of our rights had many blood pressures going through the roof.  The motion centred on the Tory consultation regarding the relaxation of Sunday trading laws. Conference opposed this completely. There is nothing to gain from it as research shows that longer hours do not lead to increased trading.  This also was eventually carried.

Our leader and deputy leader were called on to exercise their technical skills when a delegate’s wheelchair became stuck on stage. After a bit of head scratching and lever pulling she was freed.

The remainder of the day was filled with our shadow chancellor speech which received a standing ovation from the floor.  A lot of speeches have been made in the last 2 weeks but this speech clearly shows the different approach of our new shadow cabinet. People before cuts, more houses, a proper living wage, fully funded NHS and a rail service owned by the people.  The approval rating was sky high.  And John promised not to rant or swear. This, he said had got him into trouble before so no more.

Constitutional rule changes received attention and all were passed.

Conference then moved to Policy Seminars which covered Local government, housing, media and sport. Work, pensions and social security, political reform, equality and civil society.

Conference adjourned at 17.30.  I then attended fringe meetings with Unions together and east midlands Europe labour party.

Both these meetings concentrated on remaining in the EU and the protection of our human rights.

Tomorrow we move to finish the remaining composites and welcome the co-operative party speaker, our sister organisation.  The afternoon will be taken up with Jeremy’ s speech. So watch this space.

This evening I was able to meet Iain McNicol general secretary of the party.  A photo was obtained along with photos of Jeremy and Tom.  Iain offered help and support in our rebuilding endeavours.

JC ConferenceTW Conference


Posted on September 29, 2015 9:18 am by Paul Gleeson

Speech by Owen Smith to Labour Party Annual Conference

Owen Smith MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, in a speech to Labour Party Annual Conference in Brighton, said:


It’s a proud man who stands before you today as your Shadow Secretary for Work and Pensions, responding to this passionate debate, and leading our brilliant new DWP team of Emily Thornberry, Debbie Abrahams, Nick Thomas-Symonds, Maeve Sherlock and Margaret Greenwood.

It’s a privilege for all of us to lead for Labour on Work and Pensions.

Work and Pensions.

Two simple words that remind me every day what my politics and our Party is all about. Two words that can lead us back to power.

Because I tell you, conference, I am heartily sick of hearing in the media that Labour’s lost its way. Or that we’re out of power for a generation.

Don’t come to me with that sort of defeatism, because I will give you short shrift.

Don’t tell me that Labour’s values – the values that powered Jeremy’s amazing victory and John’s powerful speech this morning – can’t win in Britain.

The country can’t wait a generation for fairness, kindness and decency to return to Downing Street.

And the country needs a passionate – Labour – opposition to light the way.

So let’s roll up our sleeves and take the fight to the true enemy within: The Tories.

Because, at the end of this week, I want us to leave this conference – and leave the country – with no doubt about what we stand for:

We’re the party of work, conference – and the Party of the Workers – and we are proud of it.

For blue collar workers and their white collar colleagues.

The party for builders and doctors, teachers and technicians, shop workers and small businesses.

The party for enterprise and the party of the trade unions.

And conference, I won’t ever stand by and let these Tories paint our unions as part of the problem.

Because, as the 1,700 Teeside Steelworkers – who face the prospect of job losses today – could tell us all, partnership between business and the unions is where the solutions lie.

Conference, I want to send a message from us all today to those steelworkers on Teeside.

We know that your jobs and our steel industry hang in the balance and we will demand that this government gets up off its knees and acts to save an industry that our communities and our economy so desperately needs.

Ours must always be the party of unity and solidarity – between people and generations.

Now that solidarity has been shaken in recent years with divisive, Tory talk of ‘strivers versus scroungers’, public v. private, young v. old and it falls now to our generation of Labour men and women to rebuild it.

And Work and Pensions is a good place to start.

Because what is Labour’s core aim, if not to give an equal opportunity for every woman and man in our country to get a decent job.

A job that is safe and secure.

A job to enjoy and be proud of.

That might well be hard, physically or mentally, but which makes us feel valued and useful.

That we are doing our bit for Britain.

A job that pays a wage you can live on.

An honest, Living Wage, not the counterfeit version on offer from George Osborne.

Conference, these Tories practice deception on a grand scale:

Abolishing Child Poverty… by fiddling the figures.

‘Dealing with the deficit’… by doubling national debt.

Masquerading – now – as the Workers’ Party… while cutting the tax credits that keep people in work.

Calling themselves compassionate – while driving disabled people to the brink.

And now flogging us a rebranded minimum wage as the Living Wage we need.

It’s a pig in a poke, conference, and unlike some, I’m not into that.

You don’t even get Osborne’s bogus Living Wage if you’re under 25.

How is it right to ask a 24 year old – perhaps with a family at home – to work the same job alongside a 25 year old on better money?

And how does it help older workers to get a job or stay in work if employers know it’s cheaper to take on younger staff?

Conference, it’s wrong, and Labour will continue to campaign for a proper Living Wage for all.

Not least because that’s part of how we will get the benefit bill down – in a fair, compassionate, Labour way:

•         Getting people in to jobs that pay properly
•         Growing the economy
•         And building the housing we desperately need – so we can stop bunging money to private landlords hand over fist and get people into decent, secure homes they can afford.

It’s not rocket science conference – it’s politics, Labour politics.

And we need a bit more of it.

We also need a bit more protection for our pensioners, conference.

Over a million of them were lifted out of poverty by the last Labour Government.

But at the election, we had too little to say to some of our most loyal voters, the back-bone of our communities.

Rest assured that won’t happen on my watch.

So let’s start by asking some tougher questions about this so-called pensions freedom – and about the risks that it might pose.

Now I know many will welcome the chance of accessing their pension savings, and some may do better at managing the money.

But I worry that friends and neighbours will be preyed upon by the financial sharks that are already circling.
We’ve seen too many mis-selling scandals in recent years and we can’t afford another.

So, on that, as on the incompetent roll out of Universal Credit, or the scandalous impact of the Work Capability Assessment, or the ongoing crisis of Youth Unemployment, you can rest assured I will be up and after Iain Duncan Smith like our animal-loving Prime Minister after an Oxfordshire Fox.

Because he deserves to be hounded for the way he has treated so many disabled people in our communities:

•         With his demeaning fit for work tests
•         His cuts to mobility allowances – lifelines for so many
•         His desperate – awful – Bedroom Tax.

And conference, don’t think for a moment we’ve forgotten about that.

Under Jeremy’s leadership we’ll be fighting harder than ever to put an end to it.

For Iain Duncan Smith, none of these measures are really about saving money, they’re about being seen as tough, cutting the role of the state and playing politics.

But he’s got to learn that you can’t play politics with people’s lives conference.

And I won’t let him.

Finally, conference, let me state in the plainest terms that we need to change the debate on Social Security in Britain.

For too long the Tories have set the terms of engagement, undermining the basic case of support and security for individuals through the collective pooling of risk.

The risk of job loss or sickness, bereavement or retirement – that faces us all at some point.

We can’t let their divisive rhetoric of shirkers and workers stop us make the case for fair-minded reform of the system, with controls on costs, but compassion for all who need it.

But there is no progress to be made, or votes to be won, by defending the status quo or aping Tory language – and you won’t find me doing either.

Britain’s Social Security System, like our NHS, should be something we are proud of, a national asset that is there for us all if ever we need it.

Instead it’s become seen as a broken system, resented by some, and failing too many.

Well it’s our job to fix it, conference, and remake the case for an efficient and compassionate Welfare State.

That’s the job I am setting myself, conference.

We have to smash the Tory Welfare Trap with the clarity of our argument and the strength of our values.

And we will start straight away with Duncan Smith’s pernicious Welfare Bill.

It penalises children.

It takes money from the poorest workers.

It drives families from their homes.

And we will oppose it, line by cruel line.

That’s my promise, conference.

Hold me to it.

Posted on September 28, 2015 4:14 pm by Paul Gleeson

Speech by John McDonnell to Labour Party Annual Conference

John McDonnell MP, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, in a speech to Labour Party Annual Conference in Brighton, said:

John McDonnell, Hayes and Harlington, ex officio.

I warn you this is not my usual rant, they get me into trouble and I’ve promised Jeremy to behave myself.

Jeremy and I sat down at the beginning of his campaign for the Labour leadership to discuss what they call the strap line for his campaign leaflets and posters.

We came up with the strapline you see now.

Straight talking, honest politics.

It just embodied for me what Jeremy Corbyn is all about.

So in the spirit of straight talking, honest politics.

Here’s some straight talking.

At the heart of Jeremy’s campaign, upon which he received such a huge mandate, was the rejection of austerity politics.

But austerity is just a word almost meaningless to many people.

What does it actually mean?

Well, for Michael O’Sullivan austerity was more than a word.

Michael suffered from severe mental illness.

He was certified by his GP as unable to work but despite the evidence submitted by 3 doctors, he was assessed by the company given the contract for the work capability assessment as fit for work.

Michael killed himself after his benefits were removed.

The coroner concluded his death was a direct result of the decision in his case.

I don’t believe Michael’s case stands alone.

I am grateful to Michael’s family for allowing me to mention him today.

I send them, I am sure on behalf of all us here, our heartfelt sympathy and condolences.

But also I want them to know that this party, when we return to Government, will end this brutal treatment of disabled people.

Austerity is also not just a word for the 100,000 children in homeless families who tonight will be going to bed not in a home of their own but in a bed and breakfast or temporary accommodation.

On behalf of this party I give those children my solemn promise that when we return to government we will build you all a decent and secure home in which to live.

Austerity is not just a word for the women and families across the country being hit hardest by cuts to public services.

Women still face an average 19.1 per cent pay gap at work.

Labour will tackle the pay gap, oppose the cuts to our public services and end discrimination in our society.

Whenever we cite examples of what austerity really means the Conservatives always argue that no matter what the social cost of their austerity policies, they are necessary to rescue our economy.

Let’s be clear.

Austerity is not an economic necessity, it’s a political choice.

The leadership of the Conservative Party made a conscious decision six years ago that the very richest would be protected and it wouldn’t be those who caused the economic crisis, who would pay for it.

Although they said they were one nation Tories, they’ve demonstrated time and time again, they don’t represent one nation, they represent the 1 per cent.

When we challenge their austerity programme, the Conservatives accuse us of being deficit deniers.

Let me make this absolutely clear.

Of course we accept that there is a deficit but we will take no lessons from a chancellor who promised to wipe out the deficit in one Parliament but didn’t get through half.

Who promised to pay down the debt but has increased it by 50 per cent.

I tell you straight from here on in Labour will always ensure that this country lives within its means.

We will tackle the deficit but this is the dividing line between Labour and Conservative.

Unlike them, we will not tackle the deficit on the backs of middle and low earners and especially by attacking the poorest in our society.

We have always prided ourselves on being a fair and compassionate people in this country and we are.

We will tackle the deficit fairly and we can do it.

Here’s how.

We will dynamically grow our economy.

We will strategically invest in the key industries and sectors that will deliver the sustainable long term economic growth this country needs.

Economic growth that will reach all sections, all regions and all nations of our country.

And I meant it.

I was devastated by Labour’s losses in Scotland.

The SNP has now voted against the living wage, against capping rent levels and just last week voted against fair taxes in Scotland to spend on schools.

So here is my message to the people of Scotland:

Labour is now the only anti-austerity party.

Now’s the time to come home.

We will halt the Conservative tax cuts to the wealthy paid for by cuts to families income.

Three weeks ago we saw one of the starkest examples of the difference between us and the Conservatives.

The Conservatives cut tax credits to working families to pay for a multi billion pound cut in inheritance tax.

Families who had done everything asked of them.

Working hard but dependent on tax credits to make up for low pay.

They will have £1300 taken from them to pay for a tax cut to the wealthiest 4 per cent of the population.

The Conservatives argued that they’d introduced a so called living wage to make up for the tax credit cut.

But we all know that it was neither a living wage nor according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies did it make up for the amount families lost.

I tell you now, when we return to office, we will introduce a real living wage.

Labour’s plan to balance the books will be aggressive.

We will force people like Starbucks, Vodafone, Amazon and Google and all the others to pay their fair share of taxes.

Let me tell you also, there will be cuts to tackle the deficit but our cuts will not be the number of police officers on our streets or nurses in our hospitals or teachers in our classrooms.

They will be cuts to the corporate welfare system.

There will be cuts to subsidies paid to companies that take the money and fail to provide the jobs.

Cuts to the use of taxpayers’ money subsidising poverty paying bosses.

Cuts to the billion pound tax breaks given to buy to let landlords for repairing their properties, whether they undertake the repairs or not.

And cuts to the housing benefit bill when we build the homes we need and control exorbitant rents.

Where money needs to be raised it will be raised from fairer, more progressive taxation. We will be lifting the burden from middle and low-income earners paying for a crisis they did not cause.

If we inherit a deficit in 2020, fiscal policy will be used to pay down the debt and lower the deficit but at a speed that does not put into jeopardy sustainable economic growth.

We’ll use active monetary policy to stimulate demand where necessary.

We’ll also turn the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills into a powerful economic development department, in charge of public investment, infrastructure planning and setting new standards at work for all employees.

This is a radical departure not just from neoliberalism but from the way past administrations tried to run the economy.


Well we just don’t think the current model can deliver.

We don’t think that destroying industries and then subsidising a low pay economy through the tax system is a good idea.

But our radicalism, it comes with a burden.

We need to prove to the British people we can run the economy better than the rich elite that runs it now.

That’s why today I have established an Economic Advisory Committee to advise us on the development and implementation of our economic strategy.

We will draw on the unchallengeable expertise of some of the world’s leading economic thinkers including Joseph Stiglitz, Thomas Piketty, Professor Mariana Mazzucato, Simon Wren Lewis, Ann Pettifor and former member of the Bank of England Monetary Committee, David Blanchflower and many, many others drawn in for their specialist knowledge.

I give you this undertaking that every policy we propose and every economic instrument we consider for use will be rigorously tested to its extreme before we introduce it in government.

And we will demand that the Office of Budget Responsibility and the Bank of England put their resources at our disposal to test, test and test again to demonstrate our plans are workable and affordable.

These bodies are paid for by taxpayers and therefore should be accessible to all parties represented in Parliament.

In government we will establish and abide by that convention.

The foundation stones of our economic policy are prosperity and social justice.

We will create what Mariana Mazzucato describes as the entrepreneurial state.

A strategic state works in partnership with businesses, entrepreneurs and workers to stimulate growth.

Government’s role is to provide the opportunity for massive advances in technology, skills and organisational change that will drive up productivity, create new innovative products and new markets.

That requires patient long term finance for investment in research from a effectively resourced and empowered national investment bank.

A successful and fair economy cannot be created without the full involvement of its workforce.

That’s why restoring trade union rights and extending them to ensure workers are involved in determining the future of their companies is critical to securing the skills, development and innovation to compete in a globalised economy.

We will promote modern alternative public, co-operative, worker controlled and genuinely mutual forms of ownership.

At this stage let me say that I found the Conservatives rant against Jeremy’s proposal to bring rail back into public ownership ironic when George Osborne was touring China selling off to the Chinese State Bank any British asset he could lay his hands on.

It seems the state nationalising our assets is ok with the Tories as long as it’s the Chinese state or in the case of our railways the Dutch or French.

Institutional change has to reflect our policy change.

I want us to stand back and review the major institutions that are charged with managing our economy to check that they are fit for purpose and how they can be made more effective.

As a start I have invited Lord Bob Kerslake, former head of the civil service, to bring together a team to review the operation of the Treasury itself.

I will also be setting up a review of the Bank of England.

Let me be clear that we will guarantee the independence of the Bank of England.

It is time though to open a debate on the Bank’s mandate that was set by Parliament 18 years ago.

The mandate focuses on inflation, and even there the Bank regularly fails to meet its target.

We will launch a debate on expanding that mandate to include new objectives for its Monetary Policy Committee including growth, employment and earnings.

We will review the operation and resourcing of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to ensure that HMRC is capable of addressing tax evasion and avoidance and modernising our tax collection system.

This is how we will prepare for the future and the day we return to government.

Let me now return to today’s economy because to be frank, I am fearful for the present.

George Osborne fought the last election on the myth that the slowest economic recovery from recession in a century has been some sort of economic success.
In reality the Tories presided over the longest fall in workers’ pay since Queen Victoria sat on the throne.

A recovery based upon rising house prices, growing consumer credit, and inadequate reform of the financial sector.

An imbalanced economy overwhelmingly reliant on insecure jobs in the service sector.

Our balance of payments deficit, which is the gap between what we earn from the rest of the world and what we pay to the rest of the world, is at the highest levels it’s been since modern records began.

I worry that the same pre-crash warning signs are reappearing.

The UK economy is in recovery despite the Chancellor’s policies and not because of them.

You know the narrative George Osborne wanted to present of us this week.

Deficit deniers risking the security of the nation etc.

It was so obvious you could write it yourself blindfolded.

He has brought forward his grandiose fiscal charter not as serious policy making but as a political stunt.

A trap for us to fall into.

We are not playing those games any more.

Let me explain the significance of what we are doing today.

We are embarking on the immense task of changing the economic discourse in this country.

Step by step:

First we are throwing off that ridiculous charge that we are deficit deniers.

Second we are saying tackling the deficit is important but we are rejecting austerity as the means to do it.

Third we are setting out an alternative based upon dynamically growing our economy, ending the tax cuts for the rich and addressing the scourge of tax evasion and avoidance.

Fourth having cleared that debris from our path we are opening up a national discussion on the reality of the roles of deficits, surpluses, long-term investment, debt and monetary policy.

Fifth we will develop a coherent, concrete alternative that grows a green, sustainable, prosperous economy for all.

We are moving on the economic debate in this country from puerile knockabout to an adult conversation.

I believe the British people are fed up of being patronised and talked down to by politicians with little more than silly slogans and misleading analogies.

This is an immense task.

That’s why we need to draw upon all the talents outside and inside the party.
I admit that I was disappointed that after Jeremy’s election some refused to serve.

In the spirit of solidarity upon which our movement was founded I say come back and help us succeed.

We are in an era of new politics.

People will be encouraged to express their views in constructive debate.

Don’t mistake debate for division.

Don’t mistake democracy for disunity.

This is the new politics.

Many still don’t understand its potential.

As socialists we will display our competence with our compassion.

Idealists yes but ours is a pragmatic idealism to get things done, to transform our society.

We remain inspired by the belief and hope that another world is possible.

This is our opportunity to prove it.

Let’s seize it.


Posted on September 28, 2015 3:03 pm by Paul Gleeson

Conference report – Day 2

Sue’s report of day two of the Labour Party Conference

Labour Party Conference

Brighton 2015

Day 2

The first day of full conference started with a welcome from Peter Kyle MP for Hove.  Peter took his seat of the Tories in May of this year.  An achievement well worth celebrating.  This was followed by a short chat by Jim Kennedy chair of conference.  A interruption from the floor pointed out that the top table held 6 men and 1 women.  As the 1 party that leads on equality and fair representation this was unacceptable to the floor.  Fortunately the message was heard and acted on.

We then moved to the conference arrangements committee report which was expected to be a straight forward event. This committee sorts what we debate and when we debate. It also rules when things are against the regulations.  The motion to accept the report was moved and we voted. Top table felt it had passed, the floor did not. A card vote was demanded and agreed.  However most of us did not have our cards as they had not been handed out.  There was a mad scramble as delegates claimed cards.  We voted and lost, 49% to 51%.  Has this set the tone for the rest of conference?  The floor appears a bit militant, made up as it is of CLP’s and union members plus affiliates.  We shall see.

Merit awards reminded us of where we came from, one gentleman aged 100 has been a active member since he was 14, also Myrtle celebrating 54 years with the same CLP. .

The rest of the morning was devoted to learning the lessons of the general election by Margaret Beckett.

Rebuilding our party after the election is the main theme this year.  What do we need to change, what was right, what was wrong?  The general feeling is that we did listen to people, we just did not act enough.  We have to get away from agendas and meetings and out into the community.  Well guess what, all those new members, we need to talk to them. Have a coffee with them, involve them in our party. Show them why it is worth staying.

The afternoon consisted of reports from Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

The new politics debate brought a lot of people of the floor with topics ranging from the bedroom tax, the trade union bill, civil rights and gay marriage in Northern Island to happy birthday to LGBT Labour, 40 years old this year.  It has occurred to me as I write that this all sounds very dull and boring.  Please believe me, it’s not. The energy, excitement and outright determination to win from everyone present is awesome to see and hear.  Out in the foyer I was asked to participate in a ball game. Which do I value the most power or principles.  My ball went in the power box because without power your principles will never matter.  To change lives we must be in power. Getting there is our only objective.  What we do when we get there that is a whole other ball game.

The last item before we adjourned was the announcement of contemporary motions priorities ballot.  Here conference gets to decide which motions we will debate. From 12 motions 8 will be chosen.  Housing, NHS, Austerity and public services did make it on to the list. I shall report on the rest tomorrow.  Unfortunately Trident did not make it on. That debate has been postponed until another day.

Facts for today

12000 people are registered to attend this year’s conference

Party membership stands at 361,537 today.

2000 women attended women’s conference.

There are 500 fringe events this year.

Tomorrow   Britain’s global role,   Stronger, safer communities    work, pensions and social security.

Final thought for today……100 years ago today we lost Keir Hardie, first labour MP and Labour leader.   “In the opinion of this meeting, the time has come for the formation of a Labour Party in the House of Commons.”  Motion agreed at a meeting led by Keir Hardie  Ayrshire 1887.


Posted on September 28, 2015 9:15 am by Paul Gleeson