Too many people in Britain today are struggling to make ends meet, held back by jobs that don’t pay enough; don’t provide enough hours, job security, or employment rights; and rising bills for rent, food and childcare. Britain’s families are working, but Britain isn’t working for those families. For years we have been told that work is the best route out of poverty but the truth for millions of households is that they cannot earn enough to reach a decent standard of living.
State support has been stripped away. Disabled people have been subjected to the most appalling indignity in a drive to rob them of the support to which they have a right. Our National Health Service does a fantastic job but it is starved of the resources it needs to meet the challenges of today, let alone meet the needs of tomorrow. It is a national scandal that in 2020, the year child poverty was meant to have ended, a child born in Glasgow is likely to die nearly a decade earlier than a child born in Kensington, and that gap is growing not diminishing. And rather than our schools focussing on preparing the next generation to thrive in a world of opportunity, teachers and parents are finding their classrooms bare of the basic equipment.
Our communities are strong, but they are being let down by a government that doesn’t believe in a society where we all have mutual responsibilities to each other, knowing that ill health, ageing, disability and hard times can – and mostly will – affect us all at some point in our lives. Our public services and social security system, largely built by successive Labour Governments, have been torn apart by successive Tory governments which still hark back to a model where competition is valued over co-operation and the market is supposed to sort everything out. The result? Sure Start Centres have been decimated since 2010, the number of rough sleepers has increased by more than 165%, food bank use has multiplied and local services have been run dry. Knife crime has increased year on year since 2015. An estimated 77 vulnerable older people a day die waiting for support they’ve requested from a social care system which is in permanent crisis. Our depleted police services and emergency departments are picking up the pieces of a broken system. Anyone trying to access mental health or social care services faces an agonising process causing human suffering.
The organisations that gave our people and communities a voice have been held back, powers to represent workers have been taken away from trade unions, and funding abandoned for our places. Since 2010, 500 libraries have closed, 600 youth centres, 1000 children’s centres. People see and feel the loss of their local pub and shop closing down, and step-by-step, the place they belong to feels neglected.
This is why we need to devolve power, wealth and opportunity out of Westminster and into the hands of local communities. The best way to ensure we get the services that we need is if they are locally accountable with investment going into public services and community organisations with protections against privatisation.
Not only do we believe there is such a thing as society, but we believe it is the glue that binds us together. As human beings we are given purpose by the work we do, nurtured by the family and relationships we care about the most, rooted in the places we live and the communities we belong to. We need a government that recognises and respects this, and we need a strong, just and equal society to sustain it.
Another future of a just and more equal society is possible. A just and more equal society means everyone can achieve a decent standard of living; the opportunity to get on and do well; and the right to be cared for with dignity when you need it most.
A just society means that no matter who we are or where we come from, all of us should have the right to an equal chance to prosper. A just society gives everyone the right to healthcare, education and social security, free at the point of need.
A just society means being part of thriving communities and workplaces where citizens and workers have the right to a real say at work and the place they live in. We can no longer accept that a child’s life chances are determined at the moment of birth. Public policy must seek to prevent problems from happening in people’s lives, rather than seeking to manage them once they’ve happened. That requires a wholesale switch to providing help and support as early as possible.
There is a long way to go until the next general election. But in this leadership campaign I want set out the direction of policy that I believe we will need by 2024, for a radical Labour government that can deliver a just society well into the 2030s.
The future of our party will not be built by any one person. I want you to tell me how you think our Party can be more open, respectful, creative and engaging.
Fill in this form to let me know – I look forward to hearing from you.