Remember this: “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven”
In the Labour Movement, there is often a time for debate and even a time for doubt. But there is also a time for action. And now is that time. Our Tory opponents are decisively weakened and clearly uncertain about the way forward. Even the Mail this weekend suggested that Cameron could yet be challenged.
As the Commons prepares to meet for its autumn term, there is an inevitable quickening of political activity. But there is an added urgency this time, because we are moving into the long campaign for next year’s election.
The country is crying out for change.
The coalition parties have been rumbled. They are taking us back several centuries to a world of greed, gross inequality and the collapse of much-needed public services.
They are breaking the social contract which should exist that says if you are left behind as a result of social or economic change, through no fault of your own, then the country will provide support to get you back on your feet.
They are dismissive of the poorest, but they are equally neglecting the centre. The British Middle Class which for so long was the rock on which the Conservatives built their majorities, is increasingly detached from Tory values. What you might call the ‘blue rinse’ tory voters are no longer numerically as strong are they were. In their place is a new middle class which is university educated, generous, open-minded, progressive, and looks to the construction of a modern Britain.
And for them, modernity does not mean a squeeze on their incomes at the expense of their expectations of reasonable life. They want to do well but not necessarily at the expense of others. They do not want to see an end to social mobility. And they are profoundly worried about their children’s futures which frequently look bleak.
The Coalition is increasingly separated from the concerns of ordinary people. They look more and more like a narrow elite which ‘kisses up and kicks down’. They suck up to the rich and powerful but they press down on all the rest.
They have enhanced the feeling that the country works only for the top 1%. The wholly discredited ‘trickle down’ theory of economics, which gives even more wealth to the richest, that somehow this wealth will then trickle down to other social groups is clearly untrue.
But there is something more primeval about the Tories view of inequality. And people sense it.
Last week the PM announced that he is ‘proud to be posh’. Of course, he didn’t choose the circumstances of his birth. But you are judged by your actions. And the group around Cameron have set about reinforcing their privileges, rather than creating country which works together to help people who are less fortunate.
In truth, they believe that the poorest are responsible for their own poverty, through personal choices they have made. In Glasgow Cameron said “social problems are often the consequence of the choices that people make”.
And the possible next Conservative leader, Boris Johnson articulated their own hidden prejudices. ‘Some people’, says the Telegraph summary of the mayor’s Margaret Thatcher lecture ‘are too thick to get ahead’. His explanation of the gross inequality is to point to differences in IQ test results. And he also argued that inequality produces envy and greed which is then a spur to economic growth!
And there you have it. The flaunting of privilege, and the demeaning of others who did not have their start in life. An analysis based on a spurious claim that the rich and powerful possess a gifted genetic inheritance.
These are pre-Victorian views. Little wonder that they are increasingly discredited in the minds of the wider public. And this is especially the case for those who feel left behind by the pace and character of change. It is this sense of being left behind which is feeding the sense of alienation upon which UKIP are exploiting.
But UKIP are ultimately incapable of resolving the problems which so many in our country are facing. More Tory than the Tories, they too are on the right of the political spectrum.
And so it falls to Labour to rise to the challenge, determined to tackle inequality and the corrosive class system which the Government is rebuilding, tough minded but espousing progressive values. Only a party of the Left is capable of breaking out of the logjam in which our country has become entrapped.
Labour will bring about a clean break with the recent past, with the Neanderthal social mores of the Tories but also New Labour’s mistakes. We are putting together a programme which will transform Britain so that the economy we build works for all working people, not just the people at the top.
Our opponents will try any tactic to sap our Leaders’ morale, especially targeting Ed Miliband by constant personal attacks. But he is tougher than they think, and will not buckle. They also believe this constant personal abuse will sow seeds of doubt and confusion in the minds of our activists and our voters.
Our answer to this has to be to put aside all doubts, reservations and ideological equivocation. We have a duty of solidarity when any of us is under attack by the forces of privilege, and we have an imperative of unity in the face of a dangerous and ruthless political enemy. As Deputy Chair of the Labour Party I go around the country speaking to activists. The Party is up for the challenge.
The battle is already joined. We can win every argument because our values are those of the British people. The country is crying out for transformative politics. And it is clear that there is a huge pool of disaffection with the Coalition government for us to build on.
I say ‘bring it on’.”
Remember this: “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven” In the Labour Movement, there is often a time for debate and even a time...
Thank you to everyone who contacted me about the debate on Palestinian Statehood this coming Monday.
I will be voting for the motion on Monday because I fully support the two states living side by side in peace, recognised by all of their neighbours.
Labour have consistently supported the principle of recognising Palestinian statehood and it is clear that the events of recent months only underline the dangers for both Palestinians and Israelis of a resumption of violence and bloodshed.
Labour called on the then Foreign Secretary, William Hague, in 2011 and in 2012 to commit Britain to supporting the Palestinians' bid for recognition at the UN, not a means of bypassing the need for talks, but as a bridge for restarting them.
I believe that the international community must now take concrete steps to rekindle hopes that there is a credible route to a viable Palestinian state and a secure Israel achieved by negotiations.
The motion before the House on Monday does not commit Labour to immediate recognition of Palestine, or mandate the UK government to immediately bilaterally recognise the State of Palestine, but it does reaffirm Labour’s support for the principle of recognising Palestinian statehood.
Thank you to everyone who contacted me about the debate on Palestinian Statehood this coming Monday. I will be voting for the motion on Monday because I fully support the...
I am pleased to announce that there are two days left for 11-18 year olds to vote on the issues most important to them!
The Make Your Mark ballot, which closes on the 10th of October gets young people to give their views on what matters most to them – the top 5 most important issues will then be debated by Members of the Youth Parliament in the House of Commons in November.
This is such an important opportunity for 11-18 year olds as I believe it is not only adults that can impact on decision making - young people are the decision makers of tomorrow and the leaders of the next generation so don’t be afraid to speak out for what you believe in!
You can vote on the issues most important to you here: https://www.mi-voice.com/mym/
*photo source: http://www.ukyouthparliament.org.uk/
I am pleased to announce that there are two days left for 11-18 year olds to vote on the issues most important to them! The Make Your Mark ballot,...
Under the Tories far too many people in my area are treading water, working harder and harder just to stay afloat.
At their party conference in Birmingham this week the Tories are claiming that under this government there are more jobs and the economy is growing – however, for the majority stuck in insecure employment, in low paid jobs or on zero hours contacts this is not the reality at all.
The reality is: The Tories only benefit the privileged few and have made life a lot harder for the average worker.
We are seeing huge numbers of food banks in the 21st century, disproportionate numbers of disabled people affected by the bedroom tax and now even charities such as Shelter are warning that if the Tories carry on cutting welfare more of our young people will be on the streets. For the Tories to claim this country is better off is a complete insult to most working people.
People in my constituency are on average of £1,600 a year worse off under the Tories and family energy bills have been allowed to rise by over £300 since the election.
I want to give our young people a better start in life, I want to save our NHS and see the economy grow more fairly. Labour would help working families share the wealth of our country by raising the minimum wage, we would also introduce a jobs guarantee for our young people and tackle zero hour’s contracts.
We need a change now as most people I speak to simply cannot afford another five years under the Tories.
Under the Tories far too many people in my area are treading water, working harder and harder just to stay afloat. At their party conference in Birmingham this week...
On the 10th of September I held an Adjournment Debate in the House of Commons, in which I called into question Government failure to ensure that our area is getting a fair share of the economic recovery.
The Government, despite making assertions in 2010 that they would not cut frontline services, have made really tough cuts in our area. This has had a drastic effect on many of the services to my constituents. Despite their best efforts, my constituents seem to feel as though they are getting nowhere fast.
I wanted to question the Government about why so much has been cut from our area and how, if they do not stop cutting away at our resources, they will leave the regeneration of South East Wakefield half done. We will slowly decline back to the bad old days and I am not prepared to sit around and watch that happen.
In our area, people are hardworking and proud, they do not want to rely on hand-outs from the state, but they do want real regeneration and proper jobs for our young people. All we are looking for is a hand up, not hand outs.
I will continue to press the Government on this as I believe South East Wakefield deserves their fair share.
You can watch the debate here:
Or read the transcript here:
On the 10th of September I held an Adjournment Debate in the House of Commons, in which I called into question Government failure to ensure that our area is getting...
A large number of my constituents have contacted me about the Affordable Homes Bill which was debated in Parliament today, asking for my views and requesting that I stay for the Bill.
I can assure my constituents that I remained in Parliament for the Bill today, on what is usually a day MPs spend in their constituency, as I believe the Bedroom Tax is cruel, unfair and it isn’t working; a mere 6% of people hit by bedroom tax have moved home and almost two thirds of those affected are disabled.
I know the bedroom tax has had a shattering impact on my constituents- it affects approximately 1,500 individuals in my constituency alone. Many of whom have told me they feel like they can’t make ends meet and feel rising levels of stress and anxiety over the prospect of losing their home.
The Affordable Homes Bill seeks to exempt some households from the Bedroom Tax. Whilst this Bill does not fully abolish the Bedroom Tax, it goes some way to exclude certain households.
For example, it will limit the Bedroom Tax to exclude those who have been living at an address for more than three years and where disabled adaptations have been completed.
Labour has consistently called for abolishment of the Bedroom Tax and for greater investment in intermediate and affordable homes to secure affordable homes for working people and help the next generation on to the property ladder.
By contrast, the Tories and Liberal Democrats, who jointly brought in the bedroom tax, cut the budget for affordable homes by 60%, have overseen the lowest level of social home building in twenty years and the lowest overall house building in peacetime since the 1920s.
We will do whatever we can to fight this unjust and unworkable policy. But the only way to be sure of repealing it will be to elect a Labour government next year who will scrap the bedroom tax!
A large number of my constituents have contacted me about the Affordable Homes Bill which was debated in Parliament today, asking for my views and requesting that I stay for...
I have been contacted by a large number of my constituents about the debate that is going ahead today about the regulation of the sale of puppies and kittens.
I will be supporting the debate in Parliament today as I believe animals should not be treated as an ordinary commodity to be bought and sold without due consideration for their welfare.
As an individual who cares deeply about animal welfare I believe that all breeders should have to follow the high animal welfare standards enshrined in the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Should they not follow these standards, real penalties should be strictly and properly enforced.
We also need to take a closer look at the buying and selling of dogs in all licensed breeding establishments - not just in pet shops and promote responsible dog ownership and education
This Government seems to have failed to deal with the issue of dog welfare and should do more to promote responsible ownership. I am pleased, therefore, that Labour is taking a very different approach and is committed to working with animal welfare organisations to improve the way that dogs are bred and the conditions they are kept in.
The UK Government have recently confirmed that they do not plan to review existing laws relating to dog breeding and puppy farming. I hope that the Government will now think again and listen to the concerns raised in today's debate in the House of Commons.
I have been contacted by a large number of my constituents about the debate that is going ahead today about the regulation of the sale of puppies and kittens. I...
'Hit the road and discover Yorkshire’s glorious countryside’ reads the Visit Britain poster. The Yorkshire Post today pointed out that due to high travel costs this is just not an option for many. Referring to a report by Visit Britain the Post said ‘expensive train tickets and poor transport connections to the countryside could be hitting Yorkshire’s £7bn tourism industry’.
Something needs to be done about the problems facing our rail system, I regularly receive letters from my constituents about high rail fares and unsatisfactory services- this is unsurprising seen as rail fares have risen by 20% since David Cameron came to power.
It is clear to everyone that our rail system is failing to deliver value for money for passengers or taxpayers, our rail system is 40% more expensive to run than in other European countries and with the Governments botched franchising of the railways they have wasted extortionate amount of money, over £50m has been wasted on the West Coast Mainline alone.
After years of franchising chaos and rising fares Labour has pledged bold action to get a better deal for passengers. Labour would start by putting a cap on annual fare rises on every route, simplifying fare structures and creating a new legal right to the cheapest ticket.
Labour would also bring Network Rail and passenger rail services closer together by creating a new national body to integrate and drive improvement across the whole system to deliver a fairer deal for passengers, a system which is not currently in place.
Labour would also reform the franchising system to meet the needs of communities and to encourage economic growth by devolving local services. We would do this so that areas can better deliver what local people want.
The next Labour Government would drive a huge reform of the railways to deliver a better deal for all.
*Photo courtesy of VisitBritain
'Hit the road and discover Yorkshire’s glorious countryside’ reads the Visit Britain poster. The Yorkshire Post today pointed out that due to high travel costs this is just not...
In the news this week the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), an organisation which represents small and medium sized businesses, has claimed that the UK’s broadband is simply not good enough. They point out that whilst residential broadband is improving, access for businesses is seriously lagging behind.
The report found that 94% of small business owners consider a reliable internet connection to be critical to the success of their business.
The FSB have recognised what I have been saying for a long time; inadequate broadband is a major problem and is holding businesses back. Especially In Yorkshire.
I have been contacted by local businesses in Kettlethorpe and Featherstone regarding the inadequacy of broadband available to them, in this day and age we should not see businesses having to take on less work, or work from home due to slow internet speeds.
While we have been told that Superfast West Yorkshire is due to be implemented in the area in autumn, frankly, it is taking far too long and work is being lost.
Digital exclusion is a real problem in our area, not only does it hold businesses back, it curbs investment and employment opportunities.
Featherstone, along with other parts of my constituency, suffer from higher than average unemployment rates, especially among young people. I was instrumental in getting funds to establish the Green Lane Industrial park and it is wrong that now business have committed to the area they are being held back by an inadequate broadband speed.
I am therefore currently in the process of questioning the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport about when Superfast West Yorkshire will be when implemented and over what they are doing to support small businesses who report losses due to inadequate speeds.
In the news this week the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), an organisation which represents small and medium sized businesses, has claimed that the UK’s broadband is simply not good...
David Cameron said that the cabinet reshuffle was designed to “reflect modern Britain”.
So, we now know what the Prime Minister thinks modern Britain looks like.
He says it looks like him; and his Cabinet.
Still white and male at the top. At least ten multi-millionaires. Nineteen from Oxbridge. Over half independently educated. Largely former consultants, accountants, lawyers and assorted bankers.
25 of them represent constituencies south of Yorkshire.
Clearly, Cameron hasn’t got a clue about modern Britain.
If Cameron thinks that his Cabinet is Britain, he is profoundly mistaken. They are only a narrow slice of the country.
That matters because his actions, his policies and his budgets are all wholly skewed towards people like them. The overwhelming majority of our fellow citizens fall outside of the categories of people who he has selected to govern the country.
Let’s face it, we live in a country which has rarely been as divided as it is now. A small elite run things, usually in its own interests, rather than the interests of the vast majority.
They make the rules which everyone, but themselves, follow.
The test which politicians must therefore pass is whether we will confront these divisions or reinforce them?
Labour is working on a programme of radical policies to confront these divisions. Cameron and the Coalition have spent four years making things worse.
They put up tuition fees for students, they gave tax breaks to millionaires but they failed to act on the race to the bottom on wages at work, and they did little to offer more security to the millions who fear the uncertainty which faces too many in our country.
The fortunes of the richest thousand people increased in the last year alone by a total of £69bn.
The five richest families have the same amount of wealth as the poorest 12m people.
Meanwhile the number of people who rely on food banks has doubled.
And for those in the middle of the income band, the value of their incomes has diminished every year since the Coalition was elected. On average, people have lost £1600 spending power for every year in which the government has been in power.
Today new official figures emerged which revealed that the squeeze on incomes has now become fiercer than ever.
The poor have been hit hard but so too has Britain’s middle class.
And apart from those families at the top, there has never been greater anxiety about what future our young people face. The hardest hit, say the Institute of Fiscal Studies, are people in their 20’s who have experienced pay cuts and high rates of unemployment.
Among the 22 to 30 year old group, incomes have fallen by 13 per cent and there is real worry about what kind of jobs will be available to young people in the low wage, low skill, insecure economy which Osborne is building.
Cameron had the chance with the reshuffle to signal that he intends to make a fresh start in tackling a divided and uneasy country.
But he fluffed it. And we know why.
Aneurin Bevan once said that the Tories hold the view that the state is an apparatus for the protection of the swag of the richest. Little has changed in the years since he made this comment.
The country didn’t need a reshuffle.
We need a new government.
And so it falls to Labour to break open the closed elite which runs our country and to form a government which will govern in the interest of the millions and not just the millionaires.
David Cameron said that the cabinet reshuffle was designed to “reflect modern Britain”. So, we now know what the Prime Minister thinks modern Britain looks like. He says it looks...