Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Labour Party, speech to National Policy Forum 19 November 2016, in a speech to the National Policy Forum meeting in Loughborough:
Thank you for that introduction.
We meet at the most important moment in politics for a generation. Political upheaval is becoming the norm. The old certainties are dramatically falling away and we are coming to expect the unexpected. People know there can be no more business as usual. But the question is what will replace it.
Since the financial crash of 2008 it has been clear that the economic and political system is unable to meet people’s needs and deliver the prosperity and security it promised - not just here in Britain, but across much of the world.
So let us be very clear: It was not levels of public spending, it was the crisis of a deregulated financial system that crashed the economy across the western world and delivered falling living standards and led to swingeing cuts to public services.
Lehman Brothers did not collapse because we kept too many libraries open, had employed too many teaching assistants, or failed to cut disabled people’s benefits.
Not since the late 1970s have we seen such a dramatic collapse in confidence in the political and economic order.
People are feeling insecure and the ‘me-too’ managerial politics of the pre-crash era quite obviously no longer has the answers.
Voting for the status quo is not attractive to people, because they know the status quo is failing them.
Many feel their prospects – and those of their children – are getting worse.
We saw that reflected in this summer’s referendum vote.
Telling people that their continued prosperity depends on remaining in simply didn’t resonate widely enough when so many people didn’t feel they were sharing in that prosperity in the first place.
Did the nearly one million people on zero hours contracts, or the six million paid less than the living wage, feel they needed to vote in to be better off?
Or did they just simply not trust politicians and business people who have let them down?
The young people told they will have fewer opportunities in life than their parents’ generation; people who see their NHS being run down; or their library close or their social care package being taken away.
For a time our party became too complacent about runaway levels of inequality, about an economic system that delivered handsomely for the rich but ripped up security for millions of people at work - and for many has ditched the security of a home to call your own.
These are the real failures that have rocked people’s faith in politicians and in politics to deliver positive change:
The lead up to the disaster of the Iraq war; the MPs’ expenses scandal; and the financial crash - all of them fuelled a distrust in politics.
As a result cynicism grew about the integrity of politicians and about the ability of politics to deliver for people.
So politicians and political parties have a choice in this age of understandable cynicism.
Do we play on people’s fears and anxieties? Or do we take what might be the more difficult approach: to restore hope?
We can see the choice taken by politicians on the hard right - to whip up division against migrants, Muslims, Mexicans, women, LGBT people, people with disabilities.
The fake anti-elitism of rich white men like Nigel Farage and Donald Trump. It’s farcical at one level, but in reality it’s no joke.
We’ve seen a similar phenomenon in the US since last week’s presidential election as we saw after Brexit: an appalling rise in hate crime, saying anything to win a vote has consequences on the ground.
We have to choose a different path; there can be no accommodation with hate.
Hope must triumph over fear.
Many people are fearful of the future under this Conservative government.
The Tories under Theresa May are taking Britain backwards and failing to meet people’s needs and aspirations.
They are running down our NHS leaving more people than ever on NHS waiting lists.
They are cutting the schools budget by the largest amount since the 1970s.
They have cut £5 billion from adult social care leaving many older people isolated, lonely and without dignity.
They’ve failed to build the housing our country needs meaning that 120,000 children will spend this Christmas in temporary accommodation without a home to call their own.
And they have fanned the flames of fear over immigration whipping up hatred in the referendum campaign - egged on by their UKIP sidekicks.
This is a government led by Theresa May who, as Home Secretary, authorised taxpayer-funded vans to tour the streets emblazoned with ‘Go Home’.
Who as Home Secretary made up stories about being unable to deport foreign criminals because they had a pet cat.
Who was part of a government that called disabled people on benefits scroungers, shirkers, and skivers.
It is this culture in which rising levels of hate crime have occurred; far right views are now being presented as part of the mainstream, egged on by sections of the media that publish the most hateful and dishonest bile on a routine basis.
So Labour stands for something better. It is down to Labour to restore hope and give people the chance to take back real control.
Hope over fear … unity over division … security over exploitation … control over powerlessness … and investment over cuts.
When it comes to Brexit, we respect the decision of the British people. But we will hold the government to account over its shambolic approach, put jobs and living standards first, and oppose any attempt to water down workers’ rights or environmental protection.
And we will not make false promises on immigration targets as the Tories have done or sow divisions, but we will take decisive action to end the undercutting of workers’ pay and conditions, reinstate the Migrant Impact Fund to support public services, and back fair rules on migration.
This summer, I set out ten pledges as the basis of the platform for Labour’s programme at the next election which were backed by our party conference in September.
They lay out the scale of the change we need to see. For: full employment; a homes guarantee; security at work; a strong public NHS and social care; a National Education Service for all; action on climate change; public ownership and control of our services; a cut in inequality of income and wealth; action to secure an equal society; and peace and justice at the heart of our foreign policy.
That’s the shape of the transformation Labour is committed to for this country. We are setting out a real alternative for Britain. And Labour will be ready whenever the general election is called.
And as we lay out the policies that will put that vision into practice we need to draw on your expertise and creativity, as well as of the whole labour and progressive movement.
Crucial parts of that work have already been done.
We will create a million good quality jobs across our regions and nations, and guarantee a decent job for all.
By investing £500 billion in infrastructure and industry backed up by a publicly-owned National Investment Bank and regional banks we will build a high skilled, high tech, low carbon economy to ensure that no one and no community is left behind.
We will invest in the high speed broadband, energy, transport and homes that our country needs to allow people and businesses to thrive.
And we’ll support a new generation of co-operative enterprises.
We will guarantee everyone a secure home. Through our public investment strategy, we will build more homes to rent and to buy.
We won’t have families’ lives turned upside down at the whim of a landlord or because you lose your job. Since 2010 homelessness has risen every year.
We will end insecurity for private renters by introducing rent controls, secure tenancies and a charter of private tenants’ rights, and increase access to affordable home ownership.
We will give people stronger employment rights from day one in a job; end exploitative zero hours contracts; and create new sectoral collective bargaining rights.
We will strengthen working people’s representation at work and the ability of trade unions to organise, so that working people have a real voice at work.
You know, when Asian and Caribbean migrants came to this country in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, wages weren’t undercut by migration because we had strong trade unions and employment rights.
We will end the privatisation of the health service and stop parts of our NHS being outsourced to contractors with parent companies in tax havens.
We will restore a secure, publicly-provided NHS and integrate the NHS and social care for older and disabled people, funding dignity across the board and ensure parity for mental health services.
Our NHS cares for us, and we must care for it. So across the country on 26 November Labour activists will be highlighting the damage a Tory government is doing to our most treasured institution.
We will build a new National Education Service, providing opportunity to all throughout their lives.
We are looking at how we can ensure there is universal childcare to give all children a good start in life, allowing greater sharing of caring responsibilities and removing barriers to women participating in the labour market. I’m delighted that Liz Snape will chair the Childcare Commission that will look into how we deliver that.
We will bring about the progressive restoration of free education for all - as Angela Rayner has already begun to set out - and guarantee high quality apprenticeships and adult skills training.
With a climate change denier in the White House, we will act to protect the future of our planet and take action to fulfil the Paris climate agreement
We will ensure a fair transition to a low-carbon economy and drive the expansion of the green industries and jobs of the future, using our National Investment Bank to invest in public and community-owned renewable energy.
We will deliver clean energy and curb energy bill rises for households – energy for the 60 million, not the big six energy companies.
Unlike the next occupant in the White House, we will defend and extend our environmental protections and do everything we can to tackle climate change.
We will rebuild public services and expand democratic participation, giving people a real say in their local communities with increased local and regional democracy.
We will act to ‘insource’ our public and local council services, increase access to leisure, arts and sports across the country, and expand our publicly-controlled bus network
The Tories are currently trying to ban local councils from running bus services. They are tearing the heart out of local communities, forcing the closure libraries and Sure Start centres, and now threatening community pharmacies.
We will bring our railways into public ownership and extend democratic social control over our energy.
We will build a progressive tax system so that wealth and the highest earners are fairly taxed, and shrink the gap between the highest and lowest paid
We will act to create a more equal society, boosting the incomes of the poorest by making the living wage the minimum wage - expected to be over £10 an hour by 2020; a measure that would help to close the gender pay gap.
We will ensure that the human rights of all citizens are respected and all are protected from discrimination and prejudice: in the workplace, in the streets and in the criminal justice system.
We will take action to tackle violence against women and girls, racism and discrimination on the basis of faith, and secure real equality for LGBT and disabled people.
We will defend the Human Rights Act and fight to guarantee full rights for EU citizens living and working in Britain and for British citizens living in the EU. People should not be used as pawns in Brexit negotiations.
We will put conflict resolution and human rights at the heart of a truly progressive foreign policy, committed to working through the United Nations, honouring our duties to refugees, and abandoning aggressive wars of intervention.
We will also suspend the sales of arms to dictatorships that abuse their own people or commit atrocities in other countries.
Real security comes from not putting arms in the hands of oppressive regimes in the first place, and from tackling injustice and exploitation.
We will build human rights and social justice into trade policy, honour our international treaty obligations on nuclear disarmament, and encourage others to do the same.
By standing up for what we believe in; by engaging people as we develop our policies; by setting out our message of hope and our vision of a more just Britain and a more peaceful world.
Politics is too often presented spectator sport, something obscure done by a few people in Westminster. Now politicians are important, but politics is about the reality of life for all of us, and that’s far more important.
It is as a collective that we are strong and in our communities that we achieve things and change politics.
Working in that way, I believe we can ensure that hope will triumph over fear.