Last month’s Labour Party conference welcomed innovative ideas and progressive policies from a party that is ready for leadership. Yet this was since overshadowed by a calamitous new administration at No. 10 wreaking economic chaos. I revisit the Labour Party Conference to see what we can expect from a Labour government
Does September feel like a lifetime ago? It might as well be for many in the UK who are reeling from the new prime minister Liz Truss’s wrecking ball of a government. In the space of a calendar month the Truss administration showed shamefully poor governance in inflicting economic misery on the country. The exact time when rising energy costs and inflation were already causing suffering to households and businesses.
Given the parlous state of the economy and the threat to people’s well being, it is easy for the press to forget that a month ago we saw green shoots of optimism on show. In Liverpool a progressive political party full of energy unveiled the policy platform of a government in waiting. Ready to tackle the big issues and dream beyond the immediate future.
It’s painfully clear that the ongoing Tory psychodrama fascinates many and sells newspapers. Yet the UK is crying out for real solutions to issues that aren’t going away. I work in social policy designing long term programmes for youth, and it’s hard not to wince at the short-termism of the last 12 years. As a lifelong Labour supporter and a candidate standing to be the next MP for Camberwell and Peckham, I found myself genuinely excited at policies that will change lives and build a better future.
Here’s five policies from Conference that tell me Labour is ready for government:
Training the doctors and nurses we urgently need
One in five NHS workers are leaving the profession according to a recent survey. This figure should be causing panic in the Government, despite their 12 years of austerity leading us to this crisis. Labour’s proposal at Conference is to train 5,000 new health visitors, create an extra 10,000 nursing and midwifery placements each year, and double the number of medical school places. This will be one of the biggest NHS workforce expansions in history. It is so desperately needed at a time when botched NHS reforms have left our medical professionals feeling mistreated, undervalued and underpaid.
Universal free breakfasts for all primary school children
The Government’s own website states healthy free school breakfasts can “contribute to improved readiness to learn, increased concentration, and improved wellbeing and behaviour”. So why doesn’t the Government provide them universally? For many schools it’s a postcode lottery. Those schools who miss out are reliant on the charity sector to try and provide free breakfasts. Labour’s proposal will ensure all primary-aged kids can start the day ready to learn, and their parents have guaranteed early morning childcare on weekdays.
100% green power by 2030
We’ve made significant gains in greening our electricity supply since the Labour government of 2008 passed the historic Climate Change Act. However the pace of progress has significantly slowed in recent years. I strongly support this bold ambition to aim for 100% of power from green energy by 2030. Is this impossible? Not according to experts who argue not only would this re-establish the UK’s credentials as a global climate leader, but it would slash bills, reduce our vulnerability to fossil fuel despots, drive growth, create jobs, secure our energy, and tackle the climate crisis.
Home ownership target of 70%
Labour set out proposals to get first time buyers on the ladder, build more high-quality, affordable homes and reform the private rented sector, with the overall goal of having 70% of the households own their own home. The latest figure for England is 63%, though with significant racial variations between Indian (74%), White British (68%), Black African (20%) and Arab (17%) households. As your MP I would work to ensure we tackle the structural factors behind these stark disparities as a priority.
Top rate of tax – Tories follow Labour’s lead in record time
Within less than a week of Rachel Reeves stating that Labour would reverse the cutting of the top rate of tax, the Chancellor announced that the cut would not go ahead. Yet again the Tories follow Labour’s lead when it comes to big policy questions. While this time the markets (and specifically the growing pressure on sterling and UK government debt) were also key factors, it feels like proof that Labour are thinking long term, while the Tories remain stuck in a state of flux.
It’s been said before in politics that winning political parties tend to be those that ‘glimpse the future’ and map out a programme of change. These five policies address pressing and structural problems that the country needs solving now. While in some areas I might go further, or build out the details, these are policies I want to be a part of legislating for and making real for all of us in the UK.
What do you think of these policies from Labour? Is Labour now ready for government? Please share your thoughts with me.