NEWS THIS WEEK - from Diane Abbott MP
Labour in government will address the ravages of austerity at every level – my speech to Labour Conference
My speech at Labour Conference argued that Labour in government will address the ravages of austerity at every level.
As part of this, I explained how “It is well-known that we have already committed to recruiting thousands of extra police officers. We will recruit thousands of real police officers to the frontline. For all their big talk about recruiting more police officers, the Tories seem to be relying on taking people out of police administration and putting them in a uniform.”
I added that, “Unlike this government, we aren’t encouraging more school exclusions. Children should be in school, otherwise they will be schooled by gangs. We will tackle mental health care underfunding and inequalities. We will build new homes and outlaw zero hours contracts. We will tackle the causes of crime,” and that “when I travel up and down the country talking to people about their concerns about crime and public order, they often mention the cuts to the Youth Service. Labour is listening. Soon we will soon be announcing details of an entirely new Youth Service to address the issues of: educational exclusion; a lack of role models: inequality and deprivation among our young people. My brilliant colleague the Shadow Minister Cat Smith will be leading on this.”
I also attacked the Tories’ election approach, arguing that “They think that can win votes with dog-whistle racism. Led by a man who described veiled Muslim women, as looking like letter boxes or bank robbers. And Boris Johnson has still not got round to apologising.” In contrast to the Tories, Labour will always stand for unity, not division.
You can read my full speech at https://labour.org.uk/press/diane-abbott-speech-labour-party-conference-2019
Labour will scrap Universal Credit
Jeremy Corbyn announced this week that Labour will scrap Universal Credit, calling the flagship Tory welfare reform “inhumane” and an “unmitigated disaster”.
Speaking at a rally in Chingford and Woodford Green, the seat currently held by Iain Duncan Smith MP – the architect of Universal Credit – Jeremy set out Labour’s plans to replace Universal Credit with a social security system that focuses on “alleviating and ending poverty, not driving people into it”.
In government, Labour will immediately end the worst aspects of Universal Credit, including:
- Ending the benefit cap and the two child limit, which alone will stop up to 300,000 children being pushed into poverty;
Immediately suspending the punitive sanctions regime, which has been ineffective at supporting people back to work and has instead pushed people into poverty and reliance on foodbanks;
- Ending Universal Credit’s “digital only” requirement, which excludes people who cannot access the internet or are not computer literate, and recruiting 5000 additional advisors to deliver this change;
- Switching to split payments and fortnightly payments, including an automatic interim payment to end the five week wait.
As well as scrapping Universal Credit, Labour will replace the Department for Work and Pensions with a Department for Social Security, marking a radical shift from a system that “punishes and polices” people to one where social security will support people in finding work and treat them with “dignity and respect”.
Boris Johnson’s language was nothing short of disgraceful
Jeremy Corbyn spoke in Parliament this week in response to the urgent question raised by Jess Phillips MP on the Prime Minister’s use of language, following Boris Johnson’s behaviour in the House on Wednesday.
Jeremy correctly said that “The Prime Minister’s language and demeanour yesterday was nothing short of disgraceful,” and that the “language that politicians use matters – it has real consequences.”
“No one is above the law” – the Supreme Court’s decision
Commenting on the Supreme Court’s decision last week that the proroguing of parliament was “unlawful, void and of no effect”, Shami Chakrabarti, Labour’s Shadow Attorney General said that “No one is above the law. Not even Boris Johnson and his arrogant, entitled chums are above the law. They have been getting away with things all their lives, but today they have been called to account.”
Boris Johnson should be ashamed of himself. He needs to reflect on this judgement and consider his position.
Devastating impact No Deal Brexit could have on the NHS
A report from the National Audit Office has highlighted the risks if the UK leaves the EU with no deal with regards to the impact on the health and social care sector.
As Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said “Here we have another body warning of the devastating impact a no deal Brexit could have on the NHS.”
From the supply of medicines and patient access to care, to the impact on the health workforce: no part of the health service will be left untouched.
It is scandalous that by stubbornly refusing to rule out No Deal, Boris Johnson is putting patients’ health and lives at risk.
Labour will scrap prescription charges
It was announced at Labour Conference that the next Labour government will abolish prescription charges in England as part of the party’s plans to expand universalism in public services.
Currently, prescriptions are free for patients living in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – but cost £9.00 per item in England. This is a particular burden on people with long term conditions like asthma and chronic kidney disease who can fork out up to £104 a year on medication, or even if more if they do not opt in to the NHS pre-payment discount scheme.
Research has shown that prescription charges put people off from collecting prescribed medicine. A survey of health professionals by the Royal College of Nursing found that 87% said they have had their patients skip their medication because of the cost of their prescription. Asthma UK also found that over three quarters of people with asthma in England struggle to afford their prescriptions and over half had cut back on their medication because of the price. One in three sufferers with rheumatoid arthritis have not collected a prescription due to the cost: women are three times more likely than men to be diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.
Labour will put public health before private profit – Jeremy Corbyn’s speech at Labour Conference
Jeremy Corbyn used his speech at Labour Conference to announce Labour’s plans to put “public health before private profit” by ensuring that pharmaceutical companies make vital drugs available at prices that the National Health Service can afford.
Jeremy raised the case of Luis Walker, a nine-year-old boy he met on Monday who is living with cystic fibrosis and is being denied the medicine he needs – Orkambi – because its manufacturer refuses to sell the drug to the NHS for an affordable price.
He criticised the pharmaceutical industry and drug companies for putting “profits for shareholders before people’s lives” in the case of Luis and thousands of others suffering from illnesses such as cystic fibrosis, hepatitis C and breast cancer.
He then launched ‘Medicines for the Many’, a radical programme of reforms to make life-changing drugs available at affordable prices and create a health innovation system that will put public health before private profit.
Promising to take on the big pharmaceutical companies which deny life-saving and life-changing medicines to ill patients by charging extortionate prices, he announced plans to secure generic versions of patented medicines at a price that is affordable for the NHS, make public funding for research conditional on the result drugs being priced affordably for all and create a new, publicly-owned generic drugs manufacturer to supply cheaper medicines to our NHS.
You can read Jeremy’s full speech at https://labour.org.uk/press/jeremy-corbyns-labour-party-conference-leaders-address/
Labour’s Bold Vision to Tackle the Climate Emergency
Rebecca Long-Bailey was right to use her Conference speech to warn that “The far-right are ready to capitalise on climate change, the threat of resource scarcity and economic despair. And they will mobilise if we allow the cost of taking action to fall on the shoulders of the poor, workers and consumers to reinforce their messages of nationalism and exclusion.”
But, as Rebcecca also pointed out, millions of people across the world took to the streets just prior to Labour Conference demanding climate justice, because they know that politicians need to wake up, act faster and provide social justice if we are to save the planet.
And Labour agrees. We stand for government intervention to rapidly decarbonise our economy and push aside decades of neoliberal policy to create the industries of the future. Quality, unionised, green jobs, a proper industrial strategy, public ownership of our water and energy, and intervention in the economy, to make sure that the technologies of the future are manufactured, assembled and installed here.
You can read Rebecca’s full speech at https://labour.org.uk/press/rebecca-long-bailey-speaking-labour-party-conference/
Labour stands for a shorter working week and expanded free public services as part of a new society
Outlining Labour’s commitment to “transforming lives, increasing fulfilment”, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has committed Labour to reducing the average working week to 32 hours within a decade and eliminating in-work poverty in the first term of a Labour government.
Alongside Labour’s pledge on free personal care, a shorter working week forms part of a radical set of policies that will enable people to live rich, fulfilling lives with the time and resources to spend in a clean, safe and pleasant environment.
Promising to “lay the foundations of a new society”, John McDonnell pledged a three-pronged approach to transforming the economy: expanding free universal public services, driving up wages and driving down living costs, and strengthening the social security system.
Labour is committed to reducing the working week by setting up an independent Working Time Commission, based on the Low Pay Commission, to recommend increases in minimum holiday entitlements, and rolling out collective bargaining to enable trade unions and employers to negotiate how to meet the target in each sector.
As John said, “It’s not just about a fulfilling life at work, we should work to live, not live to work.”
You can read John’s full speech at https://labour.org.uk/press/john-mcdonnell-speaking-labour-party-conference/
Reckless Tory cuts have consequences
You can read my latest column on why now is the time to stop cuts to our fire and rescue services at https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/f/reckless-tory-cuts-have-consequences