With the new year under way we have an opportunity to think afresh about our priorities as individuals, as a region and as a nation. After a decade of austerity, five years of Brexit chaos and two years of pandemic failure, this government is running out of steam fast.
The sleaze that swamped Boris Johnson’s Conservatives in the latter part of 2021 will likely continue to mire his government and further degrade integrity in public life. As he comes under increasing pressure from the extremists on his own backbench over public health measures, tax and public spending, it is now unclear as to whether Johnson will last much longer as Prime Minister.
For many families and working people, the coming months will see further challenges. Rising inflation and wholesale energy prices are pushing the cost of living up, with household energy bills soaring while wages stagnate. Tax rises on working people are set to come into effect in April, while our local public services face more cuts.
For many, securing a GP appointment or treatment for longterm health conditions is increasingly difficult and too many residents do not feel safe in their own streets. The decimation of youth services and sure start centres, along with the government’s chaotic approach to schools throughout the pandemic are cutting life chances for our young people.
Our country deserves change and it is clear that the Britain we deserve won’t be delivered by this rotten government. t. hat’s why, earlier this week, Keir Starmer set out Labour’s plans for a new Britain, with a new social contract with the British people.
Labour’s new contract will be based on three principles. The first is security. Everyone has the basic right to feel safe in their own community, to know that the NHS is there for them when needed, to feel secure in their job. That’s why Labour will provide crime prevention teams in every neighbourhood. New police hubs will be visible in every community, with more special constables, a new neighbourhood policing fund and fresh powers for police and councils to shut down the drug dens that blight some communities.
Our second principle is prosperity. Everyone should have the opportunity to thrive, to realise their ambitions and make a good life for themselves, and to have the skills they need to prosper.
We’re developing ambitious, practical plans to buy, make and sell more in Britain and invest £28 billion a year to combat climate change, creating quality jobs across the country. Under Labour, Britain will be the by-word not just for good business but also high skills, providing people with all the tools they need to make the future theirs.
Respect, our third principle, is based on our common belief that everyone should be valued for who we are and what we do. Unlike Boris Johnson’s Conservatives, Labour would treat the Nolan principles of selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness honesty and leadership as a binding agreement. t. hose principles will be at the heart of the competent government that Keir Starmer would lead.
The Labour governments of Clement Atlee, Harold Wilson and Tony Blair brought lasting changes. Atlee’s 1945 government laid the foundations for the end of Empire and the beginning of the modern commonwealth.
Wilson’s creation of the Open University extended higher education. The Race Relations Act of 1965 prohibited racial discrimination and Barbara Castle’s Equal Pay Act was a watershed moment in the fight for gender equality.
And the Blair government introduced a national minimum wage, secured peace to Northern Ireland and repaired the public services that had been neglected under 18 years of the Conservatives.
I agree with Keir Starmer that these three chapters – Attlee, Wilson and Blair – changed Britain for the better. Mr Wilson said that “he who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery.” With that in mind, I’ll be working throughout the year ahead, alongside my colleagues, to develop a policy programme for a new Britain that is worthy of the people of our great country.