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McCrimmon Speech: Launch in Manchester - Printable Version

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McCrimmon Speech: Launch in Manchester - James McCrimmon - 06-15-2020

One hundred and fifty-two years ago, approximately 5 kilometers away from here, on Kersal Moor, there was a rally. This rally was to demonstrate support for something entitled the People’s Charter - a manifesto written by twelve men that sought to reform how our political system worked and to make politics more representative. One of the speakers at the rally, the minister Rayner Stephens, said that the Chartist movement was “a knife and fork, a bread and cheese question.” They sought to bring the complaints of the average man to their political leaders.

Here we are, over a century and a half later, and there are still many bread and cheese questions remaining. The reaction to the poll tax has opened the eyes of our leaders about how what they’ve been doing has affected the poorest in our society. This cannot be enough. I’ve been around long enough to know that when the government sees the people react negatively, they don’t make all the changes needed - they only do the bare minimum.

While this is not something I ever expected to do, I am here before you today to announce my campaign for Leader of the Labour Party and with it, the creation of the Second People’s Charter. I have been honoured to serve in the Shadow Cabinet for the last nine years in a variety of positions that primarily focused on how the government has affected your lives. As Shadow Health Secretary, I listened to your fears that the NHS was concerned more about profit than personal health. As Shadow Employment Secretary, I wept with those of you who lost jobs due to outsourcing and the commercial world’s focus on profit, rather than people. In my current position as Shadow Social Security Secretary, I advocate for increasing pensions as a way to reduce poverty. I have been fighting to get a government that does more than the bare minimum.  I have spent my entire life fighting for others and that won’t stop now. At this moment in time, we need a Labour leader who is not only willing to challenge the Tories on everything, but also a leader that understands that we must combat the economic structure that they fight for, one that sees the concentration of misery, exploitation, and precarity for the masses and the consolidation of unfathomable splendor for the already wealthy and powerful. We need a leader who’s first, last, and only concerns are the bread and cheese questions that concern you.

I grew up in Glasgow and am the son of a shipbuilder. I can remember the uncomfortable questions and hard conversations around the dinner table that my family had when I was growing up, and the sacrifices my parents made to give me the best life possible. As an MP, I have listened to those questions that families in my constituency face. I am proud to have supported my constituents as they worked-in after the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders. I am proud to support all Britons who are protesting against the poll tax now. They were the natural evolution from various dinner table conversations across the country. We need a government that is in tune with the questions, concerns, and problems on peoples’ minds and hearts.

That’s why, I am proud to announce, alongside my leadership launch, announce the creation of the Second People’s Charter. Inspired by this previous movement, this will be incorporated into the Labour manifesto should I win. Our failures over the last decade have not been due to being “too right” or “too left,”  instead we are “too detached” - too detached from the people that we serve. Every constituency in this country is filled with families that sit around the dinner table and have to face the hard questions. We all can see and know that our country is full of people who are rough sleeping, who are making too little, and who find themselves hungry and afraid. That is clearly unacceptable. But we are forgetting the average family around that dinner table discussing how they’ll pay their poll tax, or how they’ll educate their kids, or how they’ll pay their rent after losing their job.

This Second Charter will be the first part in removing those conversations from our lives. A Labour government will guarantee employment for everyone, make our social services the envy of the world, and ensure that our economy is fair, so that everyone, and I do mean everyone, has a chance of realising their full potential. We will restore our industries that the Tories have traded away so their banker and boss allies can have more of everything. We will rebuild and empower the trade union movement. Labour, we have a chance here to grasp the future of this nation with both arms. We have a chance to make people’s lives better. We have a chance to fix the societal problems that plague this nation.

My political hero and the greatest Prime Minister this nation has ever seen, Clement Attlee, once said that the “moral principle on which we believe the life of nations and of individuals should be ordered” was the brotherhood of man. We are bound together in a common life and struggle, comrades. When one of us fails, we all fail, and when one of us succeeds, we all succeed. This party and this whole entire political system have failed too many. It’s time for a nation where we all succeed.

THE SECOND PEOPLE'S CHARTER