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GRM: CLP Speech
#1
Griff Rhys Morrison spoke to a meeting of the CLP in Birkenhead.

Thank you all for coming to listen to me today. I'm happy to talk to you all and answer questions at the end.

I want to start by reiterating that the difference between the campaign for Labour leader and the campaign for the next Conservative leader is stark. Whereas the Tories have been very happy to backstab and backroom deal, knife each other and slate each other in the press, we haven't done that.

That speaks to our uniting values, as socialists. The Labour Party stands firmly rooted in a strong foundation of socialist values; social justice, equality, democracy, liberty and cooperation. Throughout this campaign you will have read about and heard people talking about these values and claim them. That is absolutely right, they should be claimed because they belong to us all. Nobody in this country has a monopoly on virtues. These values and principles are the foundation of our modern, credible and united Labour Party.

Principles, of course, are useful. They frame thinking. You can point to something and say "I believe in that." or "That goes against my principles." However, to move from theory to reality, you must build credibility. Credibility is the currency of good governance. It is only when you are seen as credible that you will be given the opportunities to take your principles and put them into practice.

Where Labour, as a party, has gone wrong over the last decade or so is to obsess over debating our principles and being puritanical in highlighting what we agree and disagree with. We spent so much time shouting down those who may disagree, or even those who agree but have another method, that we forgot that the whole objective was to see our principles become policy.

In this campaign, I have moved to take us beyond that. I want to see this party transform our principles into a working agenda for Britain's government over the next ten years. I want to see a party that is so rooted in our principles they become habitual. The focus of our discussions now has to be getting the policies right. The public did not reject our principles in 1979, 1983 or 1987. They rejected the Labour Party because we hadn't listened to the public mood on things like aspiration, on things like jobs, on welfare, on tax.

The economy in this county is deeply unfair. Encouraged by the dismantling of our employment rights, corporatists are taking unchallenged decisions and making life harder for working people. It will take a Government that looks forwards, not backwards to solve those issues. We cannot afford to spend the next few years saying we would just undo whatever the Tories have done. We must be forward thinking in presenting an alternative.

What is the alternative to the Tory in-fighting over Europe? It is to make the positive, socialist case for international cooperation and our place at the heart of Europe.  What is the alternative to slashing employment rights? It is to embolden workers by building democratic structures in industry; cooperative models to democratise our workplaces.  What is the alternative to selling off social housing stock? It is to invest in construction industries, getting local economies moving again and giving people work.  What is the alternative to closure of industry? It is to reskill our workers to give them more opportunities to find paying work.

For every significant problem facing our country today, Labour's answer cannot be a solution pulled from yesterday but rather an alternative for tomorrow. We must answer unemployment with skills programmes, factory closures with incentives for manufacturing, poverty with a minimum wage. While the Tories are the party of ideology and blind worship of market greed, Labour must set out our stall as the party of solutions.

On the economy, Britain finds itself lost in a corporatist wonderland. Full of airs and graces about creating wealth and people becoming richer, the stark reality for millions of Britons is that there isn't enough work, the work there is may not remain, and even that which does doesn't pay enough. Entire communities are being left behind by an economic strategy so devoid of heart that the people advocating for it seem almost blissfully unaware. I say almost because I imagine they know it now the poll tax protests have come to their doorstep. There's no more excuses for them not to know.

My policy position on the economy is to build what we need for the future. Our framework must be that all work must pay. A decent minimum wage should be the crowning glory of a future Labour Government. After that, I would want businesses to be encouraged to restructure to be more open, more democratic and fairer. Using a cooperative business model as our example, we must introduce further employment rights for workers in their workplaces. Manufacturing should be incentivised and reskilling programmes introduced to help those workers who need to, transition from one industry to another.

Policy-making needs to be joined-up, however. It is not enough simply to have an industrial strategy. Beyond that, our policy proposals need to also include a strong dedication to education and skills to create the workforce of the future. We must look at housing; yes to ensure stock of social housing but also to get construction moving again. We must shore-up Trident, controversial perhaps, to secure manufacturing jobs for now so that our long-term strategy can be to transition that industry into energy. Policies are not one-trick ponies, a country is complex and will need complex thinking behind it, which is what the Tories lack.

Principles by habit, policies to address problems and a boost to our credibility. That is my game. Our policies don't need to be those of yesterday to make them socialist. They are socialist policies because they're rooted in our common principles and we should now be unapologetic in our cast-iron conviction to see them into practice. Here's to a Labour Government. Thank you.
Gruffydd Rhys Morrison MP
Labour and Cooperative
Shadow Foreign Secretary
Member for Easington
Biography  | XP: 4 | Traits: Safe pair of hands
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