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Blakesley SP: All-In for Britain
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Caroline Blakesley spoke at an event in Manchester where she kicked off her leadership campaign and released her full manifesto for the leadership of the Labour Party.

Quote:Thank you!

I am honoured and humbled to be here today to launch my campaign to be the next Leader of the Labour Party. It is so important for me to come home to Manchester, a city that holds so much history for our party, our union movement, to share this moment with you.

My friends; comrades:

Britain stands at a crossroads. It is a moment, though dominated by Brexit, that is defined by more than Brexit. It is a time when the very fabric of our nation is being torn asunder by a government that fails to comprehend the human cost of their radical policies. Our families stand on the brink of poverty. Millions of workers find themselves working harder and longer for less. Our doctors, our nurses, our teachers, and our carers bear the burden of austerity. And our Earth, our climate, show the scars of a reckless attitude towards their protection. That is the story of this Tory government.

It is a story repeated up and down across Britain – in our cities and towns, in the North and the South, in Scotland and Wales. The only place they don’t seem to see it is in Whitehall. The government hides behind claims that unemployment is down, the deficit is shrinking, and the economy is growing. For all the economic figures, for all the rhetoric about Britannia unchained and getting Brexit done, there’s another side. There’s a true human crisis of unbelievable magnitude in this country. But this government, they see this and think it’s fine because the numbers are fine: they think a few million people can be left behind as long as growth is good. For all of our talk of a United Kingdom, we’ve seldom been less united.

Yet we come here today because we’ve seen this before. After a Tory government devastated our public services, pushed millions into poverty, and built an economy that worked for some, but left far more behind – we’ve seen a Labour government pick up the pieces. This party united factory workers, teachers, doctors, nurses, entrepreneurs, businessmen – those with far too little and those with quite enough – to renew our United Kingdom after decades of human pain. We came together and said that we as a country are better than this.

And that rings true today. We are a better, stronger country that these past nine year suggest. We are a country where people have given to food banks to fight the poverty created by this government. We are a country where the low paid with insecure work still go to work day in and day out because they know their worth is greater than their paycheque. We are a country where nurses and doctors, despite the immense pressures of austerity, make do with what they have to save as many lives as they can. These are the people that make our country strong – the faces of the human cost of this Tory government and the human potential that will recover from it.

The challenges we face today are bigger than any one party. Yet, given the opportunity to confront those challenges, the Labour Party of the past four years chose instead to divide our people. While our party must always be the leading voice for those in the greatest need of a hand up, we forgot that the middle class still needs help achieving their dreams too. While we must fight for workers to be protected and share in the profits of corporate successes, we forgot that business still needs the chance to succeed. While we must be the party that stands against austerity, we forgot that ending austerity should not just be an exercise in putative taxation.

Make no mistake – this Tory government created crisis after crisis. The human catastrophe that occurred under their watch is a national shame. But Labour’s failure to respond to it? That is on us. That is a product of our broken politics and broken leadership.

To make it back into government we must shelve the politics of division, we must end the rhetoric and the policy of us versus them, rich versus poor, employee versus employer. We owe it to each and every person in our island home to propose a new social contract, a new basic bargain for Britain that puts us all-in, that gives everyone – from the union worker to the business leader – a shared ownership in our nation and a shared prosperity from our success.

The pragmatism of going all-in together does not mean we cannot be radical – it means we must be radical. Just not in the way that the current leadership, the current Shadow Cabinet, championed.

If we’re going to end austerity, we must do so from a shared prosperity. We have an opportunity right now to use historically low interest rates to create a sovereign wealth fund, a Shared Prosperity Fund, that will provide billions in funding for frontline public services. Imagine the benefit to our society if we could invest 10 billion into public services without raising taxes. We can do that.

If we’re going to get our public services back on track, we must acknowledge that with essential services, sometimes the market is not our best alternative. Sometimes things – hospitals and schools and police forces – work best when local experts are empowered to make decisions driven by shared responsibility, not pursuit of profit.

If we’re going to create a new partnership between employees and employers, we cannot focus on taking, taking, and taking. But we can say that, if you want that lower rate of corporate tax, you need employees represented on your board, you need to give employees the opportunity to own part of your company.

If we’re going to build markets that work for businesses and ordinary people, the only line in our arsenal cannot be nationalisation. We must build competitive markets that allow businesses to thrive. We must build inclusive capital markets that give entrepreneurs and small enterprises the ability to succeed and provide new opportunities for workers.

If we’re going to tackle climate change – and we must tackle climate change – we need to be all-in for a Green New Deal. Achieving a Green New Deal means giving workers a hand up with retraining. It means surging resources and investment into the communities most impacted. It means helping business – yes, helping – adopt new, less carbon intensive operation. And it means enacting stringent regulations that get us to zero-carbon by 2050.

If we’re going to build an equal society, we must admit that discrimination anywhere is a threat to equality everywhere. And that means taking a good, hard look at where our party has gone these past few years and truly addressing antisemitism, racism, and discrimination within our own ranks.

If we’re going to end child poverty in our country, yes we need to start by fixing the social security system. But we also need to look at expanding it – giving every parent in need a toddler tax credit to help them through those expensive early years. Giving every child, no matter their parents – a basic investment in their future, which can be achieved as part of the Shared Prosperity Fund.

If we’re going to ensure every Briton has a roof over their head, we must challenge those that game the system and raise home prices for the rest of us, whether you’re middle class or working class, with a property speculation tax. And we must invest every last pound raised from that tax into building 100,000 new social homes a year.

If we’re going to build a United Kingdom, we must never, ever, cave to nationalists who seek to divide us.

And finally, we must confront Brexit head on. We cannot simply wait for the Tories to get their no deal, no win Brexit done, we must get Brexit right. That means securing a deal that protects the integrity of our United Kingdom and the hard-earned peace in Northern Ireland. That means ensuring British manufacturers can access European markets and British consumers can purchase European goods. That means going to communities with real anxieties about markets and migration and ensuring them we will always have their side: whether that is by controlling our borders or ensuring that we invest in communities where migration places a burden on public services.

I know this sounds like a lot of talk. Talking is easy, doing is harder. Achieving what we laid out will not be easy. The challenges we face, the crises inflicted on us by failed leadership in Westminster, require bold solutions. The things we’ve lost – the families forced into poverty, the pay lost to insecure work – cannot be measured by new investment in front line services or seats for employees on corporate boards.

But just because they can’t be measured does not mean that they cannot be recovered. We can restore dignity to work. We can end the culture of shaming those who need a hand up. We can ensure that not one more life is harmed because our NHS was too overwhelmed. No matter where we stand – be it the North or the South, a council house or a country home, a factory floor or a boardroom – we share a common humanity, a hope for a prosperous future, and an overwhelming belief in our United Kingdom that is stronger than any challenge before us.

We may have different political positions – I know we do. The reality of migration may be different in Boston than it is in London – but nobody loses when we invest in areas that are burdened by migration. Businesses and ordinary people may have different needs from the market – but replacing crony capitalism with credible competition lifts everyone up. Employees and employers may look for different things from shareholders – but we all know that business does better when employees invest in their employer and employers invest in their employees. We all win when we bridge what divides us, when we leave divisive rhetoric behind and embrace our common goals.

Britain stands at a crossroads. We face a moment when we decide what nation we will become. We can bring the change we need to the Labour Party and to the United Kingdom. We can restore the moral centre of this nation. We can renew our basic bargain that we work together - no matter our race, religion, or social status - because we only succeed as truly United Kingdom. Yes, we face a difficult road ahead. We face the challenge of building a nation that embraces our shared humanity and responsibility to our common man over a tax cut here or an investment in the NHS that makes headlines, but doesn’t improve our health. But that is a challenge we accept - a challenge to bring the change we need, the change we demand!

Only a renewed Labour can achieve that. A renewed Labour that rejects the politics of division and class warfare in favour of building a nation that works for families, for workers, for businesses, and for our planet. We need a Labour that will go all-in for Britain. When we’re all-in, nobody gets left behind. When we’re all-in, we win. I ask you to join me today in building the radical, pragmatic Labour Party that will achieve that. I ask you, for the sake of our fellow man, to go all-in with me.
Dame Caroline Blakesley MP DCB
Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition
MP for Manchester Central (2015-) | Labour
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