Politics UK: Culloden

Full Version: McIntyre Speech: Addressing USDAW members
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Labour MP Kenneth Neil McIntyre spoke to members of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers ahead of their conference in Blackpool.

Quote:Brothers and sisters,

First, I would like to express my gratitude for being here today to speak with all of you. I am confident calling each and every one of you brother and sister because I am not just a friend of the labour movement and trade unions in general, but I have spent my life and career as a lawyer working for and with workers and their families from across the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland. I am saying this not because I would like some special praise or endorsement from you right out of the gate-- indeed I have not even begun my speech yet, although my socialist record might already speak for itself-- but because we are in very uncertain political times and there is somewhat of a fork in the road ahead of us and a moment where we need to make serious decisions that will impact the future of our country and the potential well-being of each and every one of us.

At the core, our problem is one of authenticity. You have been told by successive Conservative governments that loosening trade restrictions, opening up to Europe, cracking down on crime and privatizing not just industry but key common goods was best for you as an honest British worker. You were told that life would get better, rights would be expanded and everyone would make more money. But the reality around you was nowhere near what you were constantly being told should be the case. Quality of life did not improve, rights were not expanded, wages did not rise. You understand authenticity more than anyone else in this country because you live the reality of neo-liberal double-speak each and every day. And the solution to bringing our reality more in line with policies that build up the worker, build up their families and all of the people of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland is authenticity. Leadership from the top down that preaches the rights of workers, enforces the rights of workers and upholds the rights of workers. And a society that is based on the reality that workers keep us moving and make the money, workers who are people who make up the economy and people who have rights and protections that must be upheld up the law. This is essence of English socialism, this is the essence of Englishness.

For far too long we have lived under the oppressive and despotic yoke of Conservative governments that put the interest of business and industry leaders ahead of the workers who make up and fuel those same businesses and industries. For far too long the Labour party has remained on the sidelines, in-fighting and incapable of rising to the challenge of assuming the reigns of power. But this is 1990, and things have changed rapidly for all of us. And the Labour party is no exception.

James McCrimmon has presented a bold and unifying plan for our country in the Second Charter. It is a contract which stands on the shoulders of giants and acknowledges that the problems of the past are not related to our ability-- or inability-- to be right or left but rather that we have been too detached. Too detached from reality, too detached from you the worker. The Second Charter is an action plan that dispels any concerns that trickle from the right-media about the "loony left" because it is a political manifesto that is explained and justified throughout. The Second Charter puts the worker and their needs at the forefront of our politics because it is rooted in an understanding that when the worker prospers, we all prosper and when we are all strong, the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland is strong in the world. A People's Charter that ensures the right to a fair economy, the right to social support and the right to employment. A full spectrum approach to the lives of everyday people who need this support now more than ever.

And it might seem obvious to have policies like these. And it is, indeed there is nothing to me-- and certainly not to you-- profound about saying that the economy should be fair, that people should be taken care of and those who can work should be able to work. But after years of Conservative mismanagement and neo-liberal policies, these are basic and obvious tenants that have been undermined, eroded or outright destroyed. An endorsement for James McCrimmon and the Second People's Charter is an endorsement for a common sense plan that seeks to return our country to a degree of normalcy where the rights of workers and minorities as people are upheld.

The recent backlash witnessed across the country with the implementation of the poll tax is the embodiment of everything that is wrong with our current political leadership. The government, feeling empowered in the absence of a truly socialist alternative, has literally legislated the theft of millions of pounds of the pockets of the hard working British people. And to what end? So that business and industry can avoid paying their fair share in the function of local government. It is shameful but it is part of a long list of neo-liberal failures on the part of successive Conservative governments. And it happened because we fell asleep at the wheel, fearing our socialist roots might be too much for the average British elector to stomach. It is a warning for all of us and an indication of where we should look as we contemplate this leadership race.

If this is a moment of reckoning for our party. A moment for Labour to capture the day and present a truly socialist alternative that puts the worker at the centre of policy making. Than James McCrimmon is the leader our party needs and, together with the Second Charter, who presents the best alternative to this cruel and callous Conservative government. I believe that this is a moment of choice for us, of very serious and considered choice. But more importantly, I think this is a moment for workers like you to take back the levers of power in this country and end the system that keeps you down. It's time to see our quality of life improve, our rights expand and our wages increase. It's time for a Labour government in this country.

Thank you.