Politics UK: Culloden

Full Version: GRM Speech: RMT at Swan Hunter
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Griff Rhys Morrison spoke with dockworkers from the RMT Union at the Swan Hunter shipyards, Wallsend.

Thank you for taking the time to come and hear me. The Labour Party was built for workers like yourself and your families. We are your political arm, as you are our beating heart. The Unions are the lifeblood of this Party and it is only right that if I am asking to lead your party, to lead our movement, to potentially, hopefully, in time, lead our country, that I come down here to explain myself to you; to let you get the measure of me.

Wearside and Tyneside. Hawthorne-Leslie. Redhead. Neptune-Richardson. High Walker-Vickers-Armstrong. Doxford and sons. Thompson and sons. Sir James Laing-Deptford. And I'm sure many more I've missed. That’s a damn long list of shipyards in this region that have closed. Where was the Government? Where were the Ministers of Employment, of Industry, of Trade? Signing the bill, of course.

This region has, for too long, seen first hand the cruel and careless realities of life under this Tory Government. The Labour Party ought to be your sword and shield. We need a movement in this country that says no more. No more to privatisations. No more to unemployment. No more to "on-your-bike" attitudes. No more to closures. I am running to be leader of our Party but more than that, I am running to be that voice. The voice that says; what about the workers? What about their families? What about their dignity?

Labour stands at a crossroads. We've been on a heck of a journey and we're not done yet. But it's going to take more than one-last-push. It's going to take some momentum. Some rethinking. Some honesty. It's going to take a look at the future and what we want our party, our movement, and our country to look like at the end of the Century. That is what this election is all about. It's about pride. Pride in who we are as a movement. Pride in what we're trying to do. What we're trying to do is give you a Government that's on your side.

I want to be that leader, for you. I want to be the leader that says, no you can't leave the lads from the docks without. No you can't leave them without training opportunities. No you can't take away their voice. Nevermind one member one vote; stripping the Unions of their voice in our party. How about respecting the hard graft of the voters we already have? Our Trade Union affiliates support our party and our politicians need to make sure their voices are heard. That's what socialism is. It's giving a voice to the voiceless. It's giving hope to the worker. It's saying; the party is there to represent you, not the other way around.

If elected leader, I've made a set if pledges that would allow the Trade Unions to be a part of policy-making. I'm calling it Agenda 2000. That’s a fancy name for something that's really rather simple; I want your voice involved in what our party does next. I want to see the Unions working with parliament, with workers, with members, with voters, with the public and together to say; this is what we want for our country and these are the policies that all of the evidence says will get us there.

I've pledged that if elected leader, I would support not only keeping Trident, but renewing it. Trident is not just a machine, it's food on the table for thousands of working men and women. Our defence industries deserve our support. I have pledged to back manufacturing in this country. I want to see a fair, basic income for workers so that unscrupulus employers cannot take advantage of the watering down of Trade Union rights seen under this Government. I want to see skills programmes so that those who are out of work, can train up and learn a new craft or trade. I want to see companies that do the right thing, invest money into expanding manufacturing, given tax credits to encourage more of it.

I want to see more say for workers in how their workplace is run. That doesn't mean a great expensive project to privatise or nationalise, it means quite simply, if a company wants to make a decent profit and not be interfered with, they better give their workers a decent say. Cooperatives have been a part of many business for a hundred years, it's about time that thinking became the norm. I would introduce legislation that would increase the number of cooperatives in this country, that would encourage cooperative-based business models. Democracy in the workplace so that you get a say in the future of the company that your hard graft has built.

I want to see industry supported, not ignored. I want to see workers supported. The Labour Party, our movement, was build on the principles of fairness and justice for all. We need a leader who can combine those principles with a forward thinking approach. Nobody wants to look back and return to the policies of the 1970s and 1980s. They want to see a plan for what could come next. They want to see what Labour can offer a worker in 2000. For me, that has to be; protecting the Unions, expanding manufacturing, more democracy in the workplace and a greater dedication to skills. That is the next step for Labour, it's the next step your our movement and it's the next step for our country.

If you believe in that, if you believe in making that a reality, I ask you vote for me and let's do it together. Thank you.