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GRM Speech: Constituency
[Image: Griff-for-Labour-Leader.png]

Community  Democracy  Equality  Justice

Labour Leadership contender and Shadow Home Secretary, Griff Rhys Morrison addressed members in his constituency of Easington on public services and society.

There are, it is said, three great measures of a society. How does it care for the health of its citizens? How does it care for it’s young people? How does it care for its most vulnerable? 

In response to the questions, one has to wonder at the state that the Conservatives have driven our society over the last decade. Our National Health Service has been starved of funds and resources. It’s support network has been replaced with complete ideological adherence to market economics. Our education system is woefully unequipped to deal with the challenges of 21st Century living that it is meant to be preparing our younger generation for. Our welfare system has been stripped and starved, as with our communities, and cannot properly handle the levels of deprivation and poverty caused by the loss of industries in key areas.

How can we expect for the world to respect us on the global stage when we cannot adequately care for our own people?

The Labour Party is the party of the working people. It is up to us to ensure that public services, healthcare and education, and our welfare nets are fit for purpose. Because if Labour won’t do it, who will?

Under this coalition Government, the Tories and Liberal Democrats have opted not to properly fix some of these persistent problems. 
They chose to give people money to leave areas devastated by loss of industry rather than investing in them.

They chose to rely on the market to fix our NHS, rather than giving it the resources and support it needs.

They chose to get poor kids out of state schools and into private ones, rather than pulling their finger out and helping to make state schools better.

The Labour Party must now offer the country a credible alternative on these problems.

It was the Labour Party who worked, against the best opposition from the Tories, for the creation of our National Health Service. That steadfast commitment to ensuring the good public health of the country is embedded in our party values and ethos. However, we must go further and work to better the NHS and equip it properly for the next century. At the last election, the Labour Party campaigned to end the internal market in the NHS. Our goal now is to craft policies that render it moot. If the NHS has the proper funding it needs, access to the latest resources and technologies and support to maintain proper staffing levels to meet demand, the NHS doesn’t need an internal market mechanism.

If elected Labour Party leader, I would work to craft healthcare policies that better our NHS including ending the internal market. We must make the case, convincingly, that the Labour Party won’t just protect the NHS or maintain the NHS but that we will improve it and by extension, have a real impact on the health of the country. 

Our younger generation have been given a rotten deal for the last decade. Schools are crying out for more funding, more resources, more teachers. Class sizes continue to rise and the Government’s promises of reductions within a term are entirely hollow.

In the Queen’s Speech, the Coalition promised to hire new teachers but seemingly forgot that these teachers take 4 years to train at a minimum. Some could be trained on a Graduate Teacher Programme but we would need to wait for them to finish their degrees, at least another nine months, and then complete a year’s training. Their solution isn’t feasible.

At the same time, they seemed to put more emphasis on getting bright children out of state schools and into private education. It is elitism and abandonment of the working classes at it’s most cold.

Labour’s vision for education is more hopeful. If elected, I would work to end the assisted places scheme and instead put that valuable money into improving state schools, especially in areas of high deprivation where children are disproportionately less likely to get a stable job after leaving school.

I would work to create a Trade-to-Teach scheme to employ tradesmen, especially those currently unemployed due to lay-offs, to train as teachers and educate children about their trade. I want them to share and pass on their skills. Reskilling programmes are all well and good, but we also need to making use of the skills people already have. A steelworker from Teesside already has a set of skills that can really make the different to life of a child. Let’s harness that skill and give the worker the dignity of employment and the child the benefit of education for life.
Early Years Education is one of the most important but undervalues parts of our preparation for the future. Research has repeatedly shown, for decades now, that a good early start can make vital difference to the life chances of a child.

I would, therefore, push to create two new schemes, if elected Labour Leader. Firstly, I would create a specialist Early Years National Curriculum that would ensure key skills and pieces of knowledge are taught as a basis for every child in every nursery, preschool and reception class across the country. Secondly, I would campaign for create a Freshstart programme, that would work to plug the gaps for children who did not meet the Early Years standards in the first two years of Primary School. This would see specialist support and intervention right as the children need it, not waiting for gaps to become apparent later as they grow.

Labour prides itself on our public services but our answers must go beyond undoing Tory damage or investing properly, as important as they are. We need to be a movement that has innovative ideas about raising standards and ensuring that every person in this country, but especially our most vulnerable know that we’re there to help. Our programme for eventual Government has to lay out exactly how we would help people; making their lives that little bit easier.
Gruffydd Rhys Morrison MP
Leader of the Labour Party
Member for Easington
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