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Labour Conference Fringe Events, 2021


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Labour Conference Fringe Events

Rules

  • Speeches must be posted between Monday, 27 June and Sunday, 3 July.
  • Each player may speak to the New Statesman event + no more than three additional events (four events total).
  • Speeches should be in the realm of 1,000 words (+/- 200).
  • Replies are moderated in this thread, so your reply will not appear until after the event closes and it is approved by an admin. If you have a question as to whether your post is there, please contact Blakesley.

The Events

New Statesman, “Labour’s Priorities for a Post-Brexit, Post-Pandemic Britain”
Topic: Outline one or two specific flagship policies that Labour should pursue in a post-Brexit, post-pandemic Britain. This is a general event in which all thoughts are welcome, though it is focused on specific ideas.

Fabian Society, “Stronger Together: Public Services that Work”
Topic: Fixing public services after the strains they’ve been placed under during the pandemic; including should Labour move towards Blair era policies, Corbyn era policies, or something else entirely? Focusing on a specific public service is acceptable.

IPPR, “Prosperity and justice: transforming the British economy”
Topic: Broad strokes on transforming the British economy: advocating policies anywhere from McDonnell’s 2019 plans to a return to Blair and Brown’s comfort with business or anything in between.

Trade Unions Congress, “The future of work: building a new deal on employment and workers’ rights”
Topic: How should Labour move to protect unions, improve employment, and defend workers’ rights after Brexit? What is the future of Labour’s relationship with the unions?

GMB & Labour for a Green New Deal, “Sustainable, just transition or green revolution: strategies for climate change”
Topic: The pursuit of a phased transition to green energy versus a transformative Green New Deal inspired economic revolution: which path is best for Labour?

Open Labour, “Crafting a progressive, ethical foreign policy for the 21st century”
Topic: Placing progressive policies - on migration, personal rights and liberties, democracy, equality, etc - at the core of a future Labour offer.

Labour Movement for Europe, “Setting the course for a progressive, cooperative, and successful relationship”
Topic: The future relationship between the United Kingdom and Europe in a post-Brexit world.

Momentum & Socialist Campaign Group, “Restoring socialism to Labour’s core: strategies, policies, and plans”
Topic: Strategies and policies for restoring the influence of the left wing in the Labour Party. This event is likely to be of interest to the SCG and New Left types.

Progress, “Securing the future: crafting a winning offer for the next election”
Topic: What is the message Labour should take into the next election and how should Labour reclaim the centre ground. Areas of interest include messages on the economy (winning back business), crime, and public services. This event is likely to be of interest to the Progressive (Blairite) and Brownite types.

Blue Labour, “Reclaiming Labour’s heartlands: confronting the concerns of forgotten communities”
Topic: How does Labour go about reclaiming its heartlands and address the issues facing those communities, including deprivation, crime, patriotism, and migration? This event is likely to be of interest to the Blue Labour and SCG types.

Compass, “Building the Good Society: progressivism at the heart of Labour’s future”
Topic: Placing progressive policies - on migration, personal rights and liberties, democracy, equality, etc - at the core of a future Labour offer. This event is likely to be of interest to the Brownites, Open Labour, and the New Left types.

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Amanda Stockley at GMB

Thank you all for having me. It is a pleasure to speak on this convention on a topic close to my heart. The world is at a crossroads: years of human interference has made global warming worse. We are losing species every day. Biodiversity keeps dropping across the country. The state of our nature is in danger. We are the last generation who can stop the disastrous warming beyond 2 degrees centigrade that would make our planet unlifable.

The Green Deal that was started in Paris is a big step forward. I am proud we are the hosts of COP26. Global warming is of course a global affair. We need to tackle it together. In the UK, we have invested for years into renewable energy and nuclear. We have almost ended our Coal dependency. But we are not alone. Global powers like America, China and India need to contribute as well, so that we end our use of Coal and Oil.

A Green Deal needs to be comprehensive. We don't only need to make our energy green. Our industries, our homes, our offices, our vehicles, our schools and hospitals. They need to be Green as well."

Making our homes Green means making them gas-less first of all. A long-time job will lay in our ability and urge to install heat pumps, solar panels, and charge stations. At the same time, we need to make houses more energy-efficient. Insulation, central heating, and draft strips are all vital in lowering energy use in a home.

Our cars need to change with us as well. Electric and hydrogen cars must become more affordable. Charging and fuelling stations must become a national network that covers even the far-flung communities. But individuals can not be the only ones who contribute. We must rebuild our rail network. We must expand our emission-free bus fleet. Most of all, we need to create new Tram and Underground links in our major cities. Because mass transit can reduce congestion, car use, and emissions. For years, mass transit has been neglected. The Beeching Axe of the 60s must be replaced by a Railway Renaissance.

Just like our homes, the government needs to reduce energy use. Hospitals and Schools are one of the major energy consumers in the country. By placing the same facilities as at home, we can severely reduce energy use as well. Providing the NHS with electric ambulances could even bring down waiting times.

But our Green Deal cannot be on utilities only. Our economy needs to be Green as well. We need to remove our reliance on Fossil resources. Recycling must become the norm, not virgin plastics. Bioplastics can remove our use of oil. Designing our products on sustainability, not mass consumption, can create a truly sustainable economy. And that is what we must strive for.

Thank you.

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New Statesman: Labour’s priorities for a post-Brexit, post-Pandemic Britain

Thank you comrades - it’s always nice to speak at the New Statesman’s events at conference. The topic today is what Labour’s priorities should be for a post-Brexit, post-Pandemic Britain. It’s a big question with many answers. I’m not going to come here with a big vision - I want to put a couple of cards on the table instead - but those who know me know what motivates me in politics: tackling poverty and inequity particularly for our children, and enabling left behind communities and towns to grow and prosper.

On the first, we need a new Child Poverty Act enshrining a new commitment to end child poverty. I am proud of the last Labour Government’s determination in this area, but also aware of the limitations of what it tried to achieve. Sadly, the progress they made has been reversed. There were 3.2 million kids in poverty before the pandemic - more than at any other point since the millennium. And yet the Government progressed with its £20 a week cut to Universal Credit. 

A new Child Poverty Act needs to set a clear benchmark for what we mean by ending child poverty. New and innovative approaches have started looking beyond crude income measures to look at lived experience and deprivation. Their findings are distressing and a call to action. But they are also informative for those of us who want to change things. We can tackle poverty by raising the incomes of the lowest households and so expanding their opportunities, but also by otherwise bridging those families’ access to services, to necessities, and to the community. Both are important: we should not just care about moving children or their families over an income threshold, but also about the experience of those living below or only just above it.

Child poverty is a more complex issue than we have previously given it credit for. Yes, there are quick wins: getting rid of the two-child limit and the bedroom tax, and reversing the cut to universal credit. But a joined up approach means a more universal offer on childcare; work that pays; and fairer access to health and education services. So I think that if a Labour Government wants to take it seriously, it needs a Minister for Child Poverty Reduction supported by a cross-government team that can draw together the various strands to a real Child Poverty Strategy.

The Government’s so-called levelling up agenda is actually linked to this: the biggest rises in child poverty have been in the most deprived parts of the country. The trouble is of course that levelling up is a sham. The Government is still presiding over a broken model where it concentrates all power in Westminster, expects Whitehall bureaucrats to make all the best decisions, and then tilts the scales for political reasons. It’s no way to address regional inequalities, even if it were a way to run a Government.

We have patchwork devolution in England, hamstrung by Whitehall interference and political nepotism that controls the cash and the power. It’s time for a devolution revolution in England that puts the power, the money, and the agency in the hands of local people and local leaders. Central Government should be enabler and banker, not a micromanager. We should give a new generation of combined authorities - covering any and all areas of England who want to form one - new powers, including secondary legislative powers - over high streets, housing, transport, economic infrastructure, business support, and even potentially some public services. That should be supported by a new fair funding settlement, that removes the quote-unquote “competitive” funding model, which is really just a smokescreen for dodgy deals at worst and “Whitehall knows best” at best. As part of that, we could look to devolving elements of the welfare budget - including housing benefit - that are better managed by local communities not by national government. Those new combined authorities should be free to determine for themselves whether a mayoral or council based model works best for them.

These are two, only somewhat related ideas for how Labour could offer progressive but practical ways forward to transform our country after the pandemic. To move power, wealth, and opportunity permanently from Whitehall to local people; and to make a new and clear pledge to give all children the opportunities to live in and participate in society without fear or experience of poverty. Thank you

Dame Arya West - Leader of the Opposition

Labour MP for West Ham (2005 - )

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Progress: “Securing the future: crafting a winning offer for the next election”

Thank you very much - I hope everyone is enjoying conference. The topic of this fringe event is how we as a party craft a winning offer for the next election. I’m not going to presume to have all the answers - I’m looking forward to hearing from other speakers too - but I do have a few perspectives I want to share.

I remember one of the first interviews that Tony Blair gave that made me stop and think about his political philosophy. It was one of those rather awful puff pieces just after he became leader - the cup of tea in hand in the modest kitchen, shirt sleeves rolled up, wife loyally at his side. But he was speaking about the 1970s, and the disconnect between Labour’s narrow focus on nationalising shipyards, while a country struggling with day-to-day issues like inflation and unemployment and poverty looked on in confusion. 

It was a prescient warning. On a principled level, all of us in the Labour Party share common socialist or social democratic values. But it was a mistake for the 2019 manifesto to mention public ownership eight times but child poverty not at all. To mention public ownership eight times but violent crime only three. Or to mention public ownership eight times but the high street only four. Days of the election campaign were lost to a debate on who should own broadband cables. I have no doubt that there are deeply held views that the road to British social democracy lies in more public ownership. At the very least, I heartily disagree that it is a route to an election winning message. It doesn’t appeal to our dissatisfied core voters who want to know how we are going to lift their wages, cut crime in their neighbourhood, or rejuvenate their crumbling highstreets. But it also doesn’t motivate our newer voters: younger, liberal, internationalist voters who want to know that we have a positive vision for Britain’s future place in the world and for a fairer and more inclusive society.

Our task before the next election is to forge that electoral coalition, like all winning Labour Governments-in-waiting have. The Conservatives want to try and divide those two groups with culture wars: we simply cannot let them. 

What could that offer look like? I think it must rest on three pillars.

First, a credible and marketable economic platform. We need to show how in a five-year Labour Government working people and their families would be better off. A real living wage, expanded rights at work for those in the gig economy, a credible plan to support and grow our innovative small businesses, a balanced fiscal policy that shows how we would live within our country’s means, and no increases in tax for average households can all form a part of that offer.

Second, a local focus on the issues that matter to local communities. Labour has a wonderful network of brilliant mayors, including Andy Burnham in Manchester. They have been successful as advocates for local issues, listening to and focussing on the communities they represent, and as drivers of renewal and regeneration. We need to leverage their success to connect national policy to the local priorities and challenges people face in our towns and cities outside London. The decline of the high street; the closure of local pubs; crime and antisocial behaviour; poor affordable local public transport options; run down schools and hospitals and care homes. Technocratic promises of an extra x% of health spending or extra police spending mean nothing without a real connection in practice and in communication to the local communities facing local challenges.

Third, a visionary commitment to climate action, a fairer society, and an internationalist Britain. Harold Wilson told us that we are a moral crusade or we are nothing. I happen to agree. Labour is at its best when it combines that localist instinct and that focus on real improvements to working peoples’ lives with a vision for a better future. To me, that means showing how action on climate change will mean a better, cleaner, fairer future for everyone. It means renewed pledges on child poverty, on equal pay and trans rights. It means a positive vision for Britain in the world after Brexit. We’ve spent six years arguing about it, but let’s move on - let’s show Labour out there as the Government in waiting that wants to strike fair trade deals across the globe; give a better deal to developing countries than we could in the EU; drive poverty reduction and climate action across the world. 

Those three pillars: a credible economic offer, a focus on localism and local issues, and a vision for a brighter future. They are the ingredients that can form an election winning offer in 2024. They are the ingredients that stood behind our landmark victories in 1945, 1964, 1974, and 1997. And they are what we have otherwise missed. Thank you.

Dame Arya West - Leader of the Opposition

Labour MP for West Ham (2005 - )

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Blue Labour, “Reclaiming Labour’s heartlands: confronting the concerns of forgotten communities”

Thank you for hosting this important discussion today, comrades.

I just got back from a Progress event and said that one of the pillars that I believe Labour needs as part of an election winning manifesto is a local focus on the local issues facing communities in our country. I welcome the opportunity to expand on that more today.

When we knock on the doors of our traditional supporters, what is it we hear? We hear about the local area falling behind and struggling: the local high street and the local pub closing and no one seeming to care. We hear about crime. We hear about substandard housing and overcrowded public services. We hear about the people in charge that don’t care - or are incapable of - protecting them and their families from any of it.

These are all issues that communities like theirs used to be able to look to the Labour Party for solutions for. Our challenge is to fix that.

Some of this is structural. I think that we have had great success as a party and as a country where there has been real devolution.  Local leaders are closer to communities, and they understand the potential that makes each place unique. They can harness the power of place, enhancing not just local economies, but also local pride and identity.

But devolution is too patchy. And the approach taken by this Government is at worst patronising, at best Whitehall-knows-best. Rather than “city deals” and “competitive pots” that leave local communities and local leaders begging for resources from penny pinching Chancellors, we need real devolution for all communities that want it - and resources and power in their hands to manage local issues like crime, dilapidated high streets in our towns, and housing.

A stronger, community-based local government can be a direct link between Labour in Government and the communities we serve.

Another important part of the puzzle is recognising that free trade and free movement are free to those who can take advantage of them. But they are not freedom for those who feel that their security has been affected by them. John Smith in his landmark Tawney lecture lambasted that neoliberal concept of negative freedom. Real freedom, he argued, required economic and social security. Labour’s future must surely be finding a way to bridge between a commitment to free trade and to fair immigration policies; with a commitment to the security and economic freedom of the communities at risk of being left behind.

I’m afraid I do not share the view that I know some of you hold that we need to pull up the drawbridge. Nor, really, do I think that is what our traditional communities want. What they want is to know that people who come here will pay their share; they will add jobs not take them; they will join our communities and enrich them. I do not think that the solution is the Tory one - to have one immigration system for the very wealthy and another for care workers or for nurses. But I think Labour should consider ideas such as immigration bonds, employer skills and impact levies, and a return of the migration impact fund. Measures that really tackle the issue our communities are concerned about, rather than Boris Johnson’s numbers game.

Linked to that, I think it is time that we return to a contributory principle in our welfare state. People feel as if the system isn’t for them and is for everyone else. We should be looking at linking what people can take out of the system when they fall on temporary hardship to what they have contributed. Universal Credit has been a corrosive reform that has fundamentally and finally broken the link between contribution and entitlement. As part of unwinding UC, we need to re-establish that link. National Insurance should live up to its name.

There’s plenty more that I could go into, but I think that is plenty of food for thought for now, and I look forward to hearing from the other speakers. Thank you.
 

Dame Arya West - Leader of the Opposition

Labour MP for West Ham (2005 - )

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IPPR, “Prosperity and justice: transforming the British economy”

Thank you very much to the IPPR for hosting this event. It’s the fourth but no means least of the events I have had the privilege of speaking to. It does rather feel like we’ve all been running around the conference centre to make all of them, doesn’t it!

I spoke at a Progress event earlier at Conference. There, I made a few points about our economic agenda to take the chance to expand on here. I think Labour is at its best and at its most impactful when it is capable of combining practical, near-term policies that support the living standards and security of our people and communities with a long-term vision for a stronger, fairer, and more equitable economy.

I happen to think that Labour went to the 2019 election with a lot to say on where we want our economy to move in the long term. I know that many people didn’t agree with all of it, and it is a fair criticism that it was not sufficiently coherent to be called a vision. But I think that for many of the people who we represent, they didn’t have a clear sense of what Labour would do to support them through tough times now, and indeed there was a sense that many of our proposals felt as if - although necessary and helpful in the long term, such as climate transition - could mean short term pain.

The case that Labour needs to make, then, is a clear agenda to credibly manage the economy now, support living standards, while providing a bold and inclusive agenda for the future. The Tories beat Labour last time not because they had a better economic vision, but because frankly they managed to beat us on the first two.Those topics may be boring. They may not energise our base. But sometimes, they are the most important factors that swing an election.

How does Labour demonstrate credibility on the economy, while setting out an offer on living standards? First, I think we need to show restraint in expensive and questionable promises such as wholesale and immediate nationalisation unless we can demonstrate why they improve lives and livelihoods. We can commit to longer term economic transformation and evaluate the role of public ownership there, but people rightly have concern about their money being bet on a quick shopping list of asset purchases. Second, we need an offer on tax that looks fair and credible. At the very least we should commit to no tax rises for working people beyond the Government’s proposed health levy. I am attracted to proposals for a “tax switch” - raising taxes on wealth, capital, and higher incomes in order to cut them for lower and middle income earners. Finally, wages - where Labour should clearly campaign on proposals to drive wages higher including a higher minimum wage, fair pay agreements bargained between unions and employers in low-paid sectors, higher public sector pay for our key workers, and a radical boost to adult skills and apprenticeships.

Even alone, such an offer would demonstrate a clear commitment to credible and fair reforms that make our economy fairer. But I think that it is critical to link that short term ambition to a long-term vision for a high-wage, high-equality, low-emission economy. That should bring together an ambitious agenda on climate change that not only seeks to transform our economy but make Britain a world leader in electric vehicles and the energy solutions of the future. It should cover Angela Rayner’s important work on the future of work. It should set out how we will transform the infrastructure that forms the backbone of our economy. And it should cover - a topic close to my heart - how we will realise our ambition to end child poverty, a target shamefully dropped by this Government while foodbank use has skyrocketed.

The key point I want to get across is this: Labour should never stop being ambitious about a fairer economy in the future. Every Labour Government has been elected with a clear vision for our economy. Atlee promised to create the modern mixed economy by creating the welfare state. Wilson promised the white heat of technology and drove scientific innovation - doing more to end Britain’s relative decline than anyone ever cared to give him credit for. Blair and Brown came to office promising to end poverty pay, end child poverty, and end long-term unemployment. All had big visions. All also knew the importance of John Maynard Keynes’ witty retort that in the long-run, we’re all dead; and combined that vision with a clear agenda as competent and credible economic managers.

Thank you.

Dame Arya West - Leader of the Opposition

Labour MP for West Ham (2005 - )

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Speech to the TUC:  “The future of work: building a new deal on employment and workers’ rights”

Keir Starmer's PPS, Jim Riley, spoke to the TUC. His remarks were:

"Friends,

It’s an honour to speak to the TUC, which represents our Labour movement, today. A movement that is not only crucial to our party founded by the Trade Unions that have loyally supported us ever since, but to the wider country. Eighty years ago, when the threat of Nazism threatened Britain’s values and the world, Trade Unions worked with the government to keep the country moving, producing and fighting. And just last year when the coronavirus pandemic threatened our livelihoods, NHS and economy the Trade Unions once again stepped up to the plate for workers, creating the furlough scheme that saved hundreds of thousands of jobs, helping deliver PPE on the frontline and so much more.

In recent years, it is right our party has acknowledged the importance of business in producing prosperity and jobs. But if this pandemic has taught us anything, it is that for a few years we could live without CEOs and big bosses, but we couldn’t live without our key workers. While we stayed at home, they put themselves at immense risk to keep shelves stacked, the lights on and hospitals running. We owe workers an immense gratitude – but let’s be clear: we always have. A business would be nothing without workers to sustain it and build it up.

And yet while billionaires have raked in the cash throughout the pandemic and this government has funnelled billions of taxpayers’ money to donors and friends, workers are still going without. Wages have been stagnant for more than a decade. Work is more insecure than ever. We used to speak of work as the great route out of poverty, but now it feels after a decade of Tory rule it is the new poverty trap.

I’m not calling to destroy the balance between business and workers. And I do not think this is what the Trade Union movement wants either – but it is time that balance is restored after decades of stagnant wages, poor conditions and power being concentrated into the hands of very few. 

It is time we reward carers with good pay and conditions instead of a round of applause on a Thursday night. 

It is time that instead of donating to and running foodbanks, we work to ensure workers never have to use one ever again.

And it’s time that if companies like British Gas and British Airways want to use our name and our flag, they also make use of our values and treat workers with dignity and respect. 

That should – that will – be Labour’s core mission in government. Just as workers should deliver on their end of the bargain by showing up and doing a good days’ work as they always have done, it is time businesses fulfil theirs and deliver dignity and a good days’ pay. 

Businesses and workers collaborating to create and then share prosperity: that doesn’t have to be a utopia. It can be Britain’s reality. We have seen the Union movement step up to the plate and work with government and businesses in the national interest. But the Tories are disinterested in doing anything but hoarding wealth for the rich and well connected instead of for the wider country. Labour will work tirelessly to deliver for working people. 

That is why in the first 100 days in office, we would introduce Fair Pay Agreements to bring together representatives of workers and businesses in every sector to negotiate wages, so we begin the process of a race to the top for wages, not the race to the bottom we have seen in recent years. And we’re clear a crucial part of that will be banning the grotesque fire and rehire practices the Tories have allowed to fester through this pandemic. 

To tackle bad bosses, we’ll work to identify those bosses who often manipulate contracts and employment law to excuse bad practice. That’s why we’ll establish just one definition of a worker under law, and we will end the fractured system of employment which allows workers to be unfairly classified as self-employed despite putting their hours solely towards one business instead of themselves, being denied holiday pay, sick pay and parental leave in the process. And it is why Labour will put an end to mandatory zero hours contracts. We support flexible work and labour, but for too long the flexibility has been completely in the hands of employers and not for workers.

And for that reason, Labour will put the right to flexible working into law. We’ve seen home working bring untold benefits to workers during the pandemic: more quality time with their families, lower costs, more control over their hours and increased productivity in the process. It is right that this is a benefit workers continue to enjoy in a post pandemic world. And we’ll further add legislation additional allowances for those who have caring responsibilities. 

The Tories have no argument against this fair settlement for workers.

They know it’s wrong employers like Deliveroo will arbitrarily call their workers self-employed so that they can deny them sick pay or a holiday.

They know it’s wrong employers like British Gas will fire masses of their staff – not because they can’t afford them or because they’ve been bad workers, but simply to bring them back on worse pay and worse conditions.

And they know it’s wrong employers like Wetherspoons will attempt to deny their workers sick pay after they’re doing the right thing and self-isolating after contracting coronavirus. 

I even suspect they know that the simplest and cheapest way to level up this country as they’ve promised is to just give workers a voice and a stake.

Instead, they’ll tell the Union movement they supported them through the pandemic that it is anti-business.

We know it’s a falsehood. We know many businesses want to do the right thing and stand by their staff: many already do. But because the government want us to race to the bottom, they won’t be rewarded but will instead lose out. Labour will have their back and support them in fostering strong relationships with their workers. 
Instead of pitting business and worker against each other, we’re clear they can work as one unit. And we’ll all be better off for it. That is Labour’s founding vision and founding philosophy: everyone having a stake in their workplace, their life, and their community. 

Trade Unions are the most powerful driving force in achieving that society. And just as unions have had our back, we’ll be clearly we’ll have yours too.

Thank you."

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