Jeremy Corbyn full speech at Labour’s Local Elections launch in Trafford
We’re here today in Trafford to launch Labour’s local election campaign. But before I do so, I want to talk about the terrorist attack in Westminster a year ago today when PC Keith Palmer was killed along with four others and more than 50 people were injured.
Later today I will attend a service in Westminster to remember the bravery of the police and to pay our respects to all those who died Aysha Frade, Kurt Cochran, Leslie Rhodes, Andreea Cristea and PC Keith Palmer.
On 3rd May there are elections in many towns and cities in England.
This year more than ever it is vital people vote Labour for a Labour council to protect and support your community.
On May 3rd people have the chance to send an unmistakable message to this government that enough is enough.
Enough of cuts to vital services that hurt local communities; enough of cuts to schools, hospitals and local policing; enough of library and youth centres closures; enough of leaving elderly and disabled people without essential care; and enough of failed privatisations that suck funds out of public services so a few can make a profit.
Over the last eight years, this Conservative government has cuts councils’ budgets in half one Conservative council has already gone bust.
In that same time, this government has slashed corporation tax, cut the bank levy, abolished the top tax rate on high earners and cut capital gains tax for the very richest.
Austerity is a political choice.
So when your children’s school is losing teachers and sending begging letters to parents or their youth centre is closed, that’s because the Conservative priority is tax breaks for big business.
And when your elderly relatives are neglected for lack of social care, that’s because the Conservatives want another tax giveaway for a few people at the top.
Decent people who have contributed all their lives have been turned into an item on a spreadsheet, sliced and diced into 15-minute units of care because of Conservative cuts and privatisation dogma.
It doesn’t have to be like this Labour in government would do things very differently.
And Labour councils across the country are doing things very differently right now.
Look at the number of Labour councils that are accredited as paying the living wage to all council staff and contractors. My own borough of Islington was one of the first in the country to do so.
And look across London, Conservative Wandsworth is not a living wage borough, but next door Labour Lambeth is. Tory Westminster is not but neighbouring Labour Camden pays the living wage.
And here in Greater Manchester just down the road, Salford Labour council is a living wage council but Conservative-led Trafford is not.
And with pay lower today than it was in 2010, we need local councils to be doing what they can to boost their local economies.
More and more people are finding it hard to make ends meet, bills are going up, and many young people can’t afford to move out of home or put enough by each month to save for a deposit.
Philip Hammond may have proclaimed “the light at the end of the tunnel”, but the stark reality was revealed by the government’s own official forecasts predicting “weak growth in real earnings and even weaker growth in real disposable incomes”.
Meanwhile the country’s housing crisis is deepening, it’s a crisis that has left 120,000 children in temporary accommodation without a home to call their own. That’s up two-thirds since 2010.
Homelessness has more than doubled and fewer people are able to afford to buy their own home.
It’s in response to this crisis that Birmingham Labour council has set up Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust to build more council houses. They have built around 2,500 new homes in the last three years, more than 20% of all new homes built in Birmingham since 2011.
But under this government, the number of new social rented homes being started has fallen from 40,000 with Labour to fewer than 1,000 last year.
Labour will build the homes people need and ensure developers build genuinely affordable housing.
Too often under the Conservatives, the essential things in life have been left to the market.
The collapse of private outsourcing companies like Carillion should have been a wake-up call for the government, but it’s Labour councils that are dealing with a crisis made in Downing Street.
Take Croydon, the Conservative council privatised the libraries and outsourced the workforce to Carillion. When Carillion collapsed it was the Labour council that saved the libraries and people’s jobs by bringing them back in-house.
Labour councils are clearing up the Tories’ mess time and time again, and acting as a human shield against damaging Conservative cuts.
It’s a different story when it comes to Conservative councils.
Northamptonshire bragged that it was pioneering an “easy-council” model. The Conservative council outsourced over 95% of its 4,000 staff. They were transferred to four new service providers, run like private companies with the payment of dividends.
Last month we learned the council had run out of money and its leader had resigned blaming the Conservative government. That’s not efficient management, it’s reckless gambling with people’s lives and the public services they rely on.
But this same slash-and-burn model is still being used by Barnet council also run by the Conservatives where Capita holds contracts with an estimated value of £500m.
Privatisation has failed to deliver on the railways, in the water companies and with energy too; people are paying more for less.
That’s what you get with the Tories you pay more for less so that their super-rich backers can take a cut for themselves.
It’s common sense that natural monopolies like water, energy and rail and public services should be there to serve us all not the profit margins of a few.
That is why Robin Hood Energy, an energy company set up by Nottingham Labour council is so important.
If we are serious about meeting our climate change goals, we need to allow councils to invest to tackle poor air quality and defend green spaces.
The energy companies have failed to invest in renewables and they’ve failed to keep energy bills affordable.
And again, it is Labour councils with their spirit of public enterprise and practical municipal socialism that are finding solutions even in the toughest of times.
And times are certainly tough for the councils trying to provide local services with half of their budget cut since 2010, and the ten most deprived council areas in England subjected to cuts higher than the national average.
What that means on the ground in local communities is that over 400 libraries have closed; more than 600 youth centres shut down; it means 1.2 million elderly people not getting the care they need and deserve; and many disabled people suffering the same indignity.
Last year 400 women were turned away from refuges because they simply didn’t have space many of those women fleeing with their children from violent homes.
In England alone, two women are killed every single week by a partner or an ex-partner. Finding safety in a women’s refuge can quite literally be a matter of life and death. Yet a fifth of all women’s refuges have been forced to close since 2010.
So when Theresa May talks about “burning injustices”, remember the reality her government is presiding over: more children growing up in poverty; life expectancy falling for the first time in living memory; our NHS in crisis with the number of GPs and nurses falling; crime up and 20,000 fewer police on our streets; more people forced to rely on food banks; and more than twice as many people sleeping rough on our streets.
Yet all the while the government has found billions of pounds in tax giveaways for the very richest and big business.
That’s Conservative Britain. And who is footing the bill?
Christine knows just one of the thousands of people who write to me every week. The police precept in Hampshire is going up by 7.3%, despite police cuts in her area. It’s the same message again pay more for less.
Police funding has fallen by one fifth since 2010; the thin blue line is getting thinner.
And the police inspectorate is today warning that 999 calls are sometimes not responded to for days and that some forces are so stretched that the lives of vulnerable people are being put at risk.
Empty shops suck the life out of high streets and local communities, and yet local businesses and shops that are the lifeblood of our communities and high streets will see their rates increase by over £3,000 even as basic services are cut.
The message from Theresa May’s government could not be clearer: pay more to get less under the Conservatives.
And ‘pay more for less’ is precisely the message from Conservative-run Leicestershire County Council where residents face £50 million of cuts this year and council tax increases of nearly 6%.
Their Conservative deputy leader of the council blamed “chronically low Government funding”.
Every day people see what the dilemmas facing local councils mean in practice.
As Edna, who wrote to me this week put it, “councils having to sell off artwork, close museums, sell off parks, close libraries to survive. The poor and middle classes are losing out on their quality of life.”
And it’s not just in Leicestershire, the Conservative leader of Surrey County Council said recently, “We are facing the most difficult financial crisis in our history. The government cannot stand idly by while Rome burns.”
But it is standing by and passing the buck to local councils.
On May 3rd there’s no need to stand by, no need to accept you have to pay more and get less, use your vote to send the message that ‘enough is enough’.
It doesn’t have to be like this.
After eight years of Conservative cuts, failed privatisations and falling living standards, it’s time for real change.
Labour will give dignity and support to those in need, rebuild our communities and transform our country for the many, not the few.
Here's the official press release re appointment of Jennie Formby
Labour appoints new General Secretary
The Labour Party has today appointed Jennie Formby as the incoming General Secretary. Interviews took place this afternoon and the decision was made by the party’s NEC. Jennie will succeed Iain McNicol.
Jennie Formby said:
“I am honoured to be appointed Labour’s new General Secretary. I would like to thank my predecessor, Iain McNicol, for his tireless dedication to the party over the past seven years.
“Last year’s General Election showed the strength of our movement when we are united, challenging this Government’s failed and damaging policies and campaigning for real change, in the interests of communities across the UK.
“Labour is preparing for government and I look forward to working with Jeremy Corbyn, our party’s staff, Members of Parliament, members and affiliates to oppose the Conservatives’ destructive austerity programme inside and outside Parliament, and to win elections to build a society that works for the many, not the few.”
Iain McNicol said:
“I would like to congratulate Jennie Formby on her appointment as the 17th General Secretary of the Labour Party.
“After seven years serving as General Secretary and with the Party now financially sound I am pleased to be handing over the reins to someone with such strong trade union experience. I’m confident Jennie will build on our electoral gains last year, working with our talented and experienced staff to win the next General Election, whenever it comes.
“As someone who has dedicated her life to fighting for workers’ rights, equality and social justice, I know Jennie will put all the commitment, drive and organising talent into getting Labour into government and Jeremy into Number 10.”
Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Labour Party, said:
“I would like to congratulate Jennie Formby on her new role as General Secretary of our party. Her talent, experience and commitment to the Labour and Trade Union movement makes me confident she will play a crucial role in building on last year’s inspiring General Election advance and taking our party forward to victory.
“The Labour Party is on the cusp of power and we are ready for a General Election whenever it comes. We have the team, the passion and the policies to win the support of the British people, form a government and transform our society for the many, not the few.”
Notes to editors:
Jennie Formby is currently the South East Regional Secretary of Unite trade union, serving previously as political secretary to the union. Jennie has sat on Labour’s NEC for seven years and served as an NEC Officer and presently as the Vice Chair of the committee.
March 12 - Jeremy Corbyn responds to the Prime Minister’s update on the Sergei Skripal case
Responding to the Prime Minister’s update on the Sergei Skripal case, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn said:
“We all condemn the suspected poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury. This was a deeply alarming attack that appalled the country and raises very serious questions. Nobody on the streets of Britain should ever face such an attack.
“There must be a thorough investigation into these shocking events. We need to see both the evidence and a full account from the Russian authorities in light of the emerging facts.
“Huge fortunes, often acquired in the most dubious circumstances in Russia, sometimes connected with criminal elements, have ended up sheltering in London and trying to buy political influence in British party politics.
“The Government could be taking action to introduce new financial sanctions powers. But instead they’re currently resisting Labour’s amendments to the sanctions and money laundering bill which could introduce the Magnitsky powers.
“The local community and public services involved need reassurance and resources. And the action the Government takes, once the facts are clear, needs to be both decisive and proportionate, and focused on reducing conflicts and tensions rather than increasing them.”
Salisbury police officer poisoned by nerve agent in Sergei Skipal case named as detective sergeant Nick Bailey
Having been persuaded to enter the race for the job of General Secretary of the Labour Party, Sunday Momentum founder Jon Lansman announced his withdrawal.
Closing date for applications is March 13, Tuesday.
He took to Twitter posting "A further statement about the appointment of the @UKLabour general secretary:
While many people have applauded Jon Lansman for this decision others have been scathing. Kevin Maguire of the Daily Mirror claimed on Twitter Lansman was pulling out as he knew he would lose heavily.
But we believe it is mission accomplished and the race is now opened up rather than just out with Iain McNicol, in with Jennie Formby.
Remember there is no member voting on this. The Labour Party powers that be will decide because after all it is just a job application.
Good luck to all who apply.
Jon Lansman steps into General Secretary race
Who will replace Iain McNicol as party General Secretary?
One week ago the Labour Party's General Secretary Iain McNicol announced he was stepping down. In the week that has followed two people have thrown their hats in the ring. Both are from the left of the party.
First up was Unite's Jennie Formby who was quick to declare an interest.
Next was Jon Lansman, touted by the mainstream media as interested in the role from day one, he only declared his interest Thursday.
John took to social media too annouce he too was applying for this senior Labour Party role saying "There has been much speculation about the appointment of the @UKLabour General Secretary. Here is my statement:
Others may yet come forward to declare an interest but with the selection process being fast-tracked and expected to be completed in just three weeks they will have to be quick.
As a Jeremy Corbyn supporter this blogger wishes both candidates good luck. They both support Mr Corbyn.
Personally though at this stage she is supporting Jon Lansman.
However it is simply like any other job application and supporters preferences will not count. Party members will have no vote but, depending who is selected, they may have on such selections in the future.
If others from the middle or right of the party announce they are applying we will share their details too
Jennie Formby: Labour's new general secretary