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The Most Basic Leadership Question Of All: Why Are You Labour? by @bevclack & @MagsNews

Another week of the Labour leadership contest, another week dominated by discussion of why Labour lost and what will help us to win in 2020.

The candidates are putting forward lots of ideas about our defeat. There is the fairly predictable rehashing of slogans that don’t tell you much when subjected to further thought: apparently we should be ‘a party of aspiration’, we should ‘reach out to the public’, we should ‘avoid easy answers’, and so on.

For us, there are two questions that need to be asked first, of our party and, importantly, of our candidates:

Why are you Labour?


What do you understand to be Labour values?

Before we have heard the candidates answer these basic questions, we cannot move on to the question of policy directions or even what will enable us to win in 2020.

We are not sure why these most basic of questions are not at the heart of the contest. After all, presumably these are the easiest of all the questions being asked of our party to answer.

We know why we’re Labour!

Experience tells us that without a strong political voice, the lives of working people and of the most vulnerable in our society become increasingly hard. We know from bitter experience the cost to ordinary people when ‘the market fails’ and unemployment comes knocking. We know what it is to experience uncertainty and insecurity and to depend upon the support of those amongst whom we live. We expect Labour to speak out in these times to offer an alternative, to offer some hope for the future – for the majority!

And Labour values?

These are the values that enable the creation of a society where all can flourish, not just a few.

Belief in equality, for all voices matter, not just the elite.

Solidarity, for we can achieve more collectively than we can alone.  It is from this principle that the Labour movement began.

Compassion to stand alongside those who are struggling.

Creative thinking to be able to engage with those in society who can help Britain prosper and succeed – at all levels. Yes, we need business and we need workers with skills to offer.

Courage to stand up for what is right, not just what is expedient. In unity is strength, and it is in the Labour movement that we find the resources to fight for our shared vision of a good society. Holding back is not the answer to our future.

Putting these values into policy necessitates a further dimension. The struggle to create the good society is precisely that: a struggle.

As Labour we must resist the mood music of our culture if it fails to conform with our values.

How would slavery have been overcome if the reformers had simply gone along with the injustice of their society’s attitude that slavery was ordained by God?

How would the radical programme of the 1945 government have been realised if those who built its foundations had simply accepted the dominant voices of their time which claimed poverty to be the result of indolence, or if they had accepted the claims of those opposed to a welfare state, or those who resisted providing free medical provision, or those who rejected free education for all?

And let’s not forget the courage of those who took the risk of fighting for rights in the workplace.

If our focus is only on winning, what are we winning for?


If we fail to challenge injustice and unfairness, we fail in our historic mission to change society. We do not know at this time what we will face in 2020 but we feel it’s fair to say we fear the worst. We cannot pander to ignorance about the sources of poverty and homelessness. Nor can we ignore basic issues such as employment rights, education, our NHS. And we cannot ignore those amongst us who are most vulnerable: the sick and disabled. These are basic requirements at the heart of a fair society. If we fail in meeting those requirements then we shall discover that we are taking ourselves down the long road to losing again in 2020 and once again being unable to change our society.

We need the courage to start with our values, with why we are Labour. Once we know who we are and what we stand for, then we will be able to articulate our vision of the good society. We might not be in power, but we can show through our actions, through our presence in our communities, that we are on the side of those struggling to have the things necessary for a flourishing life. And to do this, we must challenge callousness and ignorance wherever they are found.

If we can elect a leader with the courage to stand up for what is right, for the values that have shaped our party and our movement, then we will be able to face with optimism the challenges of the next five years.

Queens Speech reaction by @KarlTurnerMP

The test for the Queen’s speech is whether it makes a difference for the people of East Hull.

With Britain facing a fragile future – in our economy, our public services and our politics – we need a Government which meets these challenges.

That means delivering the stability on which working people depend:

  • In our economy, where we need a focus on productivity and skills so we can bring down the deficit.
  • In our public services, where after five years of decline we have an NHS in crisis, the challenge is how we rebuild the vital services on which people rely.
  • In our constitution, we need further devolution to Scotland, Wales and the English regions which is fair and lasting, and done in a way which build the broadest possible consensus.

Labour will be a strong Opposition to stand up for all of Britain, holding the Government to account and standing up for every one.

A speech which fails focus on productivity, which ignores the crisis in our NHS and which divisively sets nations of our country against each other is not the Queen’s Speech that the people of East Hull need.

People should take the Tory promises in this Queen’s Speech with a pinch of salt. The Tories’ first Queen’s Speech in 2010 promised to balance the books, reform welfare and strengthen the NHS, amongst other measures. On each of the key Bills in that Queen’s Speech, the Tories failed to deliver.

After five years of taking backwards the services and institutions on which families rely, the country cannot trust the Tories’ promises for another five years.

Response to goverments Queens Speech by @MichaelDugher

Michael has criticised the Tory Government’s first Queen’s Speech for failing to stand up to working people in Barnsley and across the country.

The Labour Party supports efforts to get people back into work, to achieve full employment and to get the welfare bill under control. But while the Tories say that this is a Queens Speech for working people, their plans to freeze tax credits will hit the budgets of working families hardest.

As the Party of Opposition in the House of Commons, Labour will work hard to hold the Government to account and to stand up for fairness. Labour’s Interim Leader, Harriet Harman (pictured above), responded to the Queen’s Speech in the Chamber of the House of Commons.

Commenting, Michael said:

With the country facing a fragile future, the key test for this Queen’s Speech is whether it improves the lives of working people. That means securing the recovery, protecting our vital public services that people in Barnsley rely on and delivering on important constitutional reform.

“The Labour Party will be a strong Opposition and we will hold this Government to account and stand up for working people across the country and in Barnsley – and the Government needs to be judged on its actions, not just it’s rhetoric.”

A Safe and Secure Home by @labourlewis

A major problem facing Britain today is our housing crisis.  The average age of a first time home buyer is now a staggeringly high, 36[1] years old and this figure is set to rise.  Many voters in Norwich spend a shockingly high proportion of their income on housing while often finding themselves unable to make ends meet.  Clearly a change is needed.

What’s more, something can be done.  We only have to look to our European neighbours, who on average pay much less than we do on housing, to see a change is possible.  We promise to increase the affordable housing stock so people do not find themselves facing a wall of insurmountable debt.  The last five years of the Con-Dem coalition presided over the lowest rate of house building since the 1920s.  We will build a minimum of 200,000 homes each year by 2020.

[1] http://www.propertywire.com/news/europe/uk-first-time-buyers-201405309192.html

Private renter sectors will also be given a fair deal.  Landlords will be banned from hiking up rents, rip-off letting agent fees will be abolished, and long term contracts will become the norm, allowing for stability in our families’ home life.  We will also protect those with public sector housing by abolishing the immoral bedroom tax which hurts the most vulnerable in society.[1]

In short, we guarantee that the people of Norwich all have a safe and secure home.

[1] http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2014/12/benefit-payment-delays-and-bedroom-tax-impact-terribly-disabled-peoples-lives

“The Tories must come clean on cuts” by @GwynneMP


Denton and Reddish MP Andrew Gwynne has challenged the Government to ‘come clean’ over where its £12 billion welfare cuts will hit.

He made the demand after this week’s Queen’s Speech failed to reveal how the Government will implement its massive reductions in public spending.

The Government hopes to distract attention from its still unexplained cuts to public services which, combined with a mass of unfunded election pledges, represent a hidden threat to working households and the public services upon which they depend.

Andrew Gwynne MP said:

“My constituents are still waiting to find out about the planned cuts in benefits for families and children, including child benefit, housing assistance, and disability allowances for the most vulnerable people.

“And Tameside and Stockport councils have already lost tens of millions of pounds in the last few years and now face even more swingeing cuts to the services that the public rely on.

“The Queen’s Speech was a missed opportunity. Britain needs a government focused on productivity and providing genuine help for people on middle and lower incomes.”