On the doorstep and in meetings around the country, people are telling us that what matters to them is their family, the work they do and the place they live in.All of which Labour, when last in office, did their level best to change!
There is visceral anger towards the big six utility companies, and rising resentment over the price of transport. Many people are having to devote five days of working every month just to meet the cost of getting to work.Yes, for people who forget that the companies that provide utilities and transport are businesses, and expect to turn a profit. They also invest in their chosen areas in order to do this. There’s no magic gas tree!
The cost of rent is becoming prohibitive for many people, taking up 50% or more of their monthly pay. Buying a home is getting beyond hope, especially for their children. Food costs are rising, and university fees are despairing for many.More to the point, the university degrees they send you off with are worthless…
So family integrity is one pillar of a one-nation Britain, which is why in government Labour will cap energy prices and back up our campaigning against payday lenders with a levy on their profits and a cap on the cost of their loans.And the companies will just absorb this, will they? They won’t pass it on to their customers, and so make the interest rates even higher?
Work to support our families is a second pillar. This is about self-respect and dignity: austerity without strategies for growth and work is dooming a whole generation who do not know about the importance of work in their development as full human beings.Yes, we call that generation ‘Labour voters’. You expect to convince us you want to cut that pool?
In government we will support the living wage campaign with make-work-pay contracts to help businesses raise wages for millions of workers.Which, again, will be passed on in higher prices for others. Really, can no-one see how this is going to affect things?
The third pillar is a place to belong. We see the empty shops, the potholes, the betting shops and the legal loan sharks in the high streets we campaign on. These places smell of decay. It is hard not to feel a sense of loss and concern for the future when we walk these streets. And we hear the anger about immigration. People are not anti-migrant, but to them immigration is the cause of rapid social and cultural changes that leaves them not knowing where they fit in. So Labour will make sure everyone in Britain can speak English, the language that binds us together as a national community.And if, like Farhia, they don’t plan on learning it? Are you going to set up re-education camps?
One-nation Labour is for family, for getting Britain working again, and for community. It means doing politics in a new way. Not the old top-down transactional politics of doing things to and for people. But a bottom-up transformative politics of the common good that gives people the power and responsibility to take more control of their lives, their work and their communities.Fine words, though they ring utterly hollow when set against the last Labour regime, which created exactly the conditions you now rail against..