Jeremy Corbyn has set out his vision for a radical transformation of the British economy and society.
At the climax of the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool, Mr Corbyn pledged to rebuild the economy for the many based upon green energy in the form of a “Green Jobs Revolution” aiming to “change Britain” through the implementation of “a radical plan”.
He also pledged to fight for “democracy and social justice” and against poverty, inequality and discrimination in what was a rousing speech designed to unify the Party.
At the centre of the Labour Leaders speech was a pledge to create “a genuinely mixed economy for the 21st century” and to “rebuild public services” in the face of austerity.
With broad investment across all public services, ranging from the NHS, social care, housing and digital infrastructure, Mr Corbyn attacked the Conservatives for presiding over “a set-up where the real economy, in which millions work” is a “sideshow for the City of London and for banks fixated on piling up profits around the world.”
Labour would also invest £10 billion in infrastructure to ensure that the NHS has the most up to date lifesaving technology and equipment.
However, Mr Corbyn’s speech offered little detail in terms of how this would be implemented and funded on a practical level, and it appeared to be more of an attack on Conservative policies as opposed to a detailed set of policy proposals from a Government-in-waiting. Whilst Mr Corbyn will certainly make headlines for his rhetoric around transformation and change to the economy, it remains to be seen if his policy pursuit will deliver in practice.
The Labour leader reiterated the Labour Party’s commitment to fight for a Brexit that “protects jobs, the economy and trade” whilst providing a determined opposition to the Government in the process. Regarding the Chequers Plan, he said that, as it stands, Labour will vote against the Chequers Agreement and oppose leaving the EU with no-deal.
Mr Corbyn, however, did not commit to a particular model of Brexit. As such, he did not express a preference for what the final Brexit deal should look like, as confusion engulfs the Party around its formal position on whether it will back another public vote with the possibility to reverse the ultimate result of the referendum.
The Government should not be afraid to put the final negotiated Brexit deal to the public if it is truly of benefit to working people, the economy and communities
The Labour Leader also spoke about the need to realise a low-carbon economy and announced a programme of investment to achieve a 60 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030, creating 40,000 skilled jobs.
His rhetoric was very much centred around the need to transform and rebuild, and his fundamental shift towards a green economy will certainly be welcomed by environmentalists and those who support an economy that is centred on renewable and long-term sustainability.
In an attempt to heal the Labour Party’s divisions regarding the summer-long antisemitism episode, Mr Corbyn acknowledged that the recent row within the Labour Party has caused anxiety in the Jewish community, adding that he hoped a line could be drawn under it. However, an apology did not follow, as he vowed to eradicate antisemitism, both from the Party and within society.
Overall, Mr Corbyn used the speech as an opportunity to criticise the Brexit negotiations, and to pledge to rebuild and transform the nation and its infrastructure. Whether this socialist vision would gain voter support outside of usual Labour circles will be a challenge. However, with the current Government weighed-down by the ongoing Brexit negotiations, anything is possible at the next General Election.
The Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, Dawn Butler, announced in her speech that under the next Labour Government, the Labour Party will create a standalone Women and Equalities Department. The purpose of this Department is to develop and deliver a national equalities strategy and lead on reducing discrimination and inequality. In addition to this, a Women’s National Commission will be re-established. Ms Butler also reiterated that the Labour Party stands for “fairness, equality and justice.”
The Shadow Secretary of State for Health Jonathan Ashworth used his keynote speech to criticise Conservative austerity policies towards the NHS, leading to “waiting lists growing, beds cut, communities losing services” and hospitals being forced into the sale of land.
Mr Ashworth reiterated Labour’s previous commitment to end austerity in the NHS and invest significantly in the Health Service. Labour, instead, would invest in general practice, winter preparations and establish a National Care Service. Further, Labour would also invest £10 billion in infrastructure to ensure that the NHS has the most up to date lifesaving technology and equipment.
Mr Ashworth also attacked privatisation, stating that such measures puts patient care at risk. Labour, he added, will subsequently vote against Conservative accountable care proposals in order to fend off further privatisation and cuts to the Health Service, and repeal the Health and Social Care Act as Labour begin the process of “renationalising” the NHS. Patient costs to hospitals will also be covered by a Labour Government for young cancer patients and their families.
Labour would also take action to narrow health inequalities by fully funding public health provision in the pursuit of tackling lingering issues such as childhood obesity, diabetes and drug and alcohol addiction. Mr Ashworth also added that Labour will also fully fund child and adolescent mental health services.
The party also took a further step towards backing another vote on Brexit, voting to keep the option of another referendum on the table. Delegates voted strongly in favour of a motion saying that Labour “must support all options remaining on the table, including campaigning for a public vote.”
The motion states that the Government should not be afraid to put the final negotiated Brexit deal to the public if it is truly of benefit to working people, the economy and communities. The approval of the motion has, however, led to new splits amongst senior Party figures over the extent of the final vote and whether it should include the option to reverse the referendum result.