#Corbyn4All letting Tories off, because he is not committed to winning power #InOurBritain #Owen2016

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Joff Wild on the divides in the main opposition party

Today’s Daily Telegraph ran an intriguing piece about plans being hatched by some Labour MPs if, as expected, Jeremy Corbyn wins the party’s leadership election in September. According to the newspaper’s political correspondent Ben Riley-Smith, rebels are exploring the possibility of setting up a semi-independent party in the Commons that would have its own leader and front bench, and would aim to replace Corbyn’s Labour as the official opposition. There may even be a legal challenge about ownership of the Labour name.

Time will tell if the story has any legs – I have my doubts – but it does speak to a real and profoundly important issue: what happens when the party that holds the second most seats in the Commons – and will almost certainly continue to do so even after catastrophic general election defeat – has no real interest in providing an alternative to the government or in seriously opposing it inside Parliament? For that is the situation we face should Jeremy Corbyn be elected Labour leader once more.

Both Corbyn and John McDonnell have explicitly rejected Parliament as a means through which to secure significant change. In an interview with Vice in April last year, McDonnell – sitting next to Corbyn – stated: “You can’t change the world through the parliamentary system.” He continued: “Getting political representation is important, but change comes through using direct action, campaigning, and trade unions.” Corbyn agreed: “Get involved in campaigns, in a union, with the peace movement, get involved with Occupy & UK Uncut”; before adding as an afterthought: “and also be in a political party.”

For Corbyn and McDonnell, and other members of the hard left, what really makes a difference is demonstration and agitation. Thousands on the street or packed into halls, hundreds of Tweets and reTweets, hundreds of thousands of Facebook likes and myriad groups are a far more potent weapon than a parliamentary majority and the compromises that inevitably come with securing one. Yes, seriously – Martin Robbins in this week’s New Statesman sums it up perfectly.

Their attitude is probably best illustrated by the interactions they have had with a number of shadow ministers – or lack of them. You only have to read accounts from the likes of Lilian Greenwood, Angela Eagle, Sharon Hodgson and Thangam Debbonaire, as well as Angela Smith, Labour’s leader in the House of Lords, to see how seriously Corbyn and McDonnell take Parliament. They just don’t think it matters. (What is it about the hard left and women, by the way?)

Away from Parliament, Corbyn-supporting Momentum has rejected winning elections (except within the Labour party). In a Tweet sent out on 10th July, the organisation’s millionaire founder Jon Lansmann memorably stated: “Democracy gives power to people, “Winning” is the small bit that matters to political elites that want to keep power themselves”. Lansman, of course – like fellow Momentum leader, the ex-Liberal Democrat public schoolboy, James Schneider; Seumas Milne, Corbyn’s Winchester-educated director of strategy and communications; and Corbyn himself – has never needed a Labour government or had to worry about the possible consequences of a Tory one.

The same can be said of many Labour members, 75% of whom are ABC1s (full disclosure: that includes me). As Nick Cohen observed in a powerful piece for the Spectator last year, Corbyn’s middle class Labour supporters actually do pretty well under Tory governments and are not directly affected by policies that may have a negative impact on the poorest and the most vulnerable. Most Labour members and the party’s leaders do not need to worry personally about bedroom taxes, cuts to public services, reduced benefits and increased NHS waiting times. Instead, they can afford to put ideological purity before the dirty work of pursuing power.

Then there are the unions. A bulwark against Militant entryism in the 1980s, all too often these days their most vocal members – the small minority that are involved in union activity and vote in union leadership elections – are on the hard left. As we have seen, the likes of Unite leader Len McCluske cannot afford to upset them if he wants to remain in charge. So despite Corbyn taking anti-union positions on issues such as pharmaceutical R&D, Trident and, just this week, the future of Hinkley Point, McCluskey has no choice but to put the weight of Unite behind the Labour leader. If he were to do otherwise, he would very quickly be out of a job.

Thus, the Parliamentary Labour party is faced with a leadership that does not regard Parliament as a route to real power, an all-pervasive activist organisation that explicitly rejects “winning”, a membership that has no reason to believe in the importance of compromising treasured political principles to gain victory and the leader of the country’s most powerful union having to placate a small, hard-left part of his membership to remain in a job. None of them have a Labour government as a priority. No wonder some Labour MPs may be looking for new ways to hold the government to account.

But this is not only an issue for Labour MPs and the minority of Labour members that seem to share their views about the primacy of Parliament. It is also a problem for the country as a whole. For without a serious Parliamentary opposition, who is there to hold the government to account?

In the absence of a functioning shadow front bench led by someone whose overwhelming desire and priority is to replace the Prime Minister, the government essentially has free rein to do as it wishes. And that lack of scrutiny has the very real potential to lead to sloppy decision making, bad policy and harmful outcomes for the country as a whole. If governments do not believe they can lose elections, they get careless and make mistakes. Can we really be confident that we will get the best Brexit possible, for example, if the only people Theresa May need worry about as she negotiates the deal are right-wing Tory malcontents and Nick Clegg?

A Corbyn victory over Owen Smith will not resolve the impasse between the PLP and the leadership, nor is it likely to change the way that Corbyn views Parliament or does business there. That’s not just disastrous for the Labour party, it’s bad for our entire system of government. At some stage soon, the Speaker will surely be compelled to have quiet words behind the scenes about the effect Labour’s turmoil is having on the functioning of Parliament. Corbyn and McDonnell are likely to ignore these, just as they have ignored the PLP. What happens then is anyone’s guess; but, for the good of the country, something is going to have to give.

Joff Wild (Southam Observer)

Trades Union members have until 12:00 today to vote #Owen2016 as Labour leader #Unison #Unite #GMB

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Of the 2.4 million trades union levy payers in 2015, only around 140,000 bothered to register to vote in the Labour leadership election in 2015.  Less than half of that 140,000 actually voted in the leadership election in which Jeremy Corbyn was elected Labour leader.

It is free for trades union levy payers to register.  There is no requirement to pay £25.

Owen Smith’s 25 point plan to improve workers’ rights include:

  • Introduce Modern Wages Councils to cover 9 million workers, many of them women. in Hospitality, Retail and Social Care
  • New Equal Pay legislation to close the gender pay gap
  • Employment rights from day one
  • Outlaw Zero-hours contracts
  • and strengthen enforcement of National Living Wage.

If your friends and family missed out on registering as a Labour supporter last week they might still be eligible to vote in the Labour leadership election if they’re a member of an affiliated trade union and have been since January 12th 2016.

If you forward this on to any unionised friends or family, they can click here to see if they have a vote.
The deadline to sign up to vote in the Labour leadership election is midday on Monday 8th August 2016 for trade union affiliated members, so act now and forward this email!

We’re #SavingLabour because we want our party to hold the Tories to account and offer a strong, dependable and united alternative Government. If you know trade union members they can help make this happen.

Here is a list of affiliated trade unions:

ASLEF
BECTU
BFAWU
Community
CWU
FBU
GMB
MU
NUM
TSSA
UCATT
UNISON
Unite
USDAW

 

Another @UKLabour MP sets out why she is not backing #Corbyn4All for the leadership #InOurBritain

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Bridget Phillipson is the Labour Member of Parliament for the constituency of Houghton and Sunderland South; one of three constituencies in the City of Sunderland. She was first elected to the seat on 6th May 2010 and increased her majority at the 2015 General Election.

The Labour leadership contest is underway. This is a critical moment for the Labour Party, our region and our country. It is more important than ever that we have a strong, unified and credible Labour Party to oppose and fight the Conservatives. And I believe Owen Smith can lead us to achieve that.

Owen is principled, passionate and credible, and he will unite Labour once again. During the last year, he has secured major victories over the Conservative government’s regressive cuts to disability benefits and over cuts to support for low-paid workers.

It is clear we must oppose failed Conservative economic policy, but it is not enough to be only anti-austerity – we need a concrete plan for prosperity.

Owen has set out a bold and ambitious programme for Labour’s future and the future of our country. Owen’s plan for a British New Deal will deliver £200bn of investment to left-behind areas like ours.

Reducing inequality and spreading opportunity will be the central mission of Labour under Owen’s leadership. Owen will offer a strong voice during our negotiations with the European Union and he will trust the British people to sign off that deal either through a general election or a second referendum.

I know some Labour Party members and supporters will disagree with my support for Owen: I expect and respect that.

When I decided to support the vote of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn tabled at the meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party on 27 June, it was not a decision I took lightly. I have always respected Jeremy’s mandate since he was elected. However, his lacklustre approach during the EU referendum campaign and recent testimonials from my Labour colleagues who have worked closely with him during the referendum and in the Shadow Cabinet have proven to me that he cannot provide the leadership we need.

It is no secret that I did not vote for Jeremy last summer, but I had always hoped he would make a success of it. I have not been publicly critical of Jeremy – that is not my politics. Instead, I addressed my concerns directly to him at the PLP meeting.

We need a leader and an opposition capable of standing up to the government and providing a radical alternative.

As your elected representative, I have a responsibility to balance different opinions among members and all constituents, and to set out my views clearly. I appreciate that some constituents may disagree with me, but at times the language used towards parliamentary colleagues and others has been far beyond what can ever be acceptable. None of us should be describing fellow Labour people as traitors, scum or scabs. Not ever.

One thing on which I agree completely with Jeremy is that people are turned off of politics by the politics of abuse. All of us who want politics to matter, who want to see a Labour government elected to transform people’s lives for the better, need to hold ourselves to a higher standard of civility, courtesy and decency. I hope the leadership contest this summer will be conducted in the spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect.

And I would urge Labour members and supporters in Houghton and Sunderland South to vote for Owen.

 

#Corbyn4All declines to set precedent to protect women & #BAME NEC members from abuse #LabourLeadership

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“Corbyn’s letter also defended the fact that he had not wanted a secret ballot during a Labour NEC meeting, which was to decide whether he could automatically stand in the leadership election. He said he opposed it on grounds of “lack of precedent and perceptions of accountability” and said transparency was important.”

Corbyn calls for swift action on threats to MPs amid ‘climate of worry’

@UKLabour MP says McDonnell undermined her, #Corbyn4All incapable of leading Labour #InOurBritain

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Earlier this month, Sharon Hodgson MP spoke at a meeting of members of the local Washington and Sunderland West Labour Party, as she does every month, and discussed in detail her difficult decision to resign from the Shadow frontbench where she was Labour’s Shadow Minister for Children.

In the spirit of being open and transparent, and as only around a fifth of members were able to attend the meeting, Sharon has now written to all local Labour Party members explaining her decision and also why she is supporting Owen Smith MP during the Labour Leadership contest – which is currently underway – and she has decided to post it on her website for her constituents to read also.

Find the text of the email pasted below:

Last month, I resigned from my role as Shadow Minister for Children. At our last CLP meeting, I set out my reasons for doing so, but, since many of you were unable to attend, I have decided to explain my difficult decision in writing.

Throughout my eleven years as your MP, I have worked first and foremost to be the voice of this constituency in Parliament. I have stood up for the people, and worked to make their lives better, to create a fairer society, and to see social justice, equality and opportunity for all.

I have loyally served every Leader; whether on the backbenches or frontbench. I never once engaged in the civil war between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and when asked, I dutifully served as a whip under Gordon Brown, then as a shadow minister under both Ed Miliband and Jeremy Corbyn. In these roles I worked tirelessly to hold the Government to account and helped develop Labour Party policy on children, families, women, race and equalities.

As you know, I did not vote for Jeremy to be Leader last year, but I chose to support him by accepting the position of Shadow Minister for Children, an area that is close to my heart. Here I had two key aims: to support the Labour Party and its Leader and to oppose this damaging Tory Government as effectively possible. I didn’t need to take a position on Jeremy’s frontbench, and could, like others chose to last September, have politely declined in order to work to represent constituents and our Party from the backbenches. Instead, I chose to step up and support Jeremy.

Unfortunately, I could not continue supporting Jeremy after the events that followed Hilary Benn’s sacking.

I was not part of any “Blairite coup” or orchestrated plan to damage Jeremy’s leadership. My decision was my own. On the Monday after the Shadow Cabinet resignations, I got on the train to London, as I do every week, and had no plan to resign. Yet, as Monday progressed, it became clear that Jeremy’s leadership could not go on.

As MPs such as Owen Smith, Kate Green, and Lisa Nandy left a meeting with Jeremy and resigned, it was clear that the situation had taken a turn for the worse. These MPs are not “Blairites”, and they resigned due to Jeremy’s inability to engage with his cabinet. Jeremy had lost the confidence of most of his Shadow Cabinet, and in turn lost my confidence in him as Leader. Instead of carrying on as if nothing was wrong, I stood up for what I believed and made the difficult decision to resign.

Labour is bigger than any one person, and is indeed bigger than all of us. When our party is teetering on the edge of political irrelevance, we all have a duty to act quickly to show that we are a government in waiting. We all pride ourselves in our beliefs of equality, social justice, and opportunity for all. These beliefs are not the monopoly of one person or one faction of our Party, and the only way we can make them a reality is to win elections.

We need leadership that ensures our electability, and respectfully, Jeremy is not offering that leadership. For example, during the European Union Referendum, Jeremy’s campaigning was lacklustre and he was, at best, ambivalent towards one of the most important decisions our country has made in a generation. Instead of playing a central role in our official Labour IN campaign, Jeremy and his team failed to attend any steering committee meetings. When challenged directly, Jeremy has not once denied this lack of involvement. During the campaign, Jeremy undermined us and, when members and activists were bending over backwards campaigning, Jeremy decided to go on holiday to Portugal.

Leaders must lead from the front and make our case to the country, but Jeremy failed to do so. In the morning after the vote, when the people needed reassurances and the markets needed confidence, Jeremy, as a national leader, should have been doing the media rounds, speaking to the many people who had stayed up all night watching the results. But Jeremy was nowhere to be seen.

Jeremy should have used the EU campaign to show his potential to become our next Labour Prime Minister. With the most important, high-level negotiations our country will ever see, Labour needs to have a credible voice at the table, working to get the best Brexit deal for the people we represent and stand up for as Labour Party members. Sadly, Jeremy has shown he isn’t up to the job.

However, it was not only during the campaign that his leadership has been brought into question. It has been clear from his lack of engagement with his Shadow Ministers and the wider Parliamentary Labour Party where our democratic policy development processes have been over-run by the leadership or ignored.

This is something I have experienced personally in my capacity as a Shadow Minister for Children. My office and I spent months preparing for a Labour Party review into special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) to feed into Labour’s manifesto for the 2020 General Election. I identified the issues we needed to address; I raised questions in the chamber; I met stakeholders to discuss the review, and my staff put together a briefing for the wider PLP and the Leadership Office, and worked to get media coverage. Three days after the launch, I found out that my review had been completely undermined by our Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell.

Without consulting me, John had announced his support for a Shadow Neurodiversity Minister and an autism manifesto. My office picked up John’s announcement on Twitter, and subsequently raised the issue with him, requesting an opportunity to meet to discuss the matter further. After receiving no response, my team made several more attempts to reach out to John’s office, which were all met with no answer.

The combination of silence from John’s office and the large number of inquiries from external bodies and the media, left me with no option but to contact Jeremy’s office directly. Instead of support and an offer to resolve the problem, we were simply acknowledged with the sentence, “I appreciate the point”, and then told to expect an apology and clarification later, which never arrived. Indeed, nobody ever reached out to discuss the matter with me.

In all my time in Parliament, I have never experienced such lack of communication or respect for a shadow minister’s work from a Leader. To form a credible and effective opposition, a Leader must work with the PLP and respect the opinions of their shadow ministers. Jeremy needs to lead his MPs as well as the membership. Sadly, Jeremy has failed to fulfil the parliamentary aspect of his role from day one.

Last summer, we were promised a revitalised and successful Labour Party, improving on the disappointing performance in the 2015 General Election. However, we have seen the opposite. The local election results in May were stagnant at best. For the first time in history, we fell to third place in Scotland behind the Tories, who now form the Official Opposition, and we only just held on to control of the Welsh Assembly. To win a General Election, we need to appeal to not only core Labour voters, but the wider electorate. Sadly, my experience on the doorsteps across the country is that crucial swing voters will never vote for a Labour Government led by Jeremy, and I have experienced this on the doorstep in Washington and Sunderland West also.

We are a Party of Government, not just a social movement, and we must never lose sight of that. We cannot forget that moment in 1997 when, after 18 years of Tory rule, we finally achieved power and the ability to improve people’s lives again. Neither can we forget the devastating defeats of 2010 or 2015, which have forced us to look on over the past six years as the Tories have tried to dismantle everything we achieved in Government. There is no moral high ground in being a permanent opposition, sitting on the opposition benches every day, knowing that you will never be able to make real changes people need.

There is too much at stake. In order to sort ourselves out, and to work towards forming the next Labour Government, we need a new Leader.

As many of you will know, I publically supported Angela Eagle once the leadership contest was announced. This was because of Angela’s clear dedication to our Party as a member for over forty years, a minister in the last Labour Government, a shadow minister under both Ed Miliband and Jeremy, and as Labour Party Chair.

Sadly, before the nominations closed, Angela announced she would be withdrawing from the leadership race to ensure that we had one unity candidate and pledged her support for Owen Smith MP. I have now also given my full support to Owen to become the next Leader of the Labour Party. Since Owen launched his campaign, he has set out a radical policy platform that not only harnesses our stance as an anti-austerity party, but also pro-prosperity.

Labour is in dire straits right now, and we must heal our party, uniting both the membership and the Parliamentary Party. I hope you can understand why I made the difficult decision to resign and can show your support for Owen Smith to be the next Leader of the Labour Party.

As always, I am happy to hear your thoughts and comments in a respectful and measured debate as fellow Labour colleagues, so please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely,

Sharon Hodgson MP

#Owen2016 speaks for @UKLabour across Great Britain, #Corbyn4All speaks at best for Islington & London

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Read the full text of Owen Smith’s speech at Orgreave on Wednesday 29th July 2016:

This place is a symbol of what we can do at our best.

How Labour can build a fairer, more prosperous and contented country.

But, let me be clear, under the Tories, we have become an unhappy country.

A frustrated, divided and profoundly unequal country.

Where individuals and whole communities feel deeply that life is unfair.

That there’s little chance of progress or success for them and theirs, while others are doing very well for themselves.

A country where people think the system is rigged against them,

and they are angry about it.

And they are right to be angry

Right to be angry that eight years after the financial crisis – we’re still being asked to pay the price.

Right to be angry that a crash caused by greed and incompetence – not Labour spending on schools and hospitals – is still putting the squeeze on blameless families.

Right to be angry that not a single banker went to jail.

Angry that the bonus culture is booming again.

That Phillip Green has bought another yacht.

While working men and women, and especially the young, have endured the lowest wage growth for a century.

Remember Osborne claiming that austerity was the only way to stop Britain’s finances from looking like Greece.

Well, good job George. Pick up the paper this morning and read what you’ve accomplished.

Its official: British workers have had a bigger pay cut than anyone in Europe – apart from the Greeks.

No wonder people are cheesed off.

And they want a Labour Government that is angry for them. Angry alongside them.

A Labour Government that demands to know why workers aren’t getting a fair share
– not the pay they earn nor the rights they’ve fought for.

A Labour Government that asks why workers here in Sheffield, after they’ve paid their bills, have just a quarter of the pay left over compared to their counterparts in London.

Why almost a million workers have no security at work, and millions more have seen their terms and conditions deteriorate.

In a Britain like that, is it any surprise that people jump at a promise to take back control – no matter how hollow.

People are frustrated in their community.

At declining public services, at spending half an hour on the phone to the doctor to be told the next appointment is in three weeks’ time.

Frustrated at growing class sizes and shrinking leisure facilities.

At the local library being forced to close – not because it isn’t being used, but because there’s no money for books anymore.

Meanwhile, the buses take longer and the trains are more delayed than usual.

And Behind all of these frustrations is one cause:

Austerity.

The Tory nationalisation of private debt.

The Tory excuse for creating the meaner state they believe in.

Cutting back on the fabric of society, while shifting the blame for diminished public services onto local government or the devolved governments in Wales and Scotland.

That’s got to stop and it’s up to Labour to stop it.

It’s up to breathe life back into our communities and hope back into Britain.

It’s up to Labour to unite the country and heal the divisions that have surfaced under the Tories.

And to do that austerity must be defeated.

Because, perhaps more so than at any point in my life,

people are worried about what the future holds.

Worried about Brexit.

About their children’s future.

Whether it’s worth shelling out £9,000 a year on tuition fees when the only jobs around are low-paid, insecure and temporary.

Whether paying thousands in rent is a stepping stone towards buying a home or a subsidy for a wealthy landlord.

And for millions of young people, whether they’ll ever be able to buy a home of their own.

These angers, frustrations and worries don’t just come about of their own accord.

They fill the void created by a disinterested, disinvesting Government.

But, where Tory austerity has caused these divides, Labour prosperity can heal them.

That’s why, the Labour Government I lead will deliver on three key pledges:

Fair employment, fair taxes and fair funding.

Firstly, fair employment.

Our country is rapidly becoming the sick man of Europe when it comes to job security and workers’ rights.

Well I for one have had enough of that.

Instead, I want to make Britain the envy of the world when it comes to the rights of our workers.

To shift power back to employees.

Under my leadership, a Labour Government will deliver world-beating employment rights.

To start with, I’ll create a new post – Shadow Secretary of State for Labour.

He or she will be tasked with ensuring quality jobs and the best protection.

That means scrapping the Department for Work and Pensions – which has become a byword for cruelty and insecurity.

And replacing it with a muscular Ministry for Labour and a dedicated Department for Social Security.

The Ministry for Labour will deliver on my plans to introduce modern wage councils for hotel workers and shop workers.

To get bosses, unions and workers to sit around the table together and agree pay, terms and conditions.

But it will go further.

The workers that care for our elderly are chronically underpaid.

This is some of the most important work, yet the workforce – who are overwhelmingly women – are poorly rewarded.

They work for their poverty.

So I will introduce wage councils in the care sector to tackle poverty pay.

Beyond wage councils, we need to tackle unfair and unequal pay.

I was born the very same month the Equal Pay Act was passed by Labour Titan Barbara Castle.

Proof if it were ever needed of the importance of Labour in power.

Yet 46 long years later, women are still paid 20% less than men. This is morally unacceptable and economically unsustainable.

And Labour will end it.

In the coming weeks I will set out my plan to end once and for all the gender pay gap.

Through a modern Equal Pay Act to consign wage discrimination against women to history once and for all.

Of course, to listen to their rhetoric you’d think the Tories understood all this.

Theresa May even had the temerity last week to lecture Labour on the evils of social injustice and job security.

She says Britain needs a pay rise. And who could disagree?

But rhetoric is cheap.

The reality is that Mrs May is still squeezing her own workers til the pips squeak.

With her pay freeze for millions of public sector workers that has dragged on far too long.

So let me be clear.

The public sector pay freeze cannot continue while the costs – of housing and heating, transport and childcare – continue to rise.

The public sector pay freeze must end. And under me, it will.

We also need a radical but credible plan to tackle insecurity at work.
Let’s start with the obvious. Labour will ban zero hours contracts.

Don’t tell me some workers would prefer them to a guarantee of minimum hours.

Don’t tell me they’re not exploitative in their very essence.

They are the hallmark of insecurity at work.

They represent everything that is wrong about the inequality of power between employers and employees.

And I will outlaw them.

We need to strengthen rights at work. Both individual rights, and collective rights.

Rights from day one.

Rights for all workers, not just employees.

And we need to give working people a voice at work.
Employees should always be given a say over the big decisions in their workplace that affect them.

We saw with BHS how a British institution was asset stripped and steered onto the rocks while the staff who went on to lose their jobs were not even given a look-in.
So I would extend the right to information and consultation to cover all workplaces with more than 50 employees.

And I would guarantee a place for workers reps on remuneration committees.

Trade unions give people a voice at work.

That’s why the Tory Government hates them so much.

So if I was Prime Minister, on day one, I’d set to work on repealing the vicious and vindictive Trade Union Act.

It is undemocratic, unnecessary and unjust.

And I’d scrap it.

Second, fair taxes.

My plans will ensure the wealthiest in society and big businesses pay a much fairer share.

A fairer share to re-build our vital public services.

To re-open libraries, to reduce class sizes and to relieve hospitals of the immense pressure they’re under.

The Labour Party’s greatest ever achievement is a comprehensive, National Health Service, free at the point of use.

But it’s come under continued attack from Tory austerity.

We, as Labour, must spell out how to defeat austerity and protect our public services.

Because the experts are clear and I, for one, still believe in experts.

If we’re to have a properly functioning, well-serviced NHS that my hero Nye Bevan would be proud of, spending needs to rise by 4% every year for the foreseeable future.

Under the Tories, it’s only been 1%.

That’s unprecedented levels of low funding for our most important, our most cherished public services.

The lowest in history.

The Labour Government I hope to lead will right this wrong.

The Last Labour Government inherited spending on the NHS that was just 6.6% of GDP.

Miles behind the EU average.

We got it up to 9.9%, but under the Tories it is falling back again.

And, as usual, it will take a Labour Government to save our NHS.

So if I am leader of this party we will commit to increasing spending on the NHS by 4% in real-terms in every year of the next parliament.

To do that, we’ll ask the wealthiest in society to pay a fair share.

We’ll re-instate the 50p top rate of income tax – the Tories’ tax cut for millionaires – and put a stop to further reductions to Corporation Tax.

We’ll reverse Tory cuts to Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains Tax.

And to tackle the historic inequality that is holding Britain back,

Labour on my watch will take the historic and necessary step of levying a Wealth Tax.

A surcharge on investment earnings by the wealthiest 1% in our country, raising £3Billion a year.

Theresa May can wring her hands at the inequality that scars our country.

Labour, under my leadership, will do something about it.

We will bring schools, hospitals and libraries back to life.

Re-vitalised by fairer taxes and rejuvenated by investment.

That investment sits at the heart of the third element of my plan for Britain’s future –

It is a pledge to reinstate fair funding across our country.

Through a British New Deal.

Two hundred billion pounds of needs-based investment over the next five years.

Investment in infrastructure, in housing and in people.

Investment to re-build confidence and re-balance the country.

Funded by government bonds.

Making the most of low borrowing costs to stimulate an economy that’s teetering on the brink of recession.

It’ll include massive investment in the North of England to close the North-South divide and to deliver High Seed 3.

HS2 and the capacity it brings, is greatly needed.

But we need to go further, we need to be bolder.
 
Our economy is far too London-centric.

And this is in part because both our existing transport infrastructure, and new investment, are all concentrated on London.

In the year that Osborne announced his vision for the Northern Powerhouse, transport investment was 24 times higher per person in London than it was in the North East.

It takes well over three hours and two trains to get between Liverpool and Hull, two capitals of culture, two great cities.

The journey is over an hour longer than it takes to get all the way from Liverpool to London, despite the greater distance.

HS3 will significantly increase capacity and dramatically reduce journey times across the North.

It’ll boost investment, growth and jobs, and it’s the right thing to do.

Labour’s New Deal will also free up councils across the country to borrow to build.

And end the housing crisis inflicted on millions by the Tories.

A crisis created by a Government that’s built fewer homes than any other since the 1920s.

And presided over the lowest levels of home ownership in a generation.

An utter failure.

A shameful failure.

So it will fall to Labour to end this crisis.

And, under my leadership, we will.

My New Deal will pave the way for 300,000 homes to be built every year.

One a half million homes over the next parliament.

Radical and credible policies to improve people’s lives and change the country.

That’s what the Labour Party I hope to lead will deliver.

Investment, not cuts.

Labour prosperity, not Tory austerity.

That’s how we can rebuild hope and ambition for families and communities, for the nations and regions of the UK and for the UK as a whole.

That’s how we rediscover a sense of national mission for Britain.

A faith that our country can have a future as bright as its past.

Where the fruits of our collective success are shared more equally between us.

Where outcomes can be equal, not just the opportunities we create.

That is why I am a politician.

And that is what Labour is for, as far as I am concerned.

Our job is to level the playing field for individuals and whole communities.

So that wherever you live, or whatever disadvantages you set out with, you can live a good life

With excellent education and healthcare in every community; dignity, opportunity and decent pay in every workplace; and a faith in fair play in every breast.

But to achieve that we need revolution not evolution.

Not some misty eyed romanticism about a revolution to overthrow capitalism.

But a cold eyed and practical revolution, through a radical Labour Government that puts in place the laws and the levers that can genuinely even things up.

That’s the kind of Government I dream about.

That’s the kind of revolution I’ll deliver

Wages Councils #Corbyn4All never more needed than when Trades Unions are as weak as today #WeAreHisMedia

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Equal outcomes to re-introducing Wage Councils for workers in social care, retail, hotel and catering (Owen Smith’s policy run-down)

In setting out policies to bring back Wages Councils, Owen Smith is responding to a call for the same, made over three years ago by the Trades Union Congress.  He is also proposing to build on policy already enacted by Labour in Wales for those working in the agricultural industry.  For Owen, like so many of us in Labour, being in power means being able to do something to improve the condition of the people.  Something, in 40 years in opposition to whoever was in Government, Corbyn has never been able to do.

Wages Councils for workers in the hotel and catering and retail sectors, many of whom are women, are the sort of policies that will gain the attention and, hopefully, the support of working class voters who have come to feel left behind by Labour.  Owen Smith offers such voters policies addressing their daily concerns.  Jeremy Corbyn offers them just windy rhetoric.

In his often-quoted speech in 1909 on Second Reading of the Bill (that became the Trade Boards Act 1909), Winston Churchill, then President of the Board of Trade, explained that the Boards (Wages Councils by another name) were necessary to ensure that workers received a living wage in industries where the bargaining strength of employers greatly outweighed that of employees:

It is a serious national evil that any class of His Majesty’s subjects should receive less than a living wage in return for their utmost exertions. It was formerly supposed that the working of the laws of supply and demand would naturally regulate or eliminate that evil ……………. Where in the great staple trades in the country you have a powerful organisation on both sides, where you have responsible leaders able to bind their constituents to their decision, where that organisation is conjoint with an automatic scale of wages or arrangements for avoiding a deadlock by means of arbitration, there you have a healthy bargaining which increases the competitive power of the industry, enforces a progressive standard of life and the productive scale, and continually weaves capital and labour more closely together. But where you have what we call sweated trades, you have no organisation, no parity of bargaining, the good employer is undercut by the bad, and the bad employer is undercut by the worst; the worker, whose whole livelihood depends upon the industry, is undersold by the worker who only takes the trade up as a second string, his feebleness and ignorance generally renders the worker an easy prey to the tyranny of the masters and middle-men, only a step higher up the ladder than the worker, and held in the same relentless grip of forces – where those conditions prevail you have not a condition of progress, but a condition of progressive degeneration.

The 1909 Act was the first national minimum wage legislation in Britain.  Churchill’s Boards were superseded by Wages Councils established under the Wages Council Act 1945.  Legislation introduced by a Liberal Government, built upon by a Labour Government leading to, amongst other things, the Agricultural Wages Act 1948.  The Wages Councils consisted of representatives from both sides of industry, together with independent members. They had the power to set detailed minimum rates of pay, including shift premia, for different age groups and types of worker as well as complex holiday entitlements relating to length of service.

At their peak, in 1953, (under a Conservative Government headed by Winston Churchill) there were 66 Wages Councils, covering about 3.5 million workers.

In March 1985, the Conservative Government, as part of its policy of deregulating the labour market, published a Consultation Paper which proposed that the Wages Councils should either be abolished altogether or radically reformed. There was considerable opposition to outright abolition, from employers as well as employees, and the Government opted for radical reform.

The Wages Act 1986 preserved the 26 Councils (down from 27 in 1981) then in existence but prevented any new ones from being established. It removed young workers under the age of 21 from the scope of the Wages Councils altogether and ended the Councils’ power to set minimum holiday entitlements, separate pay rates for different occupations, and premium rates for unsocial hours or shift work. As a result, Wages Councils were only able to set a minimum hourly basic rate; a minimum overtime rate; the number of hours after which overtime must be paid; and a daily limit on the amount an employer could charge for any living accommodation he provided. Employers who failed to pay these rates were liable to a fine and for arrears of wages underpaid. The law was enforced by Wages Inspectors employed by the Department of Employment, but their numbers were cut during the 1980s and early 1990s and they adopted a policy of ensuring that minimum rates were paid by persuasion rather than coercion. Prosecution was rare, despite many instances of underpayment.

In December 1988, the Government once again issued a Consultation Paper which suggested that the Councils should be abolished. The response did not reveal enormous support for abolition even from employers’ organisations; and, in March 1990, Michael Howard, then Secretary of State for Employment, announced that he had decided not to proceed with abolition “for the present”.

It remained Conservative policy that Wages Councils should have “no permanent place in the labour market.”  Although the Conservative Manifesto for the 1992 Election did not mention abolition, the Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Bill, published on 5 November 1992, contained legislation repealing the Wages Councils altogether. Section 35 of the Act, which abolished the Councils, came into effect on 30 August 1993.

The only remaining area in which a minimum wage was enshrined in law after 30 August 1993 was agriculture. The Agricultural Wages Board, as indicated above, was established under separate legislation, the Agricultural Wages Act 1948. The government had considered abolishing this too, but, in the face of opposition from both sides of the agricultural industry, it backed down.

William Waldegrave, Secretary of State for Agriculture, announcing this decision, said, “It is clear from the responses to consultation that there is wide acceptance, from both sides of the agricultural industry of the present arrangements. We do not therefore currently intend to change the existing statutory framework. However, since the Government believe that statutory wage fixing arrangements can introduce flexibilities which prevent rather than encourage job creation, we shall continue to keep the future existence of the AWB under close review.”

After the Wages Councils were abolished, there was growing evidence of jobs being offered below the old minimum rates and little evidence of increased employment in the deregulated industries. For example, a Low Pay Network study, “After the Safety Net”, analysed almost 6,000 jobs offered at Jobcentres in the catering, retailing, clothing manufacturing and hairdressing sectors in April and May 1994. Over a third of the jobs on offer paid less than the old Wages Council rate uprated by inflation. In retailing, the figure was over 50%. The network also found a net loss of 18,000 jobs recorded in the retail and catering sectors between September 1993 and March 1994, despite the removal of minimum wages.

See Research Note 92/75 on “Wages Councils”, Research Note 92/95 on the “Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Bill 1992/3” and Research Paper 95/7 “A Minimum Wage”.

Between 1993 and the introduction of the NMW, only the AWB set pay rates for any group of workers in the UK work force.  The NMW when enacted covered many more workers than the Wages Councils, but did not replace the AWB which continued to set rates above those set by the NMW.

“The Abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board

10 May 2013

In 2010, the Coalition Government announced its intention to abolish the Agricultural Wages Board, as part of its shake-up of public bodies. The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 abolishes the Agricultural Wages Board from 25 June 2013. The 31 Agricultural Wages Committees and Agricultural Dwelling House Advisory Committees will also be abolished at the same time.

The Agricultural Wages Board, which was established by the Agricultural Wages Act 1948 (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Geo6/11-12/47/contents/enacted), has a statutory obligation to fix minimum wages for workers employed in agriculture in England and Wales. The rate of pay depends on the type of work involved. The Board also has powers to decide other terms and conditions of employment for agricultural workers, such as holidays and sick pay. It produces a legally binding Agricultural Wages Order, which is enforced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The Order is made annually and normally comes into force on 1 October. The current Order is due to expire on 30 September 2013.

The effect of abolition is that employers will be able to take on new agricultural workers on less generous terms and conditions than under the Agricultural Wages Order, provided they comply with employment law generally, such as the provisions of the National Minimum Wage Regulations and the Working Time Regulations.

Whether existing workers are entitled to continue to be paid at the rates prescribed by the current Agricultural Wages Order will depend upon the wording of their contracts of employment. If the contract states simply that the worker is entitled only to the statutory minimum, then that will probably be treated as meaning the National Minimum Wage Regulations and so the employer is likely to be able to reduce the worker’s wages down to national minimum wage rates. If, however, the contract of employment is unclear or states that the worker is entitled to the rates under the Agricultural Wages Order, then the employer is likely to have to continue to pay the rates prescribed by the current Agricultural Wages Order until the national minimum wage rates rise to meet or exceed the levels set out in the Agricultural Wages Order.

If the employer makes unlawful reductions in the worker’s wages, it is likely to give rise to a constructive unfair dismissal claim and/or a claim for unlawful deduction from wages. Employers should therefore check their workers’ contracts of employment and take legal advice if necessary.

The changes will not affect Scotland and Northern Ireland, which have their own Agricultural Wages Boards and have no plans to abolish them. The Welsh Assembly, however, was opposed to abolition and may try to create a separate Welsh Agricultural Wages Board.”

The AWB survived the scrapping of the other boards by John Major and had survived the era of Mrs Thatcher (http://www.eurofound.europa.eu/emire/UNITED%20KINGDOM/WAGESCOUNCILS-EN.htm).  The AWB was abolished by the Coalition on 1st October 2013 (http://www.unitetheunion.org/news/unite-stands-by-farm-workers-as-agricultural-wages-board-is-axed-today/).

Labour in Power in Wales brings back Welsh Agricultural Wages Board

Labour has brought back into existence a Welsh Agricultural Wages Board in the teeth of fierce opposition from the heirs of Thatcher (http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/agriculture-wages-bill-uk-government-7394743). Incidentally, the leader of the Tory antis in the Welsh Assembly is a farmer, but she was not campaigning on behalf of herself, it seems. She also declines to say how much she receives in the way of agricultural subsidies (aka taxpayers’ money) from the European Union. She benefits from an AWB for farmers, just like ukip’s former candidate in Clacton, another farmer.  And ukip has announced (see Agriculture and Fishing) that it will replace taxpayer funded subsidies for farmers via Brussels with taxpayer funded subsidies direct from the UK Treasury.

PS Municipal regulation of wage levels began in some towns in 1524.