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The Labour Party as we know it was formed 118 years ago. It was not created out of the desire to satisfy some whim or as an intellectual debating society, where men and women of standing could discuss their concerns about the deserving or undeserving poor.
It was born out of necessity. The injustices and inequality between the working classes, who powered Britain’s industrial revolution, and the upper classes, who profited from it, had never been more obvious and thankfully there were people for whom these injustices could not be ignored.
The importance of the trade union movement in the story of Labour’s conception can often be forgotten.
It was the trade unions and their passion for political change that facilitated the creation of the world’s first truly people-powered political party, but the true wonder of the birth of Labour at the beginning of the last century was the collaboration of several key movements in Britain, concerned with social justice and the battle for equality.
This of course was not just class equality but the struggle for women’s equality amongst others. The question that became more and more of a focus was, if we are to be concerned with the rights of workers, we should also be concerned with the rights of everyone in society.
Together as a party we are on the verge of forming a government and changing the lives of millions of people across Britain
This message today is clearer than ever and it is something that gives me immense pride in the Labour Party I am lucky to call home.
A movement born out of the struggle for workplace equality has gone on to champion women’s and gender rights, LGBT+ rights, it has been at the forefront of the fight against racism, it has placed itself and its members on the frontline of representing thousands of causes and millions of people facing injustice and inequality in every corner of the world, all with pride and solidarity.
As a broad church, the party has welcomed members whose views on specific political approaches may vary, but ultimately the decision to join the Labour Party has, for over half a million members, been motivated by a passion for Labour’s core principles and founding beliefs and a burning desire to stand up against inequality wherever we may find it.
It was put best by my late colleague Jo Cox who said: “We have more in common than that which divides us.”
In an age of mass communication, where millions of words and views can be projected and read within seconds, we must not allow this message to become trivialised.
Throughout the years, men and women have given their lives for this message and the best way for us to honour the memory of our friends such as Jo, is to live each day following this simple creed.
The history of Labour’s conference stretches back to 1907, when one of the first, opened to all members, was held in Belfast.
With a proud history of member accessibility, our 2018 conference, this year returning to Liverpool, has a range of motions and ideas coming forward from our democracy review and presented by representatives of our Constituency Labour Parties across the country.
We believe it is vital that a newly re-energised and democratised Labour Party opens its annual conference up to more delegates than ever before, representing more members than ever before, some from previously dormant branches and CLPs.
[Our members] are even more determined to help solidify the Labour Party’s core values and see these translated and represented by its elected officials
We are expecting a record number of over 13,000 members to attend this year’s conference, showing that not only is our membership committed to campaigning for change in their own communities but they are even more determined to help solidify the Labour Party’s core values and see these translated and represented by its elected officials.
This is clearly a key issue for many Labour members, alongside creating more opportunities for passionate members from a wide range of cultural and social backgrounds to get directly involved in their local Labour Party and put themselves forward for positions in local authorities by standing in a range of elections across Britain in the near future.
As well as the many fringe events and various speeches taking place this year, we will continue to benefit from the presence of The World Transformed, which has grown over recent years to now be hosting an expected 6,000 people at over 150 events linked to the conference, all spread out across the city of Liverpool.
Another sign of how far we have come is the presence at this year’s conference of our newly appointed community organisers. They will be bringing together local members with the power of communities to help Labour win the next general election and create a movement that is built to last.
One of the main joys of our annual conference is seeing everybody come together and feeling the buzz, the energy and atmosphere that has been created by our politics of hope. The 13,000+ people gathered in Liverpool this weekend will share together in a unique experience, where each and every one should feel empowered.
Together as a party we are on the verge of forming a government and changing the lives of millions of people across Britain.
I make this plea to our Labour membership, let’s make this conference a celebration of unity and solidarity. Let’s use this opportunity to ensure that our message of hope is heard far and wide.
Rather than looking inward in the meaningless pursuit of perfection, let us boldly look outward and stand united to show people across Britain that the Labour Party, driven by its mass membership, will win the keys to Downing Street and build a Britain “for the many, not the few.”
Ian Lavery MP is the chair of the Labour Party and a supporter of the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs.
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