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Labour Conference 2018 McDonnell commits to radical change and education takes the spotlight

Daily conference update from MATT WILLGRESS

YESTERDAY saw Labour conference discuss Jeremy Corbyn’s transformative economic policy and our party continue to reaffirm and develop Labour’s plan to ensure the economy grows, public services receive investment and living standards are raised.

Conference debated the excellent An Economy for the Many motion from Unite and others and heard from shadow chancellor John McDonnell. 

In his speech McDonnell explained that “the greater the mess we inherit, the more radical we have to be. The greater the need for change, the greater the opportunity we have to create that change — and we will.”

He added: “It’s time to shift the balance of power in our country. It’s time to give people back control over their lives,” before giving a detailed explanation of how Labour will do this.

As Corbyn pointed out on Sunday, our “reckless corporate culture” is damaging the British economy, which is why Labour is arguing for a “workers on boards” policy that would see large companies reserve at least one-third of seats for employees. 

“Workers are Britain’s real wealth creators. They deserve a seat at the table,” Corbyn said.

In examples of developing our anti-austerity programme and policies for the Many not the Few outlined in last year’s general election manifesto, delegates also called on Labour to develop a more robust and bold schools policy that will address the growing crisis in our education system.

Our schools are at breaking point through a combination of cuts, academisation, testing and failures by successive governments to listen to educators. 

The answer to this is to bring all schools in England back under local democratic control, abolish academy trusts and to become even stronger in our opposition to the continuing academisation of schools.

Delegates also supported an important housing composite, moving Labour forward on this vital issue. These policies to build genuinely affordable homes and address the housing crisis are not only urgently needed and hugely popular with the electorate but would also give our economy a boost in these difficult times.

We need to popularise these arguments and be clear that it is Labour, and only Labour, that has an economic policy that offers a massive opportunity to improve the living standards of the overwhelming majority of society by substantially increasing public investment and providing the publicly owned, free and high-quality public services we all need.

The popularity of Corbyn’s Labour contrasts starkly with the declining electoral fortunes of our sister social democratic parties across Europe. It turns out that embracing austerity is a path that leads to electoral oblivion.

Because of Corbyn and McDonnell’s anti-austerity agenda of investing in our future, tens of millions of people are inspired by Labour’s commitment to end eight years of brutal Tory austerity. 

This agenda has put Labour on the front foot to win the next general election and it is good to see and hear at conference that the overwhelming majority of Labour members and supporters want to both keep this programme and leadership, despite years of right-wing sniping and media smears. 

When Unite’s Len McCluskey defended Corbyn in the hall against the haters and smears, he spoke for hundreds of thousands of Labour members across the country, all of whom are working hard to get the Tories out.

Today’s fringe highlights include the launch of Labour and Palestine at 6pm in the ACC and the return of the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs rally at 7.30pm — see you there!

 

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