Hornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West: Labour is ready to govern

Catherine West MP has called for a rebalancing of the economy and society. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK

Catherine West MP has called for a rebalancing of the economy and society. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK - Credit: Archant

In-work poverty at a record high; child poverty rising; living standards stagnating as inflation outstrips wages; energy bills sky-rocketing; 20,000 fewer police officers on the street; draconian cuts to the education budget; accelerating student debt; NHS in crisis; social mobility in reverse.

This is the legacy of the last seven years of Tory rule.

While people across our country struggle with austerity, the Government remains in a deep state of flux, a limbo in which it is struggling to put together any semblance of a coherent vision of our country for the 21st century.

It is a government in stark contrast to the Labour on show at conference last week, where Labour demonstrated that it is dedicated to tackling head on the multitude of challenges we face.

During the busy Brighton conference, I spoke at events spanning how the UK can emerge from the ashes of the financial crisis; a number of events around the EU, including how the UK must protect human rights in a post-Brexit world; and the role of devolution in fixing our cities.

In all of these events, crossing a spectrum of policy challenges, members, councillors and MPs showed Labour is ready to govern.

It was not just empty rhetoric, but a series of concrete policies that put more flesh on the bones of our manifesto: A Real Living Wage of £10 an hour; protecting workers by guaranteeing no tax rises for 95 per cent of earners; bringing wasteful PFI contracts back in house; helping those trapped by credit card debt by introducing a cap on interest; investing in new homes to rent and buy by building over a million new homes in five years, with at least 100,000 genuinely affordable homes a year by the end of Labour’s first term.

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Tenants on estates being redeveloped being allowed to return to them once they are rebuilt; land held by developers but not used being taxed; cities given the power to control rents; scrapping tuition fees; lifting the public sector pay cap; bringing utilities back into public ownership.

And I was personally delighted that our party again reaffirmed peace, social justice and human rights will be put at the heart of our foreign policy, while Sir Keir Starmer committed that the UK will stay inside The Single Market and Customs Union for a transition period.

Instead of a Labour party committed to a sensible, rational and pragmatic Brexit, prioritising the economy and celebrating our community’s diversity, we have a Government bereft of ideas, with inept ministers more concerned about how they can maintain their position within the Cabinet than how the UK can bolster its position in the world.

It has become increasingly clear: the policies of the 1980s are no longer fit for purpose. The economy and society need rebalancing.

At Conference, Labour’s policies showed it can do just that.