Jon Cruddas speech to Civitas: “One Nation – Caring, Earning and Belonging”

We are a country caught up in the flux of globalisation, industrial change, major generational transfers, demographic shifts and patterns of migration.

Our economy is beginning to recover but wealth spirals upward to the rich and millions are struggling to get by.

We are a country of many roots looking for an identity.

Some of our families trace their English roots back generations,  and for some their children are the first born in England.

Change brings both a sense of loss as well as hope; across the country there is a powerful sense of grievance and dispossession.

A loss of culture and a way of life.

We have to engage with the visceral politics it creates.

And we’ve got to do it when there is a contraction in public spending.

That is why  Labour‘s One Nation is explicitly a story of national renewal.

Reform of  the market to tackle vested interests, create dynamic markets and end the cost of living crisis.

Reform of the state to devolve power to people because the old top-down approach – where the state does things to or for people – won’t work.

We are quite clear about what we stand for in this period of austerity: responsibility from the top to the bottom of society.

We will be tough with those who rip off their workers and customers as much as those who cheat on the benefits system.

And we stand for fairness and decency.

Where there are cruel policies like the bedroom tax we will repeal them.

Ed Miliband has described One Nation as a country in which we make a common life together.

That’s why Labour’s national renewal will be built around families, the places they live and the work they do.

And that’s what I want to talk about today- family, work and place.

Think of three key things that matter to people.

First. Family, because nothing else matters more in life than a secure home and relationships of love and care.

Second. Work, because that is how we support our families, and achieve our hopes and dreams.

And third the place we live which gives us a sense of belonging.

These are the foundations upon which we as a society need to realise our ambitions and rebuild our country.

If you wish, a one nation politics of caring, earning and belonging.

In the last year the Policy Review has organised scores of  panel discussions and  debates.

We have developed policy across economy, society and politics some of which we showcased at our recent Conference.

We have published our policies on a One Nation Economy – with more on society and politics to come.

But politics is a moral story and evidence-based policy has to be part of a larger movement for change that gives it meaning and purpose.

And so the Policy Review works closely with Iain McNicol who as our General Secretary is  reforming our party organisation, and with Arnie Graf who has been up and down the country training hundreds of people to organise in their local communities- it amounts to a quiet revolution with our party.

This is not about sticking a few policies onto the old party machine and then jolting it back into life.

We are transforming a declining 20th century mass party, into a dynamic 21st century political movement.

We are literally changing Labour so that we  can change the country.

There are no comfort zones.

No pretence about the fiscal realities nor the hard choices we will face.

And we are engaging with those who stopped voting for us and either turned to the Conservatives or simply lost faith in politics ever changing anything.

They are teaching us the hard lessons.

They are the people who tend to think of themselves as both English and British.

They care about their families and work hard for a better life.

The ethic of work is deeply held because it is about self-respect and self reliance.

They are responsible and look after their neighbourhoods.

But they don’t feel they get back what they deserve.

They are powerfully aspirational but they are  struggling to make ends meet.

The better life they have worked for, and their hopes for their children are under threat due to the cost of living crisis.

Labour should be their natural home.

But in May 2010 they didn’t think that we understood their lives .

They turned their backs on us and we suffered one of our worst ever defeats.

That means necessary reflection within our Policy Review.

For example, did we spend too much attention treating problems in society rather than preventing them?

We moved thousands more people into work, but did we pay sufficient attention to the type of work performed and the rewards received?

Were we attuned to the scale of low skilled immigration and across its impact in communities?

We got things wrong.

Under Ed Miliband there will be iron discipline on spending control.

Ed Balls has set out our commitment to cut the deficit.

There will be no more borrowing for day to day spending.

We will cap social security spending by cutting the costs of failure in our system – long term unemployment and the lack of affordable homes – which have driven up welfare bills.

On immigration, Ed Miliband has set out a new approach which combines tougher controls on people coming in from new EU countries with measures to help stop low skilled migration undercutting the wages of workers already here.

We will govern with less money.

We will build into our policy making the same  principles we will follow in government.

-Power and responsibility for local people, to shape their services and communities; helping families to help themselves.

-Investment for prevention, not paying the costs of failure.

-And collaboration to make public services more family friendly and to avoid silos and waste.

Our aim will be to protect and strengthen family life.

Families come in all different shapes and sizes.

Family life is changing and so are the expectations of men and women.

Millions of men no longer earn enough to follow their fathers in the role of family breadwinner.

More and more women are taking on the role of breadwinner.

Families thrive when there is a partnership and teamwork amongst adult relations.

But there is a deep feeling of unfairness amongst women at the burden they have to shoulder.

Too many have a  triple shift of paid work, looking after the children and caring for an older relative.

Amongst men there is the sense of being excluded from domestic life.

We need a new conversation about families and their relationships  that is jointly owned by women and men.

We need to value father’s family role as highly as his working role, and women’s working role as highly as her domestic one.

And we need to have high expectations of fathers because otherwise we collude with those men who don’t step up to the mark.

I don’t accept that the sexual violence of a few men means that all fathers have to be treated as a potential threat.

That is wrong and it will block positive change.

We will look at where we can make greater use of a  ‘whole family’ approach to public services which assumes, where it is safe and appropriate, that a child needs a relationship with both parents.

That means:

– exploring changes to maternity services to engage the whole family and include fathers.

– looking at paid leave for prospective fathers to attend antenatal sessions and hospital appointments during pregnancy.

– developing services that facilitate mutual support between families.

– helping family self help initiatives in the community and letting finance follow.

We know from research in the US that parents who share care increase family earnings (Duncan Fisher).

We will actively encourage the involvement of fathers in the care, education and health of their children.

We will improve our schools so they can help children develop good character, and learn the values of respect, honesty, compassion, trust and integrity.

Helping children take responsibility for their own actions, also means improving sex and relationship education for boys and girls with zero tolerance of violence at its core.

A Labour government will send out a clear signal on domestic and sexual violence and legislate to stop the police using community resolutions for what are serious crimes.

And we will help reduce the pressures on family life by increasing free childcare for working parents with 3 and 4 year olds to 25 hours a week to ease the burden on families and help more mothers  get out to work and earn.

In terms of work, our task is to help build a dynamic economy that works for working people

Labour market trends are eroding the security of families.

Too many good jobs are being replaced by low skill low wage insecure work.

Debt is becoming a scourge of family life.

Over the last 30 years both market and state power have become more centralised.

The institutions and associations through which people protected their work and families and created a sense of belonging  have withered.

The link between growing prosperity and family income has been broken.

Good work fairly paid is central to solving our cost of living crisis.

We will tackle the structural failures that have caused wages and living standards to fall by reforming the economy.

We will make a start by introducing our compulsory  jobs guarantee scheme – a guaranteed job for under 25s after one year’s unemployment, and for over 25s after two years, paid for by a tax on bankers bonuses.

And we will:

-campaign for a living wage: a fair days pay means time for parents to spend with their children;

-ban the exploitative use of zero hours contracts;

-increase the fine on those who deliberately pay below the minimum wage

– strengthen the minimum wage.

We will begin rebuilding our economy by:

– cutting and then freezing business rates for small and medium sized businesses

-setting up regional banks to invest in jobs and growth in the regions, and put workers on renumeration boards to ensure a fairer distribution of reward.

-raising the volume and quality of vocational education, by putting funding in the hands of employers in return for them creating more high quality apprenticeships .

And to tackle the scourge of household debt we will cap the cost of pay day loans, and work to provide families on low incomes with alternative sources of affordable credit.

And thirdly, we will protect and improve the places people live by pushing power down to local people.

Whole regions of our country lack a thriving private sector and do not have effective housing markets.

For every £100 we spend on housing, just £5 is invested in bricks and mortar and £95 goes on housing benefit.

Local people need local homes and we will devolve power to local authorities to negotiate with private landlords reductions in rent and use the savings to build new homes.

We can’t effectively govern from the centre to create jobs and protect family life, so we will devolve power to encourage and free local and combined authorities to innovate, reform public services and rebuild their local economies.

We have set up a Local Government Innovation Task Force to explore how we can create savings through pooled budgets, devolving power and reforming the state.

The top down approach is too often insensitive, inefficient and wasteful.

Manchester Council has shown what can be done with its offer of support for parents and children from birth to 5 years.

A single care pathway from pregnancy onwards  ensures that families do not slip through the net.

And there is cross agency early intervention for highly vulnerable families.

Future costs are avoided by implementing early interventions that are proven to work.

It would make a huge difference if our local institutions were able to facilitate local involvement, and networks of support providing a link with services from debt counselling to mental health care.

One Nation begins in local places.

It is in our neighbourhoods that we express our cultures and identities and the new England taking shape is happening where people meet and greet one another, neighbours help one another and watch and learn from each others different lives and so build up trust and in the process make a home together.

Overall then One Nation means a new care covenant with families.

National renewal means investing in our families – a covenant of caring, earning and belonging.

For the mothers and fathers struggling to balance work and children.

For the 6 million unpaid carers .

For the frail elderly who want support to live independently

For their sons and daughters who take care of them

And their sons and daughters setting out in life and who need a home and a job

But to make this happen:

to end the cost of living crisis,

to achieve a mandate to rebuild our economy,

to establish a proper system of care for the elderly and high quality and affordable childcare for all,

to put people’s relationships centre stage in public service reform,

and to create jobs and build homes,

we have to build a One Nation Coalition across the United Kingdom.

In this sense all roads lead back to us as a party organising on the ground.

The Conservatives are dividing Britain

They are not a One Nation party.

Since 2010 spending on social security is up by £9bn,

more people are long term unemployed,

more are on housing benefits

4.8 million are being paid less than the living wage, over a million more than in 2009.

Families don’t live by transactions alone- it is not just about a mortgage tax break.

Relationships don’t thrive simply on financial reward.

People live in families with and for one another in mutual support, over a life time and through generations and in so doing they create and sustain our common life together as a nation.

Marriage matters.

I believe it is important.

But what counts is the secure and long lasting relationship of adults and their  obligation to their children, to their work and to the places they live.

Caring, Earning and Belonging

These ideas lie at the heart of One Nation.

Thank you.

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