“Labour is standing up, not standing by” – full text of Jeremy Corbyn’s speech to Welsh Labour Conference

Jeremy Corbyn Welsh Labour

It is a pleasure to be back in Llandudno in a Labour Wales where our party has been making a difference for the past 17 years.

Let me run through just some of what you’ve achieved what Labour in Wales has achieved:

A health service free from unnecessary top-down reorganisations and privatisation where your hospitals are not struggling with record deficits due to the legacy of PFI

You in Wales funded investment on the books and this is delivering.

The Tories are desperate to run down the NHS in Wales. But the record tells a different story.

  • The NHS in Wales is treating more people than ever before and 90% say they received good treatment
  • Free prescriptions for all
  • A new treatment fund being setup for life threatening illnesses
  • On cancer waiting times, Wales is doing better than England and cancer survival rates in Wales are improving faster than anywhere in Britain
  • You’ve protected the social care budget which has been slashed in England putting an increased burden on the NHS in England terrible for the people affected, and a false economy too.
  • And in Wales, you didn’t pick a fight with hard-working dedicated junior doctors there are good industrial relations in Wales no strikes provoked and no operations cancelled unnecessarily

We strongly support the doctors who don’t want patient safety to be put at risk.

Last week I had the privilege of spending a couple of hours with a group of junior doctors.

Let’s be clear, they are not “junior” they are dedicated, highly qualified people on whom we all depend.

They are alarmed at the direction the NHS is taking.

As a parting gift they gave me this book “How to dismantle the NHS in 10 easy steps” which starts with an internal market and ends with an aim of introducing universal private health insurance.

Quite bluntly our NHS is ours to keep forever.

Labour cares and it invests in care.

As Nye Bevan said: “Illness is a misfortune, the cost of which should be shared by the community”.

The Welsh Labour and in particular the Welsh Minister Mark Drayford.

In Wales you have built an education system that has just delivered the best ever GCSE results where new schools are being built where primary school pupils get a free breakfast where the poorest college students still get the education maintenance allowance (EMA) that was so cruelly scrapped by the Tories.

And where Welsh students aren’t shackled by mountainous debt and where grants are being maintained.

It is shocking that English students leave university with an average £22,000 more in debt than Welsh students that is a shocking burden that shackles young people as they start in life. It is no surprise that home ownership has collapsed

Then there’s Jobs Growth Wales which has helped 15,000 young people into work and the Young Entrepreneurs Bursary that has helped young people to setup over 400 businesses in Wales and your plans to deliver 100,000 quality apprenticeships.

We have invested in young people – in their education and their skills – and by doing so we are investing in our future.

I visit colleges and universities all over Britain and I have to say I was really impressed with the Bay Campus at Swansea and the support given by the Welsh government to this development and it is already reaping the benefits of high tech jobs in the area.

The Tories are not investing in young people but cutting their opportunities weighing them down with debt limiting their life chances we all know this is not fair Labour in Wales proves there is an alternative.

There is so much that the UK Labour Party can learn from Labour in Wales and we will.

I want to pay tribute to First Minister Carwyn Jones thank you for all you have achieved for Welsh Labour and the people of Wales and thank you too to all our Labour Assembly Members.

You do a great job.

I also want to pay tribute to Nia Griffith our shadow secretary of state for Wales her input at shadow cabinet and in the House of Commons means the voice of Welsh Labour is heard and respected in Westminster.

In an age in which politics is treated with cynicism what an inspiring record of hope and achievement Labour in Wales has delivered.

And you’re delivering despite the fact the Tories have cut your budget by more than £1 billion.

But perhaps your greatest achievement won’t bear fruit until this summer your football team in international competition for the first time since 1958

And, speaking as an Arsenal fan, watching the magnificent Aaron Ramsey in your red shirt will mean I have split loyalties this year.

All eyes will be on Europe this summer not just for football, but for political reasons too.

The EU referendum is now likely to take place in June and Labour will be campaigning for Britain to stay in.

You in Wales know the benefits of our EU membership it has helped deliver jobs, growth and investment here in Wales as much as any part of the UK.

It is due to the role Labour has played in Europe that we have delivered rights at work rights to minimum paid leave rights for agency workers paid maternity and paternity leave equal pay and anti-discrimination laws and protection for the workforce when companies change ownership.

And it was Labour – our excellent MEPs in partnership with trade unions that made sure Cameron’s attempt to diminish workers’ rights was kept off his EU negotiations agenda.

We will be running the Labour In for Britain campaign because our case for being in Europe is about delivering a better Britain for workers and consumers.

“Despite the fanfare, the deal that David Cameron has made in Brussels on Britain’s relationship with the EU is a sideshow, and the changes he has negotiated are largely irrelevant to the problems most British people face and the decision we must now make.

His priorities in these negotiations have been to appease his opponents in the Conservative party.

He has done nothing to promote secure jobs, protect our steel industry, or stop the spread of low pay and the undercutting of wages in Britain.

Labour’s priorities for reform in the EU would be different, and David Cameron’s deal is a missed opportunity to make the real changes we need.

We will be campaigning to keep Britain in Europe in the coming referendum, regardless of David Cameron’s tinkering, because it brings investment, jobs and protection for British workers and consumers.

Labour believes the EU is a vital framework for European trade and cooperation in the 21st century, and that a vote to remain in Europe is in the best interests of our people.”

We want progressive change in Europe to make the EU work for working people.

That includes the strengthening of workers’ rights. Putting jobs and sustainable growth at the heart of EU economic policy. Democratisation and greater accountability of EU institutions and a halt to the pressure to privatise public services.

Cameron’s deal will do nothing to address those issues.

His “emergency brake” on migrants’ in-work benefits is largely irrelevant too. There is no evidence that it will act as a brake on inward migration.

And taking benefits off low paid migrants won’t put a penny in the pockets of workers in Britain or stop the undercutting of UK wages through the exploitation of migrant workers.

The issue the Tories do not address is the low wages and the way employers systematically undercut industry wide agreements.

We will be standing up to the xenophobia of UKIP attacking Europe or demonising immigrants doesn’t increase anyone’s pay, it doesn’t build a single home, it doesn’t treat a single patient, provide a single child with a free school breakfast.

Theirs is a vision of despair a mantra of hate and fear and Labour will never pander to it.

The NHS in Wales and the NHS in England both know the value of those thousands of migrant nurses and doctors dedicated to our NHS and anyone who has been treated by any of our magnificent NHS staff knows that commitment.

But while Labour in Wales is working together with people to improve lives the actions of the Tory government in Westminster act against that at every turn.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies says that tax and benefit changes in the last five years have left the average Welsh household £560 a year worse off. When the Tories get in power that is what they do. Tax cuts for the few, the super-rich and big business public service cuts and welfare cuts for the many.

We have gratuitous inequality in this country the average pay of the top chief executives compared with the average worker has risen from 47 times in 1998 to 183 times last year.

For too many people in the UK who aren’t the super-rich elite and there are quite a few of them, life is wracked by insecurity, at work and at home, and the Tories are making it worse.

Labour believes that we only succeed if we all succeed together.

The impact of this insecurity on people’s lives can be huge, it affects people’s physical and mental health.

I want to pay tribute to Luciana Berger, the shadow minister for mental health, who has campaigned relentlessly to ensure the rhetoric of ‘parity of esteem’ is matched by reality.

The Tories have no plan for the economy, no strategy for industry and no wish to make the economy work for everyone.

They stood by as the steel industry got into trouble as jobs were lost and communities suffered like in Port Talbot.

Across Europe, other countries took action the Tories stood by and let jobs go.

We have met with our European counterparts on this and I raised it with the Chinese President action is possible if you care.

The Tories have failed to invest in modernising the economy, we are way behind other countries on our digital infrastructure, our transport, our energy system and our housing.

Just this week, the OECD has downgraded its UK growth forecasts and told George Osborne it’s time to stop the austerity and invest in our country’s future.

This confirms what our shadow chancellor John McDonnell and I have been saying since September, the Tories’ austerity is political choice not an economic necessity their cuts are both brutal and unnecessary

In 2010 they said that their ‘long-term economic’ plan would sort all this out that the deficit would be eradicated by now.

Their long-term plan has turned far longer than they imagined but subject to short-term revision when it fails again and again. It is a blueprint in deepest Tory blue to shrink the state, to shrink people’s security, stability and opportunity.

Low pay and job insecurity are holding people back meaning too many families are struggling to make ends meet every month to pay the rent or the mortgage.

A good job and a good home should be a source of security. For too many people their job and their home are a source not of security but of anxiety.

Six million workers now paid less than the living wage in low pay Tory Britain.

And what is the Tory response to this crisis? To weaken trade unions, the most effective way in which people stand up for better pay.

And instead of backing the real living wage they’re bringing in a phoney living wage, lower of course and young workers are locked out from even this modest increase.

There is a housing crisis. Under David Cameron, home ownership is down, rents are up, evictions are up, and homelessness is up.

And what is the Tory response? The lowest rate of housebuilding since the 1920s. And to force councils to sell off council housing at a time when it has never been more vital. I know Labour in Wales is consulting in whether to scrap the right to buy because we need more not fewer council homes.

When Labour’s Teresa Pearce put an amendment to the Housing Bill to ensure that homes for rent must be fit for human habitation the Tories voted against it

And they don’t believe that the private rented sector needs to be regulated.

Whether it’s the crisis of low pay or the housing crisis it is Labour offering solutions. Labour councils making a real difference in communities and a Labour government making a difference in Wales.

It was a great Labour politician that described what Labour does.

We build security, we build the institutions of fairness and we build them “In Place of Fear”.

We are the party of social justice and of environmental justice.

When it comes to rip-off energy bills it is Labour councils that are setting up energy companies – like Robin Hood Energy in Nottingham – to get a better deal for residents and to tackle climate change.

We can reduce bills for people and we can tackle climate change. There is no contradiction.

That is why 70 Labour councils have committed to eliminate all carbon emissions by 2050 – including major cities like Edinburgh, Manchester, Newcastle, and Liverpool and here in Wales in Swansea, Torfaen and Caerphilly.

And Labour in Wales has set out a clear energy policy, Energy Wales: A Low Carbon Transition and is supporting decentralised energy production through the Local Energy Service.

What have the Tories done?

They continue to fail to invest in renewable energy cut subsidies for the nascent solar industry, but increased them for fracking and for diesel generators.

On low pay on housing on energy and the environment the Tories just stand by, Labour is standing up.

The message for the elections this May is clear. Labour is the best protection for your community against the onslaught of Tory cuts.

We must expose all the Tory failures: class sizes up hospital waiting lists up homelessness up evictions up queues at food banks up child poverty up while services like social care, on which communities rely, are cut.

They have failed to rebuild and rebalance the economy they are hoping that rising household debt will keep the economy afloat. We know how that turned out last time.

Having Labour on your side is the best protection for your community whether that’s a Labour mayor or a Labour council or a Labour government, like here in Wales.

Communities are paying the price for this government cutting corners in public services funding as the winter floods show.

If the Tories had continued our investment in flood defences had kept on the senior staff employed to make decisions in these emergencies and had protected the emergency services who responded to save lives and homes during those difficult days and weeks we would not have seen the level of destruction and flood damage that caused such anguish to so many people as their homes were damaged and their belongings ruined.

Transport infrastructure is absolutely crucial to industrial development and growth. I praise the Welsh government in its support in re-opening and improving valley railway lines, the plans for the improved metro links in the south west of Wales and the crucial need to improve the North Wales line and road links.

The most beautiful railway line I have ever travelled on is the mid-Wales and coastal route. Growing up in Shropshire, my heart sang when I reached Machylnneth.

And I’m coming back to Wales many times, but I will be back soon to deliver the Kier Hardy memorial address in Aberdare.

Labour offers a much-needed alternative to this false economy.

We have already challenged them and won on many important issues:

  1. We forced them to take a U-turn on cuts to working tax credits meaning 3 million families will no longer be hit this April with a £1,000 cut to their family income
  1. We made them backtrack on plans to further cut police numbers in their Autumn statement
  1. And we stood against the horrendous proposal that the UK would run Saudi Arabia’s prison system for them

Labour is standing up, not standing by.

We let people down last May all the horrors that the Tories are inflicting now are because Labour didn’t win.

Since then the membership of our party has doubled.

I was elected Leader because people want a new kind of politics; honest, straight-talking, forward-thinking.

Our party is one of social justice every child deserves a good education every student the option to study at college or university everyone deserves a decent and secure home to live in nobody should ever be left destitute the grotesque levels of inequality are unjustifiable and must go.

We are living through an era of the most grotesque deepening inequality in Britain and the West.

In the USA this debate is now at last dominating much of the politics of the primary campaign as we are ensuring it dominates politics in this country.

The cynics say that inevitably the next generation will be worse of that this, I say this is not inevitable and not necessary as socialist our duty is to expand the wealth but crucially to share it so the next generation is better off than this one, and our grandchildren will be better off than our children.

It is the collective that delivers for us all.

We are united in our determination to take on the Tories and to fight for the better country that Labour can deliver as you have delivered in Wales.

You have a great record here in Wales and a great plan to deliver a better future.

Together, we will deliver it and continue delivering for the people of Wales.


Thank you.

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