Labour can learn working class writers and artists – Corbyn’s speech in Glasgow

27th November, 2017 2:52 pm

This is the full speech delivered today by Jeremy Corbyn at a joint appearance in Glasgow alongside new Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard.

I want to offer my warmest congratulations to Richard Leonard for his election as the new leader of the Scottish Labour Party.

I know that under Richard’s leadership Scottish Labour will again bring hope and confidence to the people of Scotland.

During this leadership election Richard laid out a bold and radical agenda for Scottish Labour and showed his determination to bring real change to Scotland.

I look forward to working as closely as possible with Richard to change our society for the many not the few.

I also want to pay tribute to Anas Sarwar, who I know will continue to play an important role in our party as it develops our radical programme for government in Holyrood and Westminster.

Now our whole party and movement must campaign together to inspire people in every nation and region of the UK, to have the confidence to be a country that genuinely cares for all.

We can all learn from Scotland’s powerful traditions not only of socialism and trade unionism, but of working class writers and artists, who gave passionate voice to the oppressed and the excluded against the wealthy and powerful. From Robbie Burns to Irvine Welsh, they can inspire us all and show what we can achieve.

Our party is growing here in Scotland and across every part of the UK, and we can achieve great things together if we offer a real alternative to Tory austerity.

The Conservative government in Westminster promised prosperity and economic stability but as last week’s budget showed, they have failed utterly.

They are simply propping up a system rigged for the few that delivers falling wages, falling growth and falling productivity, falling living standards for the many and astronomical wealth for the very few.

Labour will do things very differently – and millions will feel it in their pockets.

When the Conservatives rebranded the minimum wage, the national living wage.. they pledged it would reach £9 per hour by 2020.

But pay in our country is actually falling. Think about that for a moment. Something must be very wrong when pay in the sixth largest economy in the world has fallen for a decade.

Last week, the chancellor admitted he now expects the national living wage will be just £8.56 per hour by 2020.

Now we know the price of Tory failure for the low paid. The lowest paid workers will be £900 per year worse off in 2020 than promised. That’s shocking and unacceptable

Labour is committed to a real living wage of at least £10 per hour by 2020. That would make the lowest paid in our economy £3,000 per year better off in 2020. A real living wage would end working poverty

We know the challenges facing our country are enormous, and that the Tories are incapable of tackling them.

In Scotland, 260,000 children, 40,000 more than last year, are living in poverty. Health inequalities are locked in, the educational attainment gap is widening and the numbers of people in working poverty is at its highest since devolution was launched two decades ago.

The focus of politics must be on lasting, collective solutions to these problems. It’s not good enough to leave it up to the SNP to come up with some market-led fix.

The SNP government in Holyrood promised to stand up for the people of Scotland, but they have offered no real alternative to the status quo. They have failed to use their powers to stop cuts to Scotland’s public services, schools, hospitals and fire and rescue.

It is Labour that offers the Scottish people real change and a break with the failed and rigged system, that has held our people back.

With a radical Labour government in Westminster, and Richard Leonard leading a radical Labour government in Holyrood, we would have an unprecedented opportunity for real change.

The chance to deliver better and more secure jobs, and stronger rights at work.

To end the public sector pay cap, that disrespects our committed public servants every day.

To end the need for food banks, and put an end to rough sleeping.

We would upgrade our economy to create wealth for all, through investment in our infrastructure, new technologies and the skills of our people, helping our small businesses, and using powers we get back from Brussels, to create good jobs across all the nations and regions of the UK.

We would end tax giveaways to the corporations and the wealthiest and instead give our vital public services, our social care system and NHS, and those engines of opportunity, our schools and colleges, the funding they need.

We would create a Scottish National Bank under Scottish control with £20bn of lending power to deliver the funds to vital local projects, infrastructure and small businesses reviving our economy after a lost decade.

We would ban zero hours contracts giving new protections to the 60,000 Scottish workers currently with no guaranteed hours.

We would no longer allow those at the top to leach off of those who work on zero hours contracts or those compelled to make sacrifices to pay their or mortgages.

We would take on the tax dodgers, starting with making corporations publish their tax returns. The grotesque immorality of the super-rich and multinational corporations, stashing their money offshore and not paying their fair share in tax must end.

Labour is committed to build a new economy that delivers good jobs and cutting edge investment in every part of our country and puts equality and social justice at the heart of everything that we do.

We want to live in a country that values work and the wealth creators, not a system rigged for the likes of Mike Ashley and Philip Green.

Just imagine what that country would look like. We must have the confidence, the hope and the determination to achieve it.

We can live in a country that cares for everyone, that builds social housing again, where we don’t walk by on the other side when we see people homeless on shop doorways.

We can live in a country that doesn’t crush the hopes and dreams of our young people with debt and insecurity.

We can live in a country where everybody is included and everybody’s contribution is valued.

This is the change that we know is needed both in Scotland and across Britain. The SNP have shown that they can’t do it and the Tories have shown that they don’t want to do it.

With a Labour government in both Holyrood and Westminster we can bring real change to make our society work for the many, not the few.

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