McDonnell kicks off pre-election campaign tour in Essex

John McDonnell will kick off Labour’s pre-election campaign tour in Essex today – outlining the party’s plans to rebuild the economy and invest in communities hit hard by Tory austerity measures.

With a general election looming, the Shadow Chancellor will use the latest phase of his UK-wide listening tour to set out Labour’s plans to improve living standards in Essex and outline the party’s programme for government.

Speaking ahead of the ‘Road to Rebuilding the Economy’ conference in Colchester, McDonnell said: “Nearly 10 years of austerity has hit communities in Colchester and Essex as a whole very hard. British towns, coast to coast, have lost their traditional industries. Nothing has filled that gap and people in Essex have been let down badly by the Tory government, which has inflicted over nine years of austerity on these communities.

“Our struggling high streets are one of the clearest symptoms of the government’s failure to invest in our communities. Labour’s five-point plan for British high streets will help breathe life back into our struggling town centres. And Labour will deliver a fair deal for Essex’s coastal communities.”

The Shadow Chancellor will highlight Labour’s plans to introduce a real living wage of £10 by 2020, establish a four-day working week with no loss of pay, deliver free personal care, roll out sector-wide collective bargaining, tackle tax avoidance and increase investment in public services by raising taxes on the top 5% of UK earners.

“Labour will tax the rich and giant corporations to end austerity, properly fund public services free at the point of use, and rebuild our economy so it works for the many, not the few,” McDonnell said.

The one-day conference in Colchester – where Tory MP Will Quince holds a majority of 5,677 – is the latest in a new series of pre-election campaign events focused on the economy and the impact of austerity on communities across the country. Previous conferences have been held in Hastings and Rye, Broxtowe, Pudsey, Mansfield, Blackpool, Airdrie and Shotts, Stoke on Trent, Chingford and Woodford Green and Stroud as part of a listening exercise to help develop Labour’s next manifesto and plans to transform local economies.

McDonnell’s visit to Colchester comes on the heels of a series of major policy announcements unveiled by the Shadow Chancellor at Labour Party conference in Brighton, including the introduction of a shorter working week and a new National Care Service. McDonnell’s recent comments signal that Labour’s expanded vision for universal basic services – which includes free higher and further education, childcare, school meals and bus services for young people – will form a central plank of the party’s general election message.

The Shadow Chancellor – who vowed to eliminate in-work poverty by the end of Labour’s first term in office – described the government spending round presented by Sajid Javid in early September as a “pre-election, panic-driven Tory stunt.”

More from LabourList