Angela Rayner: “We are offering the country the leadership it needs”

Sienna Rodgers

Deputy leader Angela Rayner has declared that the Labour Party is “offering the country the leadership it needs” ahead of its annual conference replacement ‘Connected’ kicking off this weekend.

The party has now unveiled the full programme and timetable for Connected, which is being held from September 19th to 22nd as a substitute for the usual annual conference that was cancelled due to Covid.

Ahead of the event, Labour’s new deputy leader and party chair said: “Over the next four days, the Labour Party will show what we can achieve with a new leadership for our party and for our country.

“At this time of national crisis, we are offering the country the leadership it needs. We will act in the best interests of the British people, and in our shared mission to defeat this terrible virus.

“And we will call this failing Conservative government out for its serial incompetence that is holding Britain back.

“We know that we have a mountain to climb to win the next election, but we are determined to climb it. We must – and we will – restore the British people’s trust in Labour as a party of government.”

The deputy leader and Shadow First Secretary of State stood in for Keir Starmer at Prime Minister’s Questions this week as the leader was self-isolating while waiting for the results of a Covid test for a family member.

As a former care worker who was also a UNISON rep before being elected to parliament, Rayner used PMQs to highlight the low pay of care workers amid the coronavirus crisis that has seen many risk their lives.

Touching on this theme again in her comments about Labour’s key message during Connected, she said: “This crisis showed us that the people our economy and our country cannot survive without are our key workers.

“The NHS and social care staff who have put their lives on the line to save others. The posties, the bus drivers, the shop workers, the delivery drivers and so many others who have kept us all cared for, fed and connected.

“Your service, your sacrifice and your bravery will never be forgotten. Our whole country owes you an enormous debt of gratitude. After all the sacrifice and hardship, we can’t go back to business as usual.”

Rayner has recently used online training sessions to encourage key workers across the country to consider standing as local councillors ahead of the May 2021 elections and in the run-up to the next general election.

She has argued today that Labour values are key to the UK’s recovery from the pandemic, saying: “The coronavirus crisis has changed everything for all of us, for our country and for our party. But our values haven’t changed.

“And it is those values of fairness, compassion that are seeing our country through this crisis. These are our values, Labour values, and they must be the foundation of our country’s recovery. Out of this crisis, we can build a better, fairer, more equal society.”

Rayner will deliver her keynote Connected speech at 11am on Sunday. Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds will address the conference on Monday morning at the same time, and Starmer will do so on Tuesday.

While Rayner and Dodds will be based in a studio at Labour HQ for their contributions, the party has planned for Starmer to deliver his speech from a venue that will be attended by journalists non-virtually.

Connected will not allow party members to vote on policy, but will include speeches, 24 training sessions, ten policy panels with breakout sessions, two rallies, member mobilisation events and a quiz.

The programme features over 100 speakers from the labour movement, and the event has seen more than twice as many people sign up than would normally be able to participate at Labour’s normal conference.

The replacement will start on Saturday with ‘Women Connected’, a full day-long programme for women in the party. Starmer and women and equalities frontbench spokesperson Marsha de Cordova will welcome attendees from 10am.

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