One year ago today, I was elected deputy leader of the Labour Party, a moment that was the greatest privilege and honour of my life.
As someone who was a care worker and came up from the shop floor through our trade union movement, I am proud that my first question at Prime Minister’s Questions was about low pay in the social care sector.
I am proud that I have been leading the fight for pay rises for the NHS staff, social care workers and key workers who have sacrificed so much during this crisis.
Over the last year, we have all struggled with lockdown. I’ve struggled to sit behind a computer screen when I want to be out there across the country, speaking to people and taking the fight to the Tories.
Because for me, what this government has done over the last year is deeply personal. When Tory MPs vote against free school meals, I think of the young children like I was who will go hungry. When they give away billions to their donors and cronies instead of giving our key workers the pay rise they deserve, I am angry on behalf of my old work mates struggling to get by on poverty pay.
One year ago, our movement elected me deputy leader of the Labour Party. But you didn’t just elect a deputy leader of the opposition. You elected someone to make sure that our leader and our deputy leader will be the next Prime Minister and the next Deputy Prime Minister.
We all know that the last year has been tough, but we have to dust ourselves off. We have work to do in May, when we face the biggest set of elections we have ever had outside of a general election. I don’t underestimate for a second the scale of challenge that we face, but over the next month we will need all of our collective strength to win for Labour and begin the fightback from the 2019 general election.
The choice could not be clearer. Pay rises for our NHS staff or pay cuts for our NHS staff. A Tory Party that hands out billions to their mates and tax breaks to second home owners, or a Labour Party that will invest in our communities, our public services and our people. A Tory Party that believes in outsourcing, privatising and selling off everything they can get their hands on, or a Labour Party that will use the power of the state to deliver a stronger, fairer future for all of our people, in every village, town and city.
Labour was founded to give a voice to and win power for the working class, in all of our diversity. Our party and our movement are the greatest forces for progressive change our country has ever known. We all have a responsibility to the people who need a Labour government working for them to roll our sleeves up and get to work.