When people go to vote today, the choice will be simple. Vote Labour to secure our economy, protect our NHS and rebuild our country – or continue with the same old, unequal economy under the Conservatives, where key workers’ pay is set to stagnate and the worst regional inequalities in Europe are set to persist.
Time and time again, the Covid crisis has exposed these and other weaknesses in Britain’s economy. The fault lines run from the Conservatives’ decade-long squeeze on wages, to our broken social security system, to inequalities between and across our regions.
Over the last six weeks, as restrictions have started to lift, I’ve been able to get out across England and Wales, and speak with Labour activists, councillors, mayors, AMs and MSs. Those conversations have shown me how we’re not just talking about those weaknesses – we’re already working to fix them.
In Hartlepool, I visited Liberty Steelworks with Labour’s parliamentary candidate Dr Paul Williams. The dedication of the workers and apprentices was impressive, but their hard work is at risk given concerns about the future of the plant following the collapse of David Cameron’s Greensill Capital. Unlike the Conservative candidate, Paul has a plan to save the jobs at Liberty, just as Labour has a plan to protect our British steel jobs across the country.
In new towns like Milton Keynes and Crawley, and growing cities and towns like Cambridge and Worthing, I saw how Labour councillors are determined to ensure growth in their local economies doesn’t price out local people – with real action to promote more genuinely affordable and social housing.
In Bury, Gedling and Kirklees, I saw how Labour councillors have directly intervened to support the creation of new job opportunities on local high streets, including the revitalised market hall in Radcliffe, the new market building in Arnold and arcade renovations in Dewsbury.
I’ve seen how Labour councils up and down the country are ensuring that communities benefit from their own wealth. These include councils such as Plymouth, which calculates that it spends more of its money locally than any other local authority.
In Ramsbottom and in Bolton, I heard about plans to put communities – not unaccountable property developers – in the driving seat for economic planning. And in Chester, I heard from Labour’s police and crime commissioner David Keane about how money confiscated from criminals across Cheshire was used to support projects for local people.
I’ve seen how Labour has been at the forefront of greening our local economies, too, from Exeter Labour’s plans for achieve net zero by 2030 to Dan Norris’ vision for better nature management across the West of England. In the West Midlands, Liam Byrne is campaigning to supercharge green manufacturing, and Oxford is moving ahead with plans for the first ever zero-emission zone in the UK, in the city centre.
Finally, I’ve seen how often Labour activists, councillors, mayors, AMs and MSs have been at the forefront of protecting those in need. In Rhyl, the Senedd candidate Jason McClelland told me how Labour had worked to bring a community credit union into the building where a rip-off ‘Money Shop’ once operated. In Nottingham, I visited Netherfield foodbank, where Councillor Nicki Brooks worked with others to massively scale up supplies as demand rocketed.
In Hartlepool, I heard from local Labour council candidate Shay Miah about how he and others worked together to deliver meals to the vulnerable. And I’ve campaigned with London Assembly candidates like Sem Moema and Candice Atterton who have been determined to support struggling local businesses during the crisis – not least those who have fallen through gaps in support.
For all of these examples, there are hundreds more across the country: Labour activists, councillors, mayors, AMs, MSs, and MSPs putting our values into action. The years until the next general election feel like a lifetime away, especially as every passing day brings more reports on the callousness and cronyism of this Conservative government. But right now we can take strength from the example set by local Labour.
With local, mayoral, police and crime commissioner, London Assembly and Welsh and Scottish parliament elections all taking place today, let’s do all we can to back our fantastic candidates and help make Britain the best place to grow up and grow old in. You can find your local campaign hub at events.labour.org.uk.