Anneliese Dodds has unveiled the first phase of the policy-building project, ‘Stronger Together: A Better Future for Britain’, with a report showcasing the work being done by Labour across the UK where the party is already in power.
Stronger Together: Labour Works, released on the eve of Labour conference with a foreword from the party chair as well as Mark Drakeford, gives examples of the work Labour is doing to tackle the “six big challenges facing Britain”.
“Wherever Labour is in power, lives change for the better,” Labour’s party chair and chair of the ‘Stronger Together’ policy review Anneliese Dodds said this evening, commenting on the publication of the report.
“Whether the focus is the Welsh Labour government, Labour-run local authorities, our eight metropolitan mayors or our police and crime commissioners, Stronger Together: Labour Works shows we are making a difference in power right now, right across the UK.
“The way Britain responded to the pandemic proved that we’re stronger together. As we look ahead to the coming decade, Labour wants to harness that spirit to start building a better future for everyone.”
The first section is organised into six themes: green and digital future; better jobs and better work; safe and secure communities; public services that work from the start; a future where families come first; and Britain in the world.
Each theme includes examples from across the UK of Labour policies in practice, such as the local green new deal in North Ayrshire, the good-work pledge in North of Tyne, mental health workshops in Newport and the public health approach taken in Glasgow on violent crime.
“When a political party has been out of power, at the UK level, for an extended period, the soul-searching is obvious and necessary,” Welsh Labour leader Drakeford wrote in his foreword.
“By the time of the next general election, the Tories will have been in Downing Street for longer than the Blair-Brown governments of 1997-2010, which was in turn a reaction to 17 unbroken years of Conservative rule.
“The temptation to look at the world through a Westminster telescope and to ask, repeatedly, ‘what went wrong?’ is entirely understandable.”
The First Minister described the collection of essays as addressing the issue from a “different direction”, focusing not on the “deficits” of the party but on “Labour’s many success stories across England, Scotland and Wales”.
He added: “These successes are important for a whole host of reasons. In themselves they demonstrate the vital difference that Labour can – and does – make, when in power.
“And it provides a compelling answer to one of the most difficult challenges which all opposition parties face (and the longer the period of opposition, the more insistent the question becomes): even if policies are popular, how can voters be confident that the party can translate those ideas into practice?”
The second part of the 58-page report published today brings together a series of essays from Labour leaders around the UK including Welsh economy minister Ken Skates, Scottish leader Anas Sarwar and Labour’s eight metro mayors.
“Labour in Scotland has a history of leading the UK and leading by example and we are determined to do that again. When we were in power we not only delivered devolution but set in place many of the progressive policies which have defined Holyrood,” Anas Sarwar wrote in his essay.
He told readers that Labour has been out of power far too long in Scotland, but argued that the party has “demonstrated what Labour values can achieve both from opposition in the Scottish Parliament and delivering in local government”.
The Scottish Labour leader described how campaigns by Labour MSPs had resulted in Scotland legislate to protect retail workers from assault and become the first country to offer free and universal access to period products.
Sadiq Khan used his contribution to outline policies being implemented in London to combat the climate emergency, highlighting the ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) and the divestment of London’s pensions fund from fossil fuels.
“As a party, we need to continue to be clear that a strong economic recovery and a green recovery are not mutually exclusive, but one and the same. A green recovery will ensure we protect our precious natural environment, at the same time as unlocking the economic gains and employment opportunities that we need to sustain our cities and communities,” the mayor wrote.
Andy Burnham focused on devolution, explaining how devolved powers in Greater Manchester have been used to tackle rough sleeping in the city, support young people and recently to bring buses back under public control.
“These are just three examples of how Labour is working for Greater Manchester, using the benefits of devolution to make the changes we need for our area. We need to commit to devolution across England, allowing all parts of the country to do what is right for their localities,” he wrote.
Steve Rotheram similarly advocated for greater devolution of power, writing that “the idea of taking funding, decision-making and lobbying power out of Whitehall and Westminster” should be an “incontrovertible one”.
The Liverpool City Region mayor criticised both Labour and Tory government for “too often let their centralising tendencies take hold”, and said the creation of metro mayors provided an opportunity to show what Labour can do in power.
Tracy Brabin, Labour’s mayor of West Yorkshire, used her essay to tell readers about her first 100 days in office, discussing the progress made towards delivering her ten manifesto pledges, on which she was elected in May this year.
“The golden thread running through all of these promises and connecting them to one another is Labour values – of kindness, equality, ambition and creativity,” she said.
“They demonstrate everything Labour has to offer to West Yorkshire and to the rest of the UK. Not only a fair and just recovery from Covid, but one that taps into the burning promise of our region, lifting future generations into better standards of living than ever before.”
Jamie Driscoll discussed tackling the climate crisis and poverty and creating jobs in North of Tyne. “We’re building a zero-carbon, zero-poverty North East. That’s democratic socialism in action. And democracy means taking people with us. We’ve completed the North of Tyne Citizens Assembly on Climate Change and we’re implementing the recommendations,” he wrote.
The report released today forms part of the first phase of the policy process launched by Keir Starmer and Dodds in June this year, following the disappointing local election results. Dodds wrote for LabourList at the time explaining that the party wants to harness the”spirit of togetherness” seen during the pandemic.
Its publication comes ahead of the start of the UK Labour Party conference, being held in Brighton this year. It is the first in-person conference since Keir Starmer became leader due to the annual meeting being cancelled last year due to Covid.
Writing exclusively for LabourList this morning, Dodds told readers: “Conference this year is our chance to take on the challenges of the post-crisis world and grasp the opportunities of the future.
“To build a future that everyone in Britain can be proud of. That task is beyond the Conservatives, but Labour has done it before. Together, we can do it again.”