Open Labour: The party must show that it has the bold ideas to rebuild Britain

Lauren Davison

The Tories swept to power in 2010. With some help from the Lib Dems, they oversaw over a decade of brutal austerity and growing inequality. Like many young people, I saw the impact this had on my community: a generation’s opportunities snuffed out with devastating cuts to public services, wages frozen and tuition fees trebled – despite promises they wouldn’t be.

Today, we have a Conservative Party hell-bent on stoking culture wars rather than trying to improve people’s lives. A Prime Minister who thinks the rules don’t apply to him, whose decision making is driven by trying to placate his out-of-touch backbenchers, and whose flagship ‘levelling-up’ policy amounts to little more than a bargaining chip to pit communities against one another.

Whilst the Tories falter, Labour waits patiently in the wings – though we need not wait so patiently. We must now take bold steps to demonstrate that we have the ideas and the determination to rebuild Britain and deliver a better deal for every single community across our regions and nations. Today, Open Labour published our 2022 position paper, setting out ways to allow people to live freer lives, underpinned by greater personal security.

Our members will recognise long-standing Open Labour commitments, like common ownership of public transport, proportional representation, and overhauling anti-union legislation. We want to see a strong welfare safety net, a better pension system and universal basic service provision across the UK.

We also put forward policies such as decriminalising drugs, funding for suicide prevention measures in train stations, legal recognition of non-binary gender, scrapping the ‘no recourse to public funds’ status, and stopping parking fines for tradespeople’s work vehicles parked whilst on a job.

Our public services need to be properly staffed and supported to carry out their work. This means recruiting the future teachers, nurses, care staff and other crucial workers into fairly-paid jobs that value their hard work.

Rail and bus networks cannot rely on the failed privatisation model of ownership. Public transport is not just a vital tool for tackle the climate crisis – well-connected, affordable travel opens up greater opportunities for people and boosts local economies. Fewer cars on the road and cleaner air will benefit everybody.

The climate crisis is not just about delivering a green new deal at home. Globally, we must push for a greater effort to save our planet. Investing in a green and digital future to protect our security and our environment is an urgent task.

Policy differences within the Labour Party may feel large at times. But it is important for us to keep some perspective. The Conservative agenda is a world away from ours, whilst our agenda is currently a world away from government. The Tories will also continue to alter the electoral process in their favour and make it increasingly difficult for opposition parties to wrest power from them in the future.

Fundamentally, it’s about deciding who we want to be as a country. Do we want to be a place where a party can sweep to power when the majority of the electorate didn’t vote for them? Or do we want to be a truly democratic nation, where every vote counts – no matter where you live?

Do we want a government that puts people through humiliating fit-for-work tests that often have disastrously inaccurate results and deliberately deprive vulnerable people of the support they need to survive? Or do we want a government that treats people with dignity and works to eliminate poverty? Do we want to be a nation that blindly deports asylum seekers and refugees to Rwanda, or do we want to create safe routes to the UK for the vulnerable people who are risking their lives to flee to safety?

Our party must come together to demand a better deal for people across our regions and nations. We want our paper to be the start, not the end, of the policy debate in our party. Many thanks to the team of volunteers – we have no full-time staff – who took on the mammoth task of putting this document together.

Only Labour is on the side of working people. Only Labour can unite around the country’s common ground, tackle the cost-of-living crisis and build a more resilient society and democracy – but we need to believe in ourselves and bring as many voters along with us in order to get there.

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