‘TODAY we put ourselves on notice. Labour is preparing for a general election in 2017,’ said Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn concluding his hour-long speech at the party conference in Liverpool yesterday.
‘We hope and expect all our members to support our campaign. We will be ready for the challenge whenever it comes.’
Corbyn began by stating: ‘At conference a year ago, I launched our campaign against cuts to tax credits and we succeeded in knocking this government back. This year, three million families are over £1,000 better off because Labour stood together. In the Budget, the government tried to take away billions from disabled people but we defeated them.’
He went on to describe the forthcoming abolition of fifty MPs through boundary changes as ‘nothing but a cynical attempt to gerrymander the next election’. Corbyn pledged that Labour will build over a million new homes ‘at least half of them council houses’.
Condemning ‘an explosion of temporary, insecure jobs, nearly one million people on zero-hour contracts’, Corbyn pledged: ‘Labour will repeal the Trade Union Act and set unions free to do their job.’
He attacked ‘the scandal of the privatised railways’ getting ‘more public subsidy than under the days of British Rail, all going to private firms and more delays, more cancellations. And the highest fares in Europe. That is why the great majority of the British people back Labour’s plan, set out by Andy MacDonald, to take the railways back into public ownership.’
Regarding the world economic crisis, Corbyn continued: ‘But if you want the most spectacular example of what happens, when government steps back, the global banking crash is an object lesson. A deregulated industry of out-of-control greed and speculation that crashed economies across the globe and required the biggest ever government intervention and public bailout in history.
‘Millions of ordinary families paid the price for that failure. I pledge that Labour will never let a few reckless bankers wreck our economy again,’ … without revealing just how he would stop them. Announcing Ten Pledges, Corbyn went on: ‘So Labour is offering solutions. During this summer’s leadership campaign, I set out ten pledges which I believe can be the platform for our party’s programme at the next election.
‘They have now been put to you and endorsed by this conference. They lay out the scope of the change we need to see for full employment, a homes guarantee, security at work, a strong public NHS and social care, a National Education Service for all, action on climate change, public ownership and control of our services, a cut in inequality of income and wealth action to secure an equal society and peace and justice at the heart of foreign policy.’
He announced his intention to ‘put public enterprise back into the heart of our economy and services to meet the needs of local communities – municipal socialism for the 21st century, as an engine of local growth and development.’ He declared: ‘Today I’m announcing that Labour will remove the artificial local borrowing cap and allow councils to borrow against their housing stock.’
Continuing on the theme, he said: ‘We’ll establish a National Investment Bank at the heart of our plan to rebuild and transform Britain. And we will borrow to invest at historically low interest rates, to generate far greater returns. It would be foolish not to, because that investment is expanding the economy and the income it generates for us all in the process.’
He continued: ‘We’ve set out proposals for a National Investment Bank with £500 billion of investment to bring our broadband, our railways, our housing and our energy infrastructure up to scratch.’
He announced a New Deal for the employers, saying: ‘Yesterday, Rebecca Long Bailey set out the terms of our Industrial Strategy Review. We need an economy that works for every part of this country so that no community is left behind. And today I’m asking everyone, businesses, academics, workers, trade unions and anyone who cares about our future prosperity to have your say in that review.
‘This is the deal Labour will offer to business. To help pay for a National Education Service, we will ask you to pay a little more in tax. We’ve already started to set out some of this, pledging to raise corporation tax by less than 1.5 per cent to give an Education Maintenance Allowance to college students and grants to university students so that every young learner can afford to support themselves as they develop skills and get qualifications.’
Corbyn condemned UK involvement in imperialist wars, saying: ‘That is why it was right to apologise on behalf of the party for the Iraq war; right to say that we have learned the lessons and right to say that such a catastrophe must never be allowed to happen again.’