Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party, speaking from Salford today, said "Thank you for that introduction Becky, and thank you for all the work you do as Shadow Business Secretary, developing Labour’s industrial strategy which I’ll be talking about later.
I’m very pleased to be here in Salford, where today the Shadow Cabinet will be meeting to finalise our plans to stop the disaster of No Deal, ahead of the return of parliament tomorrow.
We are just a couple of miles from the site where 200 years ago last month, the Peterloo Massacre took place when working class people demanding democratic representation in parliament were met with brutal force and carnage from the authorities, as they were cut down by cavalrymen. That was part of the price paid to win the democratic rights we have in this country.
Like all progressive change, democracy was won from below, it wasn’t handed down from above.
So, when a prime minister who hasn’t won an election and who doesn’t have a majority, decrees that parliament will be shut down because he knows his plan for a disastrous No Deal doesn’t have the votes, we say that is an attack on democracy which will be resisted. That was the message given loud and clear at protests all around the country at the weekend.
I joined a large demonstration in Glasgow’s George Square, and Labour MPs were on the protests in many other cities. The people will not allow a phoney populist cabal in Downing Street in hock to the vested interests of the richest to deny them their democratic voice and now the government is threatening to just ignore legislation it doesn’t like. That’s how the elite operates. The rules they set for everyone else only apply to them when it suits.
Labour would never try to silence parliament, but we don’t believe democracy stops there. We want to expand democracy not restrict it. Democracy is how people won healthcare decent housing and the welfare state.
Labour will push democracy further into the workplace into the economy to give people more control over their lives. Today, I want to talk about how Labour will bring about a democratic transformation of our economy, that will breathe new life into every nation and region of our country. But first, we face the threat of No Deal which would decimate industry and destroy people’s jobs in those very same regions.
Johnson and his hard right cabinet don’t care about the economic cost. They and their wealthy donors won’t be the ones paying it. The price will be paid by working people in places like Salford and all around the country. The battle to stop No Deal isn’t a struggle between those who want to leave the EU and those who want continued membership.
It’s a battle of the many, against the few, who are hijacking the referendum result to shift even more power and wealth towards those at the top.
As has become ever clearer, a No Deal Brexit is really a Trump Deal Brexit leading to a one-sided US trade deal, that will put us at the mercy of Donald Trump and the big American corporations. The pally enthusiasm of the US President for Britain’s new prime minister only underlines that in Boris Johnson Trump has found a compliant British leader who will dance to his tune. Unless we stop Johnson’s Tory government now it’s a headlong rush into the arms of Donald Trump.
I am not prepared to stand by and allow our public services and protections to be handed over to US big business. There can be no doubt about the damage No Deal will do to our economy.
You don’t have to take my word for it.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders says, it will lead to “death by a thousand cuts” for the car industry as new work seeps overseas. So who do you trust on the impact of No Deal, the car manufacturers themselves or Boris Johnson and the Tories? The Food and Drink Federation says, shoppers will notice shortages of some foods “within weeks” of No Deal. Again, who do you trust those who know the food industry inside out or Boris Johnson and the Tories?
The TUC says, No Deal will threaten people’s hard-won rights at work. Who do you trust – an organisation that exists to look out for workers – or Boris Johnson and the Tories? The impact will be especially hard on areas like the West Midlands, where so much of our car production is based. It’s an industry that depends on no tariffs or friction at the border.
Jaguar Land-Rover for example can only prepare for days of disruption because the company uses 25 million separate parts a day. Ten thousand people are employed in car production in Solihull; 9,000 in Coventry; 8,000 in Birmingham.
Think of those workers and the worry they are going through, as they watch the Tory government charge towards an outcome that risks destroying their jobs. Imagine the damage to their communities to that region if that happens. It would tear the heart out of the West Midlands. The government can’t claim to be building a ‘Midlands Engine’, and then follow a policy that trashes the car industry or think of Yorkshire and the Humber, where 10,000 people are employed in the steel industry.
No Deal would be a hammer blow for them, placing trade restrictions on virtually all steel companies’ export markets, and opening us up to cheap US steel imports that would be the death knell for the UK steel industry. Look to the East of England, the region with the largest agricultural sector employing more than 30,000 people. The National Farmers Union says, No Deal would be “catastrophic for British agriculture.”
Of course, the threat of No Deal comes on top of the damage already done to industry by nine years of Conservative government. Remember George Osborne’s “march of the makers”? It’s easily forgotten, don’t worry. Or recall the time Conservative ministers suddenly started talking about an “industrial strategy”? They were hollow words.
There are now 15,000 fewer people working in manufacturing industry, than there were when the government set up the department for industrial strategy three years ago – some achievement. And, over the last decade almost half a million manufacturing jobs have been lost, hitting regions like the North West and the Midlands very hard. The Tories always put first those who lend and speculate over those who make things.
That’s why it’s the billionaire hedge funders who bankroll Boris Johnson and his party who call the shots. While their wealth balloons, manufacturing workers are losing out on £55 a week under the Tories. Those workers are now £3,000 a year worse off than they would otherwise have been, due to falling wages growth over the past nine years. That’s the Conservative record on manufacturing – fewer people employed – and stagnating pay. And, with the lenders and speculators in charge, wealth, power and opportunity aren’t shared across the country, they are concentrated around our capital. We have the worst regional inequality in Europe.
Take spending on transport. It’s currently £1,023 per head in London compared to just £422 in the North. If it was allocated evenly across the country, the East Midlands would be getting double the amount per person that it is now. None of this will be fixed by Sajid Javid, when he delivers his con-job pre-election spending review this week. Every recycled, hopelessly inadequate spending pledge put out by Javid or rather by his political bosses in Number 10, only proves Labour’s point that austerity is a political choice, that has caused huge suffering and damaged our economy in the process. And, if Javid’s own staff can’t trust him to protect them what faith can workers across the UK have in the Chancellor?
Labour in contrast does have a serious and practical plan to get our economy working in every town, city, region and nation of our country, with a record investment blitz. Our £250 billion National Transformation Fund which John McDonnell, who is leading the way on this, has said will be based outside of London in the North will power a massive upgrade to our infrastructure from transport to energy to broadband. Let me just illustrate the scale of what we’re proposing.
Johnson in his first days as prime minister announced with great fanfare and hype a Town’s Fund of £3.6 billion for capital spending on infrastructure. Our National Transformation Fund is 70 times bigger.
That’s the scale of investment our country needs after so many years of neglect. That’s the scale of Labour’s ambition. No more tinkering around the edges. And, Labour will also set up a National Investment Bank backed up by a network of Regional Development Banks, to provide a further £250 billion of capital for emerging businesses and co-operatives.
The Regional banks will have elected representatives and local stakeholders on their boards, allowing each region to rebuild its economy on its own terms, devolving economic power and getting the money to where it’s needed. Take the South West of England which has some of the lowest paid areas in our country. That’s why they need real economic power to take decisions locally; to deliver good jobs to their region; and why a Labour government would underpin that with a real living wage of £10 per hour by 2020. And, we’ll establish a new Post Bank operating out of post offices, stemming the tide of post office closures and helping to revive our high streets.
As a national network with hundreds of branches in every region the Post Bank will play a role in rebalancing our economy with deposits in prosperous parts used to back loans to businesses in more deprived areas. For decades, politicians have told us the economy is beyond democratic control, like a force of nature that can lay waste to entire communities and we just have to grin and bear it.
It’s an idea that suits the super-rich and the corporations hoarding the wealth we all create because it makes change seem impossible.
But it’s not true. Through voting through democracy you can change in whose interests the economy works. Labour will extend democracy to the workplace, through collective bargaining, workers on boards and our Inclusive Ownership Funds, which will transfer billions of pounds of pounds into the hands of workers the real wealth creators. And, when I say Labour will invest £500 billion, that’s not just an abstract number on a financial spreadsheet. It stands for an economic transformation that will change your daily life.
Investment on that scale directed through a real industrial strategy means good, new jobs where you live. With a serious industrial strategy and a radical Labour government the economy can be a tool in our hands, rather than the master of our fate. And that means we can restore prosperity to regions of our country that have been held back for too long. Let me give you a concrete example of what it will mean.
Labour will invest in Crossrail for the North to link our great Northern cities, from Liverpool in the North West, across to Hull in Yorkshire, and up to the North East. Last year, I travelled from Liverpool to Hull on the TransPennine Express. The 126-mile journey takes nearly three hours. But if I went from London to Paris on the Eurostar, the 286-mile trip would take 40 minutes less.
As our Shadow Transport Secretary Andy MacDonald has made clear, the government’s current focus on the Leeds to Manchester route – which is no longer than the Central Line on the London Underground – is totally inadequate. To carry on boasting about a Northern Powerhouse while refusing to fund proper railway infrastructure for the North is an insult. We need the full Crossrail for the North – just as local government leaders and mayors including Andy Burnham, Joe Anderson and Steve Rotheram have called for – to ensure the North is no longer held back.
Where this government fails, Labour will succeed and Power Up the North.
A real industrial strategy and serious economic plan will allow the government to prioritise what matters most, and nothing is more important than the climate emergency. This is the biggest crisis facing humanity – globally, nationally and locally – rising sea levels and toxic air are as much of a threat here in the UK as anywhere and, just down the road, Salford University is at the leading edge of energy research. By directing investment to green technologies, and retrofitting houses to increase energy efficiency, we will create jobs and reduce our harmful emissions at the same time. It will be a Green Industrial Revolution.
Many of those jobs will be in places that have never recovered from the destruction of industry at the hands of Thatcher’s Conservatives. Labour’s plan for a seven-fold increase in offshore wind energy will bring 12,000 good new jobs to Norfolk, 11,000 to the Humber, and 10,000 to the North East. And the retrofitting of houses will create more than 8,000 jobs in the West Midlands, 4,000 in South Yorkshire, and 1,700 in Derbyshire – while saving people money on their energy bills. Good quality jobs and strong local industries contribute so much to the identity of a place.
But local identity is also bound up with the services people rely on and the community facilities that bring people together. When you lose your your library, your swimming pool, your public spaces, your Sure Start Centre, it saps the spirit of an area. A sense of place is so important. But it’s being lost because of the gutting of local government by the Tories. It will come as no surprise to council leaders and councillors in the audience to learn that the cuts have not been spread evenly. They’ve hit the poorest areas hardest.
As our Shadow Communities Secretary Andrew Gwynne has exposed, nine out of the ten most deprived councils in the country have seen cuts, of almost three times the national average. Conservative-run Northamptonshire has already collapsed, and with more cuts on the way, more councils could follow. Only Labour will end austerity, fund local government, invest in all the regions of our country, revive industry and manufacturing, and restore hope and pride in our communities. So, first we must come together to stop No Deal. This week could be our last chance.
We are working with other parties to do everything necessary to pull our country back from the brink. Then we need a general election.
When a government finds itself without a majority the solution is not to undermine democracy. The solution is to let the people decide, and call a general election. It is the people, not an unelected Prime Minister, who should determine our country’s future. A general election is the democratic way forward.
To give the people the choice between two very different directions for our country. One that will see our industries run down, while the super rich get even richer from a Trump Deal Brexit. Or a different path that will bring good, secure, well-paid jobs to every region through a proper industrial strategy. That will end the inequality that blights our country. And, that will usher in the democratic transformation of our economy, so it works for the real wealth creators: the people. In that election, Labour will give the people the chance to take back control, and have the final say in a public vote, with credible options for both sides including the option to remain.
It’s Labour that offers hope and a plan that will bring our communities together. We won’t shut down democracy and hoard power in Westminster. We’ll spread wealth and power to every region and nation of our country.