Saturday, July 05, 2014

Jon Cruddas MP - Guest Speaker #LabLink14

First guest speaker of National Labour Link Forum was Jon Cruddas MP, Head of Labour's policy review.

Jon started by admitting he had nearly been late today since he had gone to the wrong hotel and hoped that no-one would be tape recording him on behalf of Tory Central Office.  For the first time at our Forum meeting I noticed that there was a BBC camera crew present for his speech.

Jon praised UNISON as a "great union representing front line public servants in very difficult circumstances. The Labour Party Manifesto will have to set out our plans to rebuild our country at time of little or no money. The past 30 years of Neo liberalism has seen the slowest ever growth after a recession and huge debts. There will be a £70 billion deficit in 2015".

He argued that while the welfare state had been a profound achievement in the 20th Century - it now needs renewal. You need three things "1. an inclusive economy - pro worker and pro business. Stop the abuse of zero hour contracts and agency workers. There needs to be an increase in the minimum wage and greater use of a Living Wage, repeal of the Lobby Act, fair taxes and build homes. 2. We need a whole family approach such as extending free child care. 3. Inclusive politics. We have trickle down government . It should be trickle up. There should be freedom of information obligations on all providers of public services. Procurement should help decide wages".

"We need to rebuild this country.  The recent announcements on Labour plans for Councils and regions is the biggest devolution of power in 100 year.  Labour will win if our national story is - hope not despair".

During the wide ranging Q&A that followed London Delegate, Gloria Hanson, asked Jon what was Labour policy on trade unions and will he be supporting our strike on July 10th?  Jon replied by saying he had been a trade union activist before he became a Labour activists. Unions are not just about wages, but about being a voice at work and industrial democracy. Its work in progress. He also replied "I hear what you say about the Strike but it is not for me to be first to respond". That response I suspect disappointed the watching TV crew even more than the rest of us.

So as ever, a competent and lively performance by Jon. But it is more of "wait and see". The Labour Party National Policy forum is going to be in a couple of weeks and until the manifesto is out we will not really know what Labour policies will be in 2015. On the whole, so far so good. Hopefully more good stuff to follow.   
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