The housing crisis
A safe and secure home for all is both a basic right in a civilised society and a requirement of a productive economy.
The UK is currently failing to achieve this. We have a full-scale housing crisis. Housing has never been less affordable in a society where studying and saving for pensions is also costing more. Despite low interest rates, servicing enormous mortgages makes home ownership impossible for the majority of under 40s and home ownership has declined to the lowest level for 30 years. Meanwhile rents in the private sector are soaring while waiting lists for all forms of social housing amount to some 1.2 million.
What a state we’re in.
Ten years on from the financial crash, we’re mired in the worst squeeze on living standards since the days of Dickens. As in the 1930s and 1970s, this new malaise can only be lifted by forging a new economic settlement. That is what we must fashion on the foundation of Labour’s brilliant manifesto.
The Labour Party was founded more than 100 years ago with the mission to challenge social divisions and inequality wherever it found them in Britain. Since then, our party has railed against the North-South divide, fought against class divisions, lifted children out of poverty, outlawed race discrimination and worked tirelessly against gender inequalities.
The architect of the British welfare state, Sir William Beveridge, contended that “benefit in return for contributions, rather than free allowances from the State, is what the people of Britain desire”. His words are as true now, as they were three quarters of a century ago. Society only functions when all individuals and groups honour the written and unwritten agreements that underpin our collective life. They deliver on their commitments: their expectations are met reciprocally.
It is now a decade since the first tremors of the global financial crisis began to be felt. In the immediate years that followed, the Labour government led by Gordon Brown intervened to stop the crash and the inevitable recession that followed developing into a more serious global depression. By the time Labour left office in May 2010, the economy was growing once again.
The Beluga aircraft is a familiar sight above the skies of Wrexham. It shifts parts, daily, from the huge Broughton Airbus site in Flintshire, where the company employs 6,000 people, to Toulouse as part of the integrated production process which has led the business to become the world’s premier aerospace player.
The Tribune group of MPs want to focus debate in our party on how we grow and achieve government. To do so, we need to remember and cherish our values. Why we formed as a party. What binds us together – the values that underpin our party – and drive the focus for policy. This paper is a contribution to that debate.
The Labour Party has been a radical force for change. The centre-left represented by the Tribune group is critical in framing the arguments that will win over traditional Labour voters and in explaining our values to those who have not voted for us in the past or have stopped seeing us as their first choice. We need to convince these people that it is our core values that they want to see applied in government.
Many of the things that Labour has championed are the things that people expect as basic rights and expectations today – things that became integral to the British Promise. This means we need to re-establish our credentials as the party that is at the core of that British Promise:
- that wants to see everyone flourish and helps the next generation aspire to do better
- that wants everyone to live a life they have reason to value
- recognises the mutual benefits of public and private endeavour
- that the public interest must be expressed by a dynamic, supportive state in society and the economy
- that is fair and is seen to be fair – on taxation, on rights and is on your side
- which is outward looking in the world and puts security of its people at its heart
As David Cameron did before her, Theresa May is headed north to talk about industry in the regions and its importance. Headlines talked of an “active industrial strategy”. But the warm words she uttered are in marked contrast to the reality of the May Government’s laissez-faire approach to industry in the nations and regions, as shown by the shocking silence of the Government on the threat to one important, independent, regional business.
Tomorrow, Labour MPs from parliament’s Tribune group – led by Delyn MP David Hanson – will table a new Bill to remove hereditary peers from the House of Lords. Despite Labour’s successful attempt in 1999 to remove most of the hereditary peers, 92 peers still sit in the House of Lords for no other reason than accident of birth. Their power allows them to create our laws a visible relic of past times.
On International Volunteers Day, Catherine McKinnell discusses the value of volunteers in providing palliative care, and the challenges for the charity sector going forward. Read more here on The Huffington Post.