Labour’s next mission
In 1942 William Beveridge identified the five ‘giant evils’ of society: squalor, ignorance, want, idleness, and disease. His proposals led to the foundation of the welfare state, and were the basis for much of what the 1945 Labour government achieved. Its successes, most notably the NHS, have stood the test of time.
The next Labour government must be similarly ambitious in its aims, and ruthlessly tackle the ills of modern society. Liz Kendall’s ‘five causes’ on which she has fought in the Labour leadership campaign are rooted in her own values and the values of the Labour party, and should provide a road map for the next transformative government: ending inequality from birth; eliminating low pay; building a caring society; sharing power with people; a future of hope for young people. At a time when politics and politicians are derided for their lack of boldness and clarity, Liz should be applauded for setting out an uncompromisingly radical and reformist stall. They should be to the next Labour government, what Beveridge was to Clement Attlee’s.
She will aim for the elimination of inequality from the earliest years of life. She has already pledged an extra billion for early years education, funded by reversing George Osborne’s inheritance tax cut. And she will ensure fair access to the curriculum for those with special educational needs.
She will tackle the low pay epidemic – and build a real living wage society – by extending the remit of the low pay commission so it can drive up pay. She will restore working tax credits and ensure that public sector pay goes up using proceeds from a review of Britain’s £100bn tax relief bill. And Liz will give workers a greater say and share in their workplace and take practical steps for greater representation such as allowing online ballots over industrial action.
She understands that as our country ages, we need to build a more caring society. So, from enabling families to choose their own carer, through to ensuring those carers are properly paid, we need a revolution in the social care sector – and for it to be properly joined up with the NHS too.
Liz will revitalise our political system, putting power back into the hands of individuals, communities and neighbourhoods – rather than trying to run everything from Whitehall. She will create a more federal United Kingdom and introduce a radical new political settlement so that our cities, towns, counties and communities take on more power and responsibility over welfare, housing, health, education, transport and economic growth.
And, crucially, Liz knows that any plan for our future prosperity demands a more hopeful future for the next generation. So she has an ambitious plan for the Paris climate change negotiations matched by serious action at home to make our country a world leader in clean energy and green jobs.
Our country – and our party – can have a bright future. There need be no limit on our radicalism. But we need a laser-like focus on what needs to change in our society. Liz Kendall has identified those issues. Now as a party, it is time to act.
Gloria De Piero MP is shadow minister for women and equalities
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