This is the full speech that Jeremy Corbyn gave at the launch of Labour’s local election campaign today in Newark.
Thank you for that introduction Bethany and for all that you do in mobilising our student members in Nottinghamshire.
Labour depends on all its members to deliver our message of investment and social justice in every community across Britain
Over a quarter of a million more people joined Labour over the past eighteen months they saw Labour has broken with the failed politics of the past and that they could be part of a new project for real change: bold, confident and, yes, angry too.
Because who wouldn’t be angry?
When they see people lying on trolleys in hospital corridors?
When they see more and more people homeless on the streets?
When they hear about a high street chain trying to pay young people in leftover food?
When huge numbers of Sure Start centres have closed under the Tories?
Or when class sizes are rising – as the Tories divert funds to grammar schools for a privileged few?
And when social care for the elderly and disabled is in crisis – while the super-rich and big business get tax giveaways worth £73 billion?
How can you not be angry and demand major change when life expectancy projections have fallen in Britain for pensioners? We are a rich country, the sixth richest in the world. We are not at war, there is no epidemic sweeping our land.
But, whether the Conservative Party chair can face the facts or not, life expectancy has actually fallen – by a year for 65-year-old women and 6 months for 65-year-old men – since 2013.
The truth is that the Tories are running our country down.
Home ownership, opportunities for our children, wages and conditions at work, the NHS, care for our elderly, and now, life expectancy: they’re all going backwards, run down by a Conservative government that looks after those at the top and manages decline for the rest of us.
Britain is a wealthy country but you wouldn’t know it from the way people are held back in their everyday lives – from making a home for themselves and their families, building a career, pursuing their interests and ambitions.
Local councils have made a huge difference to people’s lives – providing libraries and leisure centres, schools, building houses, making sure the elderly have the support they need.
But since 2010 councils have seen their funding cut by 40%.
Over ninety percent of councils are putting up council tax this year to try to compensate for the huge cuts in the grant they get from government.
Meanwhile police budgets are cut, social care budgets are cut, schools budgets are cut, Sure Start centres are closed, libraries are closed , houses aren’t built.
Whole communities are being held back and jobs, services and hope destroyed. But it doesn’t have to be like this.
Labour is standing up for you. In Westminster and in every community across the country.
Labour councils are making a difference across the country. Stepping up where the Government fails to act.
Faced with the growing housing crisis, Birmingham Council is delivering 30% of all new homes in the city. And Lancashire County Council has formed a joint venture to buy 800 affordable homes for sale and social rent.
Faced with the crisis in social care 15 Labour councils have signed up to the Ethical Care Charter for minimum standards of safety, quality and dignity of care and improve pay and training for care workers. I signed it myself last week in Blyth.
Faced with so many people struggling to make ends meet Liverpool council is setting up a not-for-profit energy company – “the Liverpool LECCy” – to sell gas and electricity at a lower cost, building on what’s been done down the road in Nottingham with Robin Hood Energy. And just west of here in Derbyshire the Labour Council’s Welfare Rights Service has helped local people claim £18 million in benefits they otherwise would have lost.
Faced with the Government’s failure to invest in our economy the ‘Nottinghamshire Economic Development Capital Fund’ has lent £3.5 million to help more than 30 businesses secure good jobs in Nottinghamshire. And in Northumberland, the council-owned Arch property business generates jobs and homes, as well as a return of nearly £5m a year that supports council services like schools, roads and social care. I was really pleased to visit their Blyth Workspace site last week which offer huge opportunities.
Faced with an epidemic of low pay 89 Labour councils have delivered the real Living Wage for council employees and contractors to ensure better wages for local people. I’m particularly proud that my own borough led the way on that.
These are just a few examples of how Labour councils are standing up for you and why you need Labour to be in power in towns, counties and city regions as well as Westminster.
The Conservatives justify tax cuts for the richest and big business by saying they will lead to an increase in investment. But in fact investment has fallen, leaving us with antiquated infrastructure and uncompetitive industries.
The future of our country cannot be left to the free market and the whims of the wealthy.
That is why Labour will set up a national investment bank and regional development banks – including our ‘Bank of the North’ – to help unlock £500 billion to fund major capital projects and finance growth.
Our plan will use public investment to build up new investment by the private sector. It means creating hundreds of thousands of good quality jobs in manufacturing and in green and other cutting-edge industries of the future.
As every successful business knows, there’s nothing reckless about borrowing to invest quite the opposite.
Investment in infrastructure, skills, broadband and high speed rail generates growth and tax revenues. It more than pays for itself. This is just what the Welsh Government is doing with the launch of the Welsh Development Bank, which draws on 20 years of Labour experience in power.
At this crucial time we need to look to the future and ask ourselves what sort of country we want Britain to be.
Theresa May’s Government is trying to use Brexit to turn Britain into a low-wage tax haven for big business.
We are offering a real alternative that reflects the priorities of the majority of our people to rebuild and transform Britain so that no one and no community is left behind.
Instead of a country run for the rich, we want to see one in which all of us can lead richer lives.
A Labour Government will end the rip-off on the railways and bring them into public ownership.
Labour will overturn the Government’s ban on council-owned bus companies as part of a plan to put the public back into buses.
We’ll stop the corporate tax cuts and make sure the tax dodgers pay their fair share.
We’ll invest in our children’s education and skills for our workers.
We’ll give six million people a pay rise by introducing a real living wage of at least £10 an hour.
We’ll reinstate nurses’ bursaries and give more people the chance to train to be nurses, so that the sick get the care they need.
We’ll invest in housing, building the homes our country needs, creating thousands of good construction jobs and apprenticeships and allowing councils to borrow to build council housing.
Together we can create a Britain where each of us can lead richer lives investing in a better Britain, creating educational opportunity for all, guaranteeing the health and social care services you need, providing safer neighbourhoods and building homes people can afford.
In the coming weeks of this campaign Labour will be setting out more of our policies to show how Labour will stand up for you.
This election is your chance to send a message to the Tories: that you won’t accept our NHS in crisis, your children’s future betrayed, a deepening housing crisis, damaging cuts to the police and insecure jobs that don’t make ends meet.
It doesn’t have to be like this. Things can and they will change.
So use your vote for Labour on 4th May.