Labour will take the true spirit of the Durham Miners’ Gala into Downing Street when we win the next general election so that we can build a country for the many, not the few, was the message I delivered from the speakers’ platform at the ‘Big Meeting’ last weekend.
Standing alongside our party Leader Jeremy Corbyn, I promised that a future Labour government would hold an inquiry into the policing of the 1984 strike; that we would ensure the miners’ pension scheme debacle was sorted fairly once and for all; and that we will deliver a manifesto of fairness and basic ideas that would transform the lives of millions of people.
We will, I said, ensure public services are properly funded and the public sector pay cap is ended; give the NHS the resources it needs to care for the people of this country; set up a National Education Service to ensure a lifelong path into learning for our young people; put fairness back into the workplace and introduce a real living wage of £10 an hour, as well as putting into place regional investment banks to deliver jobs, stimulate local economies and give hope to communities that have long felt neglected.
I reminded those listening that after eight years the Conservatives have led our public services to the verge of collapse; that our schools could be £1.7 billion worse off by 2020; and that the number of police officers has fallen by almost 20,000 in seven years, while fire services have lost more than a quarter of their specialist fire safety staff.
I said that three million people work in insecure jobs; 60 per cent of those living in poverty are from working households; and the number of children growing up in poverty has increased by one million while the Tories have been in power.
Finally, I pledged that the Labour Party is proud to uphold the same values the Gala has stood for over so many years and that, as a government, we will put them into practice when we are handed the keys to 10 Downing Street. It is a pledge we intend to deliver.