Cruddas makes pitch for chair as he sets out Labour’s “journey of change”

Labour must put community, organisation and compassion at the heart of its policies if it is to prevent the Coalition from keeping the party out for the next decade, Jon Cruddas has said today.

Labour must put community, organisation and compassion at the heart of its policies if it is to prevent the Coalition from keeping the party out for the next decade, Jon Cruddas has said today. Addressing the Labour Friends of Searchlight conference in central London this morning, the MP for Dagenham and Rainham spoke of the need to build relationships with communities and neighbourhoods, to organise for a party of “social justice and community” and a party “rooted in a culture of organising”.

He also called for “a more democratic party with an actively involved membership”, and the need “to turn the party outward to the communities we seek to represent” as part of Labour’s “journey of change”. Mr Cruddas put himself forward for the role of elected party chair, to help build a “plural, democratic Labour Party” – as briefed to The Guardian last night.

On the Government, he called the Tories the defenders of “the prerogatives of the rich” and accused the Lib Dems of being misdirected by “free market fundamentalists”. He said:

“The Coalition Budget threatens us with a new recession. The Spending Review will report in October and the size of the cuts it proposes will be both unnecessary and devastating. We are living in the eye of a storm.

The low paid, the poor, welfare claimants will pay for the greed of bankers and the inflated salaries of public service managers and consultants. This is the politics of the Conservative Party who are the defenders of the property rights and prerogatives of the rich. It is the politics of the Lib Dems who have been lost to their free market fundamentalists.

“They are soft on the banks, hard on the poor, and threatening to growth. That is the basis on which we should take on this government. But make no mistake the Coalition is a serious threat to the future of Labour.

“The political realignments of this crisis could exclude Labour from government for a decade. This is the goal of the Coalition – a centre right majority for the next decade cloaked in the progressive mantle.”

On the future policies and direction of Labour, he challenged the next leader to “dare more democracy” and “rebuild the economy of our country for a common prosperity”, adding:

“We have to take on the vested interests that have brought our country to its knees. Rebuilding a productive and social model of capitalism means working together in partnerships, and for economic democracy.

“There can be no democracy and no common prosperity in Britain until the banks are reformed. The power of money is real and we need to build a real opposition based on democracy. We need finance to help build the low carbon, sustainable economy of the future. The banks that are ‘too big to fail’ must be broken up.

“Employee representation on remuneration committees so that managerial prerogative can be challenged; cap interest rates on unsecured loans; a regional and community banking system to bring credit to the people and capital to localities; a financial transaction tax; and tax justice – end corporate tax evasion and tackle price transferring.

“A common prosperity means a regional spread of sustainable wealth creation; increasing demand by creating good properly paid jobs; legislation for a living wage and equal pay starting with government public procurement contracts; pension funds investing in social enterprise, infrastructure development and green industries; a major house building programme.

“The mission of an organised labour movement is to make a common life between those who are divided. The message our conference gives to the party today and to the 5 leadership contenders is: We are making a new life anchored in a new politics of virtue. Let’s start the debate about how we will organise for it.”

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