Mayor of London makes the case for Labour in government
Sadaiq Khan spoke to Labour Party conference today. Here is the full text of the Mayor of London’s speech:
Labour in power. Not just talking the talk, but walking the walk too. Never sacrificing or selling out on our ideals, but putting them in action every single day. Not a revolution overnight, but real and meaningful change that makes life easier for the people who need it most.
Conference, after the election this summer the leadership of our party has now been decided and I congratulate Jeremy on his clear victory. Now it’s time for us all to work together towards the greatest prize: getting Labour back into power.
Conference, with Labour in power your home and your commute get more affordable, the air you breathe gets less polluted, you get better pay and conditions at work, our businesses are supported to grow, and new jobs are created.
With Labour in power, Britain is a fairer country – a more equal country and a more just country. And Labour is in power right now – not just in London but in Wales too. Labour re-elected with the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, and in Bristol with the new Mayor, Marvin Rees. Labour is in power right now in Liverpool, Manchester and Southampton; in Newcastle, Glasgow and Cambridge; in Birmingham, Nottingham, Leeds and Cardiff too.
Labour is in power in towns and cities the length and breadth of Britain. And Conference, where Labour is in power it’s thanks to your hard work. Thanks to Labour members, activists and supporters. Thanks to the trade unions and the working people they represent. Thanks to the Labour staff who work so hard for us.
And thanks to every single Labour Councillor, Member of Parliament, Assembly Member and MSP who walk the streets and knock on doors come rain or shine, who deliver Labour leaflets and who listen to the voters, and who make the communities they represent better, day in and day out.
I want to say thank you to you all from the very bottom of my heart for your role in putting Labour in power and for going above and beyond to help us win back London in May. Because it’s only when Labour is in power that we get the chance to fix the problems that we care most about, like the housing crisis.
With Labour out of power, the number of affordable new homes built falls, the cost of rent rockets, and the number of homeless people sleeping on our streets rises.
But it’s only with Labour in power that we can make tackling the housing crisis our number one priority; we can create new teams like Homes for Londoners, to get more genuinely affordable homes built; or a new social letting scheme to stop renters being ripped off; we can enact new policies like the London Living Rent to put home ownership back within reach for our young people; and we can make tackling homelessness and rough sleeping a real priority – because it’s a stain on our great nation.
Of course, we always have to be honest. We won’t be able to fix the housing crisis overnight – it’s too serious and entrenched a problem. But it’s only with Labour in power that we can make a real start and a real difference.
Take air quality and pollution: when Labour is out of power, nowhere near enough is done to clean up our filthy air. Nearly 10,000 Londoners die every year from air so filthy, it’s actually illegal. Rather than taking action to clean up our air, the Government fought against this tooth and nail in the courts.
Once again, it’s only with Labour in power that we can make a real difference, with world-leading new approaches, like an Ultra Low Emission Zone stretching from the North circular to the South circular, and by putting in the resources and effort required to create the first clean bus areas in Britain to ensure that we only buy truly clean buses from 2018. All of this is only possible when Labour is in power.
Take social integration: with Labour out of power we have just been through a divisive and bruising EU referendum campaign. With Labour out of power, the future of EU citizens in Britain – who came here because they want to work and contribute – is being used as a bargaining chip. Well that’s wrong and the Government should be ashamed.
I’d like to take a moment to speak to the European citizens living across Britain, and who make a huge contribution to our NHS, schools, on construction sites and in business: you make a massive contribution to our country; economically, socially and culturally. Thank you. Thank you for all that you do to make our country great. You are welcome here.
Meanwhile, with Labour out of power, hate crime is rising – whether anti-Semitism, Islamaphobia, homophobia or any other form of this vile crime. Extremism is a growing problem – whether in the Muslim community or on the far right – and the gap between the richest and the poorest in our society continues to grow. But we can only take action to make our communities more cohesive and to strengthen social integration if Labour is in power.
It’s only with Labour in power that we can give social integration the priority it deserves by appointing Britain’s first Deputy Mayor for social integration, or creating London’s first economic fairness team to fight for rights at work and better pay and conditions.
It’s only with Labour in power that we can have leaders who are proud to call themselves a feminist, that we can have real gender pay audits and real plans to tackle pay inequality, or ensure that at least half of the people we appoint are women.
It’s only with Labour in power that we can ensure that minority communities have a real sense of belonging, so they are as resilient as possible to extremism and radicalisation. It’s only with Labour in power that we can build bridges rather than walls – to bring our communities together, not keep them apart.
Of course Conference, Labour is not in power in the place that we can have the biggest impact on our country: in Parliament. It’s in government that Labour can make the biggest changes to people’s lives, and every day now we see what happens when Labour’s not in power. We see the reintroduction of grammar schools, which will leave too many children behind and deepen inequality in our country. We see that the Government has no plan for leaving the EU.
We see that in 2016, someone’s pay and career prospects can still be defined by their gender. We have seen six years of damage to the services that people rely upon – to the NHS, to schools, to social care. The people who need us the most are those who suffer the most when Labour is not in power.
Conference, let me end by saying this: Labour out of power will never ever be good enough. We can only improve lives with Labour in power. By winning elections, by putting Labour values into action every day. Real Labour values: equality, social justice and opportunities for all. It’s only with Labour in power can we create a fairer, more equal and more just Britain. And when Labour’s not in power, we fail the very people who need us most.
So Conference, my message today is clear: It’s our duty and our responsibility to put Labour back in power across Britain. We have to start, by winning the Mayoral elections next year in Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham, and ensuring Labour is in power in every great city in Britain.
Because with Labour in power in cities and regions we can show that our party can be trusted to govern again. With Labour in power we can demonstrate that we can make a real difference to people’s lives, and with Labour in power we can prove that we’re ready for Government.
Conference, it’s time to put Labour back in power. It’s time for a Labour government. A Labour Prime Minister in Downing Street. A Labour Cabinet. Labour values put into action.
Conference, it’s time we put Labour back in power.
Sadiq Khan is the Labour Mayor of LondonLike this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.