Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Newham Council supports TUC March and calls for alternative economic policy

On Monday evening Newham Council supported unanimously a motion to support the TUC anti-austerity March on Saturday October 20th and for the next Labour Government to deliver an
alternative economic policy for a future that works.

I moved the motion and below is the speech I gave. This was not a call for a return to the days of the loony left but to rebalance our economy and bring about growth and jobs. 

"Council, next month on Saturday 20 October, the Trade Union Congress has organised national marches and rallies in central London and Glasgow against the failure of this Tory led coalition government to deal with the current economic crisis and get our country on the road to recovery.

This motion calls on the Council to support the March and to encourage
local residents, Labour Party members and trade union affiliates to attend and take part. As we did for last year’s TUC March  where over 400,000 people took part in a demonstration in London. 

 
This included a proud contingent from Newham who gathered beforehand outside Stratford station and went together behind our local Labour Party banners, our Labour Mayor, our Labour Councillors and labour trade union affiliates.
 
While our marching and demonstrating peacefully against the misery of this Government’s policies is vital and important, marching is not just an end in itself. It is an act of solidarity and a symbol of our opposition to this cabinet of millionaires and their attempt to make the poor and vulnerable pay for the greed and thievery of the rich. 
Let us never ever forget, that it wasn’t over paid lollipop ladies, nurses or town hall cleaners who brought about this recession. It was corrupt bankers and financiers who had long argued that the market alone knew best, deregulation worked and the so-called “invisible hand” would keep us safe and prosperous.
This turned out to be at best wrong and at worse a deceit. We need to learn from this experience. That is why the motion also calls on us to make sure that we not only do our bit by marching on October 20th but also advancing the arguments for change to our economy 

Not only for a Plan B but for the next Labour Government to adopt the kind of policies that think it is economic illiteracy to pay building workers to stay at home on the dole while we have a massive housing shortage. It is economic madness that the wealthy who tend to save not spend get tax cuts while the working poor who will spend lose benefits.
An economy where people are in work, making things, selling things, paying taxes and earning money that they will then spend into the local economy and create more demand for jobs and services.
It is not as if this hasn’t been done before.  In 1948 we had to recover from 6 years of total war and had truly massive levels of debt, far, far higher than today yet we were still able to pay for a huge house building programmes, create the welfare state and the NHS.
 
Council, we need an alternative economic programme. We need to not only firefight this current recession with a programme to get people back into work. We also need to think about where we want our society to go?
Do we want to move towards an American model of an increasingly polarised society with an ever smaller number of super rich and huge numbers of desperate poor, or do we move towards a society that prides itself at its levels of income equality. A more equal and fairer society that all the evidence shows benefits the wealthy as well as the poor.
Council, this year is the 120th anniversary of the first ever elected Labour MP, Keir Hardie, in our own borough. Let us not only celebrate this historic advance of working class people into the mother of all Parliaments and let us show solitary with the ideals of Keir on October 20th by marching but also let us so “get” that October 20th is also about politics and economics.
 
There is a battle of ideas raging out there that the left lost in the past but which we now must win.  Council, we desperately need an economic Future that Works.  Council support the motion, I move."
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