Jennie Formby opened this year’s Labour conference on Saturday September 21 – here’s what she said:
It’s wonderful to be here with you all here in Brighton for what I know is going to be a great Conference so thank you all for coming.
Conference allows Jeremy and our Shadow Cabinet team to showcase our transformative policies which will create a more equal society and a sustainable green economy. But it’s also your opportunity to have your say on the key issues and policies that matter most to you and I know that like me you’re looking forward to some really thought provoking and exciting debates.
It’s been another very busy year for all of us and we’ve achieved a lot over the past twelve months. But I want to start by saying a few thank yous.
Firstly, I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has given me so much support over the last six months. I’m not quite there yet but the love and solidarity that I’ve experienced from across our party and our movement has been incredible and I can’t tell you how much it’s been appreciated by me and my family.
And I also want to say a heart-felt thank you to all the incredible nurses, doctors, health care assistants, support workers, theatre staff, lab techs, porters, cleaners, and every other NHS worker who has given me such outstanding care, as they do for so many every day.
They’ve saved my life. But we all know our NHS is under existential threat. The predators are circling and the privatisation we’ve already seen is nothing in comparison to the threat posed by a Johnson-Trump trade deal.
In America, my cancer treatment would cost upwards of $100,000 dollars – and that’s without reconstruction. For far too many unable to afford health insurance, a cancer or other health diagnosis can be a death sentence.
But Labour won’t let that happen. Not only are we determined to stop what would be a disastrous No Deal Brexit, we’ve promised that the next Labour government will reverse the privatisation of our NHS and return our health service into expert public control. That’s something worth fighting for.
And so is our promise to take back into public control our railways, our buses, our mail, our public utilities.
The same goes for all our public services. They should be run for the people, not for profit – and they will be under a Labour government.
I also want to say a massive thank you to Labour’s brilliant staff. They organise, they train, they support, they build campaigns, they create materials, they research, they develop policy, they encourage members. And, of course, they organise conferences too – thank you Carol and to all your team for everything you’ve done to make this happen!
Every day our staff go over and above whatever is asked of them. They’re talented and committed and I’m incredibly proud to lead such an amazing team.
So what have we been doing over the last twelve months? As Wendy Nichols outlined earlier, we’ve continued to work on delivering the outcomes of the democracy review. We held a fantastic Women’s Conference earlier this year which was an outstanding success with over a thousand women attending.
Our community organising team, working with all our regional organisers, has gone from strength to strength. They’ve brought thousands of people together in their ground breaking events, delivered some incredible outcomes, politics for the people by the people. It’s so inspiring and they’re making a huge impact in communities across all our regions and nations.
Our regional teams have put on dozens of training events, helping our members and candidates to develop first class skills, giving them the resources they need to build their own campaigns and to be election ready. We’ve launched the Bernie Grant leadership course and have just seen the first cohort of members graduating from a very diverse range of BAME communities.
And we’ve also done more to modernise and streamline our disciplinary processes. We’ve taken further action on antisemitism, we’ve published updated statistics on the complaints process and we’ve given a commitment to do this transparently on a regular basis. We have improved the speed with which we deal with complaints, and strengthened our systems.
‘No Place for Antisemitism’
We’ve launched our members’ booklet and webpage, ‘No Place for Antisemitism’ dealing with this vitally important issue. And we’re working on developing further educational materials to help our members to understand and challenge racism in all its forms wherever it raises its ugly head.
We have the shame of an openly and unrepentant racist Prime Minister, presiding over a Conservative Party with many proven Islamophobes in their numbers, steadfastly refusing to care enough to take any action.
But that doesn’t let us off the hook. We’re Labour and we’re better than that. We always have been and we won’t tolerate discrimination of any kind in our party.
And that brings me to unity. We’re experiencing a Conservative government that has caused greater divisions in our nations than ever before. Having lived through 17 years of Thatcherism, believe me that’s quite an achievement.
That’s why it’s so important that every one of us in our party, whether members or elected members, focusses one hundred percent on defeating the Tories and their vicious policies that are causing so much damage. We owe it to everyone in Britain who needs a Labour government more than ever before.
We owe it to the countless thousands living in substandard homes or who are living on the streets. To the millions of children living in poverty. To the workers exploited by zero hours or insecure work. To all those people, most of them in employment, forced to turn to foodbanks because they simply can’t make ends meet.
And above all we owe it to the thousands of sick and disabled people who have died because of austerity. What an absolute disgrace.
We know a general election is coming, and we’re ready for it. So my last thank you is to all of you, our incredible members. Thank you for everything you do day in day out, week in week out to get our message across of how a Labour government will rebuild Britain. You’re half a million strong and growing. You’re the backbone of our movement. We’re nothing without you so thank you, each and every one of you.
I know with your passion and determination, with our policies to transform Britain, and with the incredible leadership of Jeremy and his team, we can and we will win a Labour government with Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister.