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Building a productive economy

United Labour party can defeat austerity
Jennie Formby, Unite south east regional secretary, Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

After a long and distracting contest, ending with Jeremy’s re-election as leader of our Party on an even greater mandate than last time means that we can get back to work.


We can move away from internal naval gazing and unite to fight for a Labour government in 2020 that has clear policies to transform our society into one that works for everyone, not just for the privileged few.


The discussions we’ve had in the Economy Commission are key to what that society could look like.


Over the last year, under Jeremy’s leadership and with John McDonnell as our shadow chancellor, Labour has become a clear anti-austerity party.


We consistently opposed George Osborne’s charter – a charter that now lies discredited and in tatters – together with the rest of the Tories’ failed and failing economic plans.


The last budget confirmed what we all knew as figures on growth, wages, business investment and productivity have all been revised down.  This has been the same for every year they’ve been in power.


Osborne may have gone but despite Theresa May’s rhetoric on the steps of Downing Street we will continue to be vigilant.


Replacing Osborne with Philip Hammond as chancellor does not mean cuts will be restored.  To coin a phrase – Tory leopards do not change their spots.


Investment strike

We still see that major companies continue their obsession with financial short termism, leading to a damaging and ongoing investment strike. It’s a strike that starves our industry of the opportunity it needs to grow and develop for the future.


And now the uncertainty that the Brexit vote brings hangs over us all with no clear pathway forward from the prime minister Theresa May or her government.


What we’ve seen over the last year is the culmination of six years of Tory economic failure.


Failure to invest in our infrastructure and failure to deliver the high skilled high paid jobs we need.  The government and the coalition before it have simply failed to plan for the economy of tomorrow.


As our general secretary said yesterday, “The old model has failed.  It has crashed and burned”.


This continuing Tory failure is putting any economic recovery at risk.   It’s risking the future of our jobs, the prosperity of the communities we live and work.  It’s risking the very fabric of what should be a caring and supportive society.


Clear policy

It is for these reasons that the work of the Economy Policy Commission is so important.


Now we need to develop a clear economic policy that will show how we will fight austerity, boost manufacturing, and rebuild our infrastructure.


By doing this we will start to restore the balance between the privileged few and the rest of us predicated on a policy built on Labour principles of equality and fairness.


So the priority for the Economy Policy Commission has been, and will continue to be, to look at what we must do to secure our nation’s prosperity and deliver for working people and for everyone in our society.


The Commission has made significant progress with this.


In particular we looked at what needs to be done to improve our dismal record on productivity with a genuine, pro-active long-term industrial strategy that lays the foundations to rebuild our economy.


We heard from trade unions, businesses and hundreds of Party members and the report outlines key priorities for the coming months.


Government should invest in infrastructure and skills to boost productivity.  We have to make better use of public procurement and corporate failings and mismanagement needs to be tackled.


We’re ambitious about the policy platform the Labour Party will take to the British people at the next election.


Central to our economic and industrial strategy is making sure that prosperity reaches every corner of the country by establishing a National Investment Bank. This will be supported by a network of regional investment banks to work with councils, trade unions and businesses to deliver growth and jobs.


Crucially we must offer more than the ‘cuts too far too fast’ rhetoric of 2015 and we’re working hard to ensure that we are coherent and credible in everything we do.


And we have to communicate our strategy so that everyone understands the policies we develop, and knows the real benefits they could bring.


Work together

Labour has shown what we can achieve in Parliament – even in opposition – when we work together.


Look at how together we defeated the attacks on PiP payments and tax credits.  We kept the spotlight on the huge extent of corporate tax avoidance.


Working alongside John McDonnell is Becky Long-Bailey who has done a great job stepping in at the last minute to fight the cuts to corporation and capital gains tax in the Finance Bill.


We’ve still got much more to do. But together and united, we can show that Labour is strong — we’re credible on the economy and together we can defeat austerity.


  • Unite south east regional secretary, Jennie Formby, was speaking here as a member of the Labour Party NEC on building a productive economy. View her full speech below:



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