I have just returned from Liverpool where the UK Labour Party held its most-well attended annual conference in recent years, showcasing just how vibrant and radical the Labour movement is across the UK.
I was delighted to hear from Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell who unveiled a bold plan for government that would see wealth and power redistributed across the UK from the few to the many. Ideas include creating a place for workers on the boards of big companies, increasing the cooperative sector and creating more green jobs than ever before.
A personal conference highlight was Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry, who gave a barnstorming speech on the proud history of the Labour movement in delivering change and standing up to the bigotry of the far right. She made it clear that the next Labour government’s foreign policy would be one based on the respect for human rights and international law, something the entire conference welcomed to thunderous applause and a marked contrast to the current Tory Government’s approach.
Keir Starmer set out Labour’s long held policy on Brexit, stating that Labour will vote down any deal that does meet our six key tests, which means we will only accept a deal that: delivers for all nations and regions of the UK; ensures a strong future relationship with the EU; ensures fair management of migration; delivers the same benefits we enjoy as members of the single market and the customs union; defends rights and protections; and protects national security. He also made it clear, as did Jeremy Corbyn, that if we cannot secure a general election, all options remain on the table, including a people’s vote on the final deal.
Richard Leonard also delivered an excellent address on behalf of the Scottish Labour Party outlining a radical programme of devolved policy on land reform and a properly resourced Scottish National Investment Bank. Richard re-iterated his and Scottish Labour’s position that to renew our democracy we must have a new deal on devolution, where the nations and regions of the UK are strengthened through federalism. What is clear however is that the stop and start approach to devolution is no longer working, the Westminster system is increasingly unbalanced, and we need a radical change in how power operates in the UK to correct our highly centralised and skewed political and economic system. I believe the top-down approach to devolution must come to an end, we must empower the nations and regions of the UK to bring power as close to people as possible.
I left conference feeling inspired and more confident now than ever that the Labour Party are best placed to rebuild Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom to truly change our society for the better and deliver real change for the many.