This week, we saw the first King’s Speech since 1945 and the first King’s Speech with Rishi Sunak as Prime Minister. However, we saw that Rishi Sunak has had nothing to offer above division and more of the same. This is why the country needs change after 13 years of a Tory government – the Tories have failed and now given up on governing.
Labour will be using the coming week of parliamentary debates to show the choice facing the country – a failed Conservative Party, or a changed Labour Party which has a plan to rebuild Britain and our public services.
On energy and net zero, we heard that there will be a new Bill to support future licensing of new oil and gas fields. This not only will leave households with higher energy bills now, but the Conservatives rather hand out billions in taxpayer subsidies to oil company giants and contribute to the climate disaster.
We instead need a homegrown clean energy – one that is more sustainable and will bring down the energy bills of British households.
More widely on the environment and climate change, the Government speaks of leading action on tackling climate change and biodiversity loss. Yet, in their 13 years of governing, we have seen the highest level of illegal sewage being dumped into our water in history. We have seen a roll back of climate policy and the UK losing it’s ambition and leading status. Labour is committed to biodiversity and nature. From creating National Parks and delivering the world’s first climate change legislation to curb greenhouse gas emissions, Labour will continue to take this legacy forward.
When it comes to justice and the Home Office, the Tories have proven yet again they have no new ideas to fix the broken and backlogged criminal justice system. In the King’s Speech we heard that they are yet again introducing and repackaging ideas they had announced multiple times. They have failed to address some of the most serious justice issues, such as recorded serious violence is up by 60% since 2015, devastating lives and communities across the country. Knife crime, gun crime and robbery have all increased, with over 50,000 knife crimes this past year alone, and a 70% rise in recorded knife crime since 2015 – but no mention in this King’s Speech.
That’s why Labour has pledged to turn things around. We will reverse the collapse in the proportion of crimes charged, we’ll rebuild public confidence in policing and the criminal justice system and we’ll restore the rule of law on Britain’s streets.
On housing and communities, the Tories continue to talk about ‘levelling up’ but areas like Manchester Gorton still fail to see any form of this. They have not introduced any new local housing targets, no reform to planning systems, and a policy which only offers a small amount of respite in Britain’s feudal leasehold system.
Households deserve a comprehensive and fundamental leasehold reform. Labour would do this by enacting the Law Commission’s recommendations on enfranchisement, commonhold and right to manage in full.
Labour is also committed to addressing the housing emergency by building new homes, ending Section 21 ‘no fault evictions’ for good, and bringing forward a strong Renters Reform Bill to protect renters.
When it comes to transport, the Conservatives have shown they do not prioritise the North. 85% of the Tories’ ‘Network North’ projects are reannouncements of projects they failed to deliver previously. They failed to deliver these and HS2, making it harder for communities to get around. Labour knows how vital rail infrastructure is for economic growth and reducing our carbon footprint. Labour will work with Mayors and local leaders to deliver the infrastructure the North needs.
The NHS has struggled for many years now due to Tory mismanagement. The health service is short 125,000 staff, so the Conservatives have now adopted Labour’s policy to train the doctors and nurses the NHS is desperate for. They should have adopted this a decade ago instead of waiting for NHS waiting list to reach record highs. I would welcome them to also take Labour’s policy to provide 2 million more appointments each year by paying staff extra to work evenings and weekends, by abolishing the non-dom tax status.
This Government has spent months refusing to negotiate or speak with NHS staff on pay, instead forcing them to strike. Now they will be introducing minimum service laws on strike days – this fails to acknowledge minimum service levels on an average day, with no strikes, when patients are forced to wait hours due to being understaffed.
Labour made amendments to the Health and Care Bill in 2021 proposing to come down on the vaping industry to stop it being marketed to children. We cannot have a new generation hooked on nicotine, but the Conservatives voted it down. Now, they have yet again taken a Labour policy to call their own – causing opposition within their own party.
The Tories have no plan for education and they focus on policy from 16 onwards, with no regard to primary and secondary education. They prioritise teaching to test, ignoring Ofsted warnings, and now we see schools crumbling, teachers leaving in droves, and children struggling with little mental health support and high absence from school.
The Tories cannot expect to deliver more maths teaching when the Government’s own maths teacher recruitment targets are not met. They need to focus on long term plans to improve literacy and numeracy in young children. Labour is committed to recruiting 6,500 more teachers and deliver a major review of curriculum and assessment in Government. A curriculum where reading, writing and maths are core, but music, art, sport, and drama are not left in the dark.
Young people deserve to leave schools ready for work and life, regardless of their path.
On business and trade, Labour is proudly a pro-business, pro-trade Party and we welcome any deal which increases the export potential for British businesses and improves choice for British consumers. Sadly, the Conservatives have failed to deliver on their promises to the British people on trade, opting for quantity over quality. Parliament must have the chance to properly scrutinise proposed deals to ensure they deliver for British workers, business and consumers and strengthen our hard won rights, environmental protections and improve Britain’s stature on the world stage.
When it comes to work and pensions, sadly 2.6 million people are out of work due to long term sickness – the highest on record. With 1 in 7 people stuck waiting for NHS treatment in England, unaffordable childcare locking parents out of work, and no support for disabled adults to find appropriate work, the Government have left working class households behind. Labour will tackle this by driving down NHS waiting lists, reforming social security, making work pay, and supporting people into good jobs across the country. Labour will ensure there are real opportunities people will want to take up.
Finally, I am disappointed the Government has failed to introduce the ban on conversion therapy. They have u-turned on this issue over and over again – encouraging culture wars instead of protecting the LGBT+ community. This is an abhorrent practice and conversion practices are abuse and should be outlawed. Labour would bring in a full, no-loopholes ban on these practices which are not therapy, but abuse.
It is clear the Government are done governing. They have no new ideas, recycling the old failed policies and leaving the British people to suffer. I look forward to joining Labour this week to show the country that Labour have the policies to rebuild Britain and our public services.