Category Archives: EU

Highlights from Jeremy Corbyn’s speech to the Make UK (manufacturers) conference at the EEF

Full text here: Jeremy Corbyn’s speech to the Make UK conference (EEF Feb. 19)

 

Make UK, the manufacturers’ organisation, is the representative voice of UK manufacturing, with offices in London, Brussels, every English region and Wales

Edited extracts:

Manufacturing is the beating heart of our economy. For those employed in the sector, manufacturing doesn’t just offer a good job that pays well, it offers creative and satisfying work. But manufacturing needs the right environment to flourish: high quality infrastructure, a skilled workforce, and open and stable trading relationships.

A government prepared to invest in our economy and pursue an active industrial strategy could bring about a renaissance in manufacturing. The next Labour government will start with infrastructure. Our dilapidated transport, communications, and energy infrastructure is desperately in need of an upgrade.

Labour will unleash a massive programme of investment with a National Transformation Fund delivering £250 billion of direct capital expenditure on infrastructure and R&D, benefitting every region and nation of our country, not just London and the South East.

And we will establish a National Investment Bank to make available a further £250 billion over 10 years in the form of patient capital lent to small and medium-sized enterprises in line with the priorities of our industrial strategy, providing funding for green industries and the technologies of the future.

How can we mobilise industry to help avert the destruction of our climate?

Let me give you an example of the change we need. To avoid climate catastrophe we have to reduce our net emissions to zero by 2050 at the latest. That’s not going to happen by itself. It requires large-scale public investment into renewable energy and home insulation, which will in turn create new opportunities for private enterprise.

This is not a burden. It’s an opportunity to kick-start a Green Jobs Revolution.

Labour’s plans will create at least 400,000 skilled, unionised jobs and bring about a seven-fold increase in offshore wind, double onshore wind, and triple solar power. These new manufacturing and engineering jobs will bring skills and opportunity to parts of the country that have been held back by decades of neglect.

Technology and manufacturing don’t have to be a threat to the environment. Our responsibility is to develop the next generation of technology that will help us preserve our natural world.

Labour is committed to investing on a scale that will transform our economy. Those policies won huge public support at the general election 18 months ago. I’m disappointed that a small number of MPs yesterday decided to take a different path.

But university fees, the scrapping of grants, and cuts to training have made education less accessible just when we need a highly skilled workforce more than ever. So today I am proud to announce the appointment of our Commission on Lifelong Learning to help make the principle of lifelong learning a reality.

The Commission will bring together 14 experts from across education – top names in their fields – including Make UK’s very own Chief Economist Seamus Nevin. It is co-chaired by the former Education Secretary, Estelle Morris, and the General Secretary of the Communication Workers Union, Dave Ward. Lifelong learning will be available to everyone no matter their background. It will make detailed proposals on how to integrate qualifications, introduce a credits system to make qualifications transferable and make it as easy as possible for people to pick up or pause their studies at times that work for them. Under a Labour government workers will never again be left feeling discarded because there will be an industrial strategy creating good, well-paid jobs and training to help workers learn new skills.

I strongly believe there should be genuine parity between vocational education and academic education.

We have to end the outdated grammar school mentality of looking down on someone who does a vocational course and looking up to someone who does an academic course. I see the skills of electrical work of computer work of design work learned through vocational courses as just as valuable as academic courses taken at university. We need all of those skills in our society. In Germany, where they really value engineering, they say: “You’re a clever kid – get down the metal workshop.’’

We ask employers to step up to invest in their workforce too.

Last week I visited the gear manufacturer Beard and Fitch in Harlow, and met Carol, a supervisor who is partially sighted. She was doing the final checking and polishing of the gears, and she had been provided with big screens to help her do her work. That’s a sensible employer who has made an investment in someone who was very good at her job. And it was paying off.

Brexit

Earlier this month I wrote to the Prime Minister laying out Labour’s alternative plan based around a permanent customs union with a British say in future trade deals, a strong relationship with the single market and full guarantees on workers’ rights, consumer standards and environmental protections. Later this week I will travel to Brussels to discuss it with Michel Barnier and others. Labour has consistently advocated a comprehensive UK-EU customs union to deliver frictionless trade and protect supply chains that stretch across the continent. Disrupting those supply chains would threaten good businesses and skilled jobs that we can’t afford to lose.

Concerns about a ‘no deal’ crash go well beyond the car industry. Take food and drink, which is actually the UK’s largest manufacturing sector. It needs frictionless trade for perishable goods, where time is of the essence. Or steel. Half the steel we produce is exported most of it to the EU. A disastrous ‘no deal’ Brexit would mean trade restrictions on virtually all steel companies’ export markets. And while the big household names get all the media attention, it’s the small and medium-sized manufacturers who will find it most burdensome to adjust to new customs arrangements.

Brexit has crystallised a choice about the kind of economy we want. On the one hand, the harsh economic environment fostered by the Conservatives: low investment, low productivity, low growth and a damaging trade deal with Donald Trump. On the other, Labour’s investment-led approach, underpinned by a close relationship with our European neighbours, in a rebalanced economy that no longer privileges those who lend and speculate over those who make things.

These are anxious times for manufacturers. But the future doesn’t have to be one of decline. With a government that believes in and supports industry, manufacturing will be the engine of innovation in the green economy of the future. Infrastructure, skills, certainty. That’s what manufacturing needs. That’s what only Labour will deliver.

 

 

 

 

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Michael Williams: “Will Labour help to form a national government?”

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On July 10, the FT reported that Theresa May might be left “with no choice other than to apply to extend the Article 50 exit process while she holds a general election to try to break the [Brexit] impasse”.

Michael Williams (politics, history) commented: “There is another way, which would depend on the response of the other political parties, above all Labour”. He recalls:

“In 1940, at a moment of supreme national peril, the Labour party took the decision to allow its leaders Clement Attlee and Arthur Greenwood to sit down around the cabinet table with the leaders of the Conservative party to face the challenge from Hitler.

“Five years later in 1945, after showing its mettle in running the Home Front during the war, Labour gained its reward with a landslide victory in the general election that allowed it to transform the country.

Today, at another moment of national peril, a similar opportunity beckons — to help form a national government to resolve Britain’s relations with the EU”. And ends:

“Will Labour earn the gratitude of the nation by seizing this new opportunity like its predecessors did in 1940?”

 

 

 

 

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Jeremy Corbyn, a reluctant tribute: “only a decisive Labour intervention can set the country right”

Kevin Pringle, former strategic communications director for the SNP, opens his latest Times article:

“Here are words I never thought I’d write: Jeremy Corbyn could save the country. But only if he wants to.

“Brexit is an Anglo-Saxon farce, revealing a depth of incompetence, division and utter lack of preparedness on the part of the UK government that has plumbed even my low expectations. The antics of Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and David Davis are about as funny as a Carry On film long after the franchise went stale. The issues at stake are too serious”.

Pringle continues with a summary of recent cabinet discussions and warnings from big business of the risks of relocation, withdrawal of investment and job losses.

He describes the prospect of Britain’s alignment to EU regulations in some sectors as a ludicrous mishmash that should be unacceptable to remainers and leavers alike – a ‘dud destination’, adding:

“Corbyn needs to take a long view of the country’s best interests and act accordingly. He should commit Labour to backing a fresh referendum so that people have an opportunity to exit Brexit when its final form is known. In these circumstances, the SNP would come on board alongside the Lib Dems and others. Such a bold move could attract the relatively small number of Tory MPs needed to deliver a House of Commons majority for a people’s vote.

“I’m no fan of Labour but I recognise that in times of need it has been the agent of Britain’s deliverance.

“One of the best-ever Commons speeches was by Michael Foot at the end of the no-confidence debate in March 1979, which the Labour government lost by a single vote. Foot argued that Labour had “come to the rescue of the country” on at least two occasions: “It is in the most difficult and painful moments of our history sometimes that this country of ours has turned to the Labour Party for salvation, and they’ve never turned in vain so far. We saved the country in 1940; we saved the country again in 1945.”

“He was right.

“It was Labour that forced a vote in the House of Commons in May 1940 after the debate on the military fiasco of the Norway campaign. The result precipitated the fall of Chamberlain as prime minister, and creation of the wartime coalition under Churchill’s leadership that was an essential element of victory.

“And in 1945, Clement Attlee’s Labour Party had the ideas and determination to rebuild an exhausted Britain, including creating the NHS 70 years ago.

“This is another historic moment, and once again only a decisive Labour intervention can set the country right”.

 

 

 

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Negotiating priorities that retain the benefits of the single market and the customs union

Sienna Rodgers writes about the new amendment Labour has tabled to the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill and Trade Bill, and as an amendment ‘in lieu’ of the European Economic Area amendment passed by the Lords, calling for “full access” to the EU’s internal market.

Tabled as a new clause Labour’s proposal would make “full access” to the single market a negotiating objective of the government.

It is not a change of direction but a clarification of Jeremy Corbyn’s Coventry University speech (February). In this he revealed that the party would back membership of a customs union. He also said: “Labour would negotiate a new and strong relationship with the single market that includes full tariff-free access and a floor under existing rights, standards and protections.”

Labour’s amendments specify:

  • full access to the EU single market,
  • common minimum standards, rights and protections,
  • shared institutions with the EU
  • and no new impediments to trade.

The Labour leadership maintains that joining the European Economic Area (EEA) – advocated by some Labour MPs – would make the UK a ‘rule-taker not a rule-maker’. These new amendments are designed to replace the EEA amendment passed by the Lords and the Labour leadership will whip MPs to abstain when it comes to the Commons on Tuesday.

Keir Starmer, the Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, called Labour’s new amendment “a very strong and significant statement of policy” and said it was “essentially tying together the single market and customs union as a strong economic package, which I think will be welcomed by businesses and trade unions”.

 

 

 

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Jeremy Corbyn’s Northern Ireland speech: May 24th 2018

The full text may be read here. Some points made follow:

Twenty years ago, this week, the people of Northern Ireland and of the Republic of Ireland voted in a referendum to accept the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. That vote changed the course of history on this island and represented the clearing of the final hurdle of a long and difficult process that opened the door to two decades of sustained peace.

Many young people across Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain do not remember a time when the bloody hand of conflict held a grip on our respective lands. Communities from Derry to Omagh to Warrington were afflicted by the plague of violence for a generation, leaving deep and long-lasting scars for all those who lived through those troubled times.

All too often in that period, the willingness to use force and reach for weapons instead of dialogue and diplomacy inflicted unnecessary suffering on innocent people.

So as we rightly celebrate the anniversary of the end to those years of violence, it’s important we remember the effort and determination it took on all sides to get where we are today.

I stand here as leader of the British Labour Party, a party that is proud of the part it played in helping to bring peace and stability to this region. Something many believed could never be achieved.

The transformation we have seen in Belfast alone since 1998 is remarkable. I visited this city long before today’s peace became a reality and have witnessed the very visible and cultural transformation that has taken place here.

After paying tribute to Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams, men who led the Republican movement from conflict to negotiation and diplomacy, arts they both mastered in the cause of peace, Corbyn added: “I can’t think of a greater sign of the progress made over the last two decades, when at Martin’s funeral last year, not only were there people in attendance from republican and nationalist communities, but also representatives of the loyalist and unionist side, including First Minister Arlene Foster. It is also right to recognise the work of the British and Irish government leaders of the time, whose determination made the impossible possible. For that, both Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair should both be given credit for their work.”

He also extolled the work of Mo Mowlam in negotiating the peace process, continuing: “I have always believed that to bring about real change, to end conflict, to bring communities together, you have to talk to people with whom you don’t agree. In 1998 we were fortunate to have leaders who were prepared to put that principle into practice . . .

“It was essential we recognised the traditions of each community and recognised and respected the identity of people on either side of the divide. This was and still is important for strong and healthy long-term relationships here, across communities and across borders. Perhaps where the agreement was at it boldest was in its radical reform of Northern Ireland’s political and institutional structures, as well as in creating a framework for North-South relations, and the relationship between Britain and the Republic of Ireland. That gave all parties a basis to find a route out of a generation of conflict together.

“For all the current problems and deadlock, there can be no doubt that devolution and power-sharing have given every community a voice and helped maintain the peace process.

He added that the move to establish the Northern Ireland Victims Commission helped both to promote reconciliation and preserve the memory of victims, bringing a new beginning and laying the ground for the vital work of decommissioning of arms and the removal of military infrastructure.

Looking at Stormont’s achievements, Corbyn noted that it had resisted many of the worst aspects of the government’s punitive social security policies using the powers provided by devolution.

His message to the people of this island: “Labour is as committed to the Good Friday Agreement as we have ever been. It has served us well for twenty years and, with commitment and determination, will provide us with the framework for the next 20. And with that in mind I want to make a plea to all parties and all sides. We must do all we can to make power sharing work again in Stormont. We need all sides to come together and make devolution work again. That means tough choices. It means compromise and give and take. But we owe it to the people of these islands not to allow political disagreements to open the way for any return to the grim days of the past”.

Stormont must be an example throughout the world of how dialogue, negotiation and diplomacy can defeat conflict. Now let’s show we can continue to build on that peace through democracy.

He called on the UK government to reconvene the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference if the current stalemate in Stormont cannot be sorted out in Belfast and to find a creative solution in the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement that avoids a return to direct Westminster rule, and lays the ground for further progress for all communities.

Peace can and must be extended through real social and economic advances for all communities, with the state at regional and national level prepared to act to bring about a full-scale upgrade of the economy.

A Labour government in Westminster would make sure that Northern Ireland has more money to invest in its people and its public services, though many economic decisions for Northern Ireland would rightly be decided in Stormont,

He gave a commitment to supporting manufacturing in Northern Ireland and to reverse the decision to put the £1 billion contract to build the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships out to international tender, in order to keep jobs and prosperity in Britain’s shipyards and benefit Belfast. Northern Ireland can have a high tech, high skilled and exciting future.

Brexit, and the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland must be discussed, in particular the securing of future prosperity and peace on these islands:

“Labour will not support any Brexit deal that includes the return of a hard border to this island . . . By negotiating a new and comprehensive customs union with the EU, which includes a British say in future trade deals, we can ensure trade on this island stays frictionless and free flowing and prevent communities being divided . . . Opposition to the idea of bringing back a hard border to this land isn’t just about avoiding paperwork or tariffs, important though that is. It’s about deep rooted cultural and community ties. An open border is a symbol of peace, two communities living and working together after years of conflict, communities who no longer feel that their traditions are under threat”.

He emphasised that, as we leave the European Union, it is essential to ensure our manufacturers have access to markets and on-time supply chains and the communities of Northern Ireland continue to have access to vital funding for energy, research, agriculture and cultural projects.

Powers returned from Brussels to intervene, upgrade and reshape our economy for the 21st century may be used to deliver real social and economic advances for all our communities.

He ended:

I’m proud to be here in Belfast as leader of the Labour party, a party with a strong record in helping to deliver peace and greater prosperity. I hope to use this visit to talk to people from different communities and listen to their concerns and hopes for the future. We are here to celebrate twenty years of peace, twenty years as an example to the rest of the world of how communities can turn conflict into co-operation.

Let’s work together in the spirit of friendship, co-operation and hope for another twenty and beyond.

 

 

 

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FT readers’ positive comments on ‘Standing ovation for Jeremy Corbyn in Brussels’ (FT)

In addition to many vitriolic responses in the Financial Times: which might be subject to paywall, nine readers wrote:

Great news – a British politician prepared to travel over the Channel with an international perspective and a passionate vision.  Ultimately we have to engage with Europe on several levels beyond tariffs and regulations.  Corbyn is right – no deal will be a catastrophe and must be fought passionately.

Corbyn surprises again. Plausibly prime-ministerial verging on embryonic statesman. As Labour cohesion increases, the Conservative seem more and more on the point of disintegration. Labour have a much better position on Brexit both politically and economically than the Conservatives who are in disarray. Corbyn’s direction of travel from Europhobe to pragmatic European is heartening. Let us hope his gathering momentum takes him even further in this direction.

The opportunity is to stay friends with our neighbours, be respectful, trade fairly, build bridges across the ever-widening English Channel which Teresa and the Toxics are digging deep holes in.

Corbyn is a socialist whose economic policies, if implemented, would lead to the sort of mixed economy model that is more or less mainstream in much of Europe. It is the UK that is the outlier. And it has become the outlier thanks to the systematic grooming of a decreasingly well-educated population by an extremely right-wing press and the adoption by the Tories and others of the political elite of any Chicago School nonsense that helped them feather their own nests. Meanwhile these so-called patriots happily fostered the destruction of stable and industrious communities in the country’s industrial heartlands.  Allez Jezer, with the EU, or without, stick it to ’em.

Do not underestimate Corbyn.  He is a populist with a genuine alternative (albeit one which may not appeal to many readers of the FT).  Corbyn wants to overturn the entire Wilson-Thatcher-Blair consensus around equality of opportunity, and replace it with a UK built around equality of outcome. Reason: if everyone achieves their full potential, then that half of the people with below average potential will have below average outcomes, and they are getting angry.

The irony is, as I say somewhere in an earlier comment, if Corbyn performed an about-turn and decided Labour would be pro EU and pro Remain (as the majority of his party members and MPs actually are), I suspect he would win an absolute landslide in an election and wipe out the Conservatives. I’d vote for him in a shot.  (I’m still holding out hope for a LibDem revival next time, but first past the post always makes it difficult. At least Vince Cable is a very plausible PM which will help).

It is very much in Corbyn’s interest to let the fumbling May government struggle on until 2019, sign a deal that will be denounced on all sides, and then exhausted by its efforts disintegrate. That will leave the way clear for a landslide Labour victory and an incoming radical government intent on building socialism in one country, with no tiresome eurocrats capable of diluting its ideological purity.

Unlike the current PM he is showing signs of growing into the job and learning the art of compromise.

I cannot wait for Jeremy Corbyn to be given the chance to build an independent, creative, robust and wide-ranging structure for the UK economic and political system. It would make a big difference to the unimaginative, unproductive, uninspired and scavenging Tories.

 

 

 

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