“We must not be fooled into replaying the soul-destroying model of New Labour”

Lynne Jones explains why she is running to be Welsh Rep on Labour’s NEC

The radical socialist agenda of the Welsh Labour Government is inspiring Labour Party members and giving us electoral success.  Keir Starmer has commended the work of Mark Drakeford and Welsh Labour but is not yet adopting our progressive policies.

The Welsh Government has introduced a basic income pilot for care leavers, free school meals and votes at 16. Its Future Generations Act gives the imperative for a target of Net Zero by 2035. Our schools system is accountable through local authorities. The Right to Buy has been abolished and council homes are being built.  Trains and buses are under public control. Thanks to Rhodri Morgan establishing ‘clear red water’ with New Labour, Wales never used the costly Private Finance Initiative or the bureaucratic purchaser-provider split in the NHS – and this now opens the way to a free National Care Service. 

As Welsh Rep on the NEC, I would work with other socialists to help convince Keir Starmer that he was right originally to see the 2017 manifesto as the foundation document to give people the hope they desperately need.  I believe this is what most party members want.  I believe this was the reason Keir was elected Party Leader.

Keir also promised to unite our Party.  We need unity to win power and see off this appalling Tory Government.  For this, the Party’s internal democracy and disciplinary procedures need to be open and transparent – no summary suspensions or retrospectivity in the rules, no fixing selections.  The Forde Report must be published and the whip restored to Jeremy Corbyn.  In my work as an elected representative, I have always been guided by natural justice, equality and fairness.  These are fundamental to our values and I want to see them applied in letter and in spirit.  Accountability to Party members is also key.  I will send regular reports to Welsh CLPs and affiliated organisations and to any member that requests them.

After 12 years of Tory Government, it is tempting to look back at the New Labour period with nostalgia.  Things are certainly grim now and Johnson’s Government has been totally discredited.  Yet Labour seems stuck with only a narrow poll lead.  Surely this tells us that we must learn from past mistakes?  I believe that my experience of winning Tory seats for Labour and then as an MP between 1992 and 2010 equips me to help understand where things went wrong.

On our membership cards, it says that we will put power, wealth and opportunity in the hands of the many, not the few.  Instead, New Labour caved in to pressure from powerful institutions that work for the 1%, not the majority. The invasion of Iraq, the consequences of which still reverberate around the world, was a big mistake but, ultimately, it was the continuation of Thatcher’s worship of ‘free markets’ that gave us the 2008 crash, the loss of power in 2010 and the disillusion leading to the Brexit vote. The sad facts are that, under New Labour, more than a million manufacturing jobs disappeared, outsourcing doubled, council housebuilding virtually stopped and tuition fees were introduced.

We must not be fooled into simply replaying the soul-destroying model of New Labour. This approach is already disenchanting members and returning us to reliance for Party funding on the rich and powerful that compromised the last Labour Government.

Such influences have been at play ever since.  Prior to the 2017 General Election, we were constantly told by the media that Jeremy Corbyn was a liability.  The election was called only because he was perceived as an obvious loser, including within Labour Party HQ and much of the PLP. The result of that election which, but for internal sabotage, may well have given us a Labour Government, changed that view.  All the tools in the armoury of the elite were then unleashed in the campaign of vilification against Jeremy, whose crime was to be serious about delivering the transformational change enshrined in our manifesto – For the Many, Not the Few!  The Few would not allow it.

Keir’s retreat from the sound policies that nearly gave us victory in 2017 shows that the influence of the 1% continues unabated, reinforcing the view on the doorstep that ‘you’re all the same’.  Our job is to inspire people to vote for us because we convince them that we can transform their lives for the better.  To do that, we need to be convinced ourselves, so that members are energised and actively engaged in championing our values on the streets and in workplaces.

We are facing a climate emergency, our democracy and human rights are under threat and the cost of living crisis is hurting not just the most vulnerable – the majority are getting much poorer.  It’s vital we do all we can to put an end to Tory Government once and for all.  I have put myself forward as Welsh Rep on the NEC to help in this task.

Lynne Jones was Labour MP for Birmingham Selly Oak from 1992 to 2010 and a member of the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs.

Image:Lynne Jones MP for Birmingham Selly Oak (1992-2010) and Beth Winter MP for Cynon Valley. https://www.welshlabourgrassroots.org.uk/welsh-labour-grassroots-backs-lynne-jones-for-nec-welsh-rep/

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