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John McDonnell : An alternative Queen’s Speech for a fairer, healthier & greener Britain

“One of the reasons Labour has just lost elections in many parts of the country is that many people just didn’t know what we stood for.”

John McDonnell MP.

Today, the Government delivered its Queen Speech – even though we are having a policy review we can’t leave a complete vacuum when we respond and debate what policies the country needs here and now, argues John McDonnell:

Only 12 months ago Keir Starmer was elected on a 10 point policy plan drawn from the last Labour manifesto.

Nevertheless he has now confirmed Peter Mandelson’s earlier announcement that there is to be a policy review.

So pending the outcome of that review, it seems that as a party we are now a policy free zone.

One of the reasons Labour has just lost elections in many parts of the country is that many people just didn’t know what we stood for.

Even though we are having a policy review we can’t leave a complete vacuum when we respond to Johnson’s Queen’s Speech and debate what policies the country needs here and now.

That’s why some Socialist Campaign Group MPs have drafted an Alternative Queen’s Speech, containing 33 Bills for the session.

This is a small selection of the legislation we propose a socialist government would bring forward for its first year of a five year programme.

The aim of a socialist Government is to build a fairer, healthier, and greener Britain, and a more just and peaceful world.

A socialist Government would protect the NHS and patient health by bringing forward an NHS Reinstatement Bill to ensure the future of the NHS as a public service, administered by public servants for the good of the people, not profit.

It would increase the pay of NHS workers by 15%, and ensure all public service workers get an increase well-above inflation, after a decade of pay freezes and pay caps. People have made huge sacrifices and deserve to share in the recovery.

Our government would not tolerate low pay anywhere and so a Real Living Wage Bill would lift all workers’ pay and end the indignity of poverty pay in all sectors of the economy.

The care sector is in need of urgent investment and reform. A National Care Service Bill would co-ordinate care, raise standards and channel investment in providing dignity for all those who are supported in their own home or receive care in a residential setting. It would mean free personal care immediately, as we move to a fully universal, free service along the lines of our NHS.

Our commitments to health must not end at our borders. As a government we would reverse the cut to aid budgets, and – to prioritise people over profit – our People’s Vaccine Bill would establish a generic drug company to provide subsidised drugs to countries in need and to lower costs to our NHS. We would work with the Biden Administration in the US and internationally to waive patents on vaccines to save lives, not protect profits.

Our government would bring forward a Poverty Reduction Bill to commit to eradicating poverty by 2030 with a minimum income guarantee. No child shall be hungry, no adult without opportunity, and no pensioner forced to choose between heating and eating. A Right to Food Bill would also end the scandal of hunger and food banks in this country, and provide universal free school meals.

To pay for our programme a Finance Bill would ensure that those companies that profited during the pandemic pay a Windfall Tax on any excess profits. It would ensure that income from wealth is taxed at the same level as income from work, and those earning the very highest salaries would pay a little more tax – with no tax rises for 95% of workers.

We would work with the US government and others to deliver a global minimum rate of corporation tax and clamp down on tax havens and avoidance more widely.

A Trade Union Rights and Collective Bargaining Bill would redress the imbalance of power to benefit the real wealth creators: workers.

A Work-Life Balance Bill would ensure every worker has the right to flexible working, establish an independent Working Time Commission to secure reductions in the working week over time and consult on four new bank holidays. Our Government would also extend maternity and paternity leave. As part of this Bill a socialist government will cancel future rises in the state pension age.

The National Education Service Bill would legislate for the roll-out of free education – from early years to lifelong learning, from the cradle to the grave. A socialist government would scrap academies and free schools and ensure all schools are accountable to the communities that they serve. Fees for college and university would be abolished, and the Education Maintenance Allowance and student maintenance grants would be restored.

A Digital Inclusion Bill would ensure universal free superfast broadband to all homes and businesses by 2030, and secure every child in full-time education as access to a home computer.

This is just a sample of the policies the Left needs to press for in the coming policy review.

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