“It’s clear people are fed up of the Tories – but they want real change, too. That means public services like water, energy & rail in public ownership, not making profits for shareholders at our expense.”John McDonnell MP
By Our Correspondent
Ahead of the Labour Party National Policy Forum this weekend, campaigners, MPs, trade unions, Momentum and others have been organising against the front bench’s recent policy shift to the right and to demand a transformative agenda – including scrapping the two-child benefit limit, amid party rows on the policy introducing free school meals and rent controls, plus renationalising water, energy and the NHS.
These developments follow growing opposition in recent days to Keir Starmer and others suggesting the party would keep the two-child benefit cap. Critics of the Leadership’s position have included MPs from across the Party, four Labour mayors and the UNISON and Fabians’ General Secretaries.
This weekend’s NPF – composed of representatives of the Labour membership, trade unions and other party stakeholders – will meet in Nottingham to thrash out the ‘party programme’, which will form the basis of Labour’s next General Election manifesto, and ahead of the meeting, Momentum is encouraging party members to lobby their National Policy Forum representatives in support of a series of ‘transformative’ policy amendments.
This ‘Stand Up for Real Labour Values’ initiative is backed by numerous MPs, including Andy McDonald who has produced a video with Momentum in which he restates his call for Labour to adopt the policy, alongside various pro-worker policies as part of a ‘New Deal for Working People’ and the scrapping of the two-child benefits cap – ending the Tories “heinous” policy that pushes low-income families further into poverty, while lifting sick pay and universal credit.
Additionally, Kim Johnson MP has backed the call to scrap the two-child limit, saying “The evidence is there for all to see. Punishing families for having more than two children doesn’t push parents back into work – it only drives more children into poverty.” Kate Osborne MP has produced a video backing calls to save the NHS, including through ending all means of privatisation through the renationalisation of a publicly-funded NHS, inflation-proof pay rises for staff and the establishment of a publicly-run National Care Service.
Previously, Momentum, CLPD, LAAA and others from Labour’s grassroots have mobilised around the NPF’s consultation phase, where Constituency parties submitted policy proposals. Yet the Party’s draft policy programme bore little resemblance to submissions: 52 CLP consultation submissions on reversing NHS privatisation, 31 on Free School meals, several dozen on public ownership of water, energy etc; and 28 on rent controls, but none of these featured in the party’s initial proposals.
Commenting on the This ‘Stand Up for Real Labour Values’ initiative, Hilary Schan, Momentum Co-Chair said: “Transformative change in the mould of the post-war Labour Government has never been more urgent or popular. That’s why Labour figures in regional and devolved government like Mark Drakeford, Andy Burnham and Sadiq Khan are introducing policies based on our party’s founding values of universalism, democratic ownership and public investment. Yet instead the Labour Leadership is turning its back on our party’s core agenda and signing up to Tory economic and social policies instead, like the two-child benefit cap.”
Beth Winter MP added, “We have to sweep away policies like the two child limit and benefit cap, lifting people’s real pay, and we need to rebuild public provision – from council housing to care services – and stand up for universalism, such as with free school meals.”
And John McDonnell MP said, “It’s clear that people are fed up of the Tories – but they want real change, too. That means public services like water, energy and rail in public ownership, not making profits for shareholders at our expense. It means a welfare system which actually supports the poor and the vulnerable, instead of stigmatising them. It means real investment and the restoration of trade union rights with proper pay rises for workers. And it means the state taking a leading role in redesigning our economy for the green transition. We know these policies are more popular and urgently needed more than ever – electorally and politically, they’re just common sense.”