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Mon, 22 July 2024

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Chuka Umunna MP: We must remain focused on winning under Ed

3 min read

Business Secretary Chuka Umunna calls for Labour to focus on communities, rather than the distracting 'nonsense' by some in the Westminster bubble.

I visited and spoke at two schools in my borough of Lambeth yesterday. Sunnyhill Primary School, where I used to be a Governor, and Elm Green Secondary, Britain’s first parent-promoted school. As ever, what I found were young people full of ambition, drive, and the determination to succeed in a fast-changing world.

They will need it - because the truth is that the rug has been pulled from under the young people in Lambeth - and all over the country - from the early years until they come of age under this Tory-led Government. David Cameron has erected barrier after barrier to aspiration in every community. Our task is to do all we can to tear those barriers down and that starts with winning the election next year.

The simple fact is that because of Ed Miliband’s leadership we are now within touching distance of being what many thought impossible four years ago: a one-term opposition. Many in the Westminster bubble obsess about the polls but, when people have actually cast votes during this Parliament, Ed has led our party while it has gained more than 2,000 councillors across the country, importantly including in the three southern regions where we need to substantially increase the number of MPs we have in order to win - in places such as Cambridge, Hastings and Ipswich.

Meanwhile, the Tories have not won a majority since 1992. John Major dubbed his MPs “bastards” back then, and like David Cameron, ended up losing his own MPs to other parties over Europe. One wonders what description the man who was one of his special advisers and is now Prime Minster says privately about his backbenchers defecting and preparing to defect in 2014.

Labour has a clear plan: to help the children I spoke to yesterday go on and do as well, if not better than the older generations in their family – to achieve their full potential. Above all, we want everyone to have decent, secure, fulfilling work that affords you dignity and respect and pays a wage that you can live on.

We have the policy to do so. As Ed has set out, we want to see as many young people going on to do proper apprenticeships as go to university. Unlike the Tories, we’ll use public procurement to increase apprenticeship numbers substantially. We’ll introduce a compulsory job guarantee to ensure every long term unemployed person gets a job. And we’re determined to make sure hard work pays which is why we’ll increase the minimum wage and get more employers paying a living wage. No other major political party has matched any of these commitments.

Furthermore, we have a leader who has kept us united and overseen the renewal which so eluded us at the end of our time in government. Ed is an honest, sincere man of deep beliefs, and these are just some of the reasons why I backed his campaign to become leader. In an era of extreme scepticism about politics, these are not qualities most people attribute to politicians. What is too often not remarked upon is that these are qualities which people – even our political opponents – attribute to Ed.

We will not take our eyes off the main goal: getting out there, telling people what we will do and ensuring we win, not for ourselves but for the children and families I spoke to yesterday. It’s about our communities, not the nonsense which some in the Westminster bubble want to distract us with.

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