Fri, 19 April 2024

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By Bishop of Leeds
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I will offer hope in place of anger

3 min read

Writing for PoliticsHome, Labour leadership hopeful Owen Smith pledges to end inequality in Britain - and heal the divide in his party.

This week we have seen just how badly the British people are being let down. 

Wages have been slashed, the economy remains fragile, and thousands of workers have been left without a job and their pension at risk because of the outrageous behaviour of Sir Philip Green. 

And yet this week has been like so many under the Tories. As for the last six years, the British people have been paying the price for failed Tory austerity. 

It's left communities divided, our society deeply unequal and people angry. 

I’m determined to offer hope in place of that anger. That is why I set out this week my vision for a Labour Party that will deliver fair employment, fair taxes and fair funding of our public services – and the 20 policies that will help achieve that. 

Jeremy has been right to commit our party to tackling austerity. It was a change I welcomed and was why I served loyally in the shadow cabinet. 

However, if we are to be an anti-austerity party then we also need to have the ideas and plans for prosperity as well. 

Take our NHS, the proudest achievement of our labour movement. I grew up in South Wales hearing the stories of my great hero Nye Bevan and the ideas that shaped his vision of a health service, free at the point of use to anyone who needed it. 

It’s a symbol of what we can achieve when we share a common goal and deliver on our socialist principles. 

However, its future has been put at risk by years of underfunding and savage cuts to social care which have put greater pressure on already overcrowded hospitals. 

Labour must spell out how it will protect the NHS from Tory cuts and protect it for generations to come. That is why I pledged earlier this week that a future Labour government, under my leadership, would increase spending on the NHS by 4% in real-terms in ever year of the next Parliament. 

I will also put tackling inequalities at the heart of Labour policy, and that means everyone having a stake in the future of our country. 

George Osborne was wrong to scrap the 50p top rate of income tax, to cut inheritance tax and to cut capital gains tax. I would reverse those changes and go further by introducing a new levy on the wealthiest in our society, the top 1%.

My vision for Britain is not just about tackling the inequalities of today; it’s about investing in Britain’s future too. We should be building more homes, schools and infrastructure– and I would do that through a £200 billion British New Deal.
I want this campaign to be about the vision and ideas that can offer people real optimism for the future, where we heal the divides in our party and where we offer a credible, radical plans for action. That’s the type of campaign I will be running – and it’s the type of party I hope to lead. 
Owen Smith is MP for Pontypridd and a challenger in the Labour leadership contest

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