Ideas worth fighting for.

AuthorNandy, Lisa

Labour's new economic consensus is based on taking power away from capital and returning it to our communities.

Ispent much of this summer on a picket line in my home town of Wigan, alongside porters and cleaners at our local hospital whose jobs were being outsourced to the private sector. They were fighting against that, not just because of their jobs or their wages, or the terms and conditions of those who would come after them, but because they believed in the National Health Service. They were proud to work for it. When we started the battle I said to them: 'We will win this--and I don't know how long it will take and I don't know how tough, in all honesty, it will get, but I will stand with you and I will fight with you. We will stand together, and we will win together.'

We stood on that picket line all summer--and we won. The Hospital Trust backed down. Those porters and cleaners didn't just defend their jobs: they defended a principle, an idea. That idea is about the common good. It's about solidarity. It refuses to allow hospital workers' interests to be separated from the interests of patients. It refuses to allow our NHS to be put up for sale.

This reminds me of the strap-line of my favourite museum, the People's History Museum in Manchester: 'There have always been ideas worth fighting for'. For all of the upheaval, all of the change, all of the disruption in the world over the past few years--some of it positive, much of it negative--it feels to me that we're in a moment now when those ideas are up for grabs again. The parameters of politics, and of political debate, that have been so constrained during my lifetime, have been bust wide open. And in the 2017 election, when Jeremy Corbyn came out fighting, when he refused to accept the rules of the game, that felt like a really exciting moment.

The violence of indifference

So we are here, now, discussing fundamental ideas. And one of those ideas has got to be the basis of the economy. We've got an economy in this country that we work for, we grind for, every single day. We work for it: it doesn't work for us. I think increasingly, across this country, there's a recognition now that this has got to change. Over the last two and a half centuries we've seen unprecedented growth across the world, but the rewards of that growth have gone into fewer and fewer hands. What does that mean? It means that some of us in this country--and four and a half million of our children--have nothing...

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