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Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is set to give the keynote speech at the Fabian Society's New Year Conference in London on 16 January. The left-winger will outline how his party will "build a fairer Britain" at the think-tank event and argue how a more equal society boosts the economy. You can read some pre-released extracts from Corbyn's speech below.
'A fairer society'
Investing in our future, investment in new infrastructure, industries and jobs is guaranteeing fairness. Investing in housing, new railways, new digital infrastructure creates jobs, creates a social and economic return. Cutting investment, as this government has done, cuts opportunity and cuts fairness.
Fairness isn't just an abstract morality that we claim, it is something we together – as Labour – have delivered over decades in Britain.
Labour governments only became possible when everyone had the vote, men and women, working class as well as the propertied classes. It was the labour movement, the trade unions, the Suffragettes and our party that campaigned for that to happen.
Universal suffrage is inherently fair. And we used its electoral force to create a fairer Britain.
We are the party that created the institutions that built a fairer and more equal Britain: we founded the NHS, established the safety net of social security, we implemented comprehensive education, we built council housing, we created the Open University, we instituted the Human Rights Act and the Equalities Act and the minimum wage.
And we are the party founded by trade unions – the organisations that deliver fairness in the workplace.
Anyone can wrap their policies in the language of 'fairness', it is only Labour that has delivered fairness through institutions and laws.
'Tories' lack of fairness'
Their concept of fairness is of a very different order to ours. Fairness for only a few is not fairness, but privilege.
Hidden among the fake concern for 'balancing the books', is the same hoary old Tory ideology – to shrink the state, to shrink fairness.
Look at the floods – flood defence schemes up and down the country cut back because of a political ideology that says the state must be shrunk.
I saw the consequences of that. I met the families who had lost their personal possessions: their photos, children's toys, family pets.
I met too with the councils who told us about flood defence schemes cancelled or left unfunded. I met with Environment Agency staff who complained about the cuts to their staffing. I met with Fire & Rescue Service personnel whose numbers have been cut and who still don't have the statutory responsibility for floods that would mean they had the equipment and kit to better respond.
Just because the Tories are running the state into the ground, don't think it's our public services that are the problem.
This is the same Tory strategy – they did it with the railways – underfund it, make cuts, run the service down, then offer up privatisation as the solution.
Cynical, dishonest and unfair.
It's not just public services though, they see only a limited role for the state because they want fairness limited too.
Their laissez-faire attitude to the steel industry could let a downturn become a death spiral in that sector. While other governments across Europe acted to protect their industry, the Tories let ours close, let jobs go, let communities suffer.
Across Europe too – other countries' investment in renewable energy leaves Britain languishing as one of the dirtiest, most polluting countries on this continent. This government is failing to invest in our future energy sources – its reckless negligence has seen the UK solar industry diminished.
Direction of Labour policy
I want to set out some of the ideas under discussion – policies to institutionalise fairness in Britain again.
We are committed to a publicly owned railway, to bring down fares and to get investment in a modern railway – which would be governed not remotely from Whitehall, but by passengers, rail workers and politicians, local and national.
To democratic control of energy, not as an end in itself, but to bring down costs and to transition to carbon-free energy. Do you know half of German energy suppliers are owned by local authorities, communities and small businesses? There are now over 180 German towns and cities taking over their local electricity grids, selling themselves cleaner, and cheaper, electricity they increasingly produce for themselves. That is something we as Labour should want to emulate – and the most innovative Labour councils are starting to do so.
To integrate health and social care recognising that if you cut social care – as this government has done – then that has a negative impact on the NHS with fewer beds available and longer waits at A&E. If we fund prevention fairly through an integrated strategy, we can save money in the long run without undermining fairness.
Creating a lifelong education service, so that opportunity is available to all throughout our lives.
Universal childcare – so that we build on the great Labour legacy of Sure Start and the 15 hours free childcare that has supported so many young parents into work and provided high quality childcare so that all children have the best start in life.
And a large-scale housebuilding programme – recognising the housing crisis that has been so recklessly exacerbated by this government we need homes that are for families not for investment portfolios.
Economic growth and inequality
Everyone benefits when companies succeed. One proposal is pay ratios between top and bottom, so that the rewards don't just accrue to those at the top. Of the G7 nations only the US has greater income inequality than the UK, pay inequality on this scale is neither necessary nor inevitable.
Another proposal would be to bar or restrict companies from distributing dividends until they pay all their workers the living wage. Only profitable employers will be paying dividends, if they depend on cheap labour for those profits then I think there is a question over whether that is a business model to which we should be turning a blind eye.
Too much of the proceeds of growth have accumulated to those at the top. Not only is this unfair, it actually holds back growth – as OECD research has found. A more equal society is not only fairer, it does better in terms of economic stability and wealth creation.