The Labour party has put a cohesive strategy to support UK industry back onto the political map, the leader of the UK’s biggest union, Unite, said today (Monday 26 September).
Moving the contemporary motion on industrial strategy at this year’s Labour party conference in Liverpool, a city built on trade and at the heart of the UK’s world class automotive sector, Unite general secretary, Len McCluskey, said: “A year ago, with the Tories just re-elected, industrial strategy was on the outer fringes of political thinking. Now it is on the nameplate of the business department in Whitehall.
“That is a vital change. It is also a long overdue change from the do-nothing industrial policies, the indifference to manufacturing, which has marked the last 30 years of government.
“And it’s a change for which this Party and our leader can take much of the credit. When Jeremy went to Port Talbot and stood alongside our steelworkers and said the UK government cannot let this great British industry go to the wall because of blinkered ideology, he was speaking for millions of working people who know that laissez-faire has failed and that we need a new economic model.
“This party is united, I believe, in rejecting austerity, another positive change in the last year. But we must be more than just anti-austerity. We must be for something too. Labour must offer a real, bold alternative, one that captures the aspirations of working people.”
Len McCluskey went onto spell out the core purposes of Labour’s industrial strategy: “At the heart of Labour’s plan for Britain is an industrial strategy backed by a national investment bank and regional development strategies; supported through public procurement and in-sourcing; with tax policies to support industrial development, new jobs and apprenticeships.
“Above all, this is a strategy for taking action to save our foundation industries such as steel and that guarantees the future of British manufacturing.
“The old model has failed. It has crashed and burned. But we can say loud and proud, here is Labour’s forward-looking offer. This is an offer that fairly redistributes the gains to be made from automation, technological advances and the developing gig-economy.
“It is a plan that offers young people hope, which reverses the explosion of insecure, zero hour jobs and poverty wages and reshapes the economy as one built for the millions, and not for the millionaires.
“It is one that takes some of the wad of bank notes out of the pockets of the Mike Ashleys of this world and re-distributes it to the people slaving to keep the economy humming.”
He called for the party’s MPs to now unite to deliver this vision: “At Sports Direct Unite has shown what can be done from the warehouse floor. So I now call on Labour MPs to show what they can do from the Commons floor.
“Unite the party and back its leadership as we all fight – together- for this new economy.”
Concluding with a warning to the ‘merchants of doom’ he added: “I ask all of you do not be debilitated by the media and those in our own ranks who seek to undermine your confidence in the fight that lies ahead.
“I say to the merchants of doom – in the words of Shakespeare’s Henry the fifth: ‘If you have no stomach for this fight – depart the battlefield.’
“Because, sisters and brothers, in my 45 years plus in our party, I have never known such a battle as lies ahead for a better Britain, for our ideals.
“What we need now is brave men and women with the courage and commitment to fight for our cause. The cause of true Labour.”