Political opinion: First steps to begin a decade of national renewal

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People talk to me about the change they want to see - here's how we deliver it.

There’s a theme that runs through what people tell me when I’m out knocking on doors across Northampton – and that is the desire for change.

Not everyone mentions exactly the same issues. Some people talk about how much we need to get our NHS back on track. Others mention strained family finances and how they yearn for a government that’s on their side in the cost of living crisis. Small business owners talk to me about how they want to see a more stable, sensible approach from government that would allow them a sense of security and the potential to grow.

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But what runs through all of those conversations is a recognition that the state we’re in at the moment is unacceptable and a desire for change.

Lucy on St GilesLucy on St Giles
Lucy on St Giles

Last year, the leader of my party, Keir Starmer, set out Labour's national missions - the missions that would, if elected, guide a Labour government. Those missions, dealing with our economy, health, the cost of living, education, and many more things besides, are designed to allow the country to turn the page on the 14 years we’ve just been through and to begin the recovery that the country needs: a decade of national renewal.

Labour’s missions are ambitious – the scale of the recovery that we need makes this inevitable. But they’re deliverable and they’re credible. The question then is, how will these missions be put into action? Well, ambitions start with first steps: those initial moves towards the change the country needs to see.

Yesterday I was in Essex to see Keir Starmer and Labour’s Shadow Cabinet set out those all-important first steps. Here they are:

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  1. First, deliver economic stability with tough spending rules, so we can grow our economy and keep taxes, inflation and mortgages as low as possible.
  2. Second, cut NHS waiting times with 40,000 more appointments each week, during evenings and weekends, paid for by cracking down on tax avoidance and non-dom loopholes.
  3. Third, launch a new Border Security Command with hundreds of new specialist investigators and use counter-terror powers to smash the criminal boat gangs.
  4. Fourth, set up Great British Energy a publicly-owned clean power company, to cut bills for good and boost energy security, paid for by a windfall tax on oil and gas giants.
  5. Fifth, crack down on antisocial behaviour with more neighbourhood police paid for by ending wasteful contracts, tough new penalties for offenders, and a new network of youth hubs.
  6. Sixth, recruit 6,500 new teachers in key subjects to prepare children for life, work and the future, paid for by ending tax breaks for private schools.

As you can see, everything mentioned above is fully costed – this is absolutely essential so people can be confident that these plans are affordable and deliverable.

When I think about these first steps, I think about the lady I spoke to on her doorstep a few weeks ago, who told me that getting a GP appointment is nigh on impossible. I think about the many people and businesses who’ve raised with me their sky-high energy bills, and I think about the families I’ve spoken to Abington who’re thinking about moving out of town due to persistent anti-social behaviour. For all those people, these first steps will – I hope – not only offer hope but, when Labour delivers, genuinely change lives for the better.

And that is exactly what being in politics ought to be about: about changing people’s lives for the better.

I know that the last 14 years have not only made people worse off, but they’ve also – because of broken promise after broken promise and scandal after scandal – robbed people of the hope that politics can change anything for the better. I understand why some people think that. But they’re wrong.

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Politics can be a force for a good. And a government that’s on your side, that wants you and your children to get on, that ensures your safety and security, and provides the services that you need when you need them, can genuinely improve lives – and improve our country.