Labour set plans for post-crisis society

September 25, 2009

Stephen Timms-Member of Parliament Stephen Timms is the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. The opinions expressed are his own.-

I’m heading to Brighton to join colleagues from across Government, the Parliamentary Labour Party and grass roots Party members from across the country.

Exhibitors, media teams and lobbyists make up the remainder of those who attend the Labour conference each year. I’m especially grateful to the hotel staff, volunteers and police officers whose services ensure this event runs smoothly and safelty.

The conference brings the Labour movement together.  Delegates can question Ministers face to face, offer suggestions and explore policy options.  Ideas discussed on the conference floor or in fringe meetings may find their way into a White Paper or manifesto pledge.

Every Conference is unique but this year will highlight key decisions facing the country.  We need to remember where we were a year ago.  Lehman’s had collapsed, credit was drying up, major banks threatened, with the world facing its biggest economic crisis for over 60 years.

Bold decisions since then have had a clear effect, with signs the economy is beginning to recover.  Due to decisive action taken by the Government and the Bank of England, up to 500,000 jobs have been saved.  Labour delegates, however, will demand we continue to provide more help for people to get back to work.

Alistair Darling has been at the forefront of these historic decisions.  On Monday, he will speak about our commitment to cut the deficit in half over four years. On recovery and growth, he will argue it must be delivered through targeted and sustainable low-carbon investment.

Gordon Brown will speak to Conference on Tuesday. His action has helped guide both the UK and other G20 nations during this crisis. So he will now set out plans for a post-crisis society.

In education and health, he will say that reforms must ensure high standards are a guarantee and not a gamble. On family life, he will say affordable childcare and care for the elderly will be protected.

Of course Party Conference is about policy – but its also about politics. Delegates will highlight the risk the Conservatives represent. Their proposed immediate, and ideologically driven, £5 billion cuts will threaten our fragile recovery. Meanwhile, the same ideology offers a £200,000 giveaway to the 3,000 wealthiest estates.

Labour however will fight hard for ordinary working people. We will, on their behalf, tackle crime and the fear of crime. The Tories talk tough on crime but they would weaken the use of DNA evidence and make cuts to the Home Office budget equivalent to 3,500 fewer police.

That kind of change is risky change and will not be acceptable to delegates or ordinary voters. Conference this week gives Labour the opportunity to set out its vision for a post-crisis recovery, while highlighting how the Tories would put it all at risk.

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