Liam Byrne – 2013 Speech to Labour Party Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Liam Byrne, the Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, to the 2013 Labour Party conference in Brighton.

Conference – It’s a privilege to open this debate, a debate we approach with a passion and care.

That’s not a sign of weakness, that’s a sign of our strength.

We are so much stronger and our policy is so much better for the work of Unison’s Liz Snape, the TUC’s Kay Carberry, for the leaders of our ten biggest councils, to those from business and the third sector who’ve worked so hard on our youth jobs taskforce.

It’s stronger for the Labour councillors all over Britain who have helped us think radically about how we revolutionise the Tories’ failing back to work system.

It’s stronger for Sir Bert Massie, a pioneer of disability rights, for his taskforce, and for the hundreds of disability activists who have helped us think radically about how we make rights a reality for disabled people.

And it’s stronger for all our brilliant PPCs, fighting in key seats, who brought together residents to tell us how they want Labour to rebuild social security and a different kind of Britain.

And what sort of party would we be if we were not passionate about the stories we hear.

Like the woman I met with MS who told me how her carer, her teenage son, had lost all his support; it’s tough she said, for a boy to lose to that help when he knows his mum won’t get better.

Or the Remploy workers on a GMB picket line, fighting for work, who said to me: this isn’t just my job; this is my life.

Or the thousands of young people, I fight for in East Birmingham, hunting for work, who speak of the hundreds of CVs they send and never even get a reply – and still they keep going.

You know, there’s a Tory minister – and I’ll let you guess where he went to school – who tells us: our young people lack grit.

Well, let me tell you this: the young people fighting for work in East Birmingham have got a damn sight more grit than you need to get through Eton College.

Good people all over Britain hear these stories too.

And right now they’re asking themselves what kind of country are we becoming?

Once upon a time the Tories told us they cared: all those speeches in Easterhouse.

And people gave them the benefit of the doubt.

We were promised a Tory party that cared about the poor.

We were promised a welfare revolution.

We were promised we’re all in this together.

Three years on I tell you the jury is in.

A cost of living crisis.

A million young people out of work.

Long term unemployment at record highs.

Disabled people living in fear.

Child poverty rising.

Living standards hammered.

A promise that started in Easterhouse has ended with the spectacle of a Tory Minister, Michael Gove, blaming the poor for the temerity to turn up at a food bank.

He should be ashamed.

Three years on, I tell you the verdict is simple:

These Tories have let their prejudice destroy their policies.

And just as bad as the prejudice is the incompetence.

They say to err is human.

But if you want someone to really screw it up you send for Iain Duncan Smith.

And Conference that’s why we need to fire him.

But let me level with you, we won’t win power with a plan to roll back the clock.

To restore the status quo.

To ignore the calls for change.

The vast majority of people in this country believe the welfare state is one of our proudest creations.

It’s a mark of a civilised society.

But the vast majority don’t believe the system works for them or for modern times.

So let’s not be the defenders of the status quo, we must be the reformers now.

Today life is very different to the days of Beveridge.

The job for life is gone.

If you’re without a skill, you’ll most likely to be without a job.

Two thirds of couples both work – yet struggle with child-care.

Millions struggle on low wages while company profits rise.

Hundreds of thousands save for decades just to buy a home.

We’re aging, and yet fewer have a pension.

Getting a job, setting up home, working as a parent, caring for another, saving for the future.

These are the challenges of the real world you can’t solve by demonising others.

These are the challenges for One Nation Social Security.

And the truth is today the system doesn’t help.

So we need to change the system.

And build a new consensus rooted in our values, our party’s values, our country’s values.

Where we listen not to our demons but to the better angels of our nature.

Were we move from a language of division to a language of respect.

Where we match the personal responsibility to work.

With the collective responsibility to care.

These are the founding principles of the system we built in 1945, and these are the principles we must restore.

And today I want to tell you how.

With the ideas we’ve hammered out in hundreds of conversations and debates all over Britain this last year.

And the cardinal principal is this, full employment first.

Full employment has always been the foundation for rebuilding Britain. It was for Atlee’s Labour, it was for New Labour, it will be for One Nation Labour.

The Tory system doesn’t work.

So we need a better way.

So let’s start with a tax on bankers bonuses’ to fund a job for every young person out of work long term.

But let’s go further.

Let’s take the ideas – like Apprenticeship Agencies, pioneered in Labour Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Newham and Wales.

And use them to revolutionise the path from the classroom to the career.

But, let’s go further.

Let’s stop fighting unemployment with one hand tied behind our back.

Let’s deliver a large devolution of power from the DWP to local councils.

Let’s build a new partnership between our job centres and town halls.

Let councils shape the programmes to get people back to work.

And let’s go further; let’s set a limit on the time we’re prepared to let people languish out of work.

Let’s invest in jobs for anyone out of work for two years, but say it’s got to be a deal.

We’ll invest in new chances, but if you’re fit to work, we’ll insist you take it.

Full employment first, that’s the Labour way.

Conference, any job is better than no job. But a good job is better than a bad one.

When the welfare state was started, its big idea was to ‘minimise disruption to earnings’.

Now our task is different. It’s to ‘maximise potential of earnings’.

That why we need Universal Credit to work.

So if the government won’t act to save it, we will.

The Tories’ system may prove dead on arrival. So we need a better way.

So, today we announce our Universal Credit Rescue Committee.

And I’m grateful to Kieran Quinn, leader of Tameside, the first pathfinder, for his offer to drive our work.

But, we’ll need more.

We’ll need a campaign for the living wage because it is wrong that we are spending the nation’s tax credits propping up low pay at firms with rising profits.

The deal has got to be simple. If your workers help you do well, then you need to give them a pay rise.

We the Labour party stand as the party of work – and the party of better off in work.

But, listen, if we want a new consensus, we need to remember this: if working people are strong, then Britain is strong.

So we should help working people.

Yet, those born in the turbulent world of the 1960’s, pay so much in and get so little out.

It’s wrong and we should change it.

Those in their 50’s are the people who’ve worked most, cared most, served most. And what do they get?

I’ll tell you, nothing.

So let’s bring back an idea from Beveridge.

Extra help for those who’ve paid their dues but are desperate for extra help to work again.

After a lifetime’s working or caring, I think it’s the least we can do.

Conference it’s a modest step – but it’s a big signal.

But, there’s something more.

Like most families in this country, I know that disability can affect anyone.

Therefore it affects us all.

Yet, today disabled people are threatened by hate crime, by Atos and by the Bedroom Tax.

Today we deny disabled people peace of mind, a job, a home and care – and I tell you that is wrong.

We need to change it.

So we will change the law so hate crime against disabled people is treated like every other hate crime.

And I say to David Cameron, Atos are a disgrace, you should sack them and sack them now.

And yes Conference we say the Bedroom Tax should be axed and axed now and if David Cameron won’t drop this hated tax, then we will repeal it.

We’ll protect disabled people in Scotland and across the UK.

Conference, we need a system that delivers the right help to the right people.

So assessments have to stay.

But let’s take Andy Burnham’s idea of whole person care and ask why not bring together health, social care – and the back to work system into one comprehensive service.

That’s what Labour did in Australia.

Let’s see if we can learn from that here.

I’m delighted to announce that Jenny Macklin, a fine Labour politician and the architect of the system down under, is going to help us figure out how.

Conference, nearly 10 years ago many of you helped win a very tough by election.

For nearly a decade I’ve served the poorest constituency in Britain.

I know in power we will have difficult decisions to make.

And I passionately believe we judge our success not by the money we spend but the difference we make.

There is no moral credibility without financial viability.

That’s why we’ll cap social security spending.

But, full employment, fair pay, a return to Beveridge, rights a reality for disabled people, fair pensions not for some but for all.

These are our principles for rebuilding social security for new times.

More than 50 years ago, my hero Clement Attlee, a man with the best hair in Labour history, made his final broadcast to a war weary nation hungry to win the peace.

We call you, he said, to another great adventure, the adventure of civilisation, where all may help to create and share in an increasing material prosperity, free from the fear of want.

That’s the Labour way, that’s the Ed Miliband way, and that’s the way we’ll win.

Thank you.

Liam Byrne – 2013 Speech on Full Employment


Below is the text of the speech made by Liam Byrne to the IPPR North conference on 17th May 2013.

There are few better places than here, to speak about the task of rebuilding Britain as a country of full employment.

Today we meet under 10 miles from Jarrow, where I spent this morning.

The town from where families hungry for work set off on the road to Westminster.

Walking in hunger they still inspire us down the ages.

Today we meet in a city where once again it is the Labour movement, in trade unions, in constituency parties and in local government, that are once more leading the campaign for work.

The story of our fight for jobs is the genesis of our credo.

When Keir Hardie stood up in Parliament as the first Labour MP, he spoke to insist on the principle of work or maintenance.

‘Useful work for the unemployed’ was the call of our first manifesto.

And it is our call today.

Next year we mark a proud anniversary in our long struggle.

We mark seventy years since the famous white paper on employment policy.

The first white paper in which a national government accepted a national responsibility to build a country where everyone had a job.

Its virtue was not simply the determination written through its pages to never return to the Devil’s Decade of the 1930s.

Its achievement was greater than that.

Its achievement was to show us how countries can be rebuilt and can be renewed if and only if we put everyone back to work.

The story of this great declaration bears re-telling. It’s mother and father, so to speak, was the Beveridge Report.

The bold plan for a system of ‘all in’ social insurance.

It was swept off the shelves in 1942 to become the most popular White paper until the Profumo report published in the 1960s.

Sex and social security were never going to be a fair competition.

The Beveridge Report was published to a country that was hungry for a vision of just what it was we were fighting for: the victories in 1942 in North Africa, in Stalingrad, in Guadacanal had delivered us the ‘end of the beginning’.

Beveridge gave us that vision of what we were fighting for.

Atlee looked at the report, and said, for us, Beveridge means socialism.

And that is why the PLP was acutely worried that Churchill would to put off the job of preparing to turn ideas into action.

And so 70 years ago, the Parliamentary Labour Party decided to force the issue.

In the biggest Parliamentary revolt of the war, 97 MPs broke the whip, voted against the government and demanded that planning for the peace begin immediately.

In his speech, Jim Griffiths, later the first Minister for National Insurance, moved the rebel’s amendment and rested his case on the belief that we could never again return to the mass unemployment of the past.

“Our people have memories of what happened at the end of the last war”, he said. “Years in which never less than one million and sometimes two million and at one time three million of our people were allowed to rust on the streets”.

“That”, said Griffiths, “must never be allowed to happen again”.

And so, Churchill relented.

A Reconstruction Committee was formed dominated by Atlee and Bevin.

And after just two years the Committee produced its finest fruits. The 1944 White Paper on employment policy, replete with its famous first paragraph that henceforth:

“The Government accept as one of their primary aims and responsibilities the maintenance of a high and stable level of employment after the war”.

It set out the big levers that government would pull:

Trade policy – vital for an exporting nation; interest rates – to keep money at the right price; public investment and tax rates to make good any shortfalls in business investment or consumer demand, and crucially, special help for special areas, where old industries were in their sunset years but where new industries were yet to dawn.

When Bevin launched the white paper in the Commons he was very clear that as technical as the strategy might sound, this was a moral crusade.

Remembering some of the soldiers he had bid farewell as they sailed for the D-Day landings in Normandy, he told the Commons of one man of the 50th Division who had asked him this:

“Ernie, when we have done this job for you, are we going back to the dole?”

Both the Prime Minister and I answered, “No, you are not.”

“Unemployment”, said Bevin, “was and is a social disease, which must be eradicated from our social life”.

And so henceforth “Our monetary system, our commercial agreements, our industrial practices, indeed, the whole of our national economy, will have applied to them the acid test—do they produce employment or unemployment?”

When Labour went to the country in 1945, we argued that if we could achieve full employment then we could afford to rebuild Britain – and we could afford to build the welfare state.

In our manifesto ‘Let Us Face the Future’, we said a policy of ‘Jobs for all’ could pay for ‘Social Insurance against the rainy day’.

“There is no reason”, we argued, “why Britain should not afford such programmes but she will need full employment and the highest possible industrial efficiency in order to do so”.

The big insight of the Atlee government was this: in a fully employed society we could afford social security. We could afford to rebuild.

It was the same insight as New Labour. We knew back in 1997 that if we got our country back to work, we could afford to renew our public services.

Our insight is the same as Clem Atlee, Tony Blair, and Gordon Brown.

If we restore our country to full employment, we can afford to rebuild; to address the biggest challenges of our times. Full employment has always been the foundation for rebuilding Britain.

It was for Atlee’s Labour.

It was for New Labour.

It will be for One Nation Labour.

Today the goal of full employment is important for a very simple reason. The faster we return to full employment, the faster we can pay down our debt, and the faster we can put the something for something back into social security.

The Tories’ problem is that they lost belief in full employment many years ago, and they never rediscovered it. This failure is now costing us not less, but more. And more money spent on unemployment means less for working people and less for care.

It wasn’t always like this.

Two years into Government, the Tory Chancellor, Rab Butler told the 1953 party conference:

“Those who talk about creating pools of unemployment should be thrown into them and made to swim”.

You don’t find Tories like Butler any more.

The old consensus about full employment is gone.

Mrs Thatcher’s death has provoked some debate about whether we are all Thatcherites now.

The Prime Minister himself does not seem sure. We can have less doubt about the Chancellor.

It seems pretty clear to me that he is, in Denis Healey’s words, just as much a sado-monetarist as Geoffrey Howe.

And in practice the Chancellor has shown by his action that he is a firm believer in those old nostrums of the 1930s, and 1980s and early 1990s, that unemployment is a price worth paying.

The Conservatives beat their retreat from the ideals of full employment in stages.

In Preston in 1974, Sir Keith Joseph declared he had been converted to ‘true Conservatism’ by the ideas set out six years before by Milton Friedman.

Friedman had set out the monetarist case in 1968 arguing the long term effect of trying to buy less unemployment with more inflation simply increased both.

Joseph did not argue that full employment per se created inflation but rather: “It is the means adopted by successive governments to achieve a high level of employment which are the cause of inflation. Instead of dealing with the real obstacles to fuller employment which are often very specific, governments try the panacea, the universal healer, excess demand”.

Jim Callaghan acknowledged the point in 1976 that, as Gordon Brown put it:

“Quite simply governments could not deliver growth and employment through a macro-policy designed to exploit a supposed short-term trade off between higher inflation and lower unemployment”.

Now, Joseph freely admitted that his prescription would create unemployment – but he at least acknowledged:

“There is no magic cure for these problems”, and that further, “In economics there is not and cannot be one cure. Economics is a matter of balance”. He argued too for “reform of employment services, re-training, mobility of labour, reform of housing policy”.

But no such balance was to moderate the disastrous policies of Mrs Thatcher’s first term: massive spending cuts, large tax rises and a big hike in interest rates.

In a year corporate profits fell 20 per cent, output fell six per cent, manufacturing fell 15 per cent and unemployment rose from 1.4 million to over two million.

It was a disaster. And it got worse. In the following two years, interest rates were cut, but public spending cuts were deep.

Unemployment grew for another five years. It did not peak until 1984.

Nigel Lawson tried to argue there was a logic to this cruel ‘British experiment’.

Macro-economic policy was targeting inflation, not growth and employment.

Micro-economic policy would target growth and employment, not inflation. It was a switch in the traditional roles played by each policy field since the war.

But it was an experiment badly conceived.

Macro-economic policy – both fiscal and monetary – targeted a bewildering array of moving targets – £M3, M1, M0, shadowing the D-Mark, and then joining the EMS – each in their turn, targets wildly missed.

Micro-economic policy meant simply laissez-faire.

The investment – public and private – deemed so important in the 1944 White Paper simply failed to materialise.

Investment backlogs grew, in industry, in infrastructure, in housing.

Bottle-necks got worse. Productivity flagged.

By the late 1980s, Britain was suffering once again from the old curse of rising unemployment and rising inflation.

Unemployment reached 3 million mark, so high that any notion of full employment felt well beyond reach.

Now, Mrs Thatcher liked to pretend this was all about economic efficiency.

When a young Tony Blair challenged her in October 1984, she claimed not only to have read the White Paper but to have a copy in her hand-bag.

In practice the Tories were not creating new economic dynamos but new economic deserts.

The decline in industrial output between 1979 and 1981 was unprecedented.

The balance of Rab Butler and the post-war Tory party was gone.

The Tory cabinet minister Ian Gow later put it like this:

“Belief in monetarism it emerged, was now a prerequisite not only for controlling inflation but for being a real Conservative….Those who resisted conversion and clung instead to traditional Tory principles were soon regarded as, at best, suspect infidels or, at worst, the enemy within”.

Today the Conservative Party is in the grip of the same dogma, and it’s costing us a fortune.

After the recessions of the 1980s, and then the 1990s, structural social security spending rose and rose after the end of each recession.

In the 1980s, from under two per cent of GDP before the recession, to three per cent thereafter.

In the 1990s, it rose from 3.5 per cent of GDP before the recession to 4.5 per cent thereafter.

The reason is simple. A generation were written off on incapacity benefit and never worked again.

Between 1979 and 1997, the number of people on incapacity benefits more than doubled.

Inactivity rates for men aged between 25 and 55 rose from under 10 per cent in 1975-6 to around 35 per cent in the mid-1990s.

Even today of the 10 per cent of most deprived districts in England, around 40 per cent are either ex-manufacturing or ex-mining areas.

The same challenge now afflicts us once again. The cost of social security system rose £24 billion during the crash.

But since then, it’s not come down. It’s carried on rising. It’s rising by 2 per cent a year.

That is simply unsustainable.

The Tories’ economic policy has failed so badly that the output gap is forecast to continue widening until 2014-15.

The Tories are reacting by taking an axe to the security in social security – and people know it.

They pay more in – and get less out.

It’s what Brendan Barber calls the ‘nothing for something’ problem.

I say we have to break out of this vicious circle.

Seventy years ago, we set out a new path to full employment.

And the lessons of 1944 are just as relevant today as they were for the post-war era.

The White Paper teaches us to be radical reformers, to build exports, supporting public investment, fanning consumer demand – and taking determined action on jobs.

When New Labour came to office in 1997, we set out a new approach.

In place of the pure and purely failing monetarism, came a new approach that:

Recognised that demand management was important but could not on its own deliver high and stable levels of employment; provided a new institutional framework for governing monetary policy including the independent Bank of England to replace the failed policy of target chasing; delivered active supply side policy – targeting productivity, competitiveness and active labour market policy – the new deal, tax credits, the national minimum wage – support for high levels of employment.

Contrary to Lawson’s neat but contrived seperation of macro policy to combat inflation and micro-policy to aid competitiveness, new Labour argued for “macroeconomic and microeconomic policy are both essential – working together – to growth and employment”.

And boy did we deliver.

In the decade before the crash, productivity employment and wages all grew together for the first time since records began.

Wages for workers in Britain rose for over a decade – an average of 3.4 per cent a year between 1997 and 2006.

By 2007 UK average wages were some 59 per cent ahead of where they were in 1997. Only two other OECD countries could match this record – Ireland and Australia.

The UK’s record was almost 20 points higher than the average for the Euro area.

In 2015, we’re going to inherit a very different country – Tories always leave higher unemployment.

So over the next few months, I want to say more about just how we raise the employment rate – raise it with five big steps.

First, tackling the crisis of youth unemployment. Nearly 40 per cent of those out of work today are under the age of 25. As the MP who represents the constituency with the highest youth unemployment in Britain, that is simply not a situation I am prepared to tolerate.

Second, tackling the crisis of long term unemployment, because we are simply not so rich that we can afford nearly one million people out of work for more than a year.

Third, raising the employment rate for women. As a country we will never fire on all cylinders when our employment rate for mothers with toddlers is amongst the lowest in the OECD.

Fourth, showing just how we can make the right to work a reality for disabled people once again.

And fifth, and this is what I want to touch on today – how make sure that in the One Nation economy we want to build, we do not leave any part of our country behind.

In his very first speech as Prime Minister, Tony Blair declared that concentrations of poverty and unemployment represent ‘the greatest challenge for any democratic government’.

This is the same challenge that Iain Duncan Smith saw when he went to Easterhouse.

Back in Easterhouse, Iain Duncan Smith set himself a test. He said:

“A nation that leaves its vulnerable behind, diminishes its own future.”

He found his echo in the Prime Minister, who said in 2007:

“A modern aspiration agenda means helping the have-nots to have something, and if we do not succeed in that mission then I tell you frankly that we will all be poorer”.

Iain Duncan Smith’s time in Easterhouse inspired his reform plans for the Work Programme and Universal Credit.

The challenge is that, however well-meaning, both programmes are failing and failing badly.

Three years into the Parliament, the Work Programme has proved literally worse than doing nothing.

Universal Credit is now so mired in problems its virtues are enjoyed by just 300 people in Tameside.

The challenge for welfare reformers is not whether you have nice ideas. It is whether you can make a difference.

I believe the jury is now in for Iain Duncan Smith.

He has failed the Easterhouse test.

On three-quarters of the estates in Britain where unemployment is highest, there are now more people out of work not less. Long term unemployment has risen in two-thirds of these places.

Iain Duncan Smith has failed the test he set out in Easterhouse because he has failed to understand the challenge that poor places now face in the 21st century.

Let me explain.

Back in the 1980s, old industries were destroyed – and almost nothing was done to offer workers a new future.

The great destruction of British industry – especially manufacturing and mining had huge consequences for jobs in places like the North East.

The aftershocks of that shock therapy are still felt today, two generations later.

Of the ten per cent most deprived districts in England, around 40 per cent are either ex-mining or manufacturing areas.

What happened during the 1980s was no great programme of re-skilling.

Instead a generation was written off, put on incapacity benefit without a thought for those former workers or the damage it would do to the aspirations of their children.

Yet this is what the 1944 White Paper taught us: that when the sun sets on old industries, you need big action to reskill, ‘to fit workers from declining industries for jobs in expanding industries’.

But we were contending with a revolution in globalisation. Big time.

Two years after unemployment peaked in 1984, I was sitting my exams.

That year Deng Xiaoping was Time magazine’s ‘Man of the Year’ for the changes underway in China.

When I got to university in 1989, the Berlin wall came down, and a path opened to a united Europe of 500 million people.

A year later, Manmohan Singh was appointed Finance Minister of India and set about dismantling India’s ‘licence raj’, the vital precursor to its explosive growth a decade later.

By the time I graduated in 1992, President Clinton was in the White House, arm-wrestling through Congress a plan for the North American Free Trade Agreement and eventually a green light for China’s accession to the World Trade Organisation.

A century that began with revolution and world war ended with conscious decisions across ten years on four continents to create a global marketplace linking 6 billion of the world’s 7 billion people. It was a quite a fin de siècle.

Since this century began the commanding heights of the global economy have changed out of all recognition.

As Peter Nolan at Cambridge University has shown: since 2000, some 2,500 -billion mergers, worth in total some .4 trillion, have created a new global super-league.

A handful of firms now monopolise the aircraft industry, the world’s auto business, the world’s mobile telecoms infrastructure, pharmaceuticals, beer, cigarettes, aero-engines, computer chips, industrial gases, soft drink cans.

These giant firms often richer than nations now have the power to move jobs to wherever the skills are greatest or the wages lowest.

That means unskilled workers here in Britain compete with wages far lower elsewhere.

The ILO says low skilled wages in some of Britain’s competitors are 12 times lower here than in Britain.

That means there is simply not a lot of low skill work to go around.

The result? Over half of adults in Britain without skills are out of work. And that figure is going up not down.

Crucially, that means Britain’s poor places are falling behind. Why?

Because some of Britain’s poorest communities are home to five times more unskilled workers than Britain’s richest communities. This was the challenge Labour had to clear up.

During our time in office, Britain’s employment rate hit record highs; from 71 per cent of the population in 1998 up to 73 per cent in 2008.

This increase in the employment rate was coupled with a long-term shift in the number of British workers with skills.

Back in 1994, 22 per cent of the workforce had no qualifications. By 2005 this had fallen to 13 per cent.

Because we believed it was wrong to dismiss the future employment chances of disabled people, we introduced the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

We combined reform with investment in back to work programmes; the employment rate amongst those with disabilities rose by over ten per cent between 1997 and 2008.

Now of course we didn’t finish the job: there remained a gap between the national employment rate (72.4 per cent) and employment in our ten biggest cities (68.4 per cent). But at least we closed the gap.

This government is simply ignoring that lesson.

Even when the jobs are there, we’re not training the unemployed to do them.

In great regions like the North West or Yorkshire and Humber, business says they’ve skill shortages, yet we have unemployment way above the national average.

Yet, we knew this was going to happen.

The challenge of poor places and changing places isn’t new. It’s an old challenge.

It was crystal clear to inter-war politicians.

You know too the big challenges that poor places face.

How in many communities, we still grapple with the legacy of the ‘Right to Buy’ legislation of the 1980s, that often led concentrations of the poorest housing stock, where councils were forced to house the most disadvantaged households – often adults without skills.

In poor places, jam-packed like my own with aspirational people, problems multiply.

A low skills base, poor transport connections to work, brownfield land left unoccupied and limited private investment.

Yet, these places are packed with potential.

Over the last ten years, thinking about how to regenerate inner-city areas – in the UK and the US (especially under the Clinton Administration) – has been re-animated by fresh thinking which has explored the idea that inner-cities might actually have some competitive advantages and are in fact a ‘missed market’.

But to unlock that potential means we have put investment in people, and investment in places in the same place.

Unlocking that potential means coordinating skills, education, crime, worklessness, transport, physcial regeneration, health, housing, environmental sustainability, social regeneration, spatial planning, and economic development.

That’s complicated today.

And in fact if you try to do it from Whitehall, it’s impossible to do. We know – we tried.

In fact we had 36 different organisations, operating on four different levels: national, regional, sub-regional and local trying to coordinate this work.

We made progress. But it was no surprise that it was slow.

This is not a mistake that other countries make – they devolve far more to their regions.

It is in fact, something that people on both sides of the debate now agree with.

Lord Heseltine, the Rab Butler of his day, put it like this:

“We need to mobilise the skills of provincial England. I want to shove power out of Whitehall, into the provinces.”

Once upon time, Iain Duncan Smith agreed with him. Once upon a time he told his party conference:

“In the past, Conservative governments have been guilty of taking power away from local government to Whitehall. That was a mistake. We will reverse this process and restore to local councils the discretion to act according to the interests of the communities they serve.”

But it’s not happening.

The problem is that neither Vince Cable or Iain Duncan Smith believe Lord Hesetline. They are the new road-blocks to reform.

The result is our back to work system is hopelessly centralised. This is what the clear conclusion of Labour councils who are now leading the fight against youth unemployment.

That’s why I’m publishing today analysis of the way other countries work.

In Germany, a more localised approach has contributed to saving billions of Euros in welfare payments by driving up the employment rate. Jobcentres work closely with surrounding schools and have deep roots in the local labour market which allows them to engage with employers far beyond the traditional low skill, low pay sectors.

In Canada, localised delivery of back to work programmes gives local government the flexibility to establish their own priorities and to develop programmes to achieve this. Provinces and territories control how the funding is allocated in order to meet the needs of their particular labour markets, which in turn gives them the opportunity to apply local expertise to skills development, allocating targeted wage subsidies, and creating Job Creation Partnerships, to help provide useful work experience that leads to sustained employment.

Next year we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the white paper on full employment.

I believe we should mark that anniversary not with empty words but with big plans.

Plans to rebuild the path to full employment for new times. Plans which could help us modernise our social security system, to rebuild trust, and crucially put its finances back on an even keel for the future.

Our economy not rebalancing

Despite the huge depreciation of our currency since 2007, our export growth has been anaemic.

Business investment is low.

Corporate tax cuts have now totalled £5.7 billion over the course of this parliament. Yet this great act of corporate welfare has not been repaid.

The cash is simply stacking up in corporate bank accounts. Our new Bank governor Mark Carney will recognise the phenomenon from Canada where he has attacked the curse of ‘dead money’.

The result is persistent, high unemployment. The result is OBR now downgrading the country’s trend rate of growth.

The result is that there is quite simply not enough work to go round.

And the government’s strategy is causing engine damage that may last for years to come.

That’s why we need a new plan. We need a new plan for growth. We need a new plan for jobs. And we need people to vote for it at the next election.

To win that vote we need to show how a new plan for full employment will help us pay down debt faster and with less risk by putting our social security system back on an even keel after the crash.

The people of Britain know we can’t go on like this.

And profound change is needed because life has changed since we created the system back in 1945.

People need different things from social security today.

I want to put the something for something back into the system. I want to put the system back on an even keel after the expense of the crash.

But I believe the lesson of our history is simple:

We can afford to do big things to repair and renew our country, to pay down our debt faster, to bring fairness back to the system if, and only if, we get people back to work.

Liam Byrne – 2012 Speech to Labour Party Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Liam Byrne, the Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, to Labour Party conference (delivered live via Skype from a Jobs Summit at Manchester College) on 1st October 2012.

Conference, let me apologise for not being with you in the hall right now.

But sometimes you have to strike a balance between argument and action – and when it comes to youth unemployment what we need right now is action.

So I’m here with Tony Lloyd at the fantastic Manchester College.

Where we’ve brought employers, colleges, business with apprenticeships, and hundreds of young people to see what we can do to get young people in this city into jobs.

And what I’ve heard this morning is just wrong.

It’s wrong that young women like Nazish have been out of work six months, desperate for a job or apprenticeship.

It’s wrong that young men like Colm who’s 23 have been out of work since July.

This is the economics of the madhouse.

You know our welfare is rising by £29 billion.

And yet people like Colm and Nazish and a million others just like them and hungry to work and are forced to stand idle.

Now as some of you know, I represent the constituency in Britain where youth unemployment is highest.

What I’ve realised is that the anger we feel about youth unemployment is the anger we feel when we see our values under attack.

We believe in the pride and dignity of work. That’s why we’re called the Labour Party.

We believe that we’re stronger when we pull together as a country. We don’t believe in the economics of you are on your own.

We believe in an economy that works for working people.

And we believe that when you see an injustice, you don’t just walk past it.

You roll up your sleeves and you do something about it.

Today every single one of those values is under attack and it’s our young people paying the price.

So we have to take a stand.

That’s why Labour are calling for a real jobs guarantee – paid for by sensible tax on bankers bonuses.

And, we have to organise the fightback.

We can’t and won’t stand on the sidelines and watch our young people take a kicking.

So today I’m very proud to launch our Youth Jobs Taskforce.

Just because we’re not in government doesn’t mean we can’t make a difference.

We run Wales, and London’s big boroughs and Britain’s big cities.

Right now it’s our councillors and local leaders who leading the charge for youth jobs: thinking, organising, making a difference to get young people work.

Today, these local leaders are coming together in a new coalition to galvanise action.

They are going to join forces with good people from our trade unions, from business, from enterprise, from civil society, and from our youth movement.

We want to make sure that the best ideas anywhere, become the way we do things everywhere.

We know how high the stakes have become.

The young people we serve are good people.

They don’t dress up in white tie and smash up restaurants.

And they don’t swear at policemen.

They are people who want to work hard and get on in life if only someone will let them.

And today we send an emphatic message: that we are on their side.

Let me just finish with a story.

You know Iain Duncan Smith likes to boast that he was once inspired in his reforming zeal to smash up the welfare state by what he saw in Easterhouse in Glasgow’s East End.

Well last week I too went to Easterhouse, together with the great Margaret Curran.

To meet a group of young people to talk about the future.

What they say inspires them, isn’t yet another Tory attack.

It’s investment in skills. In jobs. In chances.

Those young people are just like people we’re here with today.

They’re people who want to rebuild Britain.

And Labour is going to help them.

Because we’re the party that knows how futures are really built.

It’s built by people like those behind me here in Manchester today – and a million more like them all over the United Kingdom.

They might have a do-nothing Government.

But they’re going to have a do-what-it-takes Labour Party.

So thanks for listening.

I’ll let you know how we get on a bit later.

If you’d like to get involved in the taskforce, drop me a line: we’d love to have your help.

And I’ll catch up with you later this afternoon.

Liam Byrne – 2011 Speech to Labour Party Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Liam Byrne to the Labour Party conference on 25th September 2011.


As we’ve gone around the country what’s become clear is that people are now seriously worried about what this Government is doing to their families, their communities and our country.

This week is our chance to point to a different way now – and different possibilities for the future.

That is the single aim of the Policy Review Ed Miliband has asked me to chair.

After last year’s defeat, the easiest thing in the world would have been for us to turn in on ourselves.

Gaze fondly, lovingly perhaps, at our navels.

Sit around in a comfort zone.

Argue amongst ourselves.

Let’s be honest. Some of us quite like that.

But under Ed Miliband, we have to do it differently.

We’ve picked ourselves up.

Dusted ourselves down.

And got straight back out there once more, talking to people, who we came into politics to serve…

About what we got right.

What we got wrong.

And how we need to change.

What we have decided to do is go for the prize that no-one has achieved in British politics for 35 years.

One-term opposition.

A party determined to bounce back from defeat and back into office where we know we can make a difference.

So I suppose I should give you the bad news.

I know what many will want this week is a detailed 5 year plan.

A new budget.

Sorted out down to the last pound and penny.

I know the hardest question I get on doorsteps in Hodge Hill is where’s the alternative? Where’s your plan? What would you do different?


The easiest thing in the world would have been to sit in a committee room in Westminster and write a new manifesto.

But I can tell you now, it wouldn’t have got us very far.

It wouldn’t have delivered one-term opposition.

Because we can’t revise our policy, or reorganise our party, until we reconnect with the public.

And that is what this first year of the Policy Review has been all about.

We’ve taken the simple view: that policy has to start with politics and politics starts with people.

And that is why we got back out there.

Back in touch with over a million men and women, party members and affiliates.

150 events.

6,000 local residents, coming along in person.

20,000 submissions pouring in to our HQ.

And it’s not always been easy has it?

You never quite know what you’re going to get.

I’ve been doing policy review door to door in Hodge Hill.

I won’t forget the man in Shard End, who I disturbed in the middle of his dinner.

He came to the door. Wiped clean his moustache.

And, how shall I put this?

He confined his remarks to two words; it began with F, it ended with F, and there were five letters in between.

I said, shall I put you down as against?

But whether the conversations have been hard or easy, we’ve had them.

People have been incredibly generous and personal in the stories they have shared.

They’ve told us about their daily struggles.

Their worries about balancing the bills.

Their hopes for their kids. At school. At college.

Their memories; their observations.

Loves. Hates.

But above all their common sense.

People haven’t pulled their punches.

They’ve given it to us straight.

They thought we grew out of touch.

They thought we got it wrong, on issues close to their heart.

On immigration. On welfare. On control of banks.

And that is why they’ve told us to change.

I know at times this has felt like an exercise in gratuitous masochism.

It isn’t.

We can leave that to George Osborne.

People don’t expect us to get everything right.

But they do expect us to learn from experience.

Their experience.

Because for most people in this country, things are different from 1997.

Life hasn’t stood still.

Times have moved on.

Challenges have changed.

What we have heard from people is that there is a new centre-ground in British politics.

It’s not a place that the party gets to pick.

The centre-ground is where voters say it is.

Our challenge now is to change and move in and say once more the centre-ground is our home-ground, and this is where we fight.

Everything I’ve seen of the Tories tells us that we should be bullish if we choose to change.

I think we can be a one-term opposition because of the people in the centre-ground; they’re under attack from a Conservative party, that is not on people’s side

You can’t pretend that you’re on people’s side if you cut jobs, and childcare and tax credits.

And damage people’s chances to work and pay the bills – or treat the kids – or take a holiday.

You’re not on people’s side when you curtail the chances for children.

And you’re not on people’s side if your idea of responsibility means firing 12,000 police officers, putting charities out of business and singling out as the people who need a tax cut, the bankers who got us into this mess in the first place.

So this week is our chance to show that we’re the ones who get it.

– That we’ve heard what people said.

– That we’re up for the challenge of change.

– That we are back on the side of the majority.

This week, we’ll set out what we’ve heard about how people want a different economy not run on the old rules but new rules with a welfare state that works once again for working people.

And we’ll say how we think change should begin.

We’ll say what we’ve heard about the next generation.

Remember education, education, education?

It was an expression of our aspiration for youngsters.

This week, we’ll say more about how we bring that aspiration back alive for new times – in education, in jobs, in housing.

We’ll say where we think change should begin.

We’ll say what we’ve heard about how good people in this country want to rebuild a responsible country, with rules that bite at the top, the bottom and at every point in between.

And we’ll say how we think change should begin.

So this first year is just a beginning.

We put first things first because we know that Oppositions that stay in opposition look inwards, and not out.

And that is why I’ve always said that my hope is that this policy review will change the way we make policy.

Not in committee rooms in Westminster.

But through conversation with the public, our members and affiliates.

I know we and I need to work harder to get these debates out of here.

So if you want me to come along and listen, wherever you are, I’d be delighted. Give me a ring.

Because over the next week and over the next year, we’ll begin to set out the new ideas we think are right for the future.

New ideas for the new centre-ground.

New ideas that reflect one simple philosophy.

That for most people in this country, politics is about the personal.

It’s about how you get on at work.

It’s about the safety of your community.

The education for your kids.

The care for your parents, your husband, your wife.

It’s having the chance to earn a better life, to get the good things in life, to live free of fear.

In other words, politics is about the most important things in the world.

In everything I read this year, no-one put it better, than a guy called Andrew, from Newcastle upon Tyne who wrote this:

“People want straight answers from politicians not avoidance or waffle. Talk like people, on the street, in the pubs, in the factories and offices and give straight honest answers. Try to make Britain a fair society.”

That’s our test.

So I think if we get the politics right; if we’re passionate about how politics can make a difference, then and only then will the right policy follow.

That’s the way we earn back the trust to serve.

Get that right – and we’ll win.

Andy Burnham – 2014 Speech on the NHS


Below is the text of the speech made by Andy Burnham, the Shadow Secretary of State for Health, in Birmingham on 3rd February 2014.

Thank you all for coming today.

It’s a sign of how much we value the NHS that you have taken time to come along this morning.

In February 2012, the battle over the Government’s proposed reorganisation was reaching its peak.

There were claims and counter-claims about what it would all mean.

Now, two years on, it’s time to assess what has happened in the two years since and the overall state of the NHS today as we head towards a General Election which will determine its future.

My conclusion is this: the NHS has never been in a more dangerous position than it is right now, and the evidence for that is the relentless pressure in A&E.

The last 12 months have been the worst year in at least a decade in A&E with almost a million people waiting more than four hours.

A&E is the barometer of the whole health and care system and it is telling us that this is a system in distress with severe storms ahead.

A reorganisation which knocked the NHS to the floor, depleted its reserves, has been followed by a brutal campaign of running it down.

It looks to many that the NHS is being softened up for privatisation which, all along, was the real purpose of the reorganisation.

Things can’t go on like this. It’s time to raise the alarm about what is happening to the NHS and build a campaign for change.

The tragedy is that the Government can’t say they weren’t warned.

Even at the eleventh hour, doctors, nurses, midwives and health workers from across the NHS were lining up in their thousands and pleading with the Prime Minister to call off his reorganisation.


Because they could see the danger of throwing everything up in the air in the midst of the biggest financial challenge in the history of the NHS.

But David Cameron would not listen. He ploughed on regardless.

It was a cavalier act of supreme arrogance.

As the dust settles on this biggest-ever reorganisation, the damage it has done is becoming clear.

The NHS in 2014 is demoralised, degraded and confused.

The last two years have been two lost years of drift.

Even now, people are unsure who is responsible for what.

Two years of drift when the NHS needed clarity.

And what was it all for?

The Government hasn’t even achieved its supposed main goal of putting doctors in charge.

CCGs are not the powerhouse we were promised.

Instead, the NHS is even more ‘top-down’ than it was before, with an all-powerful NHS England calling the shots.

Just look at Lewisham.

When local GPs opposed plans to downgrade their hospital, the Secretary of State fought them all the way to the High Court.

So much for letting GPs decide.

Now the Secretary of State wants sweeping powers to close any hospital in the land without local support. Labour will oppose him all the way.

And the specific warnings Labour made ahead of the reorganisation have come to pass.

First, we said it would lead to a loss of focus on finance and a waste of NHS resources.

An outrageous £3 billion and counting has been siphoned out of the front-line to pay for back-office restructuring – £1.4 billion of it on redundancies alone.

Just as we warned, thousands of people have been sacked and rehired – 3,200 to be precise.

One manager given a pay-off of £370,000 – and last week we learn he never actually left the health service.

It is a scandalous waste of money and simply not justifiable when almost one in three NHS trusts in England are predicting an end-of-year deficit.

Cameron promised he would not cut the NHS but that is precisely what is happening across the country as trusts now struggle to balance the books.

2,300 six-figure pay outs for managers; P45s for thousands of nurses – that’s the NHS under Cameron.

What clearer sign could there be of a Government with its NHS priorities all wrong?

Second, Labour warned that the reorganisation would result in a postcode lottery.

Last week, a poll of GPs found that seven out of 10 believe rationing of care has increased since the reorganisation.

NICE has warned that patients are no longer receiving the drugs they are entitled to and has even taken the unusual step of urging them to speak up.

New arbitrary, cost-based restrictions have been introduced on essential treatments such as knee, hip and cataract operations – leaving thousands of older people struggling to cope.

Some are having to pay for treatments that are free elsewhere to people with the same need.

Cameron’s reorganisation has corroded the N in NHS – again, just as we warned.

Third, we warned that rhetoric about putting GPs in charge was a smokescreen and the Act was a Trojan horse for competition and privatisation.

Can anyone now seriously dispute that?

Last year, for the first time ever, the Competition Commission intervened in the NHS to block collaboration between two hospitals looking to improve services.

How did it come to this, when competition lawyers, not GPs, are the real decision-makers?

The NHS Chief Executive has complained that the NHS is now “bogged down in a morass of competition law”.

Since April, CCGs have spent £5 million on external competition lawyers as services are forced out to tender.

And it will come as no surprise that, since April, seven out of 10 NHS contracts have gone to the private sector.

Who gave this Prime Minister permission to put our NHS up for sale, something which Margaret Thatcher never dared?

The truth is that this competition regime is a barrier to the service changes that the NHS needs to make to meet the financial challenge.

It is sheer madness to say to hospitals that they can’t collaborate or work with GPs and social care to improve care for older people because it’s “anti-competitive”.

If we are to relieve the intense pressure on A&E, and rise to the financial challenge, it is precisely this kind of collaboration that the NHS needs.

So the summary is this – the NHS has been laid low by the debilitating effects of reorganisation, has been distracted from front-line challenges and is now unable to make the changes it needs to make. It is a service on the wrong path, a fast-track to fragmentation and marketisation.

It lost focus at a crucial moment – and is now struggling to catch up.

The evidence of all this can been seen in the sustained pressure in A&E – the barometer of the NHS.

The price we are all paying for the Prime Minister’s folly is a seemingly permanent A&E crisis.

Hospital A&Es have now missed the Government’s own A&E target in 44 out of the last 52 weeks.

This is unprecedented in living NHS memory – a winter and spring A&E crisis was followed by a summer and autumn crisis. The pressure has never abated.

The reorganisation has contributed very directly to this A&E crisis.

Three years ago, the College of Emergency Medicine were warning about a growing recruitment crisis in A&E but felt like “John the Baptist crying in the wilderness” as Ministers were obsessing on their structural reform.

The very organisations that could have done something about it – strategic health authorities – were being disbanded. Just when forward planning was needed, we saw cuts to training posts.

All this leaves us with an A&E crisis which gets worse and worse.

Of the one million people who went to a hospital A&E this January, 75,000 waited longer than 4 hours to be seen.

Of the 300,000 people admitted to hospital after going to A&E, 17,500 had to wait between 4 and 12 hours on a trolley before they were admitted.

On one day in January, 20 patients were left on trolleys for over 12 hours.

In the last year, ambulances have been stuck in queues outside A&E 16,000 times – leading to longer ambulance response times.

On 92 occasions, A&E departments had to divert ambulances to neighbouring hospitals because they were so busy.

And now the pressure from the A&E crisis is rippling through the system.

In January, over 4,500 planned operations were cancelled – causing huge anxiety for the people affected.

The waiting list for operations was the highest for a November in six years.

The truth is that the Government have failed to get the A&E crisis under control and it is threatening to drag down the rest of the NHS.

They have desperately tried to blame the last Government’s GP contract – it’s never their fault, of course – but the facts shows an exponential increase in A&E attendance since 2010.

In the last three years of the Labour Government, attendances at A&E increased by 16,000.

In the first three years of this Government, attendances increased by 633,000. No wonder we have an A&E crisis.

The question we need to ask is: why, behind the destabilising effect of reorganisation, has there been such an increase?

I see three reasons – all policy decisions taken by David Cameron.

First, David Cameron has made it harder to see your GP.

He scrapped Labour’s guarantee of an appointment within 48 hours.

Now, the story I hear up and down the country is of people phoning the surgery at 9am only to be told there is nothing available for days.

The Patients Association say that it will soon be the norm to wait a week or longer to see your GP.

What will they do? Go to where the lights are on – A&E.

We have called on the Government to reverse their scrapping of the 48-hr target this winter.

The problem is made worse by the scrapping of Labour’s extended opening hours scheme.

Now hundreds fewer GP surgeries stay open in the evening and at weekends – taking us backwards from the seven day NHS we need.

To make matters worse, a quarter of Walk-In Centres have closed and NHS Direct has been dismantled.

A terrible act of vandalism even by this Government’s standards – nurses replaced by call-handlers and computers that say ‘go to A&E’.

The second reason for the sudden increase in people attending A&E is cuts to social care and mental health.

Under this Government, almost £2 billion has been taken out of budgets for adult social care.

Compared to a decade ago, half a million fewer older people are getting support to help them cope.

We have an appalling race to the bottom on standards with 15-minute slots, minimum wage pay, zero hours contracts.

Over-stretched care workers, often not paid for the travel time between 15 minute visits, having to decide between feeding people or helping them wash.

Social care in England is on the verge of collapse – and yet last year Jeremy Hunt handed back a £2.2bn under-spend to the Treasury.

That’s unforgiveable when care is being taken away from vulnerable people.

If Labour were in Government now, we would be using the NHS underspend to tackle the care crisis this year.

Instead, older people are being allowed to drift towards A&E in record numbers – often the worst possible place for them.

A recent Care Quality Commission report found avoidable emergency admissions for pensioners topping half a million for the first time – and rising faster than the increase in the ageing population.

Terrible for older people, putting huge pressure on A&Es and costing around a billion pounds a year.

But other vulnerable people are suffering too.

The Government is cutting mental health more deeply than the rest of the NHS.

Some mental health trusts are now reporting bed occupancy levels of over 100%.

That means more than one patient being allocated to the same bed.

It’s no wonder we’ve heard growing evidence of highly vulnerable people being held in police cells or ending up in A&E because no crisis beds are available.

Under this Government, A&E has become the last resort for vulnerable people

And this brings me to the third reason for the pressure on A&E – the cost-of-living crisis.

As Michael Marmot set out in his seminal public health report, our health isn’t just about our health services, but the kind of society in which we choose to live.

No phenomenon more clearly symbolises the true impact of this Government than the rise of food banks, teachers having to feed hungry children at school or GPs having to ask their patients if they can afford to eat.

And all this while millionaires get a tax cut.

We have seen diseases of malnutrition like scurvy and rickets on the rise – diseases we once thought had gone for good.

Today we are exposing another scandal that goes right to the heart of whose side this Government is on.

People are struggling to keep warm in their homes.

The average energy bill has risen by more than £300 since 2010 – while the support for people in fuel poverty has been cut considerably.

The Government replaced 3 successful Labour schemes- warm front, community energy saving programme and carbon emissions reduction target with their ECO scheme.

And the consequence is that just a fraction of households have received help in the past year, just when the support is most needed.

I don’t see how it can be right that money from all of our energy bills should subsidise people who can afford to improve their properties, over those people in dire fuel poverty.

We’ve seen record levels of hypothermia reported this year.

Since the election there has been a dramatic increase in the number of older people admitted to hospital for cold-related illnesses.

There have been 145,000 more occasions when over-75s had to be treated in hospital for respiratory or circulatory diseases than in 09/10.

This is the human cost of this Government’s cost-of-living crisis and their failure to stand up to the energy companies.

And why Labour’s energy bill freeze cannot come a moment too soon.

In conclusion, this is the fragile state of the NHS and the country after almost four years of Tory-led Coalition.

The country can’t go on like this – the NHS needs a different Government.

Cameron’s Government has delivered it a brutal double whammy.

First they knocked it down the NHS down with a reorganisation no-one wanted. Then they have spent the last year running it down at every opportunity.

They are guilty of the gross mismanagement of the NHS.

But it is not just incompetence. They are running it down for a purpose.

Only yesterday, the head of the independent regulator attacked the NHS and called for more privatisation.

This was an astonishing intervention at a time when politicisation of regulators is so high in the news.

To have the independent regulator making such a political statement means there can no longer be any doubt – more privatisation is the explicit aim of this Government’s NHS policy.

Labour believes this will break up the NHS and bring fragmentation when what the NHS desperately needs is permission to integrate and collaborate.

That is why this Wednesday we will force a debate in the Commons on the A&E crisis and repealing the Government’s competition regime.

This is the choice the country faces – a public, integrated NHS under Labour or a health market under David Cameron.

That’s the ground on which we will fight in 2015 and, for our NHS, it’s crucial that we win.

Andy Burnham – 2013 Speech to The King’s Fund


The below speech was made by the Shadow Secretary of State for Health, Andy Burnham, on 24th January 2013 to the King’s Fund.

Today I open Labour’s health and care policy review.

For the first time in 20 years, our Party has the chance to rethink its health and care policy from first principles.

Whatever your political views, it’s a big moment.

It presents the chance to change the terms of the health and care debate.

That is what One Nation Labour is setting out to do.

For too long, it has been trapped on narrow ground, in technical debates about regulation, commissioning, competition.

It is struggling to come up with credible answers to the questions that the 21st century is asking with ever greater urgency.

I want to change the debate by opening up new possibilities and posing new questions of my own, starting with people and families and what they want from a 21st century health and care service.

For now, they are just that – questions. This is a Green Paper moment – the start of a conversation not the end.

But what you will hear today is the first articulation of a coherent and genuine alternative to the current Government’s direction.

It is the product both of careful reflection on Labour’s time in government and a response to what has happened since.

Everything I say today is based on two unshakable assumptions.

First, that the health and care we want will need to be delivered in a tighter fiscal climate for the foreseeable future, so we have to think even more fundamentally about getting better results for people and families from what we already have.

Second, our fragile NHS has no capacity for further top-down reorganisation, having been ground down by the current round. I know that any changes must be delivered through the organisations and structures we inherit in 2015.

But that can’t mean planning for no change.

Those questions that the 21st century is bringing demand an answer.

When the modern condition means we are all living with higher levels of stress, change and insecurity, how do we give families the mental health support they will need and remove the stigma?

How will we ensure we are not overwhelmed by the costs of treating diseases linked to lifestyle and diet?

And how can we stop people fearing old age and have true peace of mind throughout a longer life?

Huge questions that require scale and a sense of ambition in our answers.

When a Labour Opposition last undertook this exercise, the world looked very different. But it had to be similarly ambitious.

People were waiting months and years for hospital treatment, even dying on NHS waiting lists.

So Labour set itself the mission of rescuing a beleaguered NHS which was starting to look as if it was on the way out.

A big ambition and, by and large, with help of the professions, we succeeded.

We left office with waiting lists at an all-time low and patient satisfaction at an all-time high; a major turn-around from the NHS we inherited in 1997.

But that doesn’t tell the whole story.

I can trace the moment that made me think differently, and challenge an approach that was too focused on hospitals.

In early 2007, my sister-in-law was in the Royal Marsden dying from breast cancer.

After visiting one night, she called me over and asked if I could get her home to be with her four children.

I told her I thought I would be able to.

But, after a day of phone calls, I will never forget having to going back to Claire and say it couldn’t be done.

And I was a Minister who knew how the system worked, so what chance have families who are at a low ebb and don’t know where to start?

As a Government, we were talking about choice. But it was a painful discovery for me to find we were unable to deliver to this most fundamental of choices.

Concerns about the way we care for people in the later stages of life, as well as how it is paid for, has built and built over recent years.

Stories of older people neglected or abused in care homes, isolated in their own homes or lost in acute hospitals – disorientated and dehydrated – recurred with ever greater frequency.

I have thought long and hard about why this is happening.

It is in part explained by regulatory failures and we will of course learn the lessons emerging from the Francis Report as part of this policy review.

Changes in nursing and professional practice may also have played a part.

But, in my view, these explanations deal with the symptoms rather than the cause of a problem that goes much deeper.

My penny-drop moment came last year when I was work-shadowing a ward sister at the Royal Derby.

It was not long after the Prime Minister had proposed hourly bed rounds for nurses.

I asked her what she thought of that. Her answer made an impression on me.

It was not that nurses didn’t care any more, she said. On the whole, they did.

It was more that the wards today are simply not staffed to deal with the complexity of what the ageing society is bringing to them.

When she qualified, it was rare to see someone in their 80s on the ward after a major operation.

Now there are ever greater numbers of very frail people in their 80s and 90s, with intensive physical, mental and social care needs.

Hospitals hadn’t changed to reflect this new reality, she said, and nurses were struggling to cope with it.

They were still operating on a 20th century production-line model, with a tendency to see the immediate problem – the broken hip, the stroke – but not the whole-person behind it.

They are geared up to meet physical needs, but not to provide the mental or social care that we will all need in the later stages of life.

So our hospitals, designed for the last century, are in danger of being overwhelmed by the demographic challenges of this century.

And that is the crux of our problem.

To understand its roots, it helps to go back to the 1948 World Health Organisation definition of health:

“a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

A simple vision which stands today.

But, for all its strengths, the NHS was not set up to achieve it. It went two thirds of the way, although mental health was not given proper priority, but the third, social, was left out altogether.

The trouble is that last bit is the preventative part.

Helping people with daily living, staying active and independent, delays the day they need more expensive physical and mental support.

But deep in the DNA of the NHS is the notion that the home, the place where so much happens to affect health, is not its responsibility.

It doesn’t pay for grab rails or walk-in showers, even if it is accepted that they can keep people safer and healthy.

The exclusion of the social side of care from the NHS settlement explains why it has never been able to break out of a ‘treatment service’ mentality and truly embrace prevention. It is a medical model; patient-centred, not person-centred.

But, in reality, it’s even worse than that.

For 65 years, England has tried to meet one person’s needs not through two but three services: physical, through the mainstream NHS; mental, through a detached system on the fringes of the NHS; and social, through a means-tested and charged-for council service, that varies greatly from one area to the next.

One person. Three care services.

For most of the 20th century, we just about managed to make it work for most people.

When people had chronic or terminal illness at a younger age, they could still cope with daily living even towards the end of life. Families lived closer to each other and, with a bit of council support, could cope.

Now, in the century of the ageing society, the gaps between our three services are getting dangerous.

The 21st century is asking questions of our 20th century health and care system that, in its current position, will never be able to answer to the public’s satisfaction.

As we live longer, people’s needs become a complex blur of the physical, mental and social.

It is just not possible to disaggregate them and meet them through our three separate services.

But that’s what we’re still trying to do.

So, wherever people are in this disjointed system, some or all of one person’s needs will be left unmet.

In the acute hospital ward, social and mental needs can be neglected. This explains why older people often go downhill quickly on admission to hospital.

In mental health care settings, people can have their physical health overlooked, in part explaining why those with serious mental health problems die 15 years younger than the rest of the population.

And, in places, such is the low standard of social care provision in both the home and care homes, barely any needs are properly met.

What, realistically, can be achieved from a home care service based around ten-minute slots per person?

On a practical level, families are looking for things from the current system that it just isn’t able to provide.

They desperately want co-ordination of care – a single point of contact for all of mum or dad’s needs – but it’s unlikely to be on offer in a three-service world.

So people continue to face the frustration of telling the same story over again to all of the different council and NHS professionals who come through the door.

Carers get ground down by the battle to get support, spending days on the phone being passed from pillar to post.

So far, I have spoken about the experience of older people and their carers.

But the problems I describe – the lack of a whole-person approach – holds equally true for the start of life and adults with disabilities.

Parents of children with severe disabilities will recognise the pattern – the battle for support, the lack of co-ordination and a single point of contact.

CAMHS support at the right time can make all the difference to a young life but is often not there when it is needed.

Children on the autistic spectrum are frequently missed altogether.

The mantra is that early intervention makes all the difference. But it is rarely a reality in a system that doesn’t have prevention at its heart.

If we leave things as they are, carers of young and old will continue to feel the frustration of dealing with services which don’t provide what they really need, that don’t see the whole-person.

They won’t provide the quality people want.

But nor will they be financially sustainable in this century.

For One Nation Labour, this is crucial. Protecting the institutions that bind us together, like the NHS – the expression of what we can achieve together when everyone plays their part.

Right now, the incentives are working in the wrong direction.

For older people, the gravitational pull is towards hospital and care home.

For the want of spending a few hundred pounds in the home, we seem to be happy to pick up hospital bills for thousands.

We are paying for failure on a grand scale, allowing people to fail at home and drift into expensive hospital beds and from there into expensive care homes.

The trouble is no-one has the incentive to invest in prevention.

Councils face different pressures and priorities than the NHS, with significant cuts in funding and an overriding incentive to keep council tax low.

So care services have been whittled away, in the knowledge that the NHS will always provide a safety net for people who can’t cope. And, of course, this could be said to suit hospitals as they get paid for each person who comes through the door.

In their defence, councils and the NHS may be following the institutional logic of the systems they are in.

But it’s financial madness, as well as being bad for people.

Hospital Chief Executives tell me that, on any given day, around 30 to 40 per cent of beds are occupied by older people who, if better provision was available, would not need to be there.

If we leave things as they are, our DGHs will be like warehouses of older people – lined up on the wards because we failed to do something better for them.

But it gets worse. Once they are there, they go downhill for lack of whole-person support and end up on a fast-track to care homes – costing them and us even more.

We could get much better results for people, and much more for the £104bn we spend on the NHS and the £15bn on social care, but only if we turn this system on its head.

We need incentives in the right place – keeping people at home and out of hospitals.

We must take away the debates between different parts of the public sector, where the NHS won’t invest if councils reap the benefit and vice versa, that are utterly meaningless to the public.

So the question I am today putting at the heart of Labour’s policy review is this: is it time for the full integration of health and social care?

One budget, one service co-ordinating all of one person’s needs: physical, mental and social. Whole-Person Care.

A service that starts with what people want – to stay comfortable at home – and is built around them.

When you start to think of a one-budget, one-service world, all kinds of new possibilities open up.

If the NHS was commissioned to provide Whole-Person Care in all settings – physical, mental, social from home to hospital – a decisive shift can be made towards prevention.

A year-of-care approach to funding, for instance, would finally put the financial incentives where they need to be.

NHS hospitals would be paid more for keeping people comfortable at home rather than admitting them.

That would be true human progress in the century of the ageing society.

Commissioning acute trusts in this way could change the terms of the debate about hospitals at a stroke.

Rather than feeling under constant siege, it could create positive conditions for the District General Hospital to evolve over time into a fundamentally different entity: an integrated care provider from home to hospital.

In Torbay, where the NHS and Council have already gone some way down this path, around 200 beds have been taken out from the local hospital without any great argument as families have other things they truly value.

Unlike other parts of England, they have one point of contact for the co-ordination of health and care needs.

Occupational Therapists visit homes the same day or the day after they are requested; urgent aids and adaptations supplied in minutes not days.

If an older person has to go into hospital, a care worker provides support on the ward and ensures the right package of care is in place to help get them back home as soon as possible.

Imagine what a step forward it would be if we could introduce these three things across England.

For the increasing numbers of people who are filled with dread at the thought of mum or dad going into hospital, social care support on the ward would provide instant reassurance.

It is a clear illustration of what becomes possible in a one-service, one-budget world with prevention at its heart.

If local hospitals are to grow into integrated providers of Whole-Person Care, then it will make sense to continue to separate general care from specialist care, and continue to centralise the latter.

So hospitals will need to change and we shouldn’t fear that.

But, with the change I propose, we can also put that whole debate on a much better footing.

If people accept changes to some parts of the local hospital, it becomes more possible to protect the parts that they truly value – specifically local general acute and emergency provision.

The model I am proposing could create a firmer financial base under acute hospitals trusts where they can sustain a back-stop, local A&E service as part of a more streamlined, re-modelled, efficient local healthcare system.

So A&Es need not close for purely or predominantly financial reasons, although a compelling clinical case for change must always be heard and we would never make the mistake of a blanket moratorium.

I am clear that we will never make the most of our £120 billion health and care budget unless hospitals have positive reasons to grow into the community, and we break down the divide between primary and secondary care.

It could see GPs working differently, as we can see in Torbay, leading teams of others professionals – physios, Occupational Therapists, district nurses – managing the care of the at-risk older population.

Nerves about hospital take-over start to disappear in a one-budget world where the financial incentives work in the opposite direction.

NHS hospitals need the security to embrace change and that change will happen more quickly in an NHS Preferred Provider world rather than an Any Qualified Provider world, where every change is an open tender.

I don’t shy away from saying this.

I believe passionately in the public NHS and what it represents.

I think a majority of the public share this sentiment.

They are uncomfortable with mixing medicine with the money motive. They support what the NHS represents – people before profits – as memorably celebrated by Danny Boyle at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games.

Over time, allowing the advance of a market with no limits will undermine the core, emergency, public provision that people hold dear.

So I challenge those who say that the continued advance of competition and the market into the NHS is the answer to the challenges of this century.

The evidence simply doesn’t support it – financially or on quality grounds.

If we look around the world, market-based health systems cost more per person not less than the NHS. The planned nature of our system, under attack from the current Government’s reforms, is its most precious strength in facing a century when demand will ratchet up.

Rather than allowing the NHS model to be gradually eroded, we should be protecting it and extending it as the most efficient way of meeting this century’s pressures.

The AQP approach will not deliver what people want either.

Families are demanding integration. Markets deliver fragmentation.

The logical conclusion of the open-tender approach is to bring an ever-increasing number of providers on to the pitch, dealing with ever smaller elements of a person’s care, without an overall co-ordinating force.

If we look to the US, the best providers are working on that highly integrated basis, co-ordinating physical, mental and social care from home to hospital.

We have got to take the best of that approach and universalise it here.

But there are dangers of monopolistic or unresponsive providers.

Even if the NHS is co-ordinating all care, it is essential that people are able to choose other providers. And within a managed system there must always be a role for the private and voluntary sectors and the innovation they bring.

But let me say something that the last Labour Government didn’t make clear: choice is not the same thing as competition.

The system I am describing will only work if it is based around what people and families want, giving them full control.

To make that a reality, we want to empower patients to have more control over their care, such as dialysis treatment in the home or the choice to die at home or in a hospice.

We will work towards extending patients’ rights to treatment in the NHS Constitution.

This would mean the system would have to change to provide what people want, rather than vice versa.

The best advert for the people-centred system in Torbay is that more people there die at home than in any other part of England.

When I visited, they explained that they had never set out to do that – a target had not been set – but it had been a natural consequence of a system built around people. A real lesson there for politicians.

So an NHS providing all care – physical, mental and social – would be held to account by powerful patient rights.

But, as part of our consultation, we will be asking whether it follows that local government could take a prominent role working in partnership with CCGs on commissioning with a single budget.

This change would allow a much more ambitious approach to commissioning than we have previously managed.

At the moment, we are commissioning health services. This was the case with PCTs and will remain so with CCGs.

The challenges of the 21st century are such that we need to make a shift to commissioning for good population health, making the link with housing, planning, employment, leisure and education.

This approach to commissioning, particularly in the early years, begins to make a reality of the Marmot vision, where all the determinants of health are in play. Improving PH will not be a fringe pursuit for councils but central to everything that they do.

But it also solves a problem that is becoming increasingly urgent.

Councils are warning that, within a decade, they will be overwhelmed by the costs of care if nothing changes.

They point to a chart – affectionately known as the ‘graph of doom’ – which shows there will be little money for libraries, parks and leisure centres by 2020.

One of the great strengths of the one-budget, Whole-Person approach would be to break this downward spiral.

It would give local government a positive future and local communities a real say.

The challenge becomes not how to patch two conflicting worlds together but how to make the most of a single budget.

To address fears that health money will be siphoned off into other, unrelated areas, reassurance is provided by a much more clearly defined national entitlement, based around a strengthened NICE, able to take a broader view of all local public spending when making its recommendations.

It won’t be the job of people at local level to decide what should be provided. That will be set out in a new entitlement. But it will be their job to decide how it should be provided.

That would provide clarity about the respective roles of national and local government, too often a source of confusion and tension.

But I want to be clear: nothing I have said today requires a top-down structural re-organisation.

In the same way that Andrew Lansley should have refocused PCTs and put doctors in charge, I will simply re-focus the organisations I inherit to deliver this vision of Whole-Person Care.

Health and Well-Being Boards could come to the fore, with CCGs supporting them with technical advice.

While we retain the organisations, we will repeal the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and the rules of the market.

It is a confused, sub-optimal piece of legislation not worthy of the NHS and which fails to give the clarity respective bodies need about their role.

This approach creates the conditions for the evolutionary change towards the Whole-Person vision rather than structural upheaval.

At a stroke, those two crucial local institutions – council and hospital – have an alignment of interests and a clear future role to grow into.

But the same is true for social care.

At present, it is trapped in a failing financial model.

The great attraction of the Whole-Person approach, with the NHS taking responsibility for coordination, is that it will be in a position to raise the standards and horizons of social care, lifting it out of today’s cut-price, minimum wage business.

Social care careers would be more valued and young people able to progress as part of an integrated Whole-Person workforce.

Of course, the change we aspire to, particularly in social care, won’t come by simply changing structures. It will need a change of culture including leadership, training, working in teams, better information and seeing patients and families as partners in achieving better health and care.

So Whole-Person Care is the proposal at the heart of Labour’s health and care policy review which is formally launched today.

It will be led by Liz Kendall, and will run alongside Diane Abbott’s separate Public Health Policy Review. Over the next six months, we will be holding events in all parts of England seeking views on two central questions.

First, do you see merit in this vision of Whole-Person Care and support the proposals for the full integration of health and social care?

Second, if you do, how far down this path of integration do you think we should go?

The fact is that, even if we move to a fully integrated model, and shift resources from hospital to home, it won’t be enough to pay for all of one person’s care needs.

We need to be very clear about that.

So this opens up the question of the funding of social care.

It is the case that, with the shift of resources out of hospital, more preventative social care could be provided in the home and, in all likelihood, better standards of social care offered, as we have seen in Torbay.

For instance, we have already proposed that this should include people on the end-of-life register. It would also include provision for those with the highest needs and at risk from going into hospital.

But rather than leave this unspecified, people need to know exactly where they stand. Currently, council care provision is the ultimate lottery.

In a single system, it would be right to set for the first time a clear entitlement to what social care could be provided and on what terms, as part of a national entitlement to health and care.

That would help people understand what is not covered – which is very unclear to people at present.

But the question arises: what is the fairest way of helping people cover the rest?

At present, beyond the £23,000 floor, care charges are unlimited.

These are ‘dementia taxes’: the more vulnerable you are, the more you pay.

As cruel as pre-NHS or US healthcare.

No other part of our welfare state works in this way and, in the century of the ageing society, failure to resolve how we pay for care could undermine the NHS, the contributory principle and incentives to save.

Some people might ask why they should save for retirement, when the chances of it all being washed away increase every year?

In this century, we can’t carry on letting people go into old age with everything – home, savings, pension – on the roulette table.

So there is a political consensus that the status quo is the worst of all possible worlds and it needs to change.

We agree about the need to find a fairer way of paying for social care, but not on what that system should be.

The Government have begun to set out their version of Andrew Dilnot’s proposals.

A cap, not of £35,000 but over the £50,000 Dilnot recommended, and possibly up to £75,000.

This is better than the status quo.

But we all know that setting a cap of up to £150,000 for a couple is not a fair solution.

For Labour, it fails a basic One Nation test.

Offering some protection to the better off, but doing little to help a couple in an average semi in the Midlands or the North.

But it also fails a sustainability test.

By failing to address the shortfall in council budgets, it leaves people exposed to ever-increasing care charges and more likely to pay up to the level of the cap.

This won’t feel like progress to many.

So, as part of Labour’s policy consultation, we will ask for views on other ways of paying for social care.

We will only have a solution when all people, regardless of their savings and the severity of their needs, have the chance to protect what they have worked for.

There are two basic choices – a voluntary or all-in approach – and, at this stage, we are seeking views on which path people think we should take, building on the foundations of a fully merged health and social care system.

Both would represent a significant improvement on the status quo, but both present significant difficulties in terms of implementation.

Andrew Dilnot’s proposed cap and means-test would help everyone protect their savings.

It would mean people only pay as much as they need to, but, in the worst case scenario, could stand to lose a significant chunk of their savings.

If people support this option, we would be interested in hearing views on how it could be funded.

One of the problems with the voluntary approach is it assumes the continuation of two care worlds – one charged for, the other one free-at-the-point-of-use – with all its complexity.

So it is right to ask whether we can move to an all-in system, extend the NHS principle to all care.

This would mean asking people to pay differently for social care to create a level playing field on how all care is provided.

But it would only work on the all-in principle and that is its major downside: all people would be required to contribute, rather than just those needing care.

People’s exposure to care costs in an all-in system would be significantly lower. But, as with any insurance system, people might pay and never end up using the service.

As with the voluntary option we would be interested in hearing people views on the pros and cons of the all-in principle and options for how this could be done.

It is an open question whether a broad consensus can be found on funding social care on either a voluntary or all-in principle.

But Labour is clear that this must not stand in the way of progress now to get much more for people from what we currently spend on health and care.

To Beveridge’s five giants of the 20th century, the 21st is rapidly adding a sixth: fear of old age.

If we do nothing, that fear will only grow as we hear more and more stories of older people failed by a system that is simply not geared up to meet their needs.

A One Nation approach to health and care means giving all people freedom from this fear, all families peace of mind.

Whole-Person Care is a vision for a truly integrated service not just battling disease and infirmity but able to aspire to give all people a complete state of physical, mental and social well-being.

A people-centred service which starts with people’s lives, their hopes and dreams, and builds out from there, strengthening and extending the NHS in the 21st century not whittling it away.

A service which affords everyone’s parents the dignity and respect we would want for our own.

There will be many questions which arise from what I have said today.

I don’t yet have all the answers.

But that’s why Labour is opening this discussion now.

It’s an open invitation to anyone who has anxieties about what is happening to the NHS right now to help us build a genuine alternative – integrated, collaborative, accountable.

I don’t want to do the usual politician thing of pulling a policy out of the hat at the time of the next manifesto that takes people by surprise.

Instead, I want to involve as many people as I can in shaping an alternative they can believe in.

The task is urgent because the NHS is on the same fast-track to fragmentation that social care has been down.

The further it carries on down this path, the harder it will be to glue it back together.

Unlike the last Election, the next one needs to give people a proper choice of what kind of health and care system they want in the 21st century.

That’s why I started by saying it’s time to change the terms of the debate and put more ambition into our ideas.

Labour is rediscovering its roots and its ability to think in the boldest terms about a society that cares for everyone and leaves no-one behind.

People need One Nation Labour to be as brave in this Century as Bevan was in the last.

That’s the challenge and we will rise to it.

Andy Burnham – 2012 Speech to Labour Party Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Andy Burnham to the 2012 Labour Party conference.

Conference, my thanks to everyone who has spoken so passionately today and I take note of the composite.

A year ago, I asked for your help.

To join the fight to defend the NHS – the ultimate symbol of Ed’s One Nation Britain.

You couldn’t have done more.

You helped me mount a Drop the Bill campaign that shook this Coalition to its core.

Dave’s NHS Break-Up Bill was dead in the water until Nick gave it the kiss of life.

NHS privatisation – courtesy of the Lib Dems. Don’t ever let them forget that.

We didn’t win, but all was not lost.

We reminded people of the strength there still is in this Labour movement of ours when we fight as one, unions and Party together, for the things we hold in common.

We stood up for thousands of NHS staff like those with us today who saw Labour defending the values to which they have devoted their working lives.

And we spoke for the country – for patients and people everywhere who truly value the health service Labour created and don’t want to see it broken down.

Conference, our job now is to give them hope.

To put Labour at the heart of a new coalition for the NHS.

To set out a Labour alternative to Cameron’s market.

To make the next election a choice between two futures for our NHS.

They inherited from us a self-confident and successful NHS.

In just two years, they have reduced it to a service demoralised, destabilised, fearful of the future.

The N in NHS under sustained attack.

A postcode lottery running riot – older people denied cataract and hip operations.

NHS privatisation at a pace and scale never seen before.

Be warned – Cameron’s Great NHS Carve-Up is coming to your community.

As we speak, contracts are being signed in the single biggest act of privatisation the NHS has ever seen.

398 NHS community services all over England – worth over a quarter of a billion pounds – out to open tender.

At least 37 private bidders – and yes, friends of Dave amongst the winners.

Not the choice of GPs, who we were told would be in control.

But a forced privatisation ordered from the top.

And a secret privatisation – details hidden under “commercial confidentiality” – but exposed today in Labour’s NHS Check.

Our country’s most-valued institution broken up, sold off, sold out – all under a news black-out.

It’s not just community services.

From this week, hospitals can earn up to half their income from treating private patients. Already, plans emerging for a massive expansion in private work, meaning longer waits for NHS patients.

And here in Greater Manchester – Arriva, a private bus company, now in charge of your ambulances.

When you said three letters would be your priority, Mr Cameron, people didn’t realise you meant a business priority for your friends.

Conference, I now have a huge responsibility to you all to challenge it.

Every single month until the Election, Jamie Reed will use NHS Check to expose the reality.

I know you want us to hit them even harder – and we will.

But, Conference, I have to tell you this: it’s hard to be a Shadow when you’re up against the Invisible Man.

Hunt Jeremy – the search is on for the missing Health Secretary.

A month in the job but not a word about thousands of nursing jobs lost.

Not one word about crude rationing, older people left without essential treatment.

Not a word about moves in the South West to break national pay.

Jeremy Hunt might be happy hiding behind trees while the front-line of the NHS takes a battering.

But, Conference, for as long as I do this job, I will support front-line staff and defend national pay in the NHS to the hilt.

Lightweight Jeremy might look harmless. But don’t be conned.

This is the man who said the NHS should be replaced with an insurance system.

The man who loves the NHS so much he tried to remove the tribute to it from the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games.

Can you imagine the conversation with Danny Boyle?

“Danny, if you really must spell NHS with the beds, at least can we have a Virgin Health logo on the uniforms?”

Never before has the NHS been lumbered with a Secretary of State with so little belief in it.

It’s almost enough to say “come back Lansley.”

But no. He’s guilty too.

Lansley smashed it up for Hunt to sell it off with a smile.

But let me say this to you, Mr Hunt. If you promise to stop privatising the NHS, I promise never to mispronounce your name.

So, Conference, we’re the NHS’s best hope. Its only hope.

It’s counting on us.

We can’t let it down.

So let’s defend it on the ground in every community in England.

Andrew Gwynne is building an NHS Pledge with our councillors so, come May, our message will be: Labour councils, last line of defence for your NHS.

But we need to do more.

People across the political spectrum oppose NHS privatisation.

We need to reach out to them, build a new coalition for the NHS.

I want Labour at its heart, but that means saying more about what we would do.

We know working in the NHS is hard right now, when everything you care about is being pulled down around you.

I want all the staff to know you have the thanks of this Conference for what you do.

But thanks are not enough. You need hope.

To all patients and staff worried about the future, hear me today: the next Labour Government will repeal Cameron’s Act.

We will stop the sell-off, put patients before profits, restore the N in NHS.

Conference, put it on every leaflet you write. Mention it on every doorstep.

Make the next election a referendum on Cameron’s NHS betrayal.

On the man who cynically posed as a friend of the NHS to rebrand the Tories but who has sold it down the river.

In 2015, a vote for Labour will be a vote for the NHS.

Labour – the best hope of the NHS. Its only hope.

And we can save it without another structural re-organisation.

I’ve never had any objection to involving doctors in commissioning. It’s the creation of a full-blown market I can’t accept.

So I don’t need new organisations. I will simply ask those I inherit to work differently.

Not hospital against hospital or doctor against doctor.

But working together, putting patients before profits.

For that to happen, I must repeal Cameron’s market and restore the legal basis of a national, democratically-accountable, collaborative health service.

But that’s just the start.

Now I need your help to build a Labour vision for 21st century health and care, reflecting on our time in Government.

We left an NHS with the lowest-ever waiting lists, highest-ever patient satisfaction.

Conference, always take pride in that.

But where we got it wrong, let’s say so.

So while we rebuilt the crumbling, damp hospitals we inherited, providing world-class facilities for patients and staff, some PFI deals were poor value for money.

At times, care of older people simply wasn’t good enough. So we owe it to the people of Stafford to reflect carefully on the Francis report into the failure at Mid-Staffordshire Foundation NHS Trust.

And while we brought waiting lists down to record lows, with the help of the private sector, at times we let the market in too far.

Some tell me markets are the only way forward.

My answer is simple: markets deliver fragmentation; the future demands integration.

As we get older, our needs become a mix of the social, mental and physical.

But, today, we meet them through three separate, fragmented systems.

In this century of the ageing society, that won’t do.

Older people failed, struggling at home, falling between the gaps.

Families never getting the peace of mind they are looking for, being passed from pillar to post, facing an ever-increasing number of providers.

Too many older people suffering in hospital, disorientated and dehydrated.

When I shadowed a nurse at the Royal Derby, I asked her why this happens.

Her answer made an impression.

It’s not that modern nurses are callous, she said. Far from it. It’s simply that frail people in their 80s and 90s are in hospitals in ever greater numbers and the NHS front-line, designed for a different age, is in danger of being overwhelmed.

Our hospitals are simply not geared to meet people’s social or mental care needs.

They can take too much of a production-line approach, seeing the isolated problem – the stroke, the broken hip – but not the whole person behind it.

And the sadness is they are paid by how many older people they admit, not by how many they keep out.

If we don’t change that, we won’t deliver the care people need in an era when there’s less money around.

It’s not about new money.

We can get better results for people if we think of one budget, one system caring for the whole person – with councils and the NHS working closely together.

All options must be considered – including full integration of health and social care.

We don’t have all the answers. But we have the ambition. So help us build that alternative as Liz Kendall leads our health service policy review.

It means ending the care lottery and setting a clear a national entitlement to what physical, mental and social care we can afford – so people can see what’s free and what must be paid for.

It means councils developing a more ambitious vision for local people’s health: matching housing with health and care need; getting people active, less dependent on care services, by linking health with leisure and libraries; prioritising cycling and walking.

A 21st century public health policy that Diane Abbott will lead.

If we are prepared to accept changes to our hospitals, more care could be provided in the home for free for those with the greatest needs and for those reaching the end of their lives.

To the district general hospitals that are struggling, I don’t say close or privatise.

I say let’s help you develop into different organisations – moving into the community and the home meeting physical, social and mental needs.

Whole-person care – the best route to an NHS with mental health at its heart, not relegated to the fringes, but ready to help people deal with the pressure of modern living.

Imagine what a step forward this could be.

Carers today at their wits end with worry, battling the system, in future able to rely on one point of contact to look after all of their loved-one’s needs.

The older person with advanced dementia supported by one team at home, not lost on a hospital ward.

The devoted people who look after our grans and grand-dads, mums and dads, brothers and sisters – today exploited in a cut-price, minimum wage business – held in the same regard as NHS staff.

And, if we can find a better solution to paying for care, one day we might be able to replace the cruel ‘dementia taxes’ we have at the moment and build a system meeting all of a person’s needs – mental, physical, social – rooted in NHS values.

In the century of the ageing society, just imagine what a step forward that could be.

Families with peace of mind, able to work and balance the pressures of caring – the best way to help people work longer and support a productive economy in the 21st century.

True human progress of the kind only this Party can deliver.

So, in this century, let’s be as bold as Bevan was in the last.

Conference, the NHS is at a fork in the road.

Two directions: integration or fragmentation.

We have chosen our path.

Not Cameron’s fast-track to fragmentation.

But whole-person care.

A One Nation system built on NHS values, putting people before profits.

A Labour vision to give people the hope they need, to unite a new coalition for the NHS.

The NHS desperately needs a Labour win in 2015.

You, me, we are its best hope. It’s only real hope.

It won’t last another term of Cameron.


Three letters. Not Here Soon.

The man who promised to protect it is privatising it.

The man who cut the NHS not the deficit.

Cameron. NHS Conman.

Now more than ever, it needs folk with the faith to fight for it.

You’re its best hope. It’s only hope.

You’ve kept the faith

Now fight for it – and we will win.

Andy Burnham – 2011 Speech to Labour Party Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Andy Burnham to the Labour Party conference in Liverpool on 28th September 2011.


What do you think of my home city?

Brilliant isn’t it?

So welcome to Liverpool – or at least it was Liverpool last time I checked, before the Boundary Commission came along.

I’ve had a great week.

It started with a goal at the annual MPs versus Press football match.

Last year, Ed Balls and I were rivals.

This year we were united up front together – and, he must be doing a good job, because if you’ve seen the photos, there was certainly no ‘squeezed middle’.

But it’s not all been good news.

Recently GQ voted me the fourth worst-dressed man in Britain.

My brother said at least it showed I was trying to fit in with teachers.

In this job, there’s one thing you notice.

How, on an almost daily basis, people who didn’t go to state schools, and don’t send their children to them, pop up in the media to tell us all how awful they are.

Is there any country in the world which runs down its schools, its teachers and its young people in the way we seem to do?

Well, Conference, at least let us put that right today.

Will you join me in thanking our teachers, dinner ladies, support staff, lollipop ladies whose utter devotion to our children makes England’s schools amongst the best in the world?

And let us all thank inspirational heads like Yvonne Sharples and Andrew Chubb for what they do to lift aspirations in places where life is hardest.

And let me thank my brilliant team – Kevin Brennan, Sharon Hodgson, Iain Wright, Toby Perkins and Stella Creasy.

Today, Labour reaches out beyond its own closed circle and I want to welcome all the members of the public and young members who join us today.

My home city is much stronger for 13 years of a Labour Government.

These days, the people hiring taxis are the Yellow Tories – sent packing for propping up a ruthless Tory Government cutting this Council’s budget by over £100 for every person who lives here.

And, yet, take heart from this.

Liverpool’s Labour Leader – Joe Anderson and his team have found a way to keep building new schools for the people of this city.

A lesson for Gove and his Tories: never, ever underestimate the people of this city.

Streetwise, self-confident – but always the city of the underdog, as its blue half will show in Saturday’s Merseyside Derby.

On some issues, though, we stand together.

For 22 years, this city has borne the deepest scars imaginable when 96 of its sons and daughters didn’t come home from an FA Cup semi-final.

As it sought answers, obstacles were thrown up and insults added to injury.

Perhaps we could have done more.

But, with Gordon’s support, Labour made the historic commitment to disclose all public documents through the Hillsborough Independent Panel.

Conference, I ask you and our Party to stand with those Hillsborough families until they have finally prevailed in their dignified campaign for truth and justice.

Nothing matters more to me on a personal level.

That’s because my own family story is bound up with the ups and downs of Liverpool.

And, in that story, a vivid illustration of Ed’s Promise of Britain.

In the 60s and 70s, my grandad drove a lorry around these docks for Tate & Lyle. Could he ever have imagined that his grandson, a former Cabinet Minister, would stand on these very same docks addressing this Conference?

We’ve all come a long way.

But, in the cold light of this century, it suddenly feels much harder for young people who don’t have much, to dare to dream.

As traditional industries have declined, so too have the ladders-up they once provided.

And today young people face agonising choices. It’s not easy to take on the cost of a degree when you know that you’re expected to work for free to get on.

But if things weren’t hard enough, they just got a whole lot harder.

They’ve launched an all-out attack on aspiration, on the hopes and dreams of ordinary kids.

Before the Election, David Cameron looked young people in the eye. He said he’d keep the Education Maintenance Allowance.

What kind of man does that, leaving thousands of young souls cut adrift?

Cameron the Conman, that’s who.

What kind of man destroys England’s careers service with youth unemployment at record levels?

And what kind of man chooses this moment to make young people pay with their life chances.

All across England, you can hear the sound of falling aspiration. And it’s terrifying.

Tony Blair said his priorities were education, education, education.

And because of what he did we can now go further: aspiration, aspiration, aspiration.

In this challenging century, we will be the party for families who want to get on in life, who want better for their children.

Labour will give every child a path in life. Put hope in every heart.

Walk into any primary school in England and you will see the change we made.

University opened up to thousands – and the greatest increase amongst the poorest children.

But we need to go further and yesterday Ed laid down that challenge.

Let’s face up to one thing, though.

As a country, we haven’t focused anything like enough on the opportunities for the 50% or more of kids who don’t plan to go to university.

Young people who want to head towards work or an apprenticeship are left to fend for themselves.

At 13, 14, 15, too many children lose their way because they can’t see where school is taking them.

That’s wrong and I want to put it right.

Young people on the university path know what is expected if they are to make the grade.

I want young people who aspire to apprenticeships to have the same clarity, ambition and sense of purpose.

I want them to be able to find out and apply for them in exactly the same way as people apply for university.

So let’s look at a national UCAS-style system for apprenticeships, raising sights, rewarding those who work hardest, giving all children hope and a goal in life.

A 21st century school system where employers have more influence on what subjects children take.

A 21st century school system based on the solid principle that hard work will be properly rewarded.

Truly comprehensive education for the 21st century: giving every child a clear path; putting hope in every heart.

With new ideas like this, Labour is facing up to the challenges of today.

By contrast, the government’s approach to education reminds me of the film ‘Back to the Future.’

Remember it?

It starred a man called Michael who was trapped in the 1950s.

Here we are in 2011 and we have the spectacle of a Tory Education Secretary promoting Latin and Ancient Greek over Engineering, ICT and Business Studies.

I want as many children as possible to take the subjects in the English Baccalaureate.

But they are not right for everyone.

And yet the message is clear – any school or student who doesn’t succeed is second best.

As we have heard today, there is a growing grassroots rejection of Mr Gove and his elitist and divisive policies.

If we just shout from the sidelines and wait for the next election, too many young lives will be written off.

So we need an alternative.

A curriculum that sets high ambitions for everyone in English and Maths.

A curriculum that gets young people ready for the modern world where they can expect to have around 10 job changes and will need different skills and qualities to succeed.

Not segregated routes between academic and vocational education but a true Baccalaureate.

A unified programme of study geared to the needs of the 21st century: stretching the brightest, yes, but giving all children a relevant route and a solid qualification behind them.

This is Labour’s vision.

Supporting the development of the Modern Baccalaureate, drawing on the example of the Welsh and International Baccalaureates, as an alternative to Gove’s backward-looking vision.

He is stuck in the past and obsessed with structural changes.

He throws money at his favoured schools – free schools and academies – and treats the rest as if they don’t matter.

A man with a plan for some schools and some children, not all schools and all children.

He cancels new schools in areas of greatest need to build new ones in wealthier areas.

And make no mistake – Gove’s academies are not Labour’s academies. We focused on areas of real need; he gives more to the best-performing schools.

In this free-for-all, with a weakened admissions code and all schools judged by the English Baccalaureate, vulnerable children will lose out.

Back to the 1950s. Two-tier education and selection by the back-door.

A new generation of grammars and secondary moderns.

We shouldn’t judge any school by its structure or status. We should judge them by their values and achievements.

Free schools and academies can embody the comprehensive ideal.

But Conference, make no mistake, that ideal is under attack.

And if I believe in anything I believe with all my heart in what it stands for: all backgrounds together, learning to see life from all sides, aspirational for everyone.

These comprehensive values should be as intrinsic to this party’s DNA as the values of the NHS.

We must reform it now for new times, meeting the aspirations of every family and our country and fulfilling the Promise of Britain.

So that’s our mission.

Comprehensive education for the 21st century.

Rewarding hard work.

Stretching the brightest.

Putting hope in every heart.

Andy Burnham – 2011 Speech to NASUWT Conference


Below is the text of the speech made Andy Burnham, the Shadow Education Secretary, to the 2010 NASUWT Conference.

Good afternoon.

It’s great to be with you – even if it is as the first Labour Shadow to address you for some time.

What a difference a year makes.

The only positive is that gives me the first real opportunity for fifteen years to step back, refresh and rethink Labour education policy for new times.

I intend to use it properly.

So today I want to talk to you about the principles that will underpin my approach to that important task.

I might not have been an Education Minister. But I do have a few strong views about education and real passions which go to the heart of why I am in politics.

I need your help and ideas in building on the best of what Labour achieved in Government and developing a genuine alternative to the current direction of travel

Of course, there were things we didn’t get right. That’s why Labour needs time to reflect.

But we can’t afford to have our heads in the clouds. And this brings me to my second theme for today.

An attack has been launched on state education in England.

Structures that have underpinned a successful school system for decades – fair admissions, national standards, local planning – are being swept away.

It’s a whirlwind – an unseemly rush to reform with no consultation, no pilots, no evidence.

A reckless ideological experiment designed to break a successful school system and turn it into a free-for-all.

A plan for some children and some schools, not all children and all schools.

An unforgiveable gamble with the life chances of our children.

So much change has been thrown at the system at once in the last 12 months at once that it’s been hard to stand back and make sense of it all.

Today, I want to put all the pieces together.

I want to show what’s at stake.

I want to explain how the combined effect of the erosion of fair admissions and the promotion of a narrow, academic curriculum will create an inevitable drive towards an elitist, two-tier school system – a new generation of grammar schools and secondary moderns.

England is sleepwalking into a new era of selection and segregation in our schools – and it’s time to raise the alarm.

Tories in Government have forgotten that they didn’t win an outright mandate from the public for right-wing reforms to our public services.

As for Mr Clegg … well what can you say?

I was campaigning in Sheffield the other day. On one doorstep, I was saying how hard it was to work with them now as I had no idea what Mr Clegg stood for.

Quick as a flash this bloke said: “I know what Clegg stands for. Mr Cameron, when the PM walks into the Cabinet room.”

What I do know is that Mr Clegg has put the Lib Dems’ name to an Education Bill – every single word of which contradicts a motion passed at his Party’s annual conference.

So it falls to us to remind them.

Let’s do that by launching a joint campaign today to change that Bill – and put down a clear marker against the drive towards an atomised, competitive, divided education system

Just as the Government has been forced into retreat on NHS reform, if we fight together for what we believe in we can preserve a semblance of a state education system for the next Labour Government.

I will explain later how we might do that.

But, first, Labour’s policy review.

I have two clear tests for an education policy: will it help all school be good schools? Will it help every child to be the best they can be?

I’m proud that, in Government, Labour made demonstrable progress towards these goals.

Our schools saw a decade of improvement: more teachers, smaller classes, a stronger, more professional workforce, more classroom support, better school buildings and ourdoor play facilities, modern ICT, better discipline, better sport and arts.

Per pupil funding was finally brought up to the European average, 4,000 schools were rebuilt – and, as a result of all these things, standards rose.

In 1997, one in two schools were below the basic benchmark. By 2010, that was just 1 in 40 schools. 80% of secondary schools and 90% of primary schools had good or outstanding behaviour.

It’s a record Labour can be proud of – but I know it simply wouldn’t have been possible without our partnership with you.

So, on behalf of the Labour Party, I would like to thank this union for all that is has done to champion comprehensive state education, and show how constructive social partnership can work for all to improve standards in our schools.

Your contribution to this revolution was recognised last year when Ed Balls launched the Teachers’ Guarantee at this conference last year.

It was an expression of our trust in the professionalism of teachers – and our desire to support you to have the greatest impact on the learning, well-being and development of your pupils.

And I can say today that I will carry forward that principle into our policy review.

Mr Gove talks about the importance of teaching – as if nothing happened in 13 years.

Just as they have sought to re-write history on the economy, so they have deployed a barrage of selective facts to decry the achievements of our children, our teachers and our schools in the last fifteen years.

The fact is that last decade saw teaching transformed – from a profession demoralised and undervalued to the top destination for Oxbridge graduates.

40,000 more teachers, 120,000 more teaching assistants. The best generation of teachers ever, according to OFSTED.

This was achieved not by Government alone but by partnership and constructive dialogue on the things that matter to teachers, by being fair on pay and pensions.

In Government – and in partnership with NASUWT – Labour took tough decisions on pensions to make them more affordable and viable.  Together, we were able to improve long-term sustainability and reduce the risk to the taxpayer and retain the principles of equity and flexibility.

I hope even people who did not agree with us on everything will recognise that as a more honourable way of working that unilaterally deciding to increase employee contributions in advance of the Hutton Report.

The Government have made a mockery of partnership. So I understand why teachers are angry. Pension affordability is one thing. But permanent changes in the name of deficit reduction – particularly when the banks are getting a tax cut – are quite another.

When it comes to schools, parents rightly expect all avenues to be explored before other action is taken. But the onus is very clearly on the Government to rebuild trust and negotiate a fair settlement.

More broadly, Gove’s free-for-all in teachers pay and conditions will mean his rhetoric about teaching will never match up to the reality.

I know from my experience in the NHS that you build stronger and more stable public services with social partnership and national pay frameworks.

That will remain at the heart of Labour’s approach to education and is what I mean when I talk about building on the best of what we did in Government.

But we didn’t get everything right. And I know we won’t move on unless we acknowledge and face up to those things.

During the Labour Leadership election, I said I regretted the fact that, at times, Labour didn’t seem sufficiently proud of its comprehensive schools. I shuddered the day they were labelled ‘bog-standard’ – a huge disservice to the sheer variety and quality of what goes on in our schools.

For someone coming in new to education policy, the depth of negativity in the media towards our schools is quite striking.

I’m sure that there can’t be another country in the world that talks down its schools, its teachers, its qualifications and its young people in the way we seem to do.

So I will champion the school system that did a good job for me – and is doing its best for my children in difficult circumstances.

A second area where I think we need to reflect is in how we make policy.

At times we allowed the London context exerted an undue influence on the formulation of national policy.

We didn’t always get the balance right between national targets, on the one hand, and school and teacher autonomy on the other.

We didn’t focus enough on improving opportunities for the half of kids unlikely to go to University.

Politicians of all sides like to polish messages for the pushiest parents, leaving teachers are left to deal with the reality of trying to create schools that work for everyone.

I can see how this has led to a disconnect between politics and the teaching profession.

I want to address this in Labour’s policy commission on 0 to 19 education which is now underway.

Today I issue the warmest of invitations to you all to play a part in it.

Through Chris, I would like to hear your thoughts and ideas, on where we got things right in Government, where there is further to go, and where a changing world demands new approaches.

I want our policy review to look at clear entitlements for on-going professional development, giving teachers the opportunity to update their skills and specialisms.

I want to teaching to be seen as a high-status profession on a par with medicine and law.

I want to see a culture that means it is as unacceptable for a student to be failed in the classroom as it is for a patient to be failed in the consulting room.

Turning the best generation ever of teachers into the best teachers in the world should be a national mission in the coming decades. It matters for our children, our communities, and the long-term prosperity of our country.

The big challenge I have set the Commission is to rethink comprehensive education for this century, showing how it can embody aspiration and achievement in schools and colleges across the country. I want it to do that by making sure all policy recommendations are firmly based on evidence, not whim or prejudice.

Some right-wing commentators who think these two statements are incompatible, that the evidence doesn’t support what they call an outdated orthodoxy.

Since I took on this job, I have spoken of my unshakeable belief in the comprehensive ideal. Immediately, this drew a lazy characterisation that I was therefore in favour of levelling down; that I was anti-choice and diversity.

I am none of those things. I support parent and student choice, diversity of provision in schools, the promotion of academic excellence and high achievement.

My mission is to show how they are entirely compatible within a truly comprehensive system. Indeed, that is the only way we will help all children be the best they can be.

So let me refer some of those commentators to some authoritative evidence:

“Systems that show high performance and an equitable distribution of learning outcomes tend to be comprehensive, requiring teachers and schools to embrace diverse student populations through personalised educational pathways.

“In contrast, school systems that assume that students have different destinations with different expectations and differentiation in terms of how they are placed in schools, classes and grades often show less equitable outcomes without an overall performance advantage.”

It comes from last year’s PISA report. Michael Gove is fond of quoting PISA. But, interestingly, not this bit.

He doesn’t refer much to this bit either:

“Countries that create a more competitive environment in which many schools compete for students do not systematically produce better results.”

Nor this:

“Most successful school systems grant greater autonomy to individual schools to design curricula and establish assessment policies.”

PISA identifies three ingredients of a successful schools system: autonomy over the curriculum; collaborative rather than competitive; and comprehensive in terms of intake.

I will base Labour’s policy on these solid foundations. And, this brings me to my second theme.

I will show how Mr Gove is going in precisely the opposite direction on each of the three – to a more prescriptive, competitive and socially-segregated system.

The current Secretary of State has two qualities in abundance which are a lethal mix in any minister: incompetence and ideological zeal.

He doesn’t care much for detail or evidence – probably because it doesn’t support the ideological experiment he is inflicting on our children.

There is no evidence that the Free Schools policy will drive up standards. In fact at worst, as experience in Sweden suggests, they will have a negative impact – not just on standards but on social cohesion.

Michael Gove doesn’t mention Sweden much now, and prefers to points to the US and charter schools as his inspiration.

Yet, here too, academics at Stanford University found that fewer than one in five charter schools outperformed comparable state schools and over a third were doing “significantly worse”.

That is why I call his policy direction a reckless gamble with standards.

My summary of the first 12 months of this Government’s education policy is a sorry story of broken promises, incompetence and wrong-headed reforms.

They said they would protect Sure Start – but cut the funding and removed the ringfence.

They said they would keep the Education Maintenance Allowance – but scrapped it at the first opportunity.

They said it would be wrong to dismantle school sport partnerships – but they have.

And crucially, they said they had found more resources for schools, that the Pupil Premium would be additional to the schools budget.

Labour is publishing new figures today which show that the rhetoric simply doesn’t make the reality – the schools budget will fall every year for three years and per pupil funding is cut.

Thousands of teachers at risk of redundancy. 700 local communities who have seen school building projects cancelled are watching money being poured into Free Schools.

With mainstream schools facing harsh cuts, local communities must be allowed to judge whether this is the best use of resources – but the Free School programme is shrouded in secrecy.

You deserve better than this. Children, families, communities – all deserve better than this.

Where is the fairness in an approach to education where public money is used as bait to lure schools into an ideological experiment?

Labour’s academies programme was focused on turning around schools in the most deprived areas.

This Government has perverted it into a purely ideological programme with no plan for how it will drive up standards – an uneven playing field where money follows ideology not need.

The Government have fallen straight into the trap of believing that making structural changes will automatically deliver improved standards.

Unfair pressure is being piled on schools to change status. Consultation in some cases is cursory. And, disgracefully, Education Ministers put pressure on schools to sideline the voice of this trade union.

All this from a Government which preached freedom and autonomy.

In fact, they are more centralising, top-down and prescriptive than we ever were.

Mr Gove wants to tell communities what kind of schools they must have and students what subjects they must study.

So much for student and parent choice.

Parents should have influence over local schools. But the Education Bill says communities can only have one kind of new schools – a new-style academy or Free School.

The English Bacc is forcing a narrow academic subject selection on schools and students.

All this leaves Government promises of autonomy and localism in tatters – and observers scratching their heads at a Secretary of State in danger of collapsing under the weight of his own contradictions.

What guarantees do parents have about standards in this free-for-all – where schools to open in any building, with unqualified teachers, bypassing the National Curriculum?

Isn’t there a real risk that new schools will destabilise existing good schools?

So it’s to put down a marker against this dangerous experiment.

Instead of obsessing over structures, which are meaningless to many parents, we will be seeking to amend the Bill to secure what really matters to them.

Will my child have a fair chance of getting into a good school? Will they have good teachers?

Labour will seek to preserve local admissions forums to support the rights of parents at local level to have fair access to schools of their choice.

And we will safeguard standards by seeking to amend the Bill to ensure that all publicly-funded schools employ qualified teachers, requiring free schools to be covered by the same requirements regarding teaching qualifications as other schools.

Simple, common-sense amendments that give children and parents guarantees and protection from the worst of Gove’s free market madness.

I hope all those who have misgivings about this Government’s direction of travel will rally round the campaign to amend the Education Bill.

These amendments won’t solve everything – but they will send a clear message to the Government that they can’t break up our school system without a fight.

A fair school system is under threat from the combination of two things: changes to school governance – where schools are their own admission authorities; and the introduction of a narrow academic English Baccalaureate as a measure of performance.

The English Bacc provides an incentive to focus on some students rather than others and sidelines vocational learning.

Michael, you can’t design an entire school system around the requirements of the Russell Group.

The danger is that, in a highly competitive system, schools will greater power over admissions will prioritise students likely to succeed under the English Bacc – creating a selective system by the back door.

I came into politics to challenge elitism in education. And I’m now ready to give this Government the fight of its life to save the kind of school system I believe in.


My own journey in life took me from a Merseyside comprehensive in the mid-1980s to Cambridge and then to the Cabinet.

It has shown me the best and worst of our education system and society.

Doors never open for some young people because they are never given the confidence to knock on them.

I joined Labour in the mid-80s because that I wanted to challenge it and I’m proud of the progress we made in Government: more young people leaving school with decent qualifications; more people staying on; more people going to university.

Today, I’m more fired up than ever because I see history repeating itself and all this hard-won progress thrown into reverse.

When the Government trebled tuition fees, it filled me with despair. I could almost hear the sound of falling aspiration in my constituency.

And when I hear a Prime Minister say it’s OK to hand out life chances and plum jobs on the dinner party circuit, it reminds me why I’m I do the job I do.

For all the progress we have made as a society, it remains the case that the postcode of the bed you are born in pretty much determines where you end up in life and what chances you have.

I know that a two-tier school system, no EMA and trebled tuition fees will reinforce that, stacking the odds against those who have least.

So the stakes couldn’t be higher.

I want an education system that is an engine of true social mobility, that helps all children be the best they can be.

If this is your vision too, let’s fight for it together before it is too late.

Andy Burnham – 2011 Speech to Demos


Below is the text of the speech made by Andy Burnham, the Shadow Education Secretary, to Demos on 12th July 2011.

When I was given this job, I said I wanted to rethink comprehensive education for the 21st century.

Today I will set out my vision for what that means in practice.

My thinking has been shaped by discussions in Labour’s Schools Policy Review and I am grateful to the experts on the group for their insights, and pleased that we are joined by one of them today – inspirational former primary school head, Richard Gerver.

I would also like to thank Demos and Microsoft for hosting us today, and Mike Baker for agreeing to chair this event.

My experts have told me one clear home truth: for too long, politicians have been labouring under old and out-dated assumptions about education and schools.

Having begun in denial, I am now able to admit they are right.

So, as Secretary of State for Education, I would look to build a school system in England based on three clear principles:

First, where hard work is properly rewarded and all young people have something to aim for beyond school.

Second, where we reach every single child, by judging schools on the difference they make for every individual student – including how far schools stretch the brightest

Third, where learning is made relevant to life today, building the character and qualities young people will need to succeed in 21st century

Reward, reach, relevance – these will be my 3Rs to guide schools reform in the 21st century.

I will seek endorsement for them from Labour’s Annual Conference as part of a report of the schools policy review.

It sounds simple. But, as I want to explain today, a school system that truly lives and breathes these ideas will be different than it is today.

And, if it is to be a reality, it’s the political debate about education that urgently needs to enter the 21st century.

My son starts secondary school in September.

Last week, we attended the induction evening with other parents.

The head began by asking us not to judge what we were about to hear by our own time at school.

Schools today were preparing young people for a very different world than the 1980s, he said.

Our sons and daughters could expect to have at least 10 different jobs throughout their career.

Unlike their grandparents, who did specific jobs in large industries, they will most likely work in smaller companies. They will need to be all-rounders, able to adapt quickly to new situations.

It is more likely that they will be employers as well as employees.

With all this in mind, he said, thinking only about exam results would be to miss the point.

Facts and content are not all that matters as some of our children will work in industries we don’t yet know about.

Success in the 21st century will depend on young people’s ability to be resourceful, adaptable, self-confident, creative and self-managing.

Good presentation and people skills will be essential, as will critical thinking.

As I sat listening to this, I was struck by two things: first, how it echoed what I had been hearing from my experts on the policy review; second, how I wished I could get him before the House of Commons to make this speech.

Most MPs, myself included, base their views on education on their own school days and what life was like in the 60s, 70s or 80s.

As the outside changes rapidly, schools remain frozen in time in the minds of most MPs.

But, since the Election, it’s got worse.

Under the Coalition, thin king about education has headed backwards at breakneck speed – following the script of a 1980s film.

You may remember it. It starred a man called Michael, who was trapped in the 1950s.

Back to the Future probably would have been a better title for Michael Gove’s White Paper.

Learning facts by rote to pass exams – names of rivers, Kings and Queens – is relentlessly promoted above instilling the essential qualities young people will need to navigate the modern world.

It’s hard to understand the thought process that can conclude that the way forward for England’s schools in the 21st century is to bring in a new ‘gold standard’ measurement system that values Latin and Ancient Greek above Engineering, Business Studies or ICT.

And, in a world of work that gets more complicated by the day, what do ministers do?

They drop the requirement for work-related learning at Key Stage 4 and allow the Careers Service to melt away before our eyes.

It’s a wholly inadequate response.

By setting out an alternative vision today, I hope to refocus the education debate away from the Government’s obsession with structural reform and back on more fundamental questions.

What are schools for? What do employers want from them?

This is where I start from.

Employability is important, but it’s not all that matters. Schools have to be about values and citizenship too.

Somewhere along the line, as well as being stuck in the past, politicians have lost this broad view of education.

Schools should build strong and prosperous communities in which all young people are ready and able to fulfil their potential – as citizens, employees, employers, mums, dads, carers and neighbours.

This is my answer to the question ‘What are schools for?’

But I don’t know what the Government thinks.

Instead, we see a blizzard of activity focused on changing school structures without any clear vision of what makes the 21st century school.

The Government urgently needs to correct this and to show how its structural reforms will deliver its vision.

Failure to do that risks making its own reform programme an irrelevant sideshow: change for its own sake, a numbers game, rather than focusing schools on the job in hand of rising to the big economic and social challenges of this century.

I am optimistic about our future, but right now our schools look stuck in the last century and government changes are sending them backwards not forwards.

If current policy stays unchanged, I have great fears for where we’ll be in 10 years time.

The lethal combination of the narrow English Baccalaureate and a free-for-all in schools risks cementing an impression that has been building for the last 20 years: a production-line approach to education where schools are stressed-out exam factories teaching to regurgitate facts u nder pressure rather building rounded characters.

Schools have no choice but to focus on what they’re told.

As the Secretary of State told the Commons yesterday, there has been an increase in the number of young people learning Latin in state schools.

I’m not sure it’s the cause for celebration he seems to think it is.

I have nothing at all against bright young people choosing Latin at GCSE. But what I suspect is happening is that schools are steering children towards EBacc subjects and the effect of this is that it is limiting choices for all children within the school.

But I certainly can’t celebrate a system that encourages a focus on the top 30% of students at the expense of the rest.

It leads me to ask: What has this Government got against creativity? What have they got to say to the 70% of children who are unlikely to opt for EBacc subjects?

I think it’s inevitable that the effect will be a school system that sift s into two levels – schools that do well under EBacc and those that don’t.

This risks taking us back to the 1950s: a two-tier system where technical or practical is second-best, our education system is divided, and a generation of children failed.

England urgently needs an alternative to this out-dated thinking.

We need an education policy that is both forward-looking and reasserts the broad view of education.

So here are my emerging ideas about how to build a school system based around the three principles I mentioned at the beginning.

First, a system where hard work is properly rewarded, by giving all young people something to aim for – building on our success in expanding university and apprenticeship places.

The education debate in England urgently needs to be re-balanced.

As Demos has rightly identified, politicians of all parties over a long period of time have let down the 50% or more of young people not planning to go to university.

Because most went to university, there is a tendency to think exclusively about A Levels and the university route, exams and qualifications.

Our school system has traditionally provided great clarity to young people on university route, as to what they need to do to secure a place.

Young people outside that route have had nothing like the same clarity and have been expected to make their own way.

Unless that changes, our school system will continue to cater for some children, not all children. We won’t rise to the big challenges of this century, which are different to the last.

When we started school, our generation had more certainty and structure.

On the whole, people knew university was a realistic possibility – and affordable – if they met the required standard.

For those planning to enter work, trainee schemes operated by large industries were in much more plentiful supply. Entry requirements for them were well understood.

Today, there is still clarity about what it takes to go to University – even if that is a receding possibility for many young people.

But, with the demise of large industry, there is nowhere near as much clarity for young people who want to get good vocational qualifications that will take them towards skilled work.

And this problem will only get bigger, as young people switch off from higher education.

I think this is taking the country in the wrong direction, as university education gives people the all-round versatility and confidence they will need for the modern world.

But, if we are to avoid a lost generation, we must urgently rethink what we are offering as a society to young people not planning to go to university.

When they start school, all young people need to feel they have something to aim for.

If they don’t have a clear sense that school needs is leading somewhere and giving them a path in life, the risk will be that we see young people switching off at school in greater numbers as the EBacc is not what they want and other courses will have the distinct feel of being second-best, an afterthought.

So what to do?

I want all young people to have a solid opportunity to aim for at 18 – be it a University place or apprenticeship.

But, if we want to instil the right values in our young people, it can’t be about handing everything on a plate.

So I believe this points to developing a new social contract with young people.

When starting school, the message to all young people should be clear: if you put in the hours, and if you meet the required standard, you will gain a solid, prestigious qualification which will open up a good opportunity for you beyond school.

This means we will need good-quality apprenticeships in much more plentiful supply than there are today, and much clearer information and structure for how they access them.

For instance, why isn’t there as much clarity over applying for apprenticeships as there is for applying to universities?

Could we build up the system John Denham introduced into a true UCAS-style system where the best opportunities go to those who work hardest?

Delivering this change will be about building on what we did in Government, but taking it to a new level.

Labour saved apprenticeships from near-extinction.

We more than quadrupled the number of places in our 13 years in government and had plans for further big expansions of public sector apprenticeships.

If the path towards an apprenticeship was as clear as the path towards university, more young people would see the relevance of their education and understand that hard work would be rewarded.

This is why the current shambles around the careers service is so damaging. The school and college leaders’ union, ASCL have said that 2 million young people could mi ss out on careers advice due to government mismanagement.

A social contract for young children of the kind I am talking about will be essential to preventing the terrifying prospect of lost generations throughout this century.

But it will also build a society based on the right values.

In the eyes of the public, Labour in government started to lose an association with hard work and the idea that the way to get on in life is to put in the hours.

At times, we created an impression that opportunities would be provided regardless of people’s willingness to grab them.

A society based on responsibility means firmly planting at the heart of our school system the idea that hard work will be rewarded.

This takes me to my second principle – a school system that reaches every single child, where there is an incentive to stretch every child.

Labour made huge progress at every stage of children’s development.

Sure Start brought a whole-family approach to education and helped bring children to primary school ready to learn.

Primary schools were our great success story. But it’s from 11 to 19 that the picture is more mixed.

I’ve been reflecting on what we got right and wrong.

In 1997, inheriting a system with 50% of schools failing to give a third of kids basic standards in English and maths meant we needed to get a pretty firm grip at the centre.

Our National Challenge benchmark of 5 A*-C at GCSE was the right measure for the time and helped us to turn around over 1,000 failing schools.

But sticking with it for as long as we did brought two problems with it: first, it judged schools by how well they did with some children, not all children; second, it did not provide sufficient incentive to stretch the brightest, to turn Cs in Bs, Bs into As, and As into A*s.

The new Government has made great play of the fact that it is continuing Labour’s approach – but with added fervour and intensity.

This is a debatable claim. But it is true to the extent that the current Government are now in grave danger of cementing into the system some of the flaws in Labour’s approach.

I believe there will always be a need for some measure of absolute standards in our schools.

But in Government we were beginning to move away from 5A*-Cs as a headline measure, because we knew that any ‘threshold’ standard like this would focus attention at the borderline and not incentivise schools to focus on every child.

We can’t turn off the flow of data, and the more information we have about our schools, the better. But we can control how politicians handle and react to that data.

By making the English Bacc their headline performance measure for schools the Government has ensured that turning grade Ds into Cs will remain a core focus for schools.

Having promised to end top-down targets, schools are being plac ed in a vice-like grip – not just the EBacc but also a tougher 5 A to Cs floor target.

Labour’s policy review is looking at whether it is possible to reform league tables so that schools are judged by the difference that they make with each individual learner.

We will now do further work on developing a simple measure –using CVA or VA as a starting point – that is well understood, trusted by parents and supported by the profession.

If we get it right, it could align the political imperative to measure how schools are doing with the professional vocation of teachers to make a difference for every child.

It would be a simple expression of what should be the mission of every school: pushing every pupil to be the best they can be, with a clear incentive to put no limits on how far we stretch the brightest.

But we will only do that if we also enact my third principle and create a system where learning is made relevant to life today, building t he character and qualities young people will need to succeed in 21st century.

Schools need to give young people need relevant answers to the challenges in their lives.

They need forward-looking courses of study, with links to the world of world, that don’t just focus on facts and knowledge but instil the essential qualities they will need to get on in a changing world.

Relevance is an important concept in education – but not one that features in current Ministerial thinking.

We mustn’t trap ourselves in the out-dated thinking that learning falls into clear categories: the academic or vocational, the theoretical or the practical, the brain or the hands.

Many subjects, like medicine or engineering, are a mixture of both.

We can both stretch young people academically – for example, by offering triple science at GCSE – whilst also promoting practical or vocational learning, like the Engineering Diploma. It’s not a choice between the two, as the Government seems to suggest.

Employers and universities are united and clear in what they want from schools – young people strong in the basics and displaying what they call ‘employability skills’ – like self-management, team working and problem solving.

And they want to see more young people with specialist knowledge in science, technology, maths and engineering.

So it follows that we need a school system that instils those essential qualities, builds strong characters and encourages independent learning.

It is clear that a content-driven curriculum alone will not develop the attributes that employers and universities say they are looking for.

We need to look at how we ensure all young people have the opportunity to develop the knowledge and attributes they need for the modern world.

I think we need to look at two areas first.

First, is there a case for setting out a minimum entitlement for all children – a binding statement of rights in a world where the education system is more fragmented and some schools narrow their focus?

It could build on our pupil and parent guarantees, scrapped by this Government.

Like the right to one-to-one catch-up if a child fell behind in the basics.

Like the opportunity to study triple science at GCSE, or to learn a language at primary school.

Increasing the life chances of children from poorer families in a century where social networks and family connections are becoming more important means giving them access to the same breadth of opportunities as children from better-off families that broaden horizons.

It’s not just about academic opportunities. There is a real fear that sport, cultural opportunities and work experience become random again and the preserve of those whose families can organise opportunities.

These are the things that develop confidence and character.

In my view, every child should have the chance to experience qualified coaching and competitive opportunities in a range of sports.

Just as I would like to see every child experience a creative and cultural education – with opportunities to learn a musical instrument, to act in a play, to develop confidence in public speaking.

Sport and arts are the things that can turn on a light inside many children, helping them achieve more in their core academic studies.

And if we are truly to raise aspirations for every child, we need to be far more ambitious about work-related learning.

Employers have a right to say that schools are turning out young people lacking in the skills they are looking for.

But they also have a responsibility to get involved in schools and help them develop those skills.

Experience of the workplace is essential if we are to broaden the horizons of our most deprived children.

We know that when young people organise their own work experience, a form of social reproduction takes place and they end up experiencing the type of work their families are involved in.

You don’t often find working class kids spending two weeks in a law firm if they have to organise it through their own connections.

Rather than scrapping the requirement, we should have a much more ambitious view where the worlds of law, finance, media and politics are opened up to young people from less well-connected families.

Third sector organisations like Future First and the Education and Employers Taskforce are helping schools to build the networks that they need to offer these opportunities in their local communities.

But minimum entitlements alone will not be enough. We also need a radical rethink of the 14-19 curriculum so that we can give young people a relevant and engaging path from school to work.

Looking back, Labour missed a moment in 2006, with the publication of the Tomlinson Report.

We had a chance to reshape the curriculum and the work of schools – relevant, rewarding, built around the strengths and interests of every child – but failed to take it.

I want to go back to the principles of that report but update it too.

We stand a better chance of engaging all young people if we can offer them relevant options at 14.

English and maths must always be at the core of a young person’s education, and no one should be forced to specialise before they are ready. But they should be able to if they are.

Last week, I visited the JCB Academy and saw students following a programme of study that they had chosen – and that they clearly found highly relevant and engaging.

The Engineering Diploma that JCB Academy offers mixes high quality academic and practical learning, and can help open the doors to apprenticeships and university.

But, importantly, it doesn’t close any doors – the head teacher told me that if, at 16, one of their students decided they wanted to study medicine, there would be no reason why they couldn’t. The school will score zero on the English Baccalaureate.

Instead of closing down their choices, as the English Baccalaureate does, I think we should open them up – so young people can follow the pathway that is right for them and develop their talents, be those are academic, technical, linguistic or creative.

I think we need to look at introducing a true Baccalaureate, like the International Baccalaureate: a broad programme of learning that lets all young people choose the path that suits them best but gives all the solid, prestigious qualification age 14-19 that is valued by employers and universities that I was talking about earlier.

If we are to do this successfully, it will demand more of our teachers.

Standing in front of a class and teaching kids to memorise facts isn’t easy.

But it might seem more straightforward than developing a relevant programme of study that speaks to every child and equips them with not only the knowledge, but also the essential attributes, they will need to succeed in the modern world.

Luckily, we currently have the best generation of teachers ever. I want to make it a national mission in the coming decade to build the best teaching workforce in the world.

That’s why I am asking if there’s a case for working towards making teaching a masters-level profession, following the example of the best school systems around the world.

Only with the highest-quality, most professional teaching workforce in the world will we be able to deliver an education system that rewards hard work, reaches every child and is relevant to the modern world.

This emphasis on access to CPD for teachers could be linked to the introduction of a professionally-led licence to teach.

A more relevant 14 to 19 curriculum will also mean changes for our schools.

I want to see every local area develop exciting and engaging new post-14 pathways, working with employers and post-16 providers.

The implication of this is two major changes from current policy: first, a continuing and important planning role for the local authority in education; second, an education system where collaboration between schools, rather than hand-to-hand combat, is the driving force.

Education is essentially a collaborative activity: the more people share thoughts and ideas, the more they learn. But the market model doesn’t recognise this: it encourages schools jealously to guard the best of what they’ve got; and will produce winners and losers, where young people get trapped in struggling institutions.

My vision is to open up the best that every area has to offer to all children.

A refocused 14-19 curriculum might also mean at 14 that we spend more time bringing the very brightest children together from schools a cross a local authority area, so they can learn from each other and we can give them a clearer idea of what is required on the Russell Group or Oxbridge path.

A system that is “comprehensive and collaborative”: not a rose-tinted view of education but, according to PISA, the defining characteristics of the world’s best education systems.It is about facing future challenges, not a vision of education stuck in the past.

It is about instilling essential qualities rather than focusing solely on facts and exams.

It is about finding a route through for every child, not just the top 25%.

If we don’t do these things, we are facing a century when there is a real risk that social mobility will go seriously into reverse.

The British Promise that Ed Miliband has spoken of – where children have greater life chances than their parents – will only be a reality if we can bring our schools into the 21st century.

Preventing a lost generation and wasting the talents of our young people is one of the great challenges of our times.

As university gets more expensive, EMA withdrawn, and old structures break down, it will be those kids without connections, and family networks, who fail to get on.

I came into politics to challenge that.

And its why today I put forward my vision for comprehensive education in the 21st century: relevant, rewarding, aspirational for all.