To read about how I think we can renew the political process, click here
The Government must provide as much support as possible to people and businesses during the global recession. The action taken by the Labour Government has mitigated the impact of the recession and will see us return to growth more quickly. We also need to prepare for the upturn by increasing investment in skills, employment support and enterprise. I know that the action taken by Gordon Brown on the international stage can feel distant but it is crucial that Britain provides the leadership to forge a new international consensus that ensures we do not see a repeat of the financial crisis.
I am involved in politics because I want Britain to be a fairer and more prosperous country. Labour has done an enormous amount to improve the living standards of millions of people through policies such as the minimum wage and Working Families Tax Credit, but I know that Britain needs to go further and faster in combating poverty and entrenched inequalities. I am immensely proud that Labour has consistently reduced the number of children, families and pensioners living in poverty; the gap in life expectancy between Sheffield’s richest and poorest communities has reduced by 5 years since 1997, although it is still far too big. It is only the Labour Party that will gurantee to pursue policies that reduce poverty and inequality.
Education, training and skills development are the most powerful tools in overcoming poverty, inequality and barriers to employment. Since 1997, Britain’s schools, colleges and universities have been transformed, especially in Sheffield. The support that pupils recieve has also been radically enhanced, through things like the Education Maintainance Allowance, the massive increases in University admissions and sufficient investment to equalise state and private funding. But we need to do so much more, especially in a rapidly changing society where people might have numerous careers: Too many children, young people and adults still think education isn’t for them or find it too difficult to access support. We have to find better ways to enable everyone to reach their potential, not just because it benefits specific individuals, families and communities, but because that is the bedrock of the new, green, and skilled economy we want to forge.
From Kyoto to the Climate Change Act, Britain is leading the world in protecting the environment and tackling climate change. But neither the planet nor future generations can afford a millimeter of complacency. We musn’t view protecting the environment in isolation because it affects every aspect of decent public policy: Reducing energy consumption helps people keep more of their money. I recognise that we need to invest even more in clean technology and renewable energy production as part of a wider strategy to , whilst not denying developing countries the means to increase the quality of life for their citizens. This fundamental issue requires intense international co-operation and engagement – on that score alone the Tories are disqualified from being able to tackle it.
Despite significant, sustained and independently assessed reductions, I know that crime and the fear of crime remain massive challenges in many communities. In addition to increasing further the number of police officers and PCSOs, I want to give more people a genuine say over the priorities of their local police force and neighbourhood teams, as part of a much bigger commitment to giving people a stronger voice on everything that happens in their community. It is also crucial that we bring justice closer to affected areas and victims of crime, by rolling out Community Justice Panels across Britain.