Labour conference lookahead | 28 September

The who, when and where of the Labour conference.

Look out for

Andy Burnham, Labour's Shadow Education Secretary, will give a speech admitting that the party should have done more in government for the 50 per cent of young people who do not go to university. He will tell delegates that university is not the be all and end all of higher education and that those who want to take an apprenticeship or go into straight into work from school should be given greater support by the state.

He will also make the case for the introduction of a "Modern Baccalaureate" as a replacement for the the Coalition's "English Baccalaureate", which he will describe as part of "Gove's narrow, backward-looking vision". Finally, Burnham will attack the government for stripping funds from programmes established under Labour to help "the most needy".

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper is to announce the establishment of a Labour review into policing in England and Wales led by Lord Stevens amid what she will describe as the "chaos and confusion" of police reform under the Coalition. She will say the aim of the review is to "build on the best of British and international policing. Including experts from here and abroad" and that Labour wants to "[work] with the police not [try] to undermine them". Like Burnham, she will also go on the offensive against the government by accusing it of being "weak on crime"and claiming that Labour is "the party of law and order".

Signs of trouble?

Following his high-risk and potentially divisive speech yesterday, Ed Miliband could be facing some awkward questions about the direction of his leadership at the leader's Q&A. The Blairites seems particularly disgruntled about his references to "predatory capitalism" and may take the opportunity to remind Miliband of their mantra that elections are "won and lost on the centre-ground".

On the fringe

"How can we empower head teachers to improve our schools?" Andy Burnham MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Labour in discussion with theNew Statesman's Rafael Behr (chair) and other guests. More details.

Conference timetable

Morning - 9.30am: Conference opens

Panel discussion of "Crime, Justice, Citizenship and Equalities" with Sadiq Khan, shadow justice secretary, Yvette Cooper, shadow home secretary, and Tessa Jowell, shadow secretary of state for the Cabinet Office.

12.15pm - Break

Afternoon - 2.15pm: Conference reconvenes

Health -- addresses from John Healey, shadow secretary of state for health Education, and Andy Burnham, shadow secretary of state for education.

5.15pm: Q&A with Ed Miliband, Leader of the Labour Party

James Maxwell is a Scottish political journalist. He is based between Scotland and London.

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Want to beat child poverty? End the freeze on working-age benefits

Freezing working-age benefits at a time of rising prices is both economically and morally unsound. 

We serve in politics to change lives. Yet for too long, many people and parts of Britain have felt ignored. Our response to Brexit must respond to their concerns and match their aspirations. By doing so, we can unite the country and build a fairer Britain.

Our future success as a country depends on making the most of all our talents. So we should begin with a simple goal – that child poverty must not be a feature of our country’s future.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies projects that relative child poverty will see the biggest increase in a generation in this Parliament. That is why it is so troubling that poverty has almost disappeared from the political agenda under David Cameron, and now Theresa May.

The last Labour Government’s record reminds us what can be achieved. Labour delivered the biggest improvement of any EU nation in lifting one million children out of poverty, transforming so many lives. Child poverty should scar our conscience as much as it does our children’s futures. So we have a duty to this generation to make progress once again.

In my Barnsley constituency, we have led a campaign bringing together Labour party members, community groups, and the local Labour Council to take action. My constituency party recently published its second child poverty report, which included contributions from across our community on addressing this challenge.

Ideas ranged from new requirements on developments for affordable housing, to expanding childcare, and the great example set by retired teachers lending their expertise to tutor local students. When more than 200 children in my constituency fall behind in language skills before they even start school, that local effort must be supported at the national level.

In order to build a consensus around renewed action, I will be introducing a private member’s bill in Parliament. It will set a new child poverty target, with requirements to regularly measure progress and report against the impact of policy choices.

I hope to work on a cross-party basis to share expertise and build pressure for action. In response, I hope that the Government will make this a priority in order to meet the Prime Minister’s commitment to make Britain a country that works for everyone.

The Autumn Statement in two months’ time is an opportunity to signal a new approach. Planned changes to tax and benefits over the next four years will take more than one pound in every ten pounds from the pockets of the poorest families. That is divisive and short-sighted, particularly with prices at the tills expected to rise.

Therefore the Chancellor should make a clear commitment to those who have been left behind by ending the freeze on working-age benefits. That would not only be morally right, but also sound economics.

It is estimated that one pound in every five pounds of public spending is associated with poverty. As well as redirecting public spending, poverty worsens the key economic challenges we face. It lowers productivity and limits spending power, which undermine the strong economy we need for the future.

Yet the human cost of child poverty is the greatest of all. When a Sure Start children’s centre is lost, it closes a door on opportunity. That is penny wise but pound foolish and it must end now.

The smarter approach is to recognise that a child’s earliest years are critical to their future life chances. The weight of expert opinion in favour of early intervention is overwhelming. So that must be our priority, because it is a smart investment for the future and it will change lives today.

This is the cause of our times. To end child poverty so that no-one is locked out of the opportunity for a better future. To stand in the way of a Government that seeks to pass by on the other side. Then to be in position to replace the Tories at the next election.

By doing so, we can answer that demand for change from people across our country. And we can provide security, opportunity, and hope to those who need it most.

That is how we can begin to build a fairer Britain.
 
 

Dan Jarvis is the Labour MP for Barnsley Central and a former Major in the Parachute Regiment.