The boys of Eton College stand as headmaster Tony Little arrives for morning assembly. Photo: Getty.
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The NS debate: what should we do about education’s Berlin Wall?

Leading educationalists respond to the question of public schools.

In a wide-ranging essay in last week’s New Statesman, David Kynaston and George Kynaston challenged policymakers (especially on the left) to address the dominance of the private school minority in public life. This week, leading educationalists reply to the essay and offer their own solutions to what we are calling the “7 per cent problem”.

Anthony Seldon | Andrew Adonis | Laura McInerney | Tony Little
Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett | Tristram Hunt

* * *

Open up the private schools to the poor
Anthony Seldon

David and George Kynaston have written one of the most thoughtful recent contributions about private schools. Their question, why has the left not done more to address the private school problem, is more pertinent than ever. Labour’s private school prime ministers, Clement Attlee and Tony Blair, proved far more successful electorally, winning five general elections and losing only one, than its state school premiers. Many of Labour’s towering figures have indeed been public school products, as have many of its private donors and most influential supporters. The party has rattled sabres in opposition, but once in power it has been uncomfortable doing anything to challenge the entrenched position of private schools. It has equally been as silent on another topic not mentioned in the Kynastons’ article, the stranglehold that the better-off have over top state schools.

It is not only Labour that has been silent. The Conservative Party, guided for nearly 40 years after 1965 by leaders who had attended state schools – Edward Heath, Margaret Thatcher and John Major – and committed to equality of opportunity and a competitive economy, has been equally coy about private schools.

Private schools, for much of the past hundred years, and especially when the economy has been adverse, have had difficult periods. But since the 1980s they have forged ahead, in confidence and academic success. However much the state sector improved, and it has done so markedly in the past 15 years, the private sector has achieved still more. True, private schools in the north of the country and in rural areas have found it hard, but parents are still managing to find the fees. It has been a continuing misconception of the left that the private schools are full of rich children, sent by snobby parents who don’t want them to mix with those from ordinary backgrounds. Part of the left’s problem is its failure to understand the schools and their parents.

The myopia of the left about private schools does not stop there. It has taken as a given that parents of children in private schools should pay twice, through taxes and school fees, while refusing even to coun­tenance the possibility of affluent parents contributing to fees at top state schools. The left has proved equally out of touch in imagining that private school heads could not have any non-cynical reason for wanting to partner with state schools. It was risible hearing for years that the only reason why they wanted to do so, at heavy cost to the schools, was a cowardly wish to avoid losing their charitable status. Yet, since 2011, when the threat to the charitable status of private schools was lifted, charitable activity partnering state schools has increased. Many of the best-known critics of private schools on the left have never visited them. Those who have, like Melissa Benn, are often pleasantly surprised, even if it doesn’t change their outlook.

A January report from the Institute of Education argues that English education is among the most class-ridden in the developed world. It blames decades of inequality on the gap between the best schools and the worst. The problem of stagnating social mobility is worsening and we have no time to lose. To me, after a lifetime writing about education and working in schools, it has become clear that neither the Conservatives nor Labour alone will be able to produce the policies we need to give an excellent education to all, regardless of background.

Only a cross-party commission will be able to make the breakthrough that Britain so badly needs, as I argued in a report for the Social Market Foundation, Schools United, published last month. My particular focus is the bottom quartile. If we can advance their opportunities for education, we will transform the entire landscape. Only brave and radical change will solve the deep-seated problems we have. I thus propose that a quarter of places at private schools in Britain (as well as a quarter in the top-performing state schools) be reserved for bottom-quartile children. Places at top state schools could also be means-tested so that those who can afford to pay do so, which would bring much-needed money into the state system while guaranteeing that the principle of free state education for all stays untouched, because spaces at middle- and low-performing state schools would remain free even for the most wealthy. The affluent would either pay for the top places, or move to the less popular schools, where their muscle would drive up standards. True, some might switch to private schools; but as premium house prices in the catchment areas of top state schools often far outstrip private-sector fees, as the Reform Scotland think tank argued at the end of January, is that necessarily so unjust?

My own report proposes a series of further moves to build a more united school system, and hence a more united country. They include the cause I have long championed – all private schools should start named academies, and work with a proven academy provider or a successful state school to provide the necessary expertise. All state school pupils should have access to the breadth of educational experience and the preparation for careers that their counterparts at private schools enjoy. The left, sadly, has poured scorn on these ideas, preferring to cling to proposals that simply will not happen, such as the abolition of the private sector.

The left, as well as the right and centre, must be silent no longer: they must join forces along the lines I have suggested. Fail to do so, and in the next hundred years Britain will become even more polarised and fragmented.

Anthony Seldon is the Master of Wellington College and executive principal of the Wellington Academy

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Academies can make the difference
Andrew Adonis

David and George Kynaston describe brilliantly the reasons we are where we are. But what is to be done? The imperative is for a bold and credible reform that has a realistic prospect of achieving system-wide transformation, rather than piecemeal initiatives or utopian gestures that signify nothing. Systematically engaging good private schools with the academies programme is the policy to make a real difference. Good progress has been made since the launch of academies 14 years ago. It needs to be continued resolutely; if that happens, the sum will increasingly amount to more than the parts.

There are two options for successful private schools within the academies programme, and both involve a fundamental change to the institutional character of private schools, making them in effect state-private hybrids. First, good private schools, too, can become academies – or “free schools”, in the Gove lexicon, which legally are the same as academies. This reincarnates them as state-funded but independently managed schools, sustaining their ethos, character and standards while accepting pupils without fees on the basis of fair admissions (in other words, no eleven-plus selection).

So far, more than a dozen leading independent schools have taken this course, and the number increases by a few each year. The biggest coup is Liverpool College, one of the founding members of the Headmasters’ Conference in 1869, which last year became an academy and opened its educational excellence, facilities and 28 acres to Liverpool children without fees. It promptly received 600 applications for its year 7 places. As part of its transition to being an academy, it is increasing its total places from 730 to 1,150, and will continue to run a boarding house.

Hans van Mourik Broekman, headmaster of Liverpool College, is frank about the combination of altruism and self-interest which motivated the decision to become an academy. The affluent middle class is increasingly thin on the ground in Merseyside. Liverpool College could have continued in the fee-paying sector, small and select, but academy status is enabling it to become large and open, true to the progressive social mission that animated its foundation by Gladstone and the Liverpool merchants a century and a half ago. A Dutchman who exudes in equal measure educational professionalism and mystification about the English class system, Broekman was well placed to make the change.

Like Liverpool College, the other private schools that have become academies are all of high quality and great popularity in their localities. Mostly in the less affluent north of England, they include Birkenhead High School, the Belvedere School in Liverpool, William Hulme’s Grammar School in Manchester and the King’s School Tynemouth. The first two of these are run by the Girls’ Day School Trust, which operates a historic national chain of highly successful private schools for girls, several more of which are ripe for conversion to academies to fulfil their original social mission.

Not all the “converters” are in the north: there are two in affluent Bristol – Bristol Cathedral Choir School and Colston’s Girls’ School. As the success of Liverpool College and the other converters becomes well established, the altruism/self-interest dynamic could easily yield another 50 or 100 nationwide within a decade, forming a substantial new private/state sector.

The second option is for successful private schools – or the foundations behind them – to sponsor academies or free schools, taking responsibility for the governance and management of a school or schools in the state-funded sector as well as their existing school or schools in the fee-paying sector.

There are now several dozen of these “new” independent school academies. Here, too, the past year has brought a significant breakthrough. Eton and Westminster, the two most prestigious private schools, have become academy sponsors, taking sole or joint responsibility for the management of their new state-funded institutions.

Eton is the sole sponsor of Holyport College, a free school opening near Maidenhead this September for 500 pupils. It will be half boarding and half day, leveraging Eton’s boarding expertise, facilities and curriculum. Eton’s governors will henceforth be responsible for two institutions: one private-funded, one state-funded; one (essentially) for the super-rich, the other (essentially) for local families and those with boarding need, both with Eton’s reputation attached.

Westminster School is also opening a free school in September – in the shape of a sixth-form college for 500 16-to-18-year-olds with top GCSE grades who have the potential for entry to leading universities. The Harris-Westminster Sixth Form is being established and managed in partnership with the Harris Federation – one of the most successful academy chains, sponsored by the carpet magnate and philanthropist Lord Harris of Peckham. The initial places are far oversubscribed. Outreach to poorer communities is a central part of the mission: 70 per cent of the applicants are eligible for the pupil premium, and one in five is a pupil at one of the 27 existing Harris academies, all of which are in deprived parts of the south-east (mostly south London).

Here again, the change for the sponsoring private school is profound. Westminster School is located in the precincts of Westminster Abbey, harking back to its original charitable mission, and the chair of the school’s governors is always the Dean of Westminster, one of the most senior clerics in the Church of England. John Hall, the current dean, is conscious that the Church’s social mission sits uneasily with England’s foremost cathedral being physically and institutionally conjoined to one of the world’s most exclusive private schools, with fees of £33,000 a year. The Harris-Westminster Sixth Form academy will also conjoin it to a state-funded school for the less affluent.

Academy by academy, year by year, the private-state divide in education is being overcome. There is far, far further to go. But we have made a start.

Andrew Adonis, minister for schools under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, is the author of “Education, Education, Education: Reforming England’s Schools” (Biteback, £12.99)

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Follow the Indian model
Laura McInerney

Reading the Kynastons’ essay, one almost gives in to sympathy for the Labour Party. How difficult it must be to overthrow the private schools when so many politicians (and their children) have benefited from their hallowed halls. How tragic it would be to yank away the right of individuals to pay for tennis courts and Latin lessons. Your heart bleeds less, however, when you realise that India, a nation with a caste system, now requires all of its private schools to ensure that 25 per cent of their intake comes from the poorest children in a given area. And don’t think that they can pick out their favourites. The places are won by open, random lottery. Any child from a low-income family can enter; if he wins he must be admitted and taught. As far as India is concerned, if you want to be a private provider, you better be ready to take those most in need alongside those who can pay.

Much as the Labour Party has had to face continuous wailing over the private schools issue, India’s revolution was not quiet. Due to be introduced in 2006, the law was passed only in 2009, after agreement on the 25 per cent figure (a reduction from the 50 per cent initially posited). Predictably, wealthy parents complained. The irony of allowing lower-caste women to serve as their nannies while arguing that the children of these same women were unworthy to rub shoulders with their own children was lost amid complaints about “different sorts” of child.

The private schools also complained. Although the government reimburses every school for each poorer child it admits, it does so only at the same rate as any state school would receive for the child. With the extra cash for these children gone, the schools were concerned about the upkeep for their fancy facilities. Faced with being judged solely on their teaching – rather than their sports facilities and music rooms – many gurned. One can only imagine the long faces in England if we did likewise.

Nevertheless, India’s government persevered. It has sent watchdogs to tackle lottery rigging and the systematic mistreatment of students. Examples include poorer students being seated at the back of the classroom, or siphoned into separate classes altogether.

So, compare India’s bravery to the compromises offered, in the Kynastons’ article, by Peter Lampl of the Sutton Trust. It describes the generous-sounding proposal that private schools “open up” one-third of their places – just as long as they are funded by the government.

But read the original report and note the actual, complete proposal. It reads: “Open Access is a voluntary scheme that would open the best independent day schools to talented children from all backgrounds.” Did you spot the keyword? Private schools would open to “talented” children. But, one should ask, why? Why should private schools – with their extra cash and bundles of social capital – skim off only the most “talented” children?

And this is where a lie is made of the suggestion in the Kynastons’ essay that private schools are somehow of “intrinsic merit”. See, if private schools really are imbued with magic sauce why must they take in only the talented? Why not, instead, select 25 per cent randomly from among the ranks of the poor? (Assuming, of course, that they would wish to go.) Only it seems to me that the “inventory of privileged access” that the Kynastons say is bestowed on private schoolers can’t be attributed to intrinsic merit at all. It is merely down to a calculated selection of children. I wonder whether the private schools fear that if selection stopped, their not-so-greatness might be exposed after all.

Perhaps I am being harsh. Let us accept for a moment the idea that most private schools are superb and confer the best-quality teaching going (and, to be fair, this is true for some). Given such skills, why limit access solely to the talented? The poor-yet-dim child is surely at least as deserving of a great education as the poor-but-bright. In fact, given that a child who is both poor and struggling with school runs a greater risk of becoming unemployed, ill or homeless in the future, might it not even be prudent for him or her to be given such an excellent education?

The Kynastons provide us with a second option: Andrew Adonis’s idea of coaxing private schools into the state sector through the academies and free schools programme. (Rab Butler suggested a similar idea during the drafting of the Education Act 1944 but he was overruled by Churchill.) That only six schools so far have gone down this route suggests the policy is far from being a tide change. Oddly, though, the slow pace does not result from reluctance on the part of private schools. In the first year of the government’s free schools programme, 103 independent schools applied to convert to state-funded academies. However, only five were accepted. And of those five, three were labelled as “requiring improvement” at their first Ofsted inspection. Not the greatest sign that private schools are the answer to perceived state school problems.

Ultimately, the most important question is one posed by the authors: are private schools educating the wrong children? I’m not convinced by “wrong”; but they certainly aren’t helping. If Labour hasn’t the guts to get rid of the private schools it should at least ensure that their charitable status becomes dependent on them saving 25 per cent of places for children drawn at random from among groups with the most need – either those on a low income or those of low ability. Doing so will solve one of the main dilemmas outlined in the piece. It would allow the wealthy to exercise their right to buy a private education but stop them from any longer buying an “exclusive” one. Let us never forget that distinction.

Laura McInerney was a teacher in London and is now a Fulbright scholar studying education policy

The landscape is changing for the better
Tony Little

We are where we are. David and George Kynaston are right to draw attention to the failure of the Fleming report and the half-heartedness of subsequent attempts to address the gap between independent and state schools. But we are where we are because successive broad-brush attempts to realign systems have not been able to accommodate the spirit of independence. We conceive of ourselves as a free country and parents must have the fundamental right to choose how to educate their children.

If independent schools were marginal or feeble, they would, I suspect, pass unremarked. They are popular because they are, in the main, very good schools, not just in terms of academic results but because they celebrate true breadth in education. Indeed, there is a strong argument that independent schools have been able to sustain their vision of holistic education precisely because they are one step away from the fickleness of government policy.

As the Kynastons observe, “Education is not just another item or service to be bought or sold.” The best independent schools thrive because they embody deeply held beliefs about the value of education.

In Shanghai recently, I was in conversation with heads of top-performing schools in one of the highest-performing regions in the world. These are the Olympic medallists of contemporary measurement culture. Yet all, they said, was not right. They realise that the driven approach to exam success was not equipping their students effectively to be citizens in an interconnected world. And to whom do they look for some inspiration? British independent schools.

The best British independents are world-class. We would be foolish to undermine them. The question is how best to use what they have to offer.

For decades, independent schools have turned in on themselves, in part through a comfortable insularity, but largely as a consequence of the hostility they have received. When I started as the head of an independent school 25 years ago, it was made very clear to me by the local state school that there would be no contact of any kind between us. Often, when attempts have been made to bring schools together, they have been ham-fisted, built on the assumption that there is one definitive model that can be readily transplanted. Mistrust and resentment have followed. In recent times, the drive to push independent schools to sponsor an academy as the route to preserving charitable status was misguided. Most independent schools readily acknowledge that they do not have the expertise to tackle the particular issues faced, for example, by an inner-city comprehensive and shy away from patronising intervention.

Yet, if independent schools see themselves as part of our national provision, they must take the initiative and seek to be better connected, not as a reaction to political pressure, but as a moral imperative. Independent schools that are expansive create a richer culture for their own people as well as opportunities for others.

One way to create that richer culture is by making independent schools as open and accessible as possible. Schools should state their intent by publishing targets for increasing means-tested bursaries. At Eton at present, 263 boys receive means-tested financial assistance averaging 60 per cent remission of the fee, with 63 paying nothing at all. The short-term target is to raise that number to 320 with 70 on full remission – and then move on to the next target, with the ultimate goal of being, in the American phrase, “needs-blind”: in a position to take all suitable candidates irrespective of their family’s financial situation.

But above all, independent schools should find practical ways to work alongside fellow professionals in the state sector. They can play to their strengths. In Eton’s case, experience with academic high achievers in the sixth form led us to join a consortium of independent schools supporting the London Academy of Excellence, an academically selective, state-funded sixth-form-entry school in east London. Our belief in the transformative power of good boarding education has led us to be the educational sponsor of Holyport College, a new state boarding school. Relationships with local state school heads, developed over years, have led to the creation of an independent state schools partnership and support for a multi-academy trust.

The key to all such engagements is identifying practical outcomes – what works well. Relationships flourish when there are seen to be reciprocal benefits. In all the projects we undertake, our teachers and students have something to learn and something to give. Their understanding and skills are enhanced as much as those in the partner state school, if perhaps in different ways. Real school partnership is short on rhetoric, long on pragmatism.

The landscape is changing for the better, as witnessed by the quality and frequency of conversation between heads of state and independent schools who recognise they share a common purpose and simply wish to do the best for their young people. This is a meeting of minds that was rare a quarter of a century ago.

By their nature, independent schools exercise their independence. Some are wholeheartedly engaged in seeking to embrace a bigger vision of their purpose: others are not. The Kynastons describe a clarion call. All independent schools should wish to respond to it.

Tony Little is the headmaster of Eton

* * *

How to reduce class bias
Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett

There is a tendency to regard disparities in education, income, status and power as equally important forms of inequality. But in trying to understand human social hierarchy or, for that matter, animal pecking orders or ranking systems, one must take into account that they are all primarily about access to scarce resources. Parents send their children to private schools to give them a better chance of securing the best-paid jobs. Wanting your children to speak “nicely” and to have the manner and confidence – or sense of entitlement – that go with private education are simply means to that end.

We won’t know precisely how much private education contributes to the upper-class domination of politics, business, the judiciary, the media, medicine and so on, until we have managed to get rid of it and can see how much of the problem remains. We believe private education has very powerful effects, but even without it upper-class parents would still manage to pass on a large measure of privilege to their children.

The difficulty in abolishing private education springs directly from the way the establishment is dominated by its products. Abolition would provoke unified howls of abuse and ridicule from every powerful quarter which no government could withstand, unless it had the strongest backing from public opinion.

Our solution would be to implement policies that raise the price and weaken the value of private education as a means of gaining access to top jobs, so making abolition politically more feasible.

First, the data shows that societies with smaller income differences between rich and poor have higher social mobility. They also have higher overall standards and smaller differences up and down the social ladder. In measures of cognitive development among five-year-olds, in maths and literacy scores among older children, and in measures of child well-being, more equal societies achieve higher standards.

All the ways in which class and status imprint themselves on us throughout life are strengthened by bigger income differences. Because bigger material differences create bigger social distance, you cannot create a classless society without vastly reducing inequalities of income and wealth.

Policies to reduce income differences are therefore an essential part of any strategy to level the playing field from the earliest ages. That is not simply a matter of redistribution and the prevention of tax avoidance. It is also a matter of reducing differences in pre-tax incomes by supporting all forms of economic democracy, from legal provision for employee representatives on company boards to the expansion of employee ownership and producer co-operatives.

Second, we would also weaken the private school advantage in university entry, particularly to the better universities. This could be done partly by requiring that universities randomly allocate places to the highest-ranked applicants from each school. So pupils in the top 10 or 20 per cent coming from schools in the poorest areas would have the same chances as pupils in the top 10 or 20 per cent from Eton. Evidence shows that students from state schools do better at university than privately educated students with the same A-level grades, so this may raise rather than lower educational standards. This could be introduced to cover a low percentage from each school and then raised gradually. Each university would allocate places randomly among pupils who were among the best from each school applying to that university. There are several international examples of successful schemes similar to this.

To reduce further the class bias in entry to the professions and in job selection procedures, professional associations should be charged with the duty of monitoring progress and taking action against offending institutions.

As well as reducing the class bias in access to top jobs which private education perpetuates, measures should be taken to raise the cost of attending a private school. That would at least reduce the proportion of the population that felt it had a vested interest in protecting it. Private education’s charitable status should be withdrawn, and it should be taxed to pay for the external social costs that the perpetuation of injustice imposes on the rest of society. Policies of this kind would gradually change the class nature of our society and weaken the support for private education to a point where its complete abolition would become feasible.

Another reason why enormous inequality has survived in our society is that the public is unaware of its extent. To overcome this, the Equality Trust has developed a resource with information on the extent and effects of economic inequality in the UK.

Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett are the authors of “The Spirit Level: Why Equality Is Better for Everyone” (Penguin, £10.99)

What does Labour think?
Tristram Hunt

The shadow education secretary declined to comment on last week’s NS cover story or to write a reply.

This article first appeared in the 05 February 2014 issue of the New Statesman, Cameron the captive

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Jeremy Corbyn's full speech at the 2016 Labour party conference

The Labour leader received a standing ovation. 

Thank you for that introduction. And how brilliant it is to see the hall here in Liverpool, absolutely packed for the Labour conference, well I say it's packed but Virgin Trains assure me there are 800 empty seats.

Either way Conference, it’s a huge pleasure to be holding our party’s annual gathering here in this fantastic city that has shaped our country, our economy, our culture and our music.

Liverpool and its people have always been central to the Labour party and our movement. And I know some people say campaigns and protests don’t change things. But the Hillsborough families have shown just how wrong that is.

It’s taken twenty-seven years but those families have, with great courage and dignity, finally got some truth and justice for the ninety-six who died. And I want to pay tribute to all the families and campaigners, for their solidarity, their commitment and their love.

We must learn from them so we promise those campaigning for Orgreave, for Shrewsbury, for the thousands of workers blacklisted for being trade unionists that we will support your battles for truth and justice and when we return to government we will make sure that you have both.

Because winning justice for all and changing society for the benefit of all is at the heart of what Labour is about.

So yes, our party is about campaigning and it’s about protest too.

But most of all it’s about winning power in local and national government, to deliver the real change our country so desperately needs.

That’s why the central task of the whole Labour party, must be to rebuild trust and support to win the next general election and form the next government. That is the government I am determined to lead, to win power to change Britain for the benefit of working people.

But every one of us in this hall today knows that we will only get there if we work together. And I think it’s fair to say after what we’ve been through these past few months that hasn’t always been exactly the case.

Those months have been a testing time for the whole party, first the horrific murder of Jo Cox, followed by the shock of the referendum result and then the tipping over of divisions in parliament, into the leadership contest that ended last Saturday.

Jo’s killing was a hate-filled attack on democracy itself that shocked the whole country. Jo Cox didn't just believe in loving her neighbor, she believed in loving her neighbour’s neighbor, that every life counted the same.

And as Jo said in her maiden speech as an MP “we have far more in common with each other than things that divide us”. Let that essential truth guide us as we come together again to challenge this Tory Government and its shaky grip on power.

We have also lost good MPs like Michael Meacher and Harry Harpham. They were Labour through and through, passionate campaigners for a better world.

And let me pay particular tribute to those parliamentary colleagues who stepped forward in the summer to fill the gaps in the shadow cabinet and ensure that Labour could function as an effective opposition in parliament.

They didn’t seek office, but they stepped up when their party and in fact the country needed them to serve. They all deserve the respect and gratitude of our party and movement. And this conference should thank them today, they are our future.

We’ve just had our second leadership election within a year. It had its fraught moments of course, not only for Owen Smith and me , and I hope we don’t make a habit of it.

But there have also been upsides. Over 150,000 new members joined our party. Young rising stars have shone on the front bench and we found that the party is more united on policy than we would ever have guessed.

I am honoured to have been re-elected by our party a second time with an even larger mandate. But we all have lessons to learn and a responsibility to do things better and work together more effectively.  I will lead in learning those lessons and I’d like to thank Owen, for the campaign and his work as shadow work and pensions secretary.

And all the Labour Party Staff and my own team for their brilliant work.

One lesson is, that there is a responsibility on all of us to take care with our rhetoric, respect democratic decisions, respect our differences and respect each other. We know that robust debate has at times spilled over into abuse and hate around our party, including misogyny and anti-Semitism, especially on social media.

That is utterly unacceptable. Our party must be a safe and welcoming space for everybody and we will continue to take firm action against abuse and intimidation.

And let me be absolutely clear, anti-Semitism is an evil, it led to the worst crimes of the 20th century, every one of us has a responsibility to ensure that it is never allowed to fester in our society again. This party always has and always will fight against prejudice and hatred of Jewish people with every breath in its body.

We meet this year as the largest political party in western Europe with over half a million members campaigning in every community in Britain.

More people have joined our party in the last twenty months than in the previous twenty years. We have more of our fellow citizens in our party than all the others put together.

Some may see that as a threat. But I see it as a vast democratic resource. Our hugely increased membership is part of a movement that can take Labour’s message into every community, to win support for the election of a Labour government. Each and every one of these new members is welcome in our party.

And after a ten year absence, we welcome back the Fire Brigades Union to our party and to conference. We are reuniting the Labour family.

And over the past year, we’ve shown what Labour can do when the party stands together.

At conference a year ago, I launched our campaign against cuts to tax credits and we succeeded in knocking this government back. 

This year, three million families are over £1,000 better off because Labour stood together.

In the Budget, the government tried to take away billions from disabled people but we defeated them …

We have won all four by-elections we’ve contested. In the May elections, we overtook the Tories to become the largest party nationally. We won back London with a massive win for Sadiq Khan the first Muslim mayor of a western capital city. 

And we won the Bristol mayor for the first time, Marvin Rees, the first black mayor in any European city. And of course we also won the mayoralty in Salford and here in Liverpool.

That’s the road of advance we have to return to if we’re going to challenge the Tories for power and turn the huge growth in the Labour party into the electoral support we need across Britain.

There’s no doubt my election as Labour leader a year ago. And re-election this month grew out of a thirst for a new kind of politics, and a conviction that the old way of running the economy and the country, isn’t delivering for more and more people.

It’s not about me of course, or unique to Britain but across Europe, North America and elsewhere, people are fed up with a so-called free market system, that has produced grotesque inequality stagnating living standards for the many calamitous foreign wars without end and a political stitch-up which leaves the vast majority of people shut out of power.

Since the crash of 2008, the demand for an alternative and an end to counter-productive austerity has led to the rise of new movements and parties in one country after another.

In Britain it’s happened in the heart of traditional politics, in the Labour party which is something we should be extremely proud of. It’s exactly what Labour was founded for to be the voice of the many of social justice and progressive change from the bottom up.

But it also means it’s no good harking back to the tired old economic and political fixes of twenty years ago because they won’t work anymore. The old model is broken. We’re in a new era that demands a politics and economics that meets the needs of our own time.

Even Theresa May gets it, that people want change. That’s why she stood on the steps of Downing Street and talked about the inequalities and burning injustices in today’s Britain.

She promised a country: “that works not for a privileged few but for every one of us”.

But even if she manages to talk the talk, she can’t walk the walk.

This isn’t a new government, it’s David Cameron’s government repackaged with progressive slogans but with a new harsh rightwing edge, taking the country backwards and dithering before the historic challenges of Brexit.

Who seriously believes that the Tories could ever stand up to the privileged few? They are the party of the privileged few, funded by the privileged few, for the benefit of the privileged few.

This is a party, after all that now wants to force through an undemocratic Boundary Review based on an out-of-date version of the electoral register with nearly two million voters missing.

They’ve dressed up as a bid to cut the cost of politics by abolishing fifty MPs, but the £12million savings are dwarfed by the expense of the 260 peers David Cameron appointed at a cost of £34million a year. It’s nothing but a cynical attempt to gerrymander the next election.

And this is a prime minister who was elevated to her job without a single vote being cast after a pantomime farce which saw one leading Tory after another falling on their swords.

When I meet Theresa May across the dispatch box, I know that only one of us has been elected to the office they hold, by the votes of a third of a million people.

In any case, the Tories are simply incapable of responding to the breakdown of the old economic model. Because that failed model is in their political DNA.

It’s what they deliver every time they’re in government. Tory governments deregulate, they outsource and privatise they stand by as inequality grows.

They’ve cut taxes for the privileged few sold off our national assets to them, always on the cheap and turned a blind eye to their chronic tax avoidance.

They’re so committed to the interests of the very richest they recruited Sir Phillip Green into government as something called an efficiency tsar.

Well, government might be a bit more efficient if the super-rich like Sir Phillip actually paid their taxes.

When government steps back there are consequences for every one of us.

Look what’s happened to housing under the Tories:

  • housebuilding has fallen to its lowest level since the 1920s;
  • home ownership is falling as more people are priced out of the market;
  • evictions and homelessness go up every year;
  • council homes are sold off without being replaced.

And another consequence is that we’re paying over £9 billion a year to private landlords in housing benefit.

Instead of spending public money on building council housing, we’re subsidising private landlords. That’s wasteful, inefficient, and poor government. 

So Labour will, as Teresa Pearce said, build over a million new homes at least half of them council houses and we will control private rents, so we can give every British family that basic human right - a decent home.

It’s the same in the jobs market. Without proper employment regulation, there’s been an explosion of temporary, insecure jobs nearly one million people on zero hour contracts.

There are now six million working people earning less than the living wage and poverty among those in work is at record levels.

That didn’t happen by accident, the Tories have torn up employment rights and deliberately tried to weaken the organisations that get people justice at work the trade unions.

Of course trade unions are not taking this lying down. Look at the great campaign Unite has waged at Sports Direct, to get justice for exploited workers and hold Mike Ashley to account. That is why Labour will repeal the Trade Union Act and set unions free to do their job.

And we will raise the minimum wage to a real living wage that brings working people out of poverty and we’ll ban zero hours contracts as John McDonnell and Ian Lavery have set out at this conference.

And then there’s the scandal of the privatised railways more public subsidy than under the days of British Rail all going to private firms and more delays more cancellations. And the highest fares in Europe. 

That is why the great majority of the British people back Labour’s plan, set out by Andy MacDonald, to take the railways back into public ownership.

But if you want the most spectacular example of what happens, when government steps back, the global banking crash is an object lesson a deregulated industry of out of control greed and speculation that crashed economies across the globe and required the biggest ever government intervention and public bailout in history.

Millions of ordinary families paid the price for that failure. I pledge that Labour will never let a few reckless bankers wreck our economy again.

So Labour is offering solutions. During this summer’s leadership campaign, I set out ten pledges which I believe can be the platform for our party’s programme at the next election.

They have now been put to you and endorsed by this conference.

They lay out the scope of the change we need to see for full employment, a homes guarantee, security at work, a strong public NHS and social care, a National Education Service for all, action on climate change, public ownership and control of our services, a cut in inequality of income and wealth action to secure an equal society and peace and justice at the heart of foreign policy.

Don’t worry, they’re not the Ten Commandments. They will now go to the National Policy Forum and the whole party needs to build on them, refine them and above all take them out to the people of this country.

But those ten pledges the core of the platform on which I was re-elected leader will now form the framework for what Labour will campaign for and for what a Labour government will do.

Together they show the direction of change we are determined to take - and the outline of a programme to rebuild and transform Britain.

They are rooted in traditional Labour values and objectives shaped to meet the challenges of the 21st century. They are values Labour is united on. They reflect the views and aspirations of the majority of our people. And they are values our country can and will support as soon as they are given the chance.

And these pledges are not just words. Already, across the country, Labour councils are putting Labour values into action, in a way that makes a real difference to millions of people, despite cynical government funding cuts that have hit Labour councils five times as hard as Tory-run areas.

Like Nottingham City Council setting up the not-for-profit Robin Hood Energy company to provide affordable energy;

Or Cardiff Bus Company taking 100,000 passengers every day, publicly owned with a passenger panel to hold its directors to account;

Or Preston Council working to favour local procurement, and keep money in the town;

Or Newcastle Council providing free wi-fi in 69 public buildings across the city;

Or Croydon Council which has set up a company to build 1,000 new homes, as Cllr Alison Butler said: “We can no longer afford to sit back and let the market take its course”.

Or Glasgow that has established high quality and flexible workspaces for start-up, high growth companies in dynamic new sectors.

Or here in Liverpool, set to be at the global forefront of a new wave of technology and home to Sensor City, a £15million business hub that aims to create 300 start-up businesses and 1,000 jobs over the next decade.

It is a proud Labour record each and every Labour councilor deserves our heartfelt thanks for the work they do.

But I want to go further because we want local government to go further and put public enterprise back into the heart of our economy and services to meet the needs of local communities, municipal socialism for the 21st century, as an engine of local growth and development.

So today I’m announcing that Labour will remove the artificial local borrowing cap and allow councils to borrow against their housing stock.

That single measure alone would allow them to build an extra 60,000 council homes a year.

Labour councils increasingly have a policy of in-house as the preferred provider and many councils have brought bin collections, cleaners, and IT services back in-house, insourcing privatized contracts to save money for council tax payers and to ensure good terms and conditions for staff.

I have said that Labour will put security at work and employment and union rights from day one centre stage.

But one in six workers now in Britain are now self-employed. They’re right to value their independence but for too many it comes with insecurity and a woeful lack of rights.

So we will review arrangements for self-employed people including social security that self-employed people pay for in their taxes, yet aren’t fully covered by.

And we will ensure that successful innovators have access to the finance necessary to take their ideas to the next level grow their businesses and generate employment.

So as part of our Workplace 2020 review, we will make sure that and our tax and social security arrangements are fit for the 21st century, consulting with self-employed workers and the Federation of Small Businesses.

If the Tories are the party of cuts and short-termism. Labour is the Party of investing for the future.

With the same level of investment as other major economies, we could be so much more unlock so much skill, ingenuity and wealth.

That’s why we’ll establish a National Investment Bank at the heart of our plan to rebuild and transform Britain.

And we will borrow to invest at historically low interest rates, to generate far greater returns. It would be foolish not to, because that investment is expanding the economy and the income it generates for us all in the process.

Even this government, after years of austerity and savage cuts to investment is starting to change its tune.

I am not content with accepting second-class broadband, not content with creaking railways, not content with seeing the US and Germany investing in cutting edge and green technologies, while Britain lags behind.

Last year, for example the Prime Minister promised a universal service obligation for ten megabyte broadband.

But since then the government has done nothing letting down entrepreneurs, businesses and families, especially in rural areas.

That’s why we’ve set out proposals for a National Investment Bank with £500 billion of investment to bring our broadband, our railways, our housing and our energy infrastructure up to scratch.

A country that doesn’t invest is a country that has given up. That has taken the path of managed decline. A Labour government will never accept second best for Britain.

Our country’s history is based on individual ingenuity and collective endeavor.

We are the country of Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing and Tim Berners-Lee, the land of Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Sarah Guppy of George Stephenson and Eric Laithwaite.

The Tories have turned their back on this proud British tradition. They have put privatisation and cutting spending first.

Britain now spends less on research as a share of national income than France, Germany, the US and China. A Labour Government will bring research and development up to three percent of GDP.

Yesterday, Rebecca Long Bailey set out the terms of our Industrial Strategy Review. We need an economy that works for every part of this country so that no community is left behind.

And today I’m asking everyone, businesses, academics, workers, trade unions and anyone who cares about our future prosperity to have your say in that review.

We are a wealthy country - and not just in terms of money.

We are rich in talent, rich in potential.

That’s why we’ve proposed a comprehensive National Education Service at the heart of our programme for government to deliver high quality education for all throughout our lives.

Education has always been a core Labour value from the time of Ellen Wilkinson and before.

And a National Education Service will be an essential part of the 21st century welfare state.

In a rapidly changing economy people need to re-train or upgrade their skills without falling into debt.

Britain already lags behind other in productivity.

Partly that’s about investing in technology and infrastructure.

And partly it’s about investing in people and their skills.

How can we build and expand the sectors of the future without a skilled workforce?

But this Conservative government has slashed adult education budgets taking away opportunities for people to develop their skills and leaving businesses struggling to find the skilled workforce they need to succeed.

So today I am offering business a new settlement. A new deal for Rebuilding Britain.

Under Labour we will provide the investment to rebuild Britain’s infrastructure.

We will fund that investment because it will lead to a more productive economy providing the basis on which our economy and our businesses can thrive, helping to provide over a million good jobs and opportunities for businesses.

But investment in capital must include investment in human capital, the skilled workers needed to make our economy a success.

So this is the deal Labour will offer to business.

To help pay for a National Education Service, we will ask you pay a little more in tax.

We’ve already started to set out some of this, pledging to raise corporation tax by less than 1.5 percent to give an Education Maintenance Allowance to college students and grants to university students so that every young learner can afford to support themselves as they develop skills and get qualifications.

Business shares in economic success and it must contribute to it too.

And I recognise that good businesses deserve a level playing field.

So I also pledge to good businesses that we will clamp down those that dodge their taxes you should not be undercut by those that don’t play by the rules.

There is nothing more unpatriotic than not paying your taxes it is an act of vandalism, damaging our NHS, damaging older people’s social care, damaging younger people’s education. So a Labour government will make shabby tax avoidance a thing of the past.

Labour’s National Education Service is going to be every bit as vital as our National Health Service has become.

And we recognise that education isn’t simply about preparing for the workplace. It’s also about the exploration of knowledge and unlocking the creativity in every human being.

So all school pupils should have the chance to learn an instrument take part in drama and dance and have regular access to a theatre, gallery or museum in their local area.

That’s why we will introduce an arts pupil premium to every primary school in England and Wales and consult on the design and national roll-out to extend this pupil premium to all secondary schools.

This will be a £160million boost for schools to invest in projects that will support cultural activities for schools over the longer-term.

It could hardly be more different to the Tory approach to education. Their only plan is the return of grammar schools, segregation and second class schooling for the majority and what a great job Angela Rayner is doing in opposing them.

So this Saturday 1 October, I want you to take the message into your community that Labour is standing up for education for all.

Grammar Schools are not the only way, the Tories are bringing division back into our society. They are also using the tried-and-tested tricks of demonising and scapegoating to distract from their failures.

Whether it be single mothers, unemployed people, disabled people or migrants, Tory failure is always someone else’s fault.

And those smears have consequences, from children being bullied in school, to attacks in the street - such as the rise of disability hate crime.

I am so proud of this party. In the last year, we stood up to the government on cuts to disabled people’s benefits and cuts to working families tax credits.

And on Monday, our shadow work & pensions secretary Debbie Abrahams announced we would be scrapping the punitive sanctions regime and the degrading Work Capability Assessment.

As politicians, as political activists, as citizens, we must have zero tolerance towards those who whip up hate and division, stand together against racism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism and defend those being demonised.

It has been shaming to our multicultural society that assaults on migrants have increased sharply since the referendum campaign a campaign that peddled myths and whipped up division.

It isn’t migrants that drive down wages, it’s exploitative employers and the politicians who deregulate the labour market and rip up trade union rights.

It isn’t migrants who put a strain on our NHS, it only keeps going because of the migrant nurses and doctors who come here filling the gaps left by politicians who have failed to invest in training.

It isn’t migrants that have caused a housing crisis; it’s a Tory government that has failed to build homes.

Immigration can certainly put extra pressure on services and that’s why, under Gordon Brown, Labour setup the Migrant Impact Fund to provide extra funding to communities that have the largest rises in population.

What did the Tories do? They abolished it and then they demonise migrants for putting pressure on services.

A Labour government will not offer false promises on immigration as the Tories have done. We will not sow division by fanning the flames of fear. We will tackle the real issues of immigration instead whatever the eventual outcome of the Brexit negotiations and make the changes that are needed.

We will act decisively to end the undercutting of workers’ pay and conditions through the exploitation of migrant labour and agency working which would reduce the number of migrant workers in the process.

And we will ease the pressure on hard pressed public services - services that are struggling to absorb Tory austerity cuts, in communities absorbing new populations.

Labour will reinstate the migrant impact fund, and give extra support to areas of high migration using the visa levy for its intended purpose. And we will add a citizenship application fee levy to boost the fund.

That is the Labour way to tackle social tension investment and assistance, not racism and division.

This party campaigned hard to remain in the European Union. I spoke at rallies from Cornwall to Aberdeenshire for our Labour campaign to remain and reform.

But although most Labour voters backed us we did not convince millions of natural Labour voters especially in those parts of the country left behind. 

Left behind by years of neglect under-investment and de-industrialisation.

Now we have to face the future together we are not helped by patronising or lecturing those in our communities who voted to leave. We have to hear their concerns about jobs, about public services, about wages, about immigration, about a future for their children. And we have to respect their votes, and the decision of the British people.

Of course that doesn’t mean giving a blank cheque to Theresa May and her three-legged team of fractious Brexiteers as they try to work up a negotiating plan and squabble about whose turn it is to have the Chevening country retreat each weekend. 

We have made it clear that we will resist a Brexit at the expense of workers’ rights and social justice we have set out our red lines on employment, environmental and social protection and on access to the European market.

But we will also be pressing our own Brexit agenda including the freedom to intervene in our own industries without the obligation to liberalise or privatise our public services and building a new relationship with Europe based on cooperation and internationalism.

And as Europe faces the impact of a refugee crisis fuelled by wars across the Middle East we have to face the role that repeated military interventions by British governments have played in that crisis.

The Chilcot report made absolutely clear, the lessons to be learned from the disastrous invasion and occupation of Iraq, just as this month’s Foreign Affair Select Committee report into the war in Libya demonstrated those lessons had still not been learned a decade later.

The consequences of those wars have been the spread of terrorism, sectarianism and violence across an arc of conflict that has displaced millions of people forcing them from their countries.

That is why it was right to apologise on behalf of the party for the Iraq war right to say that we have learned the lessons and right to say that such a catastrophe must never be allowed to happen again.

We need a foreign policy based on peace, justice and human rights and what great news to hear the peace treaty in Colombia after fifty years of war and we need to honour our international treaty obligations on nuclear disarmament and encourage others to do the same.

We are a long way from that humanitarian vision. Britain continues to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, a country that the United Nations says is committing repeated violations of international humanitarian law war crimes in Yemen just as we have seen taking place in Syria.

So today I make it clear that under a Labour government when there are credible reports of human rights abuses or war crimes being committed British arms sales will be suspended, starting with Saudi Arabia.

Last year, the votes we needed to win power went many different ways in all parts of our country while millions of our potential voters stayed at home.

Many didn’t believe we offered the alternative they wanted.

It’s true there’s an electoral mountain to climb.

But if we focus everything on the needs and aspirations of middle and lower income voters, of ordinary families, if we demonstrate we’ve got a viable alternative to the government’s failed economic policies. I’m convinced we can build the electoral support that can beat the Tories.

That means being the voice of women, of young people and pensioners middle and lower income workers, the unemployed and the self-employed, minority communities and those struggling with the impact of migration at work and everyone struggling to get on, and secure a better life for themselves, their families and communities.

Running like a golden thread through Labour’s vision for today as throughout our history is the struggle for equality.

Rampant inequality has become the great scandal of our time, sapping the potential of our society, and tearing at its fabric.

Labour’s goal isn’t just greater equality of wealth and income but also of power.

Our aim could not be more ambitious. We want a new settlement for the 21st century, in politics, business, our communities with the environment, and in our relations with the rest of the world.

Every one of us in the Labour party is motivated by the gap between what our country is and what it could be.

We know that in the sixth largest economy in the world the foodbanks, stunted life chances and growing poverty alongside wealth on an undreamed of scale are a mark of shameful and unnecessary failure.

We know how great this country could be, for all its people, with a new political and economic settlement.

With new forms of democratic public ownership, driven by investment in the technology and industries of the future, with decent jobs, education and housing for all with local services run by and for people not outsourced to faceless corporations.

That’s not backward-looking, it’s the very opposite.

It’s the socialism of the 21st century.

Our job is now to win over the unconvinced to our vision. Only that way can we secure the Labour government we need.

And let’s be frank, no one will be convinced of a vision, promoted by a divided party. We all agree on that.

So I ask each and every one of you, accept the decision of the members end the trench warfare and work together to take on the Tories.

Anything else is a luxury that the millions of people who depend on Labour cannot afford.

We know there will be local elections next May. In Scotland, where we have won three council by-elections this summer, in Wales and in counties across England.

And there'll be metro mayor elections too, including here on Merseyside, where my good friend Steve Rotherham will standing as Labour's candidate, Steve, best of luck, I will miss your comradeship and support.

But we could also face a general election next year.

Whatever the Prime Minister says about snap elections, there is every chance that Theresa May, will cut and run, for an early election.

So I put our party on notice today, Labour is preparing for a general election in 2017, we expect all our members to support our campaign and we will be ready for the challenge whenever it comes.

Let us do it, in the spirit of the great Scots-born Liverpool football manager Bill Shankly who said:

"The socialism I believe in, is everybody working for the same goal and everybody having a share in the rewards. That's how I see football, that's how I see life."

We are not all Bill Shanklys. Each of us comes to our socialism from our own experiences.

Mine was shaped by my mum and dad, a teacher and an engineer. Both committed socialists and peace campaigners, my mum’s inspiration was to encourage girls to believe they could achieve anything in their lives.

And by working as a teacher in Jamaica when I was a young man, that taught me so much about the strength of communities living in adversity, as well as fighting for the low paid as a trade union organiser here in Britain.

As the great American poet Langston Hughes put it: “I see that my own hands can make the world that’s in my mind”.

Everyone here and every one of our hundreds of thousands of members has something to contribute to our cause.

That way we will unite, build on our policies. Take our vision out to a country crying out for change.

We are half a million of us, and there will be more, working together to make our country the place it could be.

Conference, united we can shape the future and build a fairer Britain in a peaceful world.

Thank you.