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The leadership blogs - Andy Burnham

A strong voice for trade unions by Andy Burnham MP

During the miners’ strikes of the 80s, our school bus used to drive past Parkside Colliery. It was around the time I started getting interested in politics – I joined the Party in 1984, when I was 14. Thirty years on, it’s devastating to see the Tories back in power, continuing their demonisation campaign against the unions and attempting to dismantle the rights of workers everywhere to stand up to injustice and ill treatment.

Trade unions and trade unionists are the bedrock of the Labour Party. It is vital that the Labour Leadership works closely with unions and reflects the values and aspirations of your members. The Tories have wasted no time in making their intention clear - during this Parliament they intend to strip unions of their rights and powers. As Leader, I will stand with you, and I will lead the effort to build a coalition of support against the Trade Union Bill.

Trade union funding is the cleanest money in politics, and I will vigorously defend your right to maintain a political fund and support our Party and candidates across the country. I will fight with you against the Tories’ cynical moves to break this relationship whilst accepting cash from hedge fund managers and private healthcare providers. And I have vocally opposed the Tories’ erosion of workplace rights, including the impact of the introduction of tribunal fees, on which I have asked Sir Keir Starmer to lead a review. These are issues that Labour will not shy away from under my Leadership.

The reality of politics is that to make lives better for the millions of people who are suffering at the hands of the Tories, we need to win the next General Election. To win in 2020, we must have a Labour Leader who can unite the Party, provide strong opposition to damaging Tory policies and offer the electorate big, bold policies that can really change their lives.

That’s why I’ve laid out five key pledges in my manifesto, underpinned by a commitment to a credible and detailed Labour plan for the economy, to help everyone to get on in life:

·         A future with hope for all young people – without the millstone of debt – through a modern, comprehensive education system, replacing tuition fees with a new graduate tax, and creating new university-style support for young people seeking apprenticeships.

·         An affordable home for all to rent or own – by freeing councils to build new homes and introducing regulation of the private rented sector.

·         A secure, well-paid job for everyone – by abolishing the youth rate National Minimum Wage, establishing a true living wage for all ages, banning forced zero-hours contracts and unpaid internships.

·         Affordable and reliable transport for all – through a policy of progressive re-nationalisation of our railways and re-regulation of our buses.  

·         And good care for all your needs from cradle to grave – and no one forced to sell their home – through a National Health and Care Service, bringing social care into the NHS.

I will oppose the Welfare Bill as Leader, and I will campaign to stay in a reformed European Union, with extra EU funding to support public services in UK communities that are most affected by intra-EU migration.

We will only win in 2020 if we are united, and under my Leadership I will work to make sure that we are.

Repeated polls have shown that I’m by far the most credible and popular candidate amongst Labour voters and amongst the general public in every part of the country. I’m in the best position to win back support from the other parties and to win back votes in Scotland, and I have a 21 point lead among loyal Labour supporters.

It will be the mission of the Labour Party I lead to help everyone to get on in life. But I can’t do it alone. Please join me, and help me to change the Labour Party, so that we can win in 2020 and change Britain.

Andy Burnham is one of four candidates standing to be the next Labour leader which will be chosen by Labour Party members and affiliate supporters. If your trade union supports Labour you can sign-up to vote here for free http://www.unionstogether.org.uk/our_voice.

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