I think it’s fair to say that 2016 is a year that will live long in all our memories. It saw 12 months of enormous change not just in Britain but around the world.
But the New Year gives us all the opportunity to start afresh. One of the best things about my job as Leader of the Labour Party is meeting some fantastic people all over the country. But every day, I see the political system letting down the people. How decisions made in Westminster are making people’s lives harder. Whether that’s elderly people not receiving the care at home they deserve, putting huge strain on them and their family, or whether it’s the people waiting longer in A&E departments or on trolleys because the National Health Service and social care system is almost at breaking point despite the best efforts of the wonderful and very dedicated staff. Whether it’s the homeless families who are being priced out of the housing market that only works for the few.
This Christmas, 120,000 children didn’t have a home to call their own. That is scandalous, and it’s damaging to those young people’s very formative years. Our children need a first-class education, an education for everyone, not just for a privileged few.
As well as insecure housing, there is massive insecurity at work, too. Millions of people can’t plan their lives because whether on temporary or permanent zero hours contracts, they don’t know what job or what hours they’ll have from day to day, week to week or month to month, and for many, pay is so low, it doesn’t make ends meet.
2016 will be defined in history by the referendum on European Union membership. People didn’t trust politicians and they didn’t trust the EU.
I understand that, I’ve spent over 40 years in politics campaigning for a better way of doing things. Standing up for people, taking on the establishment and opposing decisions that would make us worse off.
We now have the chance to do things differently – to build an economy that invests and works for everyone across all our nations and all our regions.
Labour accepts and respects the result of the referendum. We won’t be blocking our country leaving the EU, but we won’t stand by. Those in charge today have put the jobs market, housing, the NHS and social care in crisis. We can’t let them mess this up, it’s about everyone’s future. A Brexit that protects the bankers in the city and continues to give corporate handouts to the biggest companies is not good enough.
Labour was founded to stand up for people, and we founded the institutions that do that day in, and day out, like our National Health Service.
We’re the party that listens to you and makes Britain better.
Let’s do that, together, in 2017.