A big part of being the leader of a political party is that you meet people across the country and hear a wide range of views and ideas about the future. For me, it’s been a reminder that our country is a place of dynamic, generous and creative people with massive potential.
But I’ve also heard something far less positive, something which motivates us in the Labour Party to work for the kind of real change set out in this manifesto. It is a growing sense of anxiety and frustration.
Faced with falling living standards, growing job insecurity and shrinking public services, people are under increasing strain. Young people are held back by debt and the cost of housing. Whole families are being held back from the life they have worked towards.
For the many, not the few.
I’m constantly told of these pressures in the workplace. Faced with constant cuts and interference, our police, nurses, doctors, teachers and council staff are held back from delivering the public services they signed up to.
Workers are held back by falling real pay and job security. Our entrepreneurs and managers are being held back from growing their business. If you are increasingly asked to do more with less, then you are not alone.
Every election is a choice. What makes this election different is that the choice is starker than ever before. You can choose more of the same: the rich getting richer, more children in poverty, our NHS failing and our schools and social care in crisis. Or you can vote for the party that has a plan to change all of this – The Labour Party.
Britain is the fifth richest country in the world. But that means little when many people don’t share in that wealth. Many feel the system is rigged against them. And this manifesto sets out exactly what can be done about it.
Britain needs to negotiate a Brexit deal that puts our economy and living standards first. That won’t be achieved by empty slogans and posturing. We cannot put at risk our links with our largest trading partner. Instead, we need a jobs-first Brexit that allows us to upgrade our economy for the 21st century.
Labour will invest in the cutting-edge jobs and industries of the future that can improve everybody’s lives. Which is why this manifesto outlines a fully costed programme to upgrade our economy. From childcare to transport, housing to lifelong learning, Labour understands how a successful economy depends on services that support us all.
So yes, this election is about what sort of country we want to be after Brexit. Is it one where the majority are held back by the sheer struggle of getting by? That isn’t the Britain Labour is determined to create.
So let’s build a fairer Britain where no one is held back. A country where everybody is able to get on in life, to have security at work and at home, to be decently paid for the work they do, and to live their lives with the dignity they deserve.
Let’s build a country where we invest our wealth to give everyone the best chance. That means building the homes we need to rent and buy, keeping our communities safe with more police officers, giving our children’s schools the funding they badly need and restoring the NHS to its place as the envy of the world.
Don’t let the Conservatives hold Britain back.
Let’s build a Britain that works for the many, not the few.
Leader of the Labour Party