Jeremy Corbyn speech at Labour’s London local elections launch
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We meet here today in the shadow of one of the most violent periods we have experienced in recent times not just here in London but across our country.
Young people with their lives ahead of them are being ripped from our communities.
Too many families are facing the loss of a child they have nurtured in their early years never to see the potential of that love and support realised.
As political leaders we must act. We have to tackle full-on the reasons so many of our young people are having their lives extinguished.
Tomorrow I will be holding a roundtable meeting with those who on the front line of violent crime. I will be meeting police officers, families who have lost children and organisations working to end the curse of knife and gun crime.
I want to hear what they have to say. Labour will listen to experts whose first-hand experience of working on the front line will help frame our approach to dealing with the sharp rise in violent crime.
We must also hold the Government to account. Over the last 8 years the Conservative Government has decimated local services the core services that are an essential part of holding our communities together.
You simply cannot maintain community cohesion when you slash funding to the police service and cut the number of officers on our streets by 21,000.
We always said cuts have consequences and now the Home Office’s own officials agree with us.
Todays leaked documents make a nonsense of the Tories’ repeated claims that their cuts to police numbers have had no effect.
You cannot protect local communities when you cut funding to local councils to such an extent they are unable to provide the essential youth service support that stops many young people being drawn into violent crime.
The Tory record on policing and crime is one of reckless failure. Plain and simple – you can’t have security on the cheap and cuts have consequences. Too many communities are living with those consequences.
London is diverse, resilient and home to so many communities a collection of villages and communities united in a common identity as Londoners.
Our great city has a long and proud tradition of welcoming new arrivals from the Huguenots fleeing persecution in the 17th century to those from the Commonwealth who made the capital their home in the 60s and 70s.
Indeed the warmth of London made this once young lad from Shropshire feel at home here.
Diversity and respect for each other’s cultures and other religions runs through the capital’s DNA.
Nothing and no one will ever be allowed to undermine our fundamental commitment to our city’s multicultural character and history.
And to those Europeans who have made their home in our city in recent years I want to make this commitment:
Labour will never abandon you. Labour will not use you as a bargaining chip. You are an integral part of our city. Labour will never doubt the contribution you make to our city
Two years ago Londoner’s elected Sadiq Khan as London mayor the first Muslim mayor of any European city, he didn’t scrape in, he won more votes than any previous mayor. By electing Sadiq the people of London rejected a nasty divisive campaign and showed what a united city we are.
And we need to be united.
London suffered hugely in the last year with terrorist attacks in Westminster, London Bridge, Finsbury Park and an attempted attack at Parsons Green.
But in the face of the terror, and the tragedy, we were all moved by the immense bravery, heroism and solidarity, of ordinary people, and our dedicated public servants, the police health workers and others.
Londoners came together, refused to be divided, refused to turn against each other, we stayed united and that is our strength.
And Londoners also came together in sorrow and in solidarity in the aftermath of the terrible Grenfell tower fire which took 72 lives.
Who could not have been moved by the outpouring of support people offering clothes, food, money, accommodation and love to people who had lost everything, and who had been let down by their council and by the government.
Grenfell told us something else about London something we see starkly every day that we may be united but we are also deeply unequal.
The brutal and inescapable truth is that the fire simply would not have happened if the occupants had been wealthy.
And in the immediate aftermath of the fire came the promises solemn pledges to the families of the bereaved and those made homeless – that they would be re housed in the borough.
Yet almost a year on families are still living in emergency accommodation.
The residents of Grenfell have been forced to experience the double whammy of a heartless Tory Government and a hopeless Conservative council
What all Londoners need to know is that they will be safe in their homes.
In the aftermath of Grenfell, it was Croydon Council that committed to installing sprinklers in all high-rise tower blocks and it was Labour Camden Council which removed dangerous cladding from its buildings and is investing £80 million to improve fire safety in its tower blocks.
Housing is in crisis and that crisis is at its most acute in London.
More and more we see the visible signs of that crisis.
No one who walks the streets of our city can have failed to see the human tragedy of rough sleepers on the streets.
More than twice as many now as there were in 2010.
When Labour said that the changes to our welfare system and the cuts to support would lead to more homelessness, the Tories said we were scaremongering.
Today the reality of that Tory heartlessness can be seen on almost every street in the capital.
And then there’s the hidden homeless, the families in temporary accommodation, without a home to call their own…
There are now 120,000 children living in temporary accommodation up by two-thirds in the last 8 years.
And for many the cause of that homelessness is eviction by a private landlord.
Now sometimes that is unscrupulous landlords hiking rents, or carrying out revenge evictions against tenants who complain about the poor state of the home they rent.
So I want to pay tribute to Labour councils like Newham and Southwark which have brought in landlord licensing, so that rogue landlords can no longer get away with it.
That’s Labour councils working to protect residents.
Just as in Parliament Labour is making a difference.
I pay tribute to the tenacity Karen Buck, Labour MP for Westminster North, who has long campaigned for homes for rent to be fit for human habitation.
To us in this room that would seem to be a basic human right, but not to the Conservatives who twice voted against the legislation.
The campaign run by Karen and Labour shamed the Tories who have finally supported the new law.
I also pay tribute to Labour councils like my own in Islington that are building council housing. But while the regulation of landlords and the availability of homes are one side of the equation the other is low pay and insecure work which is why Labour pledged in the election to make the living wage the minimum wage so that the minimum becomes a level that can actually be lived on.
And it is Labour councils which have become accredited living wage councils paying all their staff and all their contractors at least the living wage.
This should be the case throughout London but sadly it’s not.
Conservative Wandsworth is not a living wage borough, but next door Labour Lambeth is. Tory Westminster is not but neighbouring Labour Camden pays the living wage. Conservative Barnet is not a living wage borough but Labour Brent is.
So if you want decent pay, if you want a home for your family, if you want landlords licensed then vote Labour on 3rd May.
Because the truth is London’s values are Labour values.
The labour movement’s core beliefs and messages, united we stand, divided we fall, unity is strength, the people united will never be defeated, they capture the attitudes of Londoners. We will not be divided.
And that’s why we will stand shoulder to shoulder with our Jewish communities, which have been at the heart of our party for over a century, and will remain so, and we will not tolerate any concession to anti-semitism or anti-Jewish bigotry in any form.
Our party prides itself on being the party that brought in the Race Relations Acts into law in 1968 and 1976, that delivered the Equality Act in 2010, we’re the party that was home to the first black MPs in 1987.
Those gains weren’t given, they were fought for with determination, it took boldness and it meant challenging prejudice. We need all those attributes to defeat rising levels of anti-semitism in society today.
I know my party, the party I have been a member of for 50 years and I know that the overwhelming majority of members are united, determined to root out any anti-semitism, and to make our party the welcoming movement that is has always been.
Prejudice and hatred of Jewish people has no place whatsoever in society and every one of us has a responsibility to ensure it is never allowed to fester again.
I want to pay tribute to the work of the Community Security Trust in monitoring and combating anti-semitic attacks for 30 years.
But their reporting shows that anti-semitism is on the rise and last year they reported that there were 22 attacks on Jewish schools in the previous year and it is a mark of shame on our society that many of our Jewish schools now need security guards.
The rise in racially-motivated hate crime should alarm us all and reminds us that we can never be complacent.
The disgusting letters we saw in recent weeks too for something called “Punish a Muslim day” showed that there still too many people seeking to divide us and peddle hatred and Islamophobia.
I know Londoners and people across this country will continue to reject those who seek to whip up division on the basis of race or religion.
And whatever our background, Londoners rely on the NHS to provide us with care. Yet there is no doubt the quality of that care is falling, not because the dedicated staff in the NHS care less, but because they simply do not have the resources they need to look after those in need.
Our hospitals in London are massively in debt. Waiting times are soaring. Getting an appointment to see your GP is getting harder. Londoners deserve better, and a Labour Government will provide the resources to rescue the NHS.
And as our acute health sector has come close to breaking point, mental health provision in the capital is in crisis. Among those worst affected are our young people and that feeds into the rise of violent crime as well.
The massive investment in young people’s mental health provision that took place under the last Labour government has been hacked back.
Ground breaking services like CAMHS have either disappeared or are so overwhelmed they can barely function.
Local authorities and the NHS in London need the investment to bring our mental health services to at least the standard they were in 2010, before the Tories began to wreak havoc on the NHS …
London is often described as a young city. Yet there are hundreds of thousands of elderly Londoners. Proud and dignified, these Londoners have contributed all their lives to making London what it is today. But this government has abandoned them.
It has slashed support for social care. Cuts to police funding have left many elderly feeling frightened.
With the resources they need, Labour councils will provide the dignity and independence that elderly Londoners want and deserve.
People sometimes say politics makes no difference and politicians are all the same.
No one can say that today, it is simply not true. There is a chasm between the values of Theresa May and her Government and those of the Labour Party at every level.
The same is true for local councils. You can have a Tory run Barnet that has privatised almost every local service and in the process made those services worse and its workers worse off.
Or you can have a Labour Council that will bring services in house, be accountable for their quality, invest in the delivery and treat their staff fairly and decently.
You can have Tory run Kensington and Chelsea whose performance was described by the government as totally unacceptable or a Labour council that will run rogue landlords out of town and invest in building new council and social housing.
There is a real choice on 3rd May – a stark choice.
If you care about the community you live in.
If you want to see better policing, care for our elderly, and investment in housing to help people get on the ladder, and not be priced out of our city.
If you are one of the many not the few, then Vote Labour on May 3rd.