To encourage you to make a personal submission to Labour’s National Policy Forum consultation, we thought you’d appreciate this excellent example from Dr Liz Bell. Don’t be daunted by its breadth though – you may have a single issue you feel really strongly about, or an important idea that our party really should consider!
We’re also enjoying the opportunity provided by the NPF consultation to introduce some of our many talented local members. Read 16 year old Laurence Hall’s CLP submission on education here.
Liz was formerly our Women’s Officer and is famous for her brilliant Suffragette speech – on a soapbox, dressed to perfection, on a swelteringly hot day in in 2018 – to celebrate 100 years of Women’s Suffrage and 70 years of the NHS. Most recently our Policy Officer, Liz is a Parish Councillor and has contested seats in local and general elections.
In the 2019 West Berkshire Local Elections, Liz tells us she became known as the Red Devil when she gained 666 votes in Tilehust and Purley Ward. Unflagging, Liz went on to stand against Kit Malthouse a few months later, in the 2019 General Election. Liz stood as Labour’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC) for North West Hampshire, doing brilliantly. Read about her campaign in the Newbury Weekly News here.
Liz is a quiet, generous fellow member and campaigner, always a source of support and wisdom to those of you keen to deepen involvement with our party. When you’ve read her submission please get in touch with feedback and suggestions, for Liz and for the Executive Committee.
Personal NPF submission
Dr Liz Bell
In education from primary to tertiary, I think a really important issue is to address inequality of access by ensuring that all students that need it are supplied with laptops and robust internet access. All education providers will need to be helped to establish long term online education access in tandem with face to face provision, so the modes can be easily swapped where necessary. This pandemic won’t be the last one we face, so engineer for it now. It will also make education provision more resilient in the face of other challenges such as weather disruptions due to climate change. We also need to plan for how students can continue to take exams safely under any conditions. For GCSE and A Level, rather than try to calculate and allocate grades, I would have had only Years 11 and 13 in the schools at exam time, and distributed throughout all the rooms in the schools to ensure social distancing. It would have meant hiring more invigilators, but would have been effective.
I think that the challenges posed by the pandemic have thrown into sharp relief that all individuals and families need a baseline of financial security that is always automatically there. I am now a strong believer in the need for a Universal Basic Income set at a level to really make a difference, I would suggest that it is set at the amount of the current tax free income allowance. This will safeguard people from the pressures of e.g.losing their job, be more efficient than the current systems of claiming core benefits (which would then become a system of additional benefits for special defined areas of need which would still have an application system), put more money into the economy (trickle down only works if you put money into the pockets of low and middle income people), and future proof our economy from major changes coming our way from increased automation and offshoring. Absolutely everyone should get it regardless of income, with richer individuals paying it back through progressive taxation, and it replacing the current state pension. It is also really important that we make a major public investment in social housing. The current system which leaves low income families prey to the private sector charging sky high rents, is unacceptable. And poor value for the benefits system. Better that we provide the housing rather than pour housing benefits into the pockets of private landlords. We can ensure the provision of good quality housing too. Getting everyone properly housed is imperative for national resilience in the face of future pandemics.
We have a unique opportunity to really push for the development of a new Green Economy as we outlined in our 2019 Manifesto. Really sell it as the only viable way to run our economy now. As a new owner of an electric car, I would especially plead for rapid build up of charging infrastructure throughout the country. At the moment we use it for round trips up to a maximum of 150 miles, keeping our petrol car for long journeys. We would really like to be able to take our electric car confidently everywhere. Major supermarket car parks having every space fitted with a charger would be wonderful.
On aid, we should strongly oppose the merger of DFID with the FCO. The previous separation of the majority of our overseas aid from political and economic drivers is essential if we are to genuinely help the world’s poorest people. The merger amounts to the appropriation of aid money for other political purposes. On migration we need to recognise that global environmental change and other growing strife is going to drive mass movement of desperate people. We need to work with other developed nations to create fair systems to support migrants, with initiatives to protect migrating people and eliminate the violence they are often subjected to. I would like to see refugees able to reach safe refuges and make applications long before they reach our borders and be supported in transport etc, so putting people traffickers out of business. We also need to make the case that migration is also a good thing. There are areas of Europe that have emptied of people that would really benefit from accepting new people. On Israel and Palestine, I think we need to be really clear that further annexation of Palestinian land is grossly unfair, and also counter productive to the long term interests of Israel itself. It is in the interests of Israel to have a stable and prosperous Palestine as its neighbour. Aid money should be used to invest in Palestine to help achieve this, and sanctions used to stop illegal land grabs.
I see tertiary education as a public good rather than private benefit. We shouldn’t burden people with debt to get an education. It is unnecessary as Student Loans are funded by the Treasury, so the taxpayer has already paid for it. The logic that loans enable some of the money to be recovered from students who then get good jobs is fatuous, as exactly the same could be achieved through a progressive taxation system, without having the expensive student loans infrastructure. Not carrying personal education debt would also help young graduates feel more prosperous and spend more in the economy. We also need to tackle the issue of expensive student accommodation where students are being preyed upon by private landlords. All student accommodation needs to be decent and genuinely affordable.
I would like to see some attention paid to part time contracts, issues which particularly affect women. It is not uncommon for employers to advertise contracts for a set number of hours, but then expect the employee to work longer hours for no extra pay, or with unworkable promises of being able to take time off in lieu. We should be clear in employment legislation that employers must pay for all hours worked over the agreed number, or prove that the time off in lieu arrangements actually work, and that no employee contributes unpaid hours. I don’t think this principle should be extended to full time work, but it is important for part time contracts which can be knowingly set up to rip people off.