POLITICS

Dan Jarvis Calls For Labour To Be 'Tough On Inequality' In Major Speech Amid Leadership Hype

10/03/2016 08:46 GMT | Updated 10/03/2016 09:59 GMT
Laura Lean/PA Archive
Dan Jarvis MP speaks during the Progress annual conference, at TUC Congress House, central London.

Dan Jarvis, hailed as a future Labour leader, will today map out his economic vision for a “party of work and jobs” that hails New Labour but acknowledges it “wasn’t enough” to tackle falling wages of workers.

In a major speech this morning that will be seen as the first steps towards a leadership bid, the backbench MP will put tackling inequality at the heart of his plan, noting how the wages of British workers have been hit by “cheap labour”.

And the The Huffington Post can reveal he is to call for a reform of the corporate tax system that squeezes out “risky” banking practices.

Echoing Tony Blair’s famous “tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime” line, Jarvis will call for Labour to be “tough on inequality, tough on the causes of inequality”.

Dan Jarvis told The Huffington Post in September why he did not run for the Labour leadership when Jeremy Corbyn won

His pitch, delivered at an event hosted by the Demos think-tank, appears to be an attempt to square the circle between the electoral success of New Labour and the resurgence of the Left that has prompted the rise of Jeremy Corbyn. He will argue it is a “false choice” to “either champion Labour’s record in government or denounce it”.

The Barnsley MP, a former Army officer, will say Labour “must always be the party of work and jobs, so that nobody is left behind”, but adds: “Let’s be frank – New Labour’s approach wasn’t enough. It didn’t get at the root causes.

“New Labour didn’t see with sufficient clarity the downsides of globalisation. They knew it meant cheap consumer goods. But, they didn’t recognise that too often, it meant cheap labour too.

“Today the average income in Barnsley is still over £100 a week less than the average income in Barnes in London.

“I believe this gap matters. It’s bad for our economy. It’s bad for our communities.

"And it’s bad for our politics too. If people feel the system works against them, they will turn away from mainstream parties, or from politics altogether. To think otherwise reflects a poverty of ambition for a progressive party.

“It’s a false choice to say we must either champion Labour’s record in government or denounce it. The truth is we should defend our achievements and learn from our mistakes. To anyone outside Westminster, that’s common sense.”

dan jarvis labour

Dan Jarvis: “It’s a false choice to say we must either champion Labour’s record in government or denounce it. The truth is we should defend our achievements and learn from our mistakes."

Jarvis will say the next Labour government “must take a more radical economic approach – more radical than we had under Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband”.

He will say: “If we do not share the proceeds of growth fairly then the moral foundations of our economy are called into question.

“Put simply, Labour needs to be tough on inequality, tough on the causes of inequality.”

On shareholder reform, he will tell the audience: “We must act to encourage long termism in business.

“That means considering some radical options – like rebalancing our corporate tax system, which favours risky debt over equity.

“And it might mean looking at the rights of shareholders, so that those who own the shares for longer have greater rights and those who buy in during a takeover bid don't get an unfair say.”

He will also launch an attack on George Osborne’s record as Chancellor, saying exports as a share of national income have fallen from 29% to 27%, and note the economy is still too dependent on financial services in the South East.

He will say: “Mr Osborne is fond of telling us he has fixed the roof while the sun is shining. Well, it’s not the roof I’m worried about, it’s the foundations.

“When you hear George Osborne say ‘long term economic plan’, what he really means is ‘short term political gain’.”

The paratrooper, who gave up his military career to become an MP in 2011, had been seen by many in the party as an ideal candidate to give the party a fresh start.

But Jarvis, who held his Barnsley Central seat with an increased majority, said while he wanted to be part of the "rebuilding process" he could not take the top job.

In 2010, his wife died of cancer at the age of 43 after a four-year battle, leaving him the single father of two children - then aged eight and six - and has since remarried.

He said when revealing he would not run: "My eldest kids had a very tough time when they lost their mum and I don't want them to lose their dad. I need some space for them, my wife and our youngest child right now, and I wouldn't have it as leader."

His speech comes in a week when Rachel Reeves, a frontbencher under Ed Miliband, gave a speech that eviscerated Osborne and was seen as one of a "shadow Chancellor in exile".

Pressure on Corbyn, unpopular with most of his own MPs despite the huge leadership election victory in the summer, will mount if Labour performs badly in May's local elections.