Anti-austerity Can Be More Than Just a Slogan - Labour Needs a Concrete Plan for Action to Propel the Party Back Into Power

27/07/2016 22:21 | Updated 27 July 2016
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If you want the greatest honour in politics - to lead the Labour Party - then you have to be absolutely certain about why you want the job and what you plan to do with it.

That's why right from the start of my campaign, I have been determined to leave people in no doubt about my politics and my radical plans for changing the Labour Party and Britain

Many people in our country rightly feel angry that as the challenges they face grow ever steeper, our politics is simply too timid to rise to the occasion.

At a time where homes become ever more unaffordable, wages stagnate, public services are cut back, young people looking worriedly to the future the Labour Party has been guilty of being too timid in our vision. We've left people unsure if we have the ambition to seize the moment and offer real hope.

Yet for inspiration we need look no further than our own history, because it's bold, radical ideas that have defined the finest moments in Labour's history. If we'd listened to doubters or not trusted in our socialist principles, we would never have created the NHS, Labour's crowning glory and the lasting embodiment of our values put in to practice. Jeremy Corbyn knows that and that's why his rallying cries last summer on anti-austerity resonated with so many Labour members, myself included. But the time has come to turn that rhetoric in to a programme for action.

I want to ensure that this new generation of Labour men and women rises to the task of giving our party that clarity of purpose and ambition. That's why in my speech I was determined to set out a huge range of policies that start offering the details on the ways a Labour government can truly transform Britain.

The core of these ideas are based around three key principles: fair employment, fair taxes and fair funding.

Fair employment, because if people are not able to find decent, secure work, backed up with power in the workplace, then tackling inequality will simply be impossible.

Trade Unions give working people a voice that's why the Tories hate them and why I am a proud trade unionist. My burning desire as Labour Leader would be to transform Britain from the place in Europe with some of the least workers' rights, to a world leader in protections for working people. I'd start by scrapping the Tories' Trade Union Act, it's vicious, vindictive and has no place in a modern democracy. I'd also introduce 'wage councils' to drive up pay in jobs like retail, hospitality and social care. As well putting employees on the committees that set pay.

On fair taxes, it's about time the very wealthiest in society - who on the whole have continued to do spectacularly well throughout the downturn - did more to pay back in to the society they rely on. So under my leadership Labour would introduce a wealth tax on the richest 1% in society, asking them to pay their fair share, to provide the investment our NHS so desperately needs. We'll also show our commitment to reducing inequality, by reversing Tory cuts to Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains Tax.

While on fair funding Labour under my leadership would set out to rebuild our country. A £200billion British New Deal, to build homes, renew transport systems and public buildings - as well as investing in Sure Start centres and care services.

Although it's not enough just to have fine public buildings, we also need to value the fine people who work in them. I know how hard our public servants work, they have been at the frontline of austerity and literally paid the price with the pay freeze that has dragged on far too long. It's deeply unfair, especially when prices continue to rise. So under me the public sector pay freeze will end.

These are just some of the bold ideas that will run through my campaign, showing that being anti-austerity can be more than just a slogan, it can be a concrete plan for action. More than that, it can inspire people and propel our party, the people's party, back in to power.

Owen Smith is the Labour MP for Pontypridd