Rebecca Long-Bailey calls on Labor to abandon a cautious approach to the economy | Rebecca Long Bailey
Former Labor leadership contender Rebecca Long-Bailey has called on Labor to abandon its cautious approach to the economy and run the next election on a radical manifesto that includes state ownership and the contract of living standards between the government and the public.
In her first significant intervention in economic policy since the 2020 leadership contest won by Sir Keir Starmer, Long-Bailey said Labor will need transformational policies if it is to win the next election.
Long-Bailey, who was the shadow business secretary and a key figure on Jeremy Corbyn’s team, said her proposed contract would provide a decent standard of living for all citizens, ensuring affordable housing, food and fuel costs.
She said a Minister of Living Standards with a cabinet rank in the same stature as the First Secretary would ensure that the contract was delivered and legally enforced.
Starmer, who earlier this year said “the slate has been wiped clean” since the 2019 election, will deliver a speech on the economy in Liverpool on Monday.
Speaking to the Guardian, Long-Bailey said she understands the difficulties in announcing policies so long before a general election because it gave Labor opponents the opportunity to steal or make holes in the policies. But, she added, “You can’t fatten a pig on market day.”
The fiscal responsibility that Starmer and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves pledged were necessary but not sufficient on their own to restore voter confidence.
In recent months, Labor has opened a leading polling center and is now more confident in dealing with the UK’s cost of living crisis. Long Bailey warned that this likely wouldn’t last.
“It is naive to think that Labor can maintain its lead in the polls without radical and transformational policies,” she said.
She dismissed the notion that Labor lost the last general election because its economic policies upset voters. “There were a whole host of reasons why we didn’t do well but supporting public ownership was not one of them. All the evidence is that our plans to nationalize the Royal Mail, railways and water were very popular.”
Amid concerns on the party’s left that Starmer plans to abandon plans to nationalize public utilities, Long-Bailey said state ownership is more popular than ever with voters seeking to end the “great privatization rip.”
She added: “We are living in the worst living crisis in decades, with household fuel and water bills rising, while train prices continue to rise.
“It’s important that the Labor Party stays on the side of public opinion here, and that we fight the next election with our current policies on public ownership.”
Long-Bailey said her contract would include changing corporate law to make managers have a legal duty to employees as well as shareholders, and restricting a portion of profits to increase wages. The package aims to restructure the British economy to rebalance workers.