Labour Party Conference sings ‘God save the King’

2 months ago 61

THE LABOUR Party Conference in Liverpool opened yesterday with a minute’s silence, followed by leader Sir Keir Starmer leading the hall in singing God Save the King.

Opening the conference, Starmer said: ‘As we enter a new era, let’s commit to honouring the late Queen’s memory.’

Delegates had been handed cards with the words to ‘God save the King’ and, with members of the shadow cabinet sitting in the front row, Starmer led the singing.

Ahead of the conference, it was revealed that a motion calling for the renationalisation of the energy companies had been ruled out of order and would not be heard.

Yesterday’s main speaker was Labour Party deputy leader Angela Rayner, who pledged to defend the right to strike ‘as long as I have a breath in my body’ and to repeal all the ‘anti-worker and anti-trade union laws this government is passing’, if Labour wins power.

Earlier yesterday morning, speaking on TV, Starmer wriggled when asked if he would back strike action, saying: ‘I can quite understand how people are driven to that. They’re really struggling to pay their bills, the negotiations have not succeeded, and they’ve taken as a last resort the decision to go on strike.

‘And I support the right of individuals to go on strike, I support the trade unions doing the job that they are doing in representing their members. I want to see the strikes resolved, as do everybody who is on strike.’

Asked if Labour would reverse the government’s cut to the top rate of income tax, Starmer said ‘yes’, but added that he supported the new Tory Chancellor’s decision to cut the basic rate of tax from 20% to 19% as, he claimed, this would ‘reduce the tax burden on working people’.

However, the Labour Mayor for Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said Labour should commit to scrapping income tax cuts to both the basic and top rate.

Burnham was asked: ‘Should Labour commit to reversing the tax cuts if you are in power?’

He replied: ‘I think they should. The money should have been used instead to help people’s pay packets so they can continue to go to work for us in the NHS.’

Burnham also let slip that he would be in favour of Labour being part of a coalition government with LibDems, SNP and Tory MPs, saying: ‘We’ve got to maximise the chances of a Labour-led government.’

Meanwhile, two trade union leaders rejected the opportunity to back the call for a general strike.

Appearing on Sky TV, Christina McAnea, general secretary of Unison, said: ‘I don’t think it makes a difference whether Labour is on picket lines or not.

‘Labour is there to, I think, hopefully work with us, and I think if there’s a Labour government in place, I would hope that we wouldn’t be just about to ballot 400,000 NHS workers by the end of this year. I would hope that they would talk to us.’

She was asked point blank: ‘Are we getting closer to a general strike?’ and replied: ‘We are certainly getting close to a well-coordinated strike. Because of the trade union legislation in this country you have to jump through hoops.’

RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said in response to the same question: ‘We talk to each other, it would be silly for unions not to coordinate their forces so we are taking action alongside the postal workers next week, alongside the ASLEF union and if other people want to join in a wave of response and resistance to what’s going on, where the rich are being made richer all of the time and we’ve seen that in the budget on Friday, where everybody who is under £155,000 in salary will be poorer and everybody above that salary will be richer – well, we’ve got to be able to rebalance that society and our economy.’

Lynch described his first meeting with new Tory Transport Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan as a ‘good meeting with a positive attitude’, much better than her predecessor. However, he said, ‘It might have been good cop, bad cop.’

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