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Polling day is now less than a week away and the choice facing us could not be clearer. A choice between a Labour government that will transform our economy for the many not the few or more of the same; a Conservative government with a track record of taking the axe to our public services, chronic underinvestment and increasing inequality.
Our union believe that Labour has put forward a transformative programme for our members; bringing Royal Mail back into public ownership and reversing ‘privatisation by stealth’ of post offices. And today in York, Labour is launching an industrial strategy for a richer Britain and richer lives for every worker in every industry, region and nation of the UK.
For too long Governments have been content to rely on the volatile financial sector in the South East for economic growth, telling us that it did not matter that our industrial communities were plunged into decline because the welfare state would redistribute to areas of the country left out of London’s growth.
Well, it didn’t. The UK has the greatest regional inequality in Europe. The cosy consensus that the financial sector can be relied upon is proven to have been wrong but still the Conservatives dogmatically continue on the same path.
Labour’s strategy announced today is a plan to rebalance our economy so we are never again in a position where workers in the UK pay the price for the failings of the City elite.
It is centred on three pillars: national missions to tackle the biggest challenges facing the modern world like climate change and automation; cross-cutting policies to create a fertile ground for business activity; and collaboration between employers, workers and government at a sector level.
As part of creating a fertile business environment, creating good jobs and ensuring digital inclusion Labour’s industrial strategy promises to upgrade and futureproof the UK’s digital infrastructure. As the biggest union in the communications industry the CWU have been campaigning for ‘digital Britain’ because of the economic strength it will mean and the good jobs it will provide.
And in our unequal society digital exclusion is a serious issue; it holds people back from achieving their potential whether through social isolation, inability to find employment, businesses unable to compete or simply not being able to enjoy leisure activities we take for granted. According to the ONS, in 2017 almost 1 in 10 adults had never used the internet and of the nearly 1 million adults who last used the internet over 3 months ago, half were disabled.
Labour have committed to a Universal Service Obligation of superfast broadband, speeds of 30 megabits per second, for every household and premise in the UK by 2022, bettering the Conservatives offer of only 10. They will instruct the National Infrastructure Commission on day one to report on how to rollout ‘ultrafast’ broadband (speeds of 300mbps) across the UK within the next decade; currently ultrafast fibre broadband is only available to 2% of premises way behind our international competitors.
In addition to ensuring households and business premises have access to the broadband speeds of the future Labour will improve connectivity wherever you are, committing to improve mobile internet coverage by upping operator’s requirements and expand the provision of free public Wi-Fi, in cities and on buses and trains.
So Labour’s strategy will future proof the UK’s digital infrastructure, galvanising the private sector to address the societal issues facing our country, not just measuring economic success by numbers on a screen. Labour are predicting that the measures included in their strategy for a richer Britain will create over 1 million good quality jobs in the next Parliament – part of a wider commitment to strengthening worker and trade unions rights that we need for a better society.
Only Labour has an ambitious plan and the determination to see it through to create an economy which unleashes the potential of every person in the UK; an economy that works for the many not the few and deliver richer lives for all our people.
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