Labour is strongest when united

Speaking at Labour Party conference yesterday, I outlined what the Labour Party will be able to do, from opposition, to help children and families throughout our country.

At the heart of this is our opposition to Theresa May's divisive plan to expand selective education.

This Tory government is committed to pushing through this policy despite the fact that not a single shred of evidence exists to suggest it will improve social mobility. In fact, with around 2% of students at grammar schools eligible for free school meals, while those whose families can afford tutoring are able to pass the 11+, grammar schools will do nothing more than entrench inequality and disadvantage.

And that is why our party is united in opposing them.

But this unity goes far beyond the Labour benches. Already leading Conservatives, such as the former Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, have expressed their concerns about the policy, as have all of the Liberal Democrat MPs. I look forward to working with members of all parties to defeat this regressive proposal, and ensure that an excellent education is the right of every child, not just a fortunate few.

The Prime Minister believes that those opposed to her plans are dogmatic, putting ideology above the interests of children. I doubt anyone could find a common ideology between me, Nicky Morgan, the Times and the Spectator, and all of the teaching unions, and yet we are all united against these divisive plans.

This united opposition to grammar schools will be taken out to the country at large on Saturday, as the Labour Party has organised a national day of action to campaign against the regressive education policies of this Tory government.

Once, under Tony Blair and Labour, we had a government whose mantra was "education, education, education", but all this Tory government will offer is segregation, segregation, segregation.

It is a policy that fails all our children, as the OECD has shown that school systems that are more selective have lower average attainment, and a wider attainment gap.

Our opposition to grammar schools shows that as a Labour Party, and as a movement, we are strongest when we are united.

Many of my colleagues spoke this week about the importance of unity in our party, to ensure we can work together to hold this Tory government to account, and to develop the policies we need to deliver for every single child, and every single person, in this country.

This will be at the heart of everything we do moving forward as a party, delivering for everyone in this country, not just the privileged few.

United, as one Labour, we can achieve this.

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