Conference Review

Despite all the commentator's expectations, Labour walked away from conference in Liverpool united on Brexit and with a radical portfolio of policies which have been widely-acclaimed across the party and by pundits.

In this interview with the Evening Standard I made it clear that one wing of the party needs the other for this broad church to be successful. Plurality is the only solution. It’s essential for everyone’s voice to be heard for us to be electorally successful. That’s the challenge that both Jeremy and I have to meet. 

The contrast with this week's Tory conference in Birmingham which is already soaked in bitter squabbling over their ruinous Brexit plans alongside the back-stabbing of the PM is something to behold.


The only option in town


Yesterday, in an interview with Andrew Marr, I urged the Prime Minister to start talking to Labour about our Six Tests for Brexit. 

Theresa May’s back up No Deal plan is utterly reliant on the World Trade Organisation, yet Donald Trump is trying to destroy the WTO.

The organisation has moved another step closer to collapse with Trump's blocking of judges meaning there are only three out of seven left.

Mrs May needs to tell us whether she is going to stand up to Trump and try and save the WTO. Or she has to admit her No Deal plan - reliant on the WTO - is no longer an option.

If that is the case she needs to come to Labour and discuss our Six Tests for a deal. That's the only option in town.

And in my own policy area of the creative industries, it’s vital that the complex demands of one of our most vital sectors are heard.


Follow the money

The Mueller investigation in the US has shown that we need to follow the money – and the lies – to get to the truth about how votes are unfairly won.

Given what we know about law-breaking, Russian involvement and massive data abuse issues, it is essential that we have a full public inquiry into what happened in the EU referendum in the UK.

We need to know what went wrong so we can fix it and safeguard our democracy.

I am really pleased to see Fair Vote UK pressure group mounting a legal challenge to the PM's refusal to hold a Mueller-style inquiry into the Brexit referendum.


From Russia with poison 

The revelation that one of the Skripal poisoning suspects is a highly-decorated Russian colonel - and not an innocent Cathedral spotter - is fresh proof that Britain is now at the sharp end of an assault ordered personally by Putin.

Clearly we now need overhaul of national security strategy to protect our democracy from Putin's 'hybrid warfare'. "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty". 


On my bike


Last week I shared my enthusiasm for cycling with members at Labour Cycles and We Are Cycling UK. I spoke about the new commission I am setting up into combatting type 2 diabetes in the UK and why I believe activity, particularly cycling, will be a key element in that work going forward.

Cycling, as you probably know, has been central to my weight loss regime. At the outset 12 months ago, I dug out an old bike from the shed and made a deal with myself; for every goal achieved I promised myself a new bit of kit for my bike.

I have now lost 99lbs. At 100lbs I don't just get a bit of kit, but a whole new bike!

Any recommendations gratefully received!



Decline for life

Life expectancy in the UK has ground to a halt, or in some areas declined, according to the Office for National Statistics - with the blame pointed directly at cuts to elderly care and social services.

As socialists with a mission to banish such a fundamental and terrible inequality from our society, we should be deeply concerned.There can be no more damning indictment on this Tory government and their cruel eight years of austerity.
At 51 years old, having transformed my health, living a long and purposeful life has far greater significance than when I was a hedonistic younger man. I want to live another 51 years and I want it to be fulfilling. I’ve made changes to make that more likely and because I’m currently in a position of relative influence in public life, I want others to be given that chance. 

To live a purposeful life is a great personal challenge. To allow others to have the same opportunity to do so is my new mission.


State of play


After the World Cup in July, I announced Labour's backing for a joint UK and Ireland bid to host in 2030. 

So I’m delighted that the prime minister has followed Labour’s lead and is willing to back a bid. This summer’s World Cup and the performance of England inspired the nation. In 2030, it’s time for football to come home.


A sure bet 

At conference I spoke about how my gambling commission has generated a comprehensive package of reforms that will be ready for Labour in government.

In the meantime we’ve got to keep up the pressure on this government to make good on its promise of a £2 limit on FOBTs as soon as possible, and force them to implement some of the suggestions and changes we’ve made.We need to protect young and vulnerable people from over exposure to highly addictive gambling products. If we don't, there are going to be millions of people in this country affected by the failure of regulation as it stands.


A square for Jo

There can be no more fitting tribute to my good friend Jo Cox than a city square named in her honour - a place of unity where every day thousands of different people doing similar things prove they have more in common. 


Top dawdling


I'm a big fan of the charity Special Effect which helps people with physical disabilities to play video games.

On Friday they held their One Special Day fundraiser with the wonderfully-named Thames Path Dawdlers finally completing the last leg of their river walk. (It’s only taken them 4 years!).

If you would like to help this fabulous charity level the playing field for gamers give here.


A law for Natasha 

We cannot share the grief of the parents of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who died from an anaphylactic reaction after eating a Pret baguette containing hidden sesame seeds. But we can share their determination that no other family should go through the tragedy they have endured.

The experience of Natasha's family serve as a terrible indictment of our food safety laws and of the approach of large food conglomerates like Pret a Manger, who have demonstrably failed to show responsibility for the welfare of their customers.

I spoke to the Natasha's parents Tanya and Nadim after the inquest and promised to do my best as a politician to ensure food retailers and producers serve their customers interests by offering full disclosure of information on the 14 allergens. I am sure Michael Gove will support the Coroner's call to review the regulations.

The family say the law has effectively played Russian Roulette with their daughter's life. Natasha's legacy should be that no other family suffers similar torment.


The Amirites

I didn't get the chance to sing my Oh Jeremy Corbyn number this year at conference. But I did get the chance to hear a brilliant Jeremy song from local artists The Amirite Ladies at The Everyman Theatre in Liverpool while there for conference. Click the pic to hear a snippet.

The Stirling prize-winning Everyman theatre is not just a beautiful, tactile, eco building, but also a hugely inspiring space for actors and creatives to work. Their work with young people includes a converted ’Time Machine’ with a virtual reality experience which takes you back to another world - which could be handy some times!

The Young Everyman playhouse has engaged 17,000 young people, 40% from disadvantaged backgrounds.  Working with young refugees, homeless and victims of human trafficking they offer opportunities not only to perform but to train in all the vocational aspects needed in the theatre. They should be incredibly proud of their record and the work they are doing here. 

Truly Inspirational.