This week I headed to Liverpool for what should be the last Labour Party Conference before the next General Election.
Conference this year was buzzing with more than 18,000 people in attendance. It was really exciting to feed off the energy of our members, and a fantastic opportunity for me in my new role as a Shadow Minister for Primary Care and Public Health to meet NHS workers, charities, campaigners and service providers as we set out our plans to get the NHS back on its feet.
We know it will be hard to turn around the country. But when I see the enthusiasm of the public for that change, I know that we can do it.
Rishi Sunak has conceded the country needs change, and he thinks he can offer that change. But after 13 wasted years, it’s change from the Tories the country needs.
That can only happen through a mission-driven Labour Government to rebuild Britain. Keir Starmer can be trusted to change the country because he has changed the Labour Party from the one the public rejected in 2019. This week we set out how we will do that and give Britain its future back.
I joined fellow Jo Cox Women in Leadership Programme alumni, to talk about my journey into politics, the glass ceilings we have left to break, and Jo’s legacy. From the Equal Pay Act to the Equality Act, Labour has a proud tradition of supporting and strengthening women’s rights. From the pay gap to women’s healthcare, the next Labour government will do so again.
I also attended a series of meetings with SMEs, where I discussed everything from Labour’s skills agenda to Birmingham’s incredible life sciences expertise, before heading to the Terrence Higgins Trust reception to speak about
Labour’s plans to tackle HIV. The next Labour government could make Britain the first country in the world to end new transmissions of HIV – which is an extremely exciting thought!
I ended the day with West Midlands Labour and Labour Friends of Bangladesh, and a catch-up with colleagues from some of Labour’s sister parties abroad.
I joined various panels to speak about the drive to personalise care in the NHS; our shift to prevent as well as treat disease; and another on improving access to care for patients with complex conditions and close regional health inequalities. I also spoke about Labour’s plans to bring back the family doctor, to create a Neighbourhood Health Service, and our rescue packages to fund 2.7 million more appointments a year to bring down waiting lists.
Later, I also joined a panel event with the Institute for Public Policy Research where I spoke about the link between the health and wealth of the nation. Under the Tories, record numbers of people are off work long-term sick. Inevitably it is older workers, those with the most experience, who we are losing too. The IPPR estimate that just the loss of earnings from 2.6 million people registered as long-term sick could have cost the economy £43 billion in 2021, which is 2% of GDP. The Tories have made us the sick man of Europe. Under Labour we will reform and invest in the NHS to get Britain back on its feet.
This day also involved watching Rachel Reeves’ speech in the conference hall; attending a fringe event with Lisa Nandy where we discussed Labour’s plans for a feminist international development policy; and, finally, I dropped in to meet the Labour Convention of Indian Organisations.
I joined another panel where I shared remarks about Labour’s rescue plan for NHS dentistry, before heading to the main conference hall to see Keir Starmer deliver his speech.
It was an incredibly moving illustration of what Keir represents – built on his own lived experience growing up working class and drawing from the stories of people he has met all around the country. His relentless focus on delivering for working people is what sets him apart from Rishi Sunak, who cannot even begin to understand the lives of 99% of the people he serves. His speech was hopeful and made clear what a mission-driven Labour government will deliver: taking back our streets, switching on GB Energy, getting the NHS back on its feet, tearing down barriers to opportunity and getting Britain building again. The next general election can’t come soon enough!
Later, I spoke at two events. One our plans to streamline access to eye care services. The other joined by Rachel Reeves where we discussed what a Labour government would mean for children. Just as the last Labour government lifted half a million children out of poverty, the next one will do so again. I also had time to whisk around a health showcase to see for myself the patient pathway and how our many wonderful charities and their supporters contribute to the NHS, and squeeze in an hour’s phoning for our wonderful Labour candidate for the Tamworth by-election, Sarah Edwards!
On this day, I also joined colleagues from across the Party to attend a vigil for the victims of Hamas’ terrorist attacks. Labour Friends of Israel’s lay chair Adrian Cohen recited Kel Maleh Rachamim and the Chief Rabbi’s Prayer for Israel, concluding with Oseh Shalom Bimromav before a minute’s silence for the victims. It was a profoundly moving event.
On my last day, I joined my colleagues in the health team to head to the main hall to hear Wes Streeting’s conference speech on Labour’s health mission. Introducing him was his constituent Nathaniel, a music teacher who spoke about the repeated delays to his treatment for bowel cancer. It was a very moving reminder of what is at stake at the next election.
As we set out in the past week, Labour will guarantee millions more appointments, reform and invest in the NHS so it tackles preventable disease and shifts more care to the community, and finally bring down waiting lists so wonderful men like Nat don’t have to wait. I sincerely recommend watching his speech.
Birmingham City Council Speed Limit Consultation
Birmingham City Council has opened its consultation around reviewing all existing 40mph speed limits across the city, with the intention that almost all will be revoked, with these becoming 30mph. This includes Wolverhampton Road South, West Boulevard, Barnes Hill, Shenley Lane, and Hagley Road West.
You can read more information about this proposal here.
The consultation closes on 19 November and I encourage you to have your say, which you can give online here.
Next week, the Mobile Household Recycling Centre will be visiting Longford Close, B32 4JU on 17 October and then on 18 October it will be visiting Yateley Road, B15 3JP. The centre will be open between 7am and 12:30pm, so please come along if you're local and have bulky household waste to dispose of.
Preet Kaur Gill MP
Birmingham Edgbaston covering Bartley Green, Edgbaston, Harborne and Quinton