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Angela Rayner refuses to say Labour committed to keeping triple lock for pensions – UK politics live


Rayner refuses to say Labour committed to keeping triple lock for pensions

Here are the main lines from Angela Rayner’s morning interview round.

  • Rayner, the deputy Labour leader, refused to say Labour would keep the triple lock for pensioners after the next election. Under the triple lock, the state pension increases every year in line with inflation, the rise in wages, or by 2.5% – whichever is highest. As the Institute for Fiscal Studies says in an analysis, today’s earnings figures suggest the pensions increase is likely to be 8.5%. Labour promised to keep the triple lock in its 2019 manifesto, but on BBC Breakfast this morning, asked if Labour would make the promise again, Rayner said:

Since 2019 the government have crashed the economy and we’re in a very different place.

What Labour have said is we’ll look at that in the run-up to a general election but we will not make unfunded spending commitments, because Liz Truss did that and she crashed the economy.

  • Rayner defended Labour’s decision to rule out a wealth tax. Asked if a wealth tax could be implemented at some future date, she said:

Well, Rachel [Reeves] has already said we’ve ruled that out. We’ve got the highest level of taxation under the Tories that we’ve had in a generation. We can’t just tax our way out of this situation.

  • Rayner defended the party’s decision to consult business thoroughly on its plan to reform workers’ rights. When it was put to her on the Today programme that this showed Labour was watering down its policies, she replied:

Consulting with the unions, with employers, with business [is good] because ultimately I can announce the new deal for working people but if it’s not embedded within the business and the trade union movement, and they haven’t got buy-in, and it can’t practically work, then it would fail. I want it to succeed. I know it can succeed. But the only way it will succeed is by working in partnership, which is exactly the approach that I’m taking.

  • She said that she saw herself as another Barbara Castle. When Nick Robinson put it to her on the Today programme that unions saw her as a deputy leader like John Prescott, lacking real power, Rayner replied: “I think I’m more of a Barbara Castle.” Castle was never deputy PM, but she was a hugely influential cabinet minister doing different jobs (including first secretary of state) under Harold Wilson and she is often seen as someone who should have been prime minister.

I wish I could give up vaping. I’m going to do my utmost to make sure that I do that. And young people need to know that vaping is not a way forward and they should not get addicted to it because it is incredibly addictive and costly as well. So they need to stop.

She was responding to a question about reports that the government is planning to ban single-use vapes.

Key events

Ministers may have broken law over sewage dumping in England, says watchdog

The government and regulators may have broken the law by failing to stem raw sewage dumping into rivers by water companies in England, the new independent environmental watchdog has said. As Sandra Laville reports, the Office for Environmental Protection, which was set up after Brexit to replace the enforcement powers of the European Commission, said an investigation suggested the government, the Environment Agency and Ofwat may be failing to comply with environmental law and allowing raw sewage to be discharged by water companies more frequently than the law allows. The full story is here.

Four in 10 people admitted for planned hospital treatment in England say their health got worse while on the NHS waiting list, a large patient survey has found. As PA Media reports, 24% of people on the list – which currently stands at 7.6 million patients – said their health got a bit worse while waiting for treatment, and a further 17% said it got much worse.

The annual survey of hospital inpatients published by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) also found 39% of people surveyed in 2022 would have liked to have been admitted sooner, up on the 35% the previous year, PA says.

Ed Miliband, the shadow secretary for climate and net zero, has been granted an urgent question at 12.30pm on the failure of any company to bid to set up a new offshore windfarms in the latest government rights auction.

Also confirmed:

• Urgent question from @Ed_Miliband: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero if she will make a statement on the implications for offshore wind of the Contracts for Difference (CfD) Allocation Round 5.

— UK House of Commons (@HouseofCommons) September 12, 2023

Rayner ended her speech by saying that the Labour movement had to “come together” to win the next election.

And she urged delegates to “get the word out” about the new deal for working people.

In rhetorical terms, it was all a bit underwhelming – more routine, than barmstorming.

But what matters is the substance, and Rayner was outlining a chunky package of measures on employment rights that would make a real difference to unions and their members. As Tom Harwood from GB News reports, she got a standing ovation.

“To get this victory we have to come together, stand together, and campaign side by side.”

Rayner pleads with TUC to back Labour. The message seems to have gone down well in the room. Standing ovation. pic.twitter.com/xpXaQzQJpT

— Tom Harwood (@tomhfh) September 12, 2023

Rayner confirms that Labour will allow unions to ballot their members electronically over strike action.

Under the current rules, unions have to ballot their members by post, which is more time consuming and expensive. Critics point out that the government has imposed this rule on unions even though the Conservative party uses electronic voting for its own leadership elections.

Rayner outlines measures Labour will take to end blacklisting of union activists

Rayner says Labour will update trade union laws to make them fit for the 21st century.

The laws affecting union reps and officials do not take into account technological advancements, she says.

And she says Labour will end the blacklisting of union activists.

She says this will include four measures:

1) Outlawing the use of predictive technology to blacklist workers;

2) Ending the loophole that allows blacklisting to be done by contractors;

3) Giving employers the power to order the destruction of any blackist, including in digital form, to prevent them being reused.

4) Learning lessons from the past, including having a full inquiry into the police’s treatment of pickets at Orgreave during the miners’ strike.

Rayner says Labour would repeal Strikes Act within first 100 days in office

Rayner says the economy has been left “shattered” by “13 years of Tory failure”.

The government has not just turned its back on vulnerable workers, but on the whole economy.

Tory ministers are the only workers who can get fired and rehired on better conditions, failing upwards, she says.

She says the Strikes Act is “spiteful” legislation. Workers don’t want to go on strike, she says.

She says Labour will repeal this within its first 100 days in office.

Rayner is now talking about the impact that Labour policies had on her when she was a young, poor single mum in the 1990s. And she is using the levelling up passage briefed overnight. (See 9.11am.)

Rayner is speaking now.

She says she comes to the conference with one message – that Labour will build an economy that works for working people, with a new deal for working people.

She says Labour will bring forward its employment rights bill in the first 100 days of the election.

Angela Rayner’s speech to TUC conference

Angela Rayner, the deputy Labour leader, is meant to be giving her speech to the TUC conference. But they are running a bit late.

She should be starting soon.

William Hague urges both Tories and Labour to drop triple lock for pensions

At the weekend Rishi Sunak refused to say the Conservatives would commit to keeping the triple lock in their next election manifesto. In the past Labour has sounded pro triple lock, but maybe Angela Rayner had a read of William Hague’s Times column before her interview this morning in which she said she could not make an unfunded commitment for the manifesto. (See 10.29am.)

In his column Hague, a former Tory leader, says that the triple lock should go and that both main parties have to operate a non-aggression pact on this issue to ensure it happens. He says:

The IFS estimate is that the triple lock will cost between £5 billion and £45 billion extra, per year, on top of inflation, by 2050. Over 50 years, the Office for Budget Responsibility says it could add up to nearly £1 trillion. Our entire GDP is just over £2 trillion. A runaway train is a fair analogy, because we don’t know where it will end up, or at what speed; it’s nearly going too fast already for the train drivers to slow it down, but if they don’t it will end in disaster.

The train drivers understand this. Asked on the way back from India, Rishi Sunak reiterated that the triple lock is government policy but declined to speculate about his election manifesto. The Labour party is in a similar position. Neither can afford to commit electoral suicide by being alone in suggesting that some change is needed, even though that is obvious. Sometimes in politics, you have to help each other a bit.

In 1995, I was the pensions minister who took through parliament the equalisation of pension ages, giving 15 years’ notice that the women’s pension age would rise in slow stages between 2010 and 2020. It was a huge cut in future spending but essential to sustain the whole system. Opposite me for Labour was the late Donald Dewar, a brilliant debater. Over many weeks of arguments, he asked me hundreds of questions, but with a twinkle in his eye. It was clear that Labour would quietly accept this huge change. We both knew it had to happen and that doing it over a long period across parties was the only way.

Rayner refuses to say Labour committed to keeping triple lock for pensions

Here are the main lines from Angela Rayner’s morning interview round.

  • Rayner, the deputy Labour leader, refused to say Labour would keep the triple lock for pensioners after the next election. Under the triple lock, the state pension increases every year in line with inflation, the rise in wages, or by 2.5% – whichever is highest. As the Institute for Fiscal Studies says in an analysis, today’s earnings figures suggest the pensions increase is likely to be 8.5%. Labour promised to keep the triple lock in its 2019 manifesto, but on BBC Breakfast this morning, asked if Labour would make the promise again, Rayner said:

Since 2019 the government have crashed the economy and we’re in a very different place.

What Labour have said is we’ll look at that in the run-up to a general election but we will not make unfunded spending commitments, because Liz Truss did that and she crashed the economy.

  • Rayner defended Labour’s decision to rule out a wealth tax. Asked if a wealth tax could be implemented at some future date, she said:

Well, Rachel [Reeves] has already said we’ve ruled that out. We’ve got the highest level of taxation under the Tories that we’ve had in a generation. We can’t just tax our way out of this situation.

  • Rayner defended the party’s decision to consult business thoroughly on its plan to reform workers’ rights. When it was put to her on the Today programme that this showed Labour was watering down its policies, she replied:

Consulting with the unions, with employers, with business [is good] because ultimately I can announce the new deal for working people but if it’s not embedded within the business and the trade union movement, and they haven’t got buy-in, and it can’t practically work, then it would fail. I want it to succeed. I know it can succeed. But the only way it will succeed is by working in partnership, which is exactly the approach that I’m taking.

  • She said that she saw herself as another Barbara Castle. When Nick Robinson put it to her on the Today programme that unions saw her as a deputy leader like John Prescott, lacking real power, Rayner replied: “I think I’m more of a Barbara Castle.” Castle was never deputy PM, but she was a hugely influential cabinet minister doing different jobs (including first secretary of state) under Harold Wilson and she is often seen as someone who should have been prime minister.

I wish I could give up vaping. I’m going to do my utmost to make sure that I do that. And young people need to know that vaping is not a way forward and they should not get addicted to it because it is incredibly addictive and costly as well. So they need to stop.

She was responding to a question about reports that the government is planning to ban single-use vapes.

Rishi Sunak is chairing cabinet this morning. Here are some of the ministers arriving for the meeting.

Gillian Keegan, the education secretary, arriving for cabinet this morning.
Gillian Keegan, the education secretary, arriving for cabinet this morning. Photograph: Peter Nicholls/Getty Images
Michelle Donelan, the science secretary, arriving for cabinet.
Michelle Donelan, the science secretary, arriving for cabinet. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA
Steve Barclay, the health secretary, arriving for cabinet.
Steve Barclay, the health secretary, arriving for cabinet. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA
Tom Tugendhat, the security minister, and Lucy Frazer, the culture secretary, arriving for cabinet.
Tom Tugendhat, the security minister, and Lucy Frazer, the culture secretary, arriving for cabinet. Photograph: Peter Nicholls/Getty Images

TUC says new polling shows ‘overwhelming support’ for Labour’s new deal for working people policies

Angela Rayner will be promoting Labour’s “new deal for working people” in her speech to the TUC. In the Labour reshuffle last week, as well as being made shadow levelling up secretary, Rayner retained overall responsiblity for this agenda. She helped to develop the policies as shadow secretary of state for the future of work, one of her previous frontbench jobs.

This morning the TUC has released polling suggesting that the key proposals in the new deal for working people are popular with voters. Here is an extract from the news release, summarising the results of the polling by Opinium.

Day one rights: Two in three (67%) support all workers having a day one right to protection from unfair dismissal – including 61% of Conservative 2019 voters. Sixteen per cent of UK adults oppose it.

Gig economy rights: Six in 10 (62%) support giving those working in the gig economy new rights and protections such as sick pay and holiday pay – including 59% of Conservative 2019 voters. In contrast, just 6% of UK adults oppose it.

Ban on fire and rehire: Two in three (67%) support a ban on fire and rehire, including 64% of Conservative 2019 voters. In contrast, 17% of UK adults oppose it.

Ban on zero-hours contracts: Six in 10 (63%) support a ban on zero-hours contracts – including 60% of Conservative 2019 voters. In contrast, 14% of UK adults oppose it.

Union access to workplaces: Over half (51%) support giving trade unions a right to access any workplace to tell workers about the benefits of joining a trade union – including four in 10 (38%) Conservative 2019 voters. In contrast, 17% of UK adults oppose it.

The TUC said this showed “overwhelming support” for the Labour agenda.

As Labour discovered in 2019, the popularity of measures in a party’s manifesto (measured by polling) doesn’t necessarily mean that the public will vote for it. A lot depends on the credibility of the leaders who are promising to deliver the policies. But on this measure, Labour is doing well too.

Angela Rayner to tell TUC Labour policies can deliver proper levelling up and that Tory version is ‘sham and scam’

Good morning. One of the signs of confidence in a political party is when it can successfully appropriate the slogans of its opponents and today we are going to see another example of that from Labour. Keir Starmer did it last year when he declared that he would Make Brexit Work. And today, in her speech to the TUC conference, Angela Rayner, the deputy Labour leader, will insist that Labour has the policies that could deliver proper levelling up.

She will argue that having workers in unionised jobs helps levelling up. And she will argue that the Tory version of the policy – dreamed up by Boris Johnson, and half-heartedly maintained by his successors – has been “a sham and a scam”.

Rayner was made shadow levelling up secretary in last week’s shadow cabinet reshuffle and this is her first speech in this role.

According to extracts released in advance, she will say:

As a young single mum, it was a Labour government that levelled the playing field for me. When I most needed it, a council house gave me my son a secure home instead of surfing sofas. That in turn meant I could go out and find the job that I built a life upon. The minimum wage meant I earned more. A local authority job gave me better skills at work, and a Sure Start centre better skills as a parent. And joining a union changed my whole life – and meant I could change other people’s lives too.

That kind of levelling up transformed my life and my prospects – because it was done right. A house and a good, unionised job, with decent conditions, a thriving community empowered to create good local services and educational opportunities – these things were my lifeline, and they are what real levelling-up mean to me.

They are what levelling up could have been and could still be.

But everything I relied upon to improve my life and my community has instead been levelled down by the Tories. With housebuilding and wages plummeting across the whole country, this government’s version of levelling up is a sham – and a scam.

Rayner has been doing an interview round this morning. I will post highlights from what she has been saying shortly.

Here is the agenda for the day.

Morning: Rishi Sunak chairs cabinet.

10am: Keir Starmer takes part in a Q&A with sixth formers in Liverpool.

10.20am: Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, speaks at the Police Superintendents’ Association’s annual conference.

10.45am: Anglea Rayner, the deputy Labour leader, speaks to the TUC conference.

11am: The Social Mobility Commission publishes its annual report.

11.30am: Alex Chalk, the justice secretary, takes questions in the Commons.

2pm: Michelle Donelan, the science secretary, hosts a roundtable at Downing Street about the online safety bill.

If you want to contact me, do try the “send us a message” feature. You’ll see it just below the byline – on the left of the screen, if you are reading on a laptop or a desktop. This is for people who want to message me directly. I find it very useful when people message to point out errors (even typos – no mistake is too small to correct). Often I find your questions very interesting, too. I can’t promise to reply to them all, but I will try to reply to as many as I can, either in the comments below the line, privately (if you leave an email address and that seems more appropriate), or in the main blog, if I think it is a topic of wide interest.





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