Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner has kicked off the party’s conference in Brighton with a savage attack on Boris Johnson’s Government.
Amid fuel shortages and an energy crisis, Ms Rayner tried to turn the heat back onto the Conservatives after the build up to the event was dogged by squabbles about internal party elections.
In the first major speech of the conference, Ms Rayner slammed what she called ‘Tory sleaze’ and tried to make the case for how Labour would do things differently.
She pledged the party will do more for worker’s rights by introducing a ‘new deal’ for working people within 100 days of winning an election.
This would include raising the minimum wage to £10-an-hour, a ban on zero hour contracts and all workers being offered sick pay and holiday.
The deputy leader said politics has been ‘polluted’ and ‘corrupted’ by the current administration.
She criticised the number of Covid contracts given out to companies with connections to ministers, at the same time as taxes are being raised and bills are going up.
Ms Rayner told delegates: ‘What a contrast to a government that is taking £1,400 out of the pockets of a nurse while over £2 billion of taxpayers’ money has been dished out to Tory donors and mates of ministers.
‘There’s only one rule with this Cabinet and that is that there’s one rule for them and one rule for all of us.’
Ms Rayner accused ministers of using the ‘public purse as a personal cashpoint’ before adding: ‘We’ll stop the dodgy deals handing public money to ministers’ mates. It’s bad news for my pub landlord, but good news for the public.
‘And let me tell you this – as your minister for procurement, I won’t sign off a single penny that goes to a company that exploits its workers or doesn’t pay its taxes.
‘We will stamp out the Tory sleaze that has polluted our politics and corrupted our democracy. The racket is over. Their time is up.’
Earlier Sir Keir Starmer was forced to water down his proposals for changing the way the party elects a leader after clashing with unions and those on the left.
He wanted to replace the the one member, one vote (OMOV) system that elected Jeremy Corbyn in 2015 with a return to an electoral college made up of the unions and affiliate organisations, MPs and party members.
It is expected that a set of reforms will be presented to members at the conference but these do not amount to as significant a shake-up as Sir Keir was hoping for.
A major change would see candidates for leadership elections having to gain the support of 20% of MPs, up from the current 10%.
Members will have to be signed up for six months to be allowed to vote in a future leadership contest, if the new policies are passed.
The row over internal reforms has overshadowed Ms Rayner’s appearance on the main conference stage, angering her allies.
The Ashton-under-Lyne MP has not always enjoyed the best relationship with Sir Keir and told The Times she would be prepared to run for leader herself in future: ‘If I felt that it was the right thing to do for the party and the right thing for the country, then I would step up and do it.’
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