By Cllr Sam Stopp – LCEH, Chair
The last Labour government achieved a great deal for disadvantaged people. That is something all Labour members should be able to agree on, regardless of where in our movement we place ourselves. Whether you call yourself a Blairite or a Corbynista, you cannot seriously deny that between 1997 and 2010, Labour changed millions of lives for the better.
But for all the many schools and hospitals we built, and the children and pensioners we lifted out of poverty, it is sadly true that the inequality gap widened during Labour’s thirteen years in power. By the time of our defeat in 2010, those most visibly left behind by our society – the homeless – still numbered in their many thousands.
Naturally this situation has worsened in the five years of “One Nation” Conservative rule that has followed. Tracking the real numbers of homeless people is difficult for many reasons – not least the fact that homelessness is one of those seemingly invisible evils, hiding in plain sight next to your nearest Starbucks or your place of work. But what we do know is that it is rising. And it is rising fast.
Which is why we have set up ‘The Labour Campaign To End Homelessness.’ It is a measure of our need to reconnect with the people we came into politics to represent that no such campaign already existed. In the midst of the sea of pedantry in which the Labour leadership election is drowning, it is easy to forget that most people who join or vote for Labour do so because they want to help those who need to be helped the most.
And so our aim is simple. That the Labour Party commits in its next manifesto to end homelessness. A bold aim, yes, but a simple one, too. For we believe a Labour Party intent on re-engaging the British people must do so not only with big ideas, but with ideas that can unite communities up and down the country.
As we debate amongst ourselves the future of the Labour Party in terms most people simply do not relate to, Britain’s homeless are still without shelter and warmth. The terms non-political people think in are not “left” and “right”, but “family” and “fairness”. It is therefore vital that we unite our party around core, ambitious ideas like ending homelessness, or we risk becoming trapped in the defensive, narrow politics of the past.
If Labour is to win in 2020, we should be bold about what we can do when we return to power. We passionately believe that in the coming years, Labour should have as one of its central aims a plan to ensure that every British citizen not only has a roof over their head, but a place they can call home.
So, if you believe that Labour can and must inspire people again by pledging to deal with the biggest social ills, then please join ‘The Labour Campaign To End Homelessness’ today and together we can make homelessness history.