3rd April 2020
I hope you and your family are keeping safe and well. I would especially like to thank the thousands of you working in key jobs and professions and those organising in mutual aid groups to help your local community.
As I stand down as Leader, I also want to thank you for all the support you have given the party, and me personally, over the last four and a half years. It has been the honour of my life to lead this party. Our members are my inspiration, and I am so proud that we have become a party of nearly 600,000-strong. I have made it a priority to meet members in every part of our country, and I learned so much from you.
So many of the issues we have been campaigning on over the past few years have been thrown into even sharper relief by the Coronavirus crisis. It has highlighted the underfunding in our NHS and social care as a result of damaging and counter-productive austerity, the lack of employment right work, the scandalously low level of welfare benefits, as well as housing insecurity and homelessness.
It has also reminded everyone how the people who keep our society running are not the hedge fund billionaires, but the cleaners, nurses, care workers and supermarket staff – so often women and migrant workers on low pay. The strength of our party is that it is rooted in our workplaces and communities in all their diversity.
Over the past five years we have changed the agenda on austerity and how the economy is run. In 2015, opposing austerity was seen as radical; today it is the political mainstream. A majority of the public supports Labour on issues such as public ownership and higher taxes on the richest. We now look forward as a party of economic inclusion, climate justice, peace and human rights.
Of course, we could have achieved so much in government, and I am sorry that under my leadership we did not get there. In 2017 we came close, winning the biggest increase in the popular vote since 1945. Sadly, the 2019 election was a Brexit election and our attempt to bridge the gap between Leave and Remain voters was unsuccessful.
I firmly believe that together we have the ideas, policies, energy and organisation to win a Labour government next time. We can build a society based on social justice, equality, and care for our environment. But it will not come about unless we fight for it.
Our party grew out of local communities and that is where we must focus our efforts, just as we always have. I will continue to campaign on the issues and principles that have motivated me as Leader, as an MP, as a councillor and as a party member for more than 50 years. I can assure you my voice will not be stilled. I’ll be out there campaigning for socialism, peace and justice, and I feel sure we’ll be doing that together.