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Tangible excitement rustled around the hall as Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner took her place at the podium. There had been rumours of massive investment in early years services.
Rumours then confirmed with the announcement of half a billion pounds for children aged 2-4.
With the characteristic authority and gravitas that has seen her mooted as a potential future Prime Minister, Rayner sprang straight into a multipronged attack, simultaneously scolding her Tory counterparts as she proudly promoted Labour’s talismanic National Education Service (NES) policy.
The NES would provide lifelong learning “from cradle til grave”. Lifelong learning that would begin with massive financial revitalisation for Labour’s 1998 SureStart programme. She emotively recalled how Labour’s SureStart programme had been integral to her being able to break the pattern of poverty that is forced upon so many low-paid workers.
Since 2010, SureStart has had nearly half of its funding cut as early education costs have risen twice as much as wages.
The £500million investment would instantly reverse these cuts and grant free, high-quality education for every 2-4 year old.
Our children will be ready for school and not let down by a lack of resources
Rayner reminded us of how the hurriedly-cobbled together Tory manifesto had contained more education policies either under review or written off than penciled in to be implemented.
She then announced “£10million to end the scandal of period poverty in our schools” and pledged £8billion for new school buildings, as well as £13 billion for existing schools in need of inflammable cladding, asbestos clearance and sprinkler installation. Teachers and teaching assistants would be paid properly, with them being at the heart of the NES.
Whereas Tories are happy to “manage decline” Rayner combatively assured how Labour will instead “manage success” and “will never limit aspiration to succeed”.
Perhaps the most poignant section of a highly emotive speech was the Shadow Education Secretary’s recollection of being a trade unionist whilst working as a care assistant. Her position had meant she was granted the power to positively change things “not just for ourselves but for the people we cared for”. And how because she could learn more, she could earn more.
Rayner’s passion for easily accessible, lifelong opportunities for education that “informs, inspires and empowers” was laid bare, as was her dedication to Labour’s plan for a pedagogical system that creates a society in which each individual contributes to each other and the whole, and “power becomes the right of every person, whatever the circumstances of their birth”. She stated how “knowledge belongs to the many and not the few” and the voiceless don’t just deserve a voice “but a voice of their own”.
Rayner started by accusing the Tories of going from “running the place to running away from the place” and ended her speech similarly:
we’ve got the government running, now let’s get running the government
The excitement with which Labour proudly flies its NES flagship policy epitomises how both ready and confident the party is to assume power and repair austerity-battered Britain.
Watch Angela Rayner’s emotive speech here:
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