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Public Services

Part of Debate on the Address – in the House of Commons at 12:12 pm on 16th October 2019.

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Photo of Angela Rayner Angela Rayner Shadow Secretary of State for Education 12:12 pm, 16th October 2019

Let me welcome the Home Secretary and the whole House back after the conference season. I echo her words regarding supporting our police. They do an absolutely fantastic job across the United Kingdom. I also want to echo her words regarding our fallen friend PC Palmer. I recognise the commitment across the House of everybody who has worked, and continues to work, on the Domestic Abuse Bill. The Home Secretary emphasises the rights of victims, and I absolutely agree with her on that. I also want to recognise the work the Prime Minister has done recently in relation to Harry Dunn’s family. It is my first opportunity at the Dispatch Box to mention that tragic case. I urge the Prime Minister to continue to support the family through this very difficult time.

The Home Secretary mentions prisons. I suspect that all Members have had individual constituency cases, and one constituent recently came to see me. The suicide rate and the mental health situation for our young men in prison is a really serious issue. I hope that we continue to tackle it and support families and young people into rehabilitation, which is what our Prison Service should be about.

Our conference slogan was “people before privilege”—I think that the Conservative party’s was “people for privilege”. The Home Secretary made a speech at conference denouncing the north London elite. Personally, I look forward to the day that they can denounce me as part of the south Manchester elite, but I have to tell her that if she thinks that this Prime Minister is going to cut it as an anti-elitist, her speechwriters need to get better jokes. Mind you, I imagine that the elites are probably pleased not to be associated with him these days. I certainly would not want to judge old Etonians by the example of the Prime Minister. After all, every class has its clown—even the upper class.

We know what is behind the ridiculous rhetoric. The Conservatives believe that they can somehow con people into thinking that they are not the party of the privileged. We know the depths that they will sink to. There is not just the Prime Minister’s rhetoric on Brexit, but the revelation that they have been polling so-called “culture war” issues, such as human rights, in northern working-class constituencies. Well, let me give them an absolutely clear message from a proud, northern working-class Member representing a proud, northern working-class constituency: you can take your bigotry elsewhere. If the Home Secretary wants to know where the dog-whistle politics appeals, I tell her to look no further than her Cabinet table, because my constituents know better than to swallow the Conservatives’ self-serving spin. They know who stands for people, and who stands for privilege, and there is no better example than what has happened to our public services.