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Five things we learned at the Labour Party Conference

Another year’s Labour Party Conference is over, and with it, it seems the whole of the nation’s fourth estate is rushing back to their desks and frantically typing up the ‘Five things we learned from the Labour Party Conference’, and Save the Children has unashamedly joined the club.

1.Support for children in their earliest years has become a major political issue

  • Labour has stepped into the breach and put affordable, quality childcare where it belongs – as a foundation of social and education policy.
  • Childcare is a growing frustration for millions of families, but especially for those struggling to make ends meet. Labour’s proposal is a welcome response. My colleague Katie has dissected the announcement here – and asked how the Conservatives will respond next week.

2. Labour is stepping up their promise to put equality at the heart of international development

  • Kate Osamor and the Shadow International Development team held an open consultation into its green paper: A World for the Many Not the Few, where they made it clear that their earlier promise to root equality at the heart of international development is here to stay.
  • This approach is welcome; if aid is to work, it must address the structural and historical causes of poverty first. The world is making dangerously slow progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals – with promises to end extreme poverty and leave no one behind looking increasingly out of reach. A renewed commitment to equality is a key part of correcting this course.
  • With this in mind, we can expect to see more from Labour on feminism, sustainable governance, a new relationship between donors and recipients, and tackling the diseases of poverty and inequality.

3. Labour is serious about Yemen

  • From Jeremy Corbyn’s speech to the smallest fringe events, Labour is serious about ending arms sales to Saudi Arabia while it continues to wage war in Yemen. And rightly so.
  • We need a foreign and a development policy that work together, which many of our allies – including Norway and Germany – have already realised.
  • It was heartening to see Labour take such a strong stance on this and make a clear-cut case that the UK cannot risk undermining our life-saving humanitarian aid by selling weapons that create the conditions for this aid in the first place.

4. Building is the watchword of the week

  • The conference was full of promises to get Britain building – be it new homes, hospitals, roads or infrastructure.
  • However, we would have liked to have seen a stronger commitment from Labour to build the institutions and rules that children around the world need.
  • With strong statements on Yemen and inequality, Labour could also have made a robust commitment to uphold the international rules-based system that keeps so many children safe – and that is increasingly under threat.

5. Labour is beginning the shift to policies first

  • Labour is trying to leave the controversies of summer behind and put its policies front and centre. It clearly believes they are a vote winner, with their domestic announcements getting cut-through and dominating the news cycles.
  • As Labour’s domestic, foreign, and development agendas evolve, watch this space for more eye-catching announcements.
  • And with Conservative Conference around the corner, we’re very much looking forward to seeing how they respond. British politics (never the smoothest of rides) is guaranteed to become even more interesting.

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