| Rebecca Long-Bailey |
|Born||22 September 1979|
|Alma mater||Manchester Metropolitan University|
Rebecca Roseanne Long–Bailey (born 22 September 1979) is a British Labour Party politician and former solicitor. She has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Salford and Eccles constituency since the 2015 General Election and the Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in Jeremy Corbyn's Shadow Cabinet since February 2017.
On 27 March 2020, the Independent newspaper published this article by Rebecca Long-Bailey, setting out her vision for rebuilding an economy that works better for everyone:
Crises often reveal that which was previously hidden from view. The 2008 financial crash, for example, didn’t create our casino financial system or an economy in which too many people were reliant on debt to make ends meet, but it did shine a light on it. Now the coronavirus crisis is showing us what we should have known already: that we are all connected; the health of one impacts the health of all, and too many people are still one wage slip away from hardship.
This virus is forcing us to rethink the value we place on different kinds of work. Two months ago, who would have thought of logistics workers – delivery drivers, postal staff and warehouse dispatchers – as key workers? Now we can see that they, along with supermarket staff, nurses and care workers, are part of the backbone of our society.
We should judge ourselves by how we respond to and learn from crisis. And, let’s face it, after 2008 we failed terribly.
The bankers were bailed out and the rest of us saw more than a decade of cuts, rising costs and stalled wages. Yes, there is a bit more regulation in the financial system and a little more debate about the way the economy works. But the rules of the game that gave rise to that financial crisis are still with us 12 years later.
It might seem a long way off, but as we brace ourselves for the worst impact of coronavirus – and particularly its human cost – we should start thinking about how we get the post-crisis response right this time.
This crisis should make us realise that we’re all connected – that the chief executive relies on the refuse worker, the corporate lawyer on the supermarket worker, and the politician on the nurse. And this realisation should power how we rebuild our economy when the crisis is over.
We must start acting to value each and every person in our society and promote solidarity rather than stoking division. That’s what the inspirational mutual aid groups around the country have been doing. Humans are social animals, but the way our economy is set up too often pits us against each other and breaks down the collective bonds that help us survive in tough times or bring joy in better times.
So, as we reboot the economy after the crisis, we should programme into it the values we now know we want to see, and increase the resilience of our society.
I see three ways we can achieve this:
- First, everyone must have access to the minimum they need for a decent standard of living, regardless of their place in the economy. That is why I’ve called for a universal basic income during this crisis. But we can’t stop there. We must design policy for afterwards that guarantees security for all. That means overhauling universal credit entirely to create a new, fair system that supports people rather than dragging them down. It means sizeable investment into our universal public services to expand the freedom we all get from greater collective support and security. It means urgent action to cut people’s fixed costs: rent, bills, fares and debt payments. And it means promoting policies that make the distribution of income, wealth and power more equal. Coronavirus is revealing how many millions in our society are one shock away from financial desperation. Our post-crisis rebuilding will have failed if we can’t bring a sense of security to millions more of our fellow citizens.
- Second, we’ll need investment at a massive scale. Only the public sector can act at the scale necessary to kickstart that level of investment and provide confidence to businesses, so they can muck in and get things moving again. We need a Green Industrial Revolution to rapidly decarbonise our economy, provide energy security and lower bills and create hundreds of thousands of skilled jobs – and, most importantly, to allow us to rebuild after this crisis is over. We have the plans and we have the technology to guarantee that the recovery doesn’t just benefit those at the very top but serves people and the planet as well.
- Third, we should make sure that the enormous action the government will have to take to save businesses during the crisis ultimately helps build a more resilient economy for the future. The government could act on behalf of each and every one of us, because it is the only entity powerful enough to prop up businesses and the wider economy.
So after the crisis, we should use the support we’ve collectively given to reprogramme our economy.
Companies, banks and other institutions that have received public support should be required to operate differently afterwards. We can’t allow businesses like easyJet to take government money, and then spend it on a massive payout to shareholders. There must be a basic quid pro quo where companies agree to follow best practices in trade union recognition, pay ratios, the gender pay gap, equalities, training, tax transparency and compliance, payment of suppliers and environmental protection.
To secure public benefit and a more resilient economy post crisis, we should take equity stakes in some companies and institutions that receive our support, especially large and strategically important companies and industries. Some or all of those shares could be placed in a social wealth fund that would continue to invest on behalf of all of us, be publicly and democratically accountable, and pay out a universal dividend to all citizens. In some other companies or institutions, it will make more sense to convert the state’s equity stakes into shares for workers, consumers, local communities or local government.
If we build on the best of the values the people of this country have displayed in response to the pandemic, we can rebuild an economy that works better for everyone and makes us more resilient to future shocks.
Of course, that means that those at the very top will have less – so that everyone else can have more freedom and security. That’s what we want: it will create a happier society, where everyone gets the resources they need to lead a good life.
Throughout this crisis, people from all across the country have showed courage in extremely challenging situations. The values we have seen emerge during these trying times – solidarity, compassion, and, most of all, hope – are the foundations upon which we will rebuild the British economy when this crisis is over.
Early life and career
Rebecca Long-Bailey was born on 22 September 1979 in Old Trafford, Greater Manchester, to Irish parents. Her father, Jimmy Long, was a Salford docker and a trade union representative at Royal Dutch Shell, Barton Docks. She attended Chester Catholic High School.
She began her working life serving customers in a pawnbrokers, something she says "taught [her] more about the struggles of life than any degree or qualification ever could." She also worked in various call centres, a furniture factory, and in postal delivery before eventually studying to become a solicitor.
She studied Politics and Sociology at Manchester Metropolitan University, then completed "various part-time law conversion and solicitors' courses." She has worked for the law firm Pinsent Masons and in 2003, she began working as a landlord and tenant solicitor for the law firm Halliwells; she moved in 2007 to work for Hill Dickinson, specialising in commercial law, commercial property, NHS contracts and NHS estates.
When Hazel Blears stood down as the Member of Parliament for Salford and Eccles at the 2015 General Election, Long-Bailey received the backing of Unite the Union when the Labour Party decided to have a woman-only shortlist. She was elected with a vote share of 49.4% and a majority of 20%.
Long-Bailey was one of 36 Labour MPs to nominate Jeremy Corbyn as a candidate in the 2015 Labour leadership election. On 18 September 2015, after Corbyn was elected as leader, she was appointed as a Shadow Minister for the Treasury as part of his first frontbench team. She was also appointed to Labour's National Executive Committee by Corbyn as one of three representatives of the front bench, replacing Hilary Benn.
Long-Bailey was appointed as the Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 27 June 2016 after resignations from the Shadow Cabinet. On Clive Lewis's resignation from the Shadow Cabinet over Corbyn's whipping of the European Union Article 50 vote, Long-Bailey was appointed as the Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on 9 February 2017. She was re-elected in the UK/2017 General Election with an increased vote share of 65.5% and an increased majority of 40.2%.
Long-Bailey was re-elected in the 2019 General Election with a vote share of 56.8%, a reduction of 8.7 percentage points on the 2017 Election result. On 6 January 2020 she announced she was standing to be Leader of the Labour Party, as it needed a socialist candidate.
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