Liberal Democrats

Catch up on the highlights of Jo Swinson's speech to conference

Check out the highlights of Deputy Leader's speech to Autumn Conference:

By Liberal Democrats, Sep 16, 2018 2:09

Read the highlights of Jo Swinson's speech to Autumn Conference in Brighton here:

Jo opened with her concerns about the social contract...

I worry that this basic truth, the underpinning of our mutual responsibility to one another across society, has broken down. From a young age we are told that if we study hard. If we work hard. In return we will earn a good wage so we can put food on the table and keep the heating on.

There’ll be doctors and nurses to look after us when we’re sick and when we’re old we’ll have enough to live comfortably.

That’s the deal. That’s what we call the ‘social contract’. Unwritten but fundamental.

But right here, right now, in 2018, in the world’s sixth-richest country, at the height of a technological revolution, that deal is broken.

The deal is broken for the people in work who still face poverty. Two parents working full-time on the National Living Wage will struggle to provide their children with even a basic lifestyle.

The deal is broken because having a place to call your own is so much harder. A whole generation of working adults can’t afford to buy their own home. And government after government has failed to replenish the stock of social housing, leaving more and more young people at the mercy of private landlords. 

She criticised the Conservatives' obsession with Brexit...

When Theresa May first stood on the steps of Downing Street, she promised to tackle society’s burning injustices. I was pleasantly surprised. I genuinely hoped that the days of the nasty party were numbered.

Two years later, and to borrow a phrase ‘nothing has changed’.

The Prime Minister and her right-wing puppet-masters have been far too distracted making a mess of Brexit to deal with anything else.

...and Jeremy Corbyn's inability to stand up for those who voted for him...

And Labour are backing the government every step of the way. Jeremy Corbyn is letting the Prime Minister off the hook.

My message to him is very clear.

Jeremy, will you stand up for the millions of people who voted for you because they want you to stop Brexit?

...and the SNP's lack of commitment to fighting Brexit.

The SNP are no better. They make all the right noises about wanting to stay in the European Union, but actions speak louder than words. We have asked them time and time again to back a People’s Vote on the deal.

The reality is that Scottish nationalists have a one-track mind. While the country edges closer to the precipice, they’re more concerned with breaking up unions, not keeping them together.

She called conference to get out and fight Brexit...

We need every single one of you out there who wants a better future for our country and who wants to stop the government’s nightmare Brexit.

So get out there, knock on doors, deliver leaflets, speak to your neighbours and friends, write to your MP. And when you do, give them this message loud and clear: we want a People’s Vote and we want it now!

...before moving onto technology and its place in society.

This Conservative government is spending so much time and energy trying to please Jacob Rees-Mogg and his cabal of right-wing Brexiteers, that they are blind to the much bigger force shaping our future.

Some people call it the fourth industrial revolution. The internet has fundamentally changed almost every aspect of our lives – how we work, how we shop and how we relate to one another.

New technologies can help us make better decisions, or they could embody the worst of human thinking.

But artificial intelligence doesn’t look into the future to figure out what to do – it isn’t a crystal ball. It reflects the information we give it – it holds a mirror up to society. So we shouldn’t be surprised if the artificial intelligence systems we create spew out racist or sexist decisions.

That’s why Vince and I have set up a Technology and Artificial Intelligence Commission to explore how we can make the most of the possibilities that this revolution brings and ensure that all of us stand to benefit from them.

Because new technologies will have a more significant impact on workers than immigration will. And guess who will suffer the most? The single parent stacking shelves. The school leaver in a call centre. The minimum-wage fruit picker. Precisely the same people for whom the deal is broken.

Jo called for a fresh look at how we value work...

For the Tories, immigrant-bashing is much easier than finding the solutions to fix the social contract.

And actually I think we need to do much more than just ‘fix’ it.

We need to redefine work and what it means to be a member of the community. We need to reward more generously the unique human strengths that robots and algorithms can’t learn.

And we need to recognise that going to an office nine-to-five and taking care of our elderly relatives are both valuable and legitimate contributions to our communities. 

She called the Lib Dems to think about the future...

And who knows what other great challenges these technologies could help us meet – from housing and poverty to climate change and energy security.

Yet no one in politics is really talking seriously about the technological revolution that is right in front of us.

I want us to be the party that thinks passionately about the future – that offers people a hopeful vision of how the opportunities ahead of us can make their lives and their world a better place.

Because the Liberal Democrats are the party of the future.

and for other parties to stop living in the past.

What Britain needs now are ideas fit for the future, not borrowed from the past. Ideas that embrace change, instead of running from it. Ideas that are radical, not extreme. 

But the best that Tories and Labour can offer are solutions from the history books.

Or for John McDonnell, Mao’s little red book.

Or in Jacob Rees-Mogg’s case, a Charles Dickens novel.

This is not good enough. Britain deserves better from its leaders than the dull and dreary vision on offer from the Conservatives and Labour. We demand better. 

And finally, she extended an invitation to those disaffected by the Conservatives and Labour...

But I won’t pretend that I have all the answers or that only the people in this room are capable of finding the solutions. 

There are many others out there who share our values and no longer feel at home with the right-wing Tories or the Labour hard-left.

To them I say this. We are here for you. Our door is open.Come join our fight and share your ideas.

The country is crying out for a brighter future, and the Liberal Democrats are the only party united in our determination to fight for it.

So, Conference, let’s demand better.

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