Like you, I’m proud of Labour’s legacy – the minimum wage, Sure Start children’s centres, new hospitals, civil partnerships and devolution.
But I’m aware of the disappointments too. At times the Labour government seemed to lose touch with the people we represent and almost wage war on public servants. That was wrong and we paid a heavy price.
Public sector workers did not create the financial crisis. But we now face the biggest assault on our public services since the 1980s. Fundamental free market reforms to our NHS and schools. Local services to be slashed. Public sector jobs, pay and pensions under attack. Cuts so severe they could trigger another recession.
As a Labour leadership candidate I will not be distracted from my first duty: to show there is an alternative to this savage assault on public services.
That’s why I have led from the front on campaigns to defend free school meals, save new school buildings and oppose the VAT bombshell.
Labour needs a leader who can make the right calls under pressure, as I did on staying out of the Euro currency. Following the tragic Baby Peter case in Haringey, I resisted the media frenzy to act before an inquiry and launched the Stand up for Social Workers campaign.
I not only believe in fairness but will fight for fairness.
I was the only Cabinet Minister to implement the Living Wage for all staff and contracted staff in my Department. I will create Labour’s first ever Diversity Fund to help under-represented groups – whether by gender, race, sexuality, disability or background – get selected as candidates.
And I am proud too of my work with Unison over the years:
* devising with Dave Prentis the NHS secondment model to help staff retain NHS pay and conditions
* setting-up the first ever national negotiating body for school support staff including teaching assistants, caterers and cleaners;
* securing the funding for universal free school meals pilots, following Unison’s campaigning in the National Policy Forum;
* alongside Dave, launching Unison’s ‘Million Voices’ for public services – a campaign that is now more important than ever
* and recently speaking out against the scapegoating of public sector pensions.
When you vote in this leadership election I hope people will judge me not just on what I say and do now, but on my record as a champion of public services too.