I am thoroughly delighted to return to the Front Bench in Parliament, doing a job tailor-made for me: Shadow Minister for Social Inclusion and Social Mobility.
I’m based in the Treasury, under John McDonnell, absolutely the best place to be, and which, especially when in Government, holds much power and influence.
Every new job is daunting, but I’ve spent some months talking to experts and academics about the approach the next Labour Government should take.
I don’t just want to talk to Professionals. I’ve begun travelling across the country, meeting people to discuss what their town or city needs, to improve the life-chances of everyone.
My first visit was to Leigh, near Manchester. The local MP invited me to listen to community leaders, small businesses, healthcare officials and council officers, as they described the challenges in their local community and what they needed to make life fairer.
I’ve always known that local people know best. They know what goes on where they live and how to put things right. Whitehall and Westminster don’t automatically understand.
Governments should learn to ask the right questions and listen carefully to the answers.
I’ve been given much food for thought on how the Labour Party can transform Governments, to ensure communities have the power and resources they need to create opportunities for all.
Unfortunately, this Government chooses not to listen. Their priority is a destructive austerity regime, leaving us with a low-growth, low-productivity economy.
Real wages are lower than in 2010. They’re unlikely to improve much over the next five years, lengthening the cost-of-living crisis.
It’s no surprise that almost 1,500,000 more children are expected to be pushed into poverty by 2022, due to this Government’s policies.
This Government’s idea of social mobility is to create what I call a “grammar school” society. A few can get on, but most can’t; the few allowed to succeed are held up as false beacons of equal opportunity.
We must change that and create a just society, in which our talent and hard work allows everybody to fulfil their potential. I’m eager to make that happen.