Brendan Barber: 'New Orleans shows a society where the market reigns'

From a speech by the General Secretary of the TUC to its annual Congress, meeting in Brighton
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The Independent Online

In the aftermath of the attacks in London, we took great pride not just in the response of our public services but in the philosophy that sustains them. From each according to their ability, to each according to their need. Together stronger. That is the lifeblood of our movement.

Never have I felt that more powerfully than when I visited the workers at Gate Gourmet last month. Their solidarity in adversity was a deeply humbling experience. And their experience was a stark reminder about the realities of work in Britain here and now in 2005.

Without question, making work better for all is one of the biggest challenges facing the government. With lots of union help on the ground, Labour secured a historic third term with a clear majority. That is some achievement. But it's one that has to be qualified. Other than the 1983 disaster, you have to go back to 1935 to find an election when fewer people voted Labour. Nearly 60 Labour MPs now have majorities under 3,000.

If Labour is to win again, it must put its 1997 vote back together again. Yes, keeping and winning new voters, but also winning back those who have too often felt taken for granted.

In the second term, we had important achievements, but a foreign policy that deeply divided the country. We had huge investment in public services, but tempered often by a preference for private sector solutions. We won important new rights at work, but heard too much sniping at social Europe. This time, we need a fundamental change of direction.