Shadow home secretary Yvettte Cooper joined delegates at UNISON’s Labour Link forum to celebrate 65 years of the NHS at the weekend.
She joined general secretary Dave Prentis and delegates in cutting a special birthday cake. Mr Prentis noted that it was a day for celebration, but warned of the huge dangers facing the health service, as well as warning Labour that it needed to set out radical policies to win back wavering Labour voters.
The forum heard a powerful speech from Ms Cooper, who talked about the unfair impact of coalition cuts on women, and praised UNISON’s campaigning work. She took a series of questions from delegates who challenged her on Labour’s commitment to reverse coalition cuts and on Labour’s attitude to public sector pay.
Mr Prentis warned that pay would become an increasingly contentious issue as year-on-year pay cuts put low-paid workers under increasing stress.
Over the weekend, delegates debated key issues for the union including:
- the housing crisis;
- changes to the welfare system;
- defending the NHS;
- fighting police privatisation;
- protecting disabled people from coalition cuts.
The forum also welcomed Labour MPs Dave Anderson, Lilian Greenwood and Kate Green as well as Labour MEPs Linda McAvan and Mary Honeyball who took part in lively question and answer sessions.