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Jo Stevens MP Reaffirms Labour’s Commitment to Music at MU Delegate Conference Address

Jo Stevens MP shared a powerful message with MU members at the 39th Musicians’ Union Biennial Delegate Conference.

Published: 23 July 2021 | 12:24 PM Updated: 07 August 2023 | 1:29 PM
Photograph of the houses of parliament in the bright sunshine.
“The attitude towards you, and the treatment of you by the government has been appalling.” Photo credit: Shutterstock

The Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Jo Stevens, thanked union members “for your talent, for your creativity, and sheer brilliance at what you do.”

“Thank you for the comfort, enjoyment, solace and entertainment that you have given us through your music during the pandemic,” Jo continued.

“I have loved music all my life, but never more so than in the past 18 months. And I have no doubt whatsoever that tens of millions of people across the country feel exactly the same,” she said.

The way the Government has treated musicians had been shameful

Jo made her anger at the Government for their treatment of musicians clear, saying “The attitude towards you, and the treatment of you by the government has been appalling. It's been a masterclass in how to alienate and dismiss an entire sector.”

Highlighting the music industry’s significant contribution to the economy, she told Conference delegates, “From questioning your professionalism, your commitment and ability, if you’re viable or not, to the cloth edge response to so many of you who were and still excluded from Treasury support schemes, the way the Government has treated you has been shameful.”

Challenging Government on working in the EU

“It’s absolutely clear that the Government hasn’t lifted a finger to resolve the problems it has created for touring in the EU post-Brexit,” said Jo.

Her comments come days after Labour put forward new plans to keep musicians working in the EU, and three weeks after chief Brexit negotiator Lord Frost spoke to MPs on the DCMS Select Committee in a session that was filled with tension and frustrating for musicians.

A recent MU interview with Tankus the Henge pianist and frontman Jaz Delorean, demonstrates just how severe some of the problems are, including visas, carnets, merchandise rules, and time and confusion at borders.

Their experiences reflect the findings of a joint MU-ISM survey that shows 77% of musicians expect their earnings in Europe to decrease, with one musician claiming “I’ve lost £40,000 already” and another telling us, “Brexit seems insurmountable.”

“We will continue to challenge the Government in Parliament and across the media on this, supporting you and your sister unions in the campaign to put this right,” the Culture Secretary told members at Conference.

A complete reset of music streaming

Jo Stevens MP also praised the MU’s “incredible work” on the Fix Streaming campaign, in partnership with The Ivors Academy.

The Parliamentary Select Committee report that’s just been published is a landmark report in what I hope will be a complete reset of the economic model for streaming,” she told delegates.

MU members are encouraged to email their MP to support the report’s recommendations, and sign the petition calling on Government to put the value of music back in musicians’ hands.

Reaffirming the Labour Party’s commitment to music

Wrapping up, the Culture Secretary re-affirmed the Labour Party’s commitment to music and musicians, saying “We know there's lots of work to do. And we will be with you every step of the way. Because unlike the Government, we truly value you, and we always will.”

The MU’s 39th Delegate Conference was held on Tuesday 20 and Wednesday 21 July – find out more by reading our round-ups of day one and day two.

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