The North of Tyne was given the target of creating 10,000 jobs over 30 years, and commensurate funding. So 21 months into my term, I should be on target to create 583 jobs. In fact, we’re on target to create 3,194 jobs. With another 2,114 jobs safeguarded through the pandemic. So in less than two years, we’ve made nearly 10 years’ progress. We’ve worked with businesses large and small. We’ve brought global corporations here, supported start-up businesses and scale up businesses. We’ve invested in Green technologies, such as our Advanced Circular Economy partnership, creating high-quality jobs in R&D. We’ve supported local community businesses, rural firms, manufacturing and services. These are all good jobs – everything we do embeds our Good Work Pledge into any contract we make. We’ve worked with the North East Chamber of Commerce, the Confederation of British Industry, and the Federation of Small Businesses – and many others – to develop our Good Work Pledge.

That commits employers to playing the Real Living Wage, to not using exploitative contracts, like zero-hours, to in-work progression and skills training, to recognising Trade Unions, and supporting workers over mental health.

So Keir Starmer was mistaken yesterday when he said, “for too long, Labour has failed to realise that the only way to deliver social justice and equality is through a strong partnership with businesses. Under my leadership that mindset will change.”

That’s exactly what I’ve been doing since the moment I was elected, from that first week back in May 2019, when I was meeting industry and commerce, building relationships, and getting a fingertip feel for our local economy. This year will see the greatest set of non-Westminster elections ever. Labour Mayors are up for election in Liverpool City Region, Greater Manchester and London. They’ve all worked with business to create jobs and raise wages. As have Labour who are in power in Wales, and Labour local Authorities across the country. It’s not Labour who’ve allowed three million small businesses to fall through the gaps in support throughout the pandemic, where these business owners are now unable to pay their mortgages or keep their businesses alive.

Steve Rotheram, Andy Burnham, Dan Jarvis and I have stood with the #ExcludedUK and supported their campaign. These are freelancers and small business owners – who’ve put everything into making a living through their business. Rishi Sunak’s department won’t give them support because they think they’re fraudsters. That’s rich coming from a chumocracy Tory government who are now in court for giving secret contracts to their mates.

That’s what needs fixing in the Budget next month. It was the current Tory Prime Minister who declined to speak at the CBI conference. Who famously said, “F*ck business!”.

So let’s not reinforce this myth that Labour is bad for the economy.

Celebrate instead the work Labour Mayors are doing, point to the evidence – we know how to fix things and we already are. I’ve smashed my job creation target fivefold. That’s what a Labour Leader should be saying in the run up to the elections.