Angela Eagle – 2011 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Angela Eagle to the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool on 27th September 2011.

It’s fantastic to be here at Labour Party Conference in Labour run Liverpool.

We have a great venue here at the Echo arena and it’s just across the river from the centre of the universe – my own constituency of Wallasey.

You know the first time I came to this great new place I was down there in the front row and one of my heroines Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders was up here performing. Well I won’t be attempting anything as brilliant or as loud as the Pretenders produced then because I’ve forgotten to bring my guitar. And anyway there might be a few sore heads in the hall after ‘Scouse night’.

You know we are in a great city with a proud history of Labour representation.

Those of you who came up on the train might have seen the statue of ‘Battling Bessie Braddock’ when you arrived at Lime Street. Bessie was the MP for Liverpool Exchange for 24 years and the first woman to represent Liverpool in Parliament. She was a passionate campaigner who did much to rid Liverpool of its slums. She fought poverty, hunger and unemployment all her life and she would have been delighted that our Conference was taking place in her city.

A city Labour-led: revitalised under our Government after years of Tory neglect.

And now I worry that those days are returning.

ECONOMIC BACKDROP

As Ed Balls, our Shadow Chancellor said yesterday, we are living through the darkest and most dangerous times in the global economy for many generations. And we need a serious response from this Government.

But do you know what really makes me angry? It’s the Tories and their crude partisan propaganda about the economic challenges we face.

This crisis wasn’t caused by Labour investing in schools and hospitals. It wasn’t caused by Labour deciding to regenerate cities like Liverpool either.

It was caused by greed in the banking industry and a global failure to rein in the excesses. And every developed Western economy is now grappling with the consequences of those mistakes. And don’t let the Tories tell you any different.

Because they argued for less regulation and now by making the wrong economic judgements, they’re making a bad situation worse.

TORY-LED GOVERNMENT’S DAMAGING CHOICES

Do you remember Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg posing for the cameras outside Number 10 after the election? Well 16 months later we are beginning to see the consequences of the values they both share and the political choices they have made together.

And it’s not a pretty sight.

Everyone agreed that the deficit had to be tackled but ferocious Tory austerity wasn’t the solution to the crisis, it was the price of Lib Dem seats in the Cabinet.

Together both parties made a political choice to cut the deficit further and faster than was economically necessary and to start cutting before the recovery was secure.

Last year they introduced spending cuts and tax rises that go further and faster than any other advanced economy except Iceland and Ireland. That has made us much more vulnerable as the global situation has worsened.

And they also made a political choice to put women and children in the front line of those cuts. From closed Sure Start centres, cuts to child tax credits, and job losses, women are bearing the brunt of this Tory-led Government’s reckless economic experiment.

What are the results so far?

They have delivered the biggest squeeze in living standards since the 1920s.

And up and down the country people are feeling the pain.

Like the dinner lady I met in south London who has to work 1 ½ hours before she can even cover the cost of her bus fare to the job. Now she’s worried about this Government’s cuts to her tax credits.

Or the security officer I met here in Liverpool. Barely paid the minimum wage but expected to remain on call through the night for no extra pay and be back in at work by 9.30 the following morning.

The Daily Telegraph have just calculated that a middle income family of four living Kent will be £3,252 worse off this year alone!

I’m told that this is almost the cost of a full uniform for the Bullingdon club. Loose change for the Prime Minister and Chancellor maybe but a hammer blow to already stretched household budgets.

It is people and communities up and down this land that are suffering but the Tories just don’t get it. Their policies are making things worse.

The economy flat-lining.

Growth at a standstill.

Unemployment on the rise.

One in five of our young people abandoned to the misery of the dole queue.

And the IMF see even greater dangers ahead.

The warning signs are flashing red and yet the Chancellor just sits on his hands, the embodiment of preening complacency.

This is the man who claimed last year that Britain was “out of the danger zone”.

Only last month he announced that the UK was a “safe haven” in the economic storm.

Now the Prime Minister warns of the global economy “staring down the barrel” but like a medieval physician bleeding an already weak patient, his only prescription is more austerity.

They are addicted to austerity and their only response to the crisis is to try and export it.

Ed Balls yesterday unveiled Labour’s five point plan for growth and repeated our commitment to sticking to a tough fiscal strategy to get the deficit down. But almost immediately the Tories dismissed it. Again showing they just don’t understand the urgent need to get our economy growing.

But what of the Liberal Democrats?

Well in Birmingham last week they were falling over themselves to criticise their Tory friends. The Coalition was even described by the Liberal Democrat President as a ‘marriage that would inevitably end in divorce’.

Well, if only Nick Clegg had thought to include his promise on tuition fees in the pre-nuptial agreement.

Some say it’s a marriage of convenience. To me it is more of a sleazy affair. Exciting while it lasts, but destructive and likely to end in total embarrassment.

In Birmingham last week nobody was fooled by the Liberal Democrat’s cynically choreographed attacks on their own Government policy or their reheated announcements on tax evasion and executive pay.

And however much they masquerade as the conscience in this rather peculiar ‘relationship’ they’ve got as much chance of surviving at the next election as Sarah Teather has of starting a career as a stand up comedian. And don’t just take my word for it, have a look on YouTube and you’ll see what I mean.