Below is the text of the speech made by Ed Miliband, the Leader of the Opposition, on 31st March 2011 to launch Labour’s local elections campaign.
Thank you for those kind introductions.
Thank you Jo, for letting us join you this morning at your fantastic school – and to all of you for coming.
On May the Fifth it will be a year since the General Election.
For many people the local elections are the first chance for people to reflect on whether our country is heading in the right direction.
So I want to talk to you today about what I believe are the big three challenges facing our country.
– The cost of living crisis facing British Families;
– Whether we can meet the British promise by which the next generation should always do better than the last
– And how we build stronger communities.
I wish this Conservative led government was addressing these challenges.
I wish they understood that in tough times, we need to be ambitious about the kind of nation we should to be.
The problem is that because they have decided to cut too far and too fast, they are taking the country in the wrong direction.
1. From Downing Street to your Street.
We would halve the deficit in four years, and so the Tories say that there’s no real difference between us.
The local elections show how wrong they are, because up and country, we can see how Tory values, Tory choices impact our local communities.
Today we published new research that the Tory-led government’s cuts to local government will hit the average family with cuts of £182 per year.
And that’s on top of the cuts to services, the threat of redundancy, the increase in VAT and the tax credit changes which will make the squeeze even tighter, for the squeezed middle.
The scale and pace of these cuts threaten what I call the promise of Britain – the belief that the next generation must do be tter than the last.
Sure Start centres are being closed. Tuition fees trebled. Education Maintenance Allowances and the Future Jobs Fund scrapped.
The safety of our streets in the battle against crime is being put at risk by scrapping 12,000 police officers. While the youth services, leisure centres and after school clubs that help combat the causes of crime are being shut. These cuts threaten to unpick the very fabric of our communities.
No one should be in any doubt: all these cuts are coming direct from Downing Street to your street.
They go too far. And they are coming too fast.
But not only are these cuts happening too far and too fast.
We can see the values of this government in the way they make their cuts.
In our most vulnerable communities, in cities like Manchester and Liverpool, the cuts are nearly twice as deep as the national average, and nearly ten times as deep as in places like Windsor.
Communities across England face these threats. Great Yarmouth, Burnley, Corby, Thanet and West Somerset all face the highest level of cuts.
It‘s not about North versus south, it’s about fair versus unfair.
It’s the trademark of this government.
The politics of division.
3. Labour values
We can do something better.
I want us to do more than simply protest.
I want us to be able to protect.
Labour councils are focusing – and will focus – on supporting front-line services. We want to keep communities strong and safe and share the burden of cuts as fairly as possible.
Being a Labour council under this government is not going to be easy.
Labour councillors are being forced to make some hard choices.
But what matters to us is the chance to put our values into action.
We know that means tough decisions.
So Durham, for instance, facing cuts of £266 for an average family, the Labour council asked their residents, what they wanted to protect.
They said adult social care, so Labour protected those services.
But in the Conservative and Liberal Democrat-led Birmingham council, where we are today, adult social care cuts will hurt 11,000 vulnerable people.
The Tories so-called “EasyCouncil” in Barnet, is closing eight children’s centres and cutting sheltered housing wardens for the elderly.
And when it comes to reducing waste, Labour’s Sandwell Council has cut the number of top managers by fifty per cent, so money can go to frontline services.
In Liverpool, ranked by the Audit Commission as having the “worst financial management” in the country under the LibDems Labour’s Joe Anderson and his team found millions of pounds in efficiency savings.
Their reward? Some of the biggest cuts in funding in the country.
So Labour councils will strive to protect what matters most.
Labour councillors will put the communities they serve first.
We will try to make things a little fairer for hard pressed families.
These are our values.
These are the choices we’d make.
If you want a strong first line of defence against cuts that are coming too far, too fast.
If you want the tough decisions taken fairly and openly.
If you want councillors who will be your voice in tough times
Then vote Labour on May the Fifth.