Pat McFadden – 2010 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Pat McFadden to the 2010 Labour Party conference.

It’s a strange thing opposing the Business Department.

One minute they’re speaking up for business on the immigration cap.

The next, they’re calling for the abolition of capitalism.

Who ever said the Liberal Democrats were all things to all people?

When Britain was hit by the worldwide recession Labour knew that government could not just stand back and let it run its course.

We saved people from the collapse of the banks.

Stimulated the economy.

Put in place a scrappage scheme for a car industry that was on its knees.

Gave 200,000 businesses extra time to pay their tax bills.

Business and unions too played their part, accepting pay freezes, s hort time working and other changes.

In this recession; unemployment, home repossessions and business failures – all about half the level of the early 1990s.

Don’t let anyone tell you the action we took didn’t make a difference.

Taking this action wasn’t losing control of public finances – it was helping the country through and we were right to do it because we saved people from the pain of a far greater downturn.

But as the world tries to recover, people ask, where will the jobs of tomorrow come from?

Labour must always be a party of wealth creation as well as wealth distribution. Economic prosperity and social justice go hand in hand.

To achieve both we need successful businesses large and small.

We have been through an era when first, finance dominated. Then, finance collapsed.

And we never again want the country to be held to ransom by the banking system.

The huge rewards at the top of banking are totally out of line with anyone’s sense of fairness or worth. That’s why Labour acted to introduce the levy on bankers’ bonuses.

But the real test in politics isn’t a rhetorical auction of who can bash the banks most.

The real test – the issue that matters – is how to get banks lending again to good businesses so that we get the growth and jobs that Britain needs in the future.

And on that, we have heard precisely nothing from the coalition Government.

The opportunities for new growth and jobs are there. The shi ft to low carbon. The digital economy. Our brilliant creative industries.

We should never resign ourselves to Britain being a post-industrial society.

We stand for both strong manufacturing and great services.

This isn’t nostalgia. We are still a country that makes things. Every week in my constituency I see firms that do so with pride and skill.

The Tories and Lib Dems say that if only we cut the state fast enough and hard enough, the private sector will step up to the plate.

But cut too fast or in the wrong places and you run a risk with recovery and prosperity.

Around the world, our competitors know that Government has a crucial role in creating the capability a successful economy needs.

This doesn’t get in the way of jobs and growth. It’s the foundation for jobs and growth.

You don’t rebalance the economy by cutting £3bn in investment allowances for manufacturing industry.

And you don’t rebalance the economy by abo lishing the Regional Development Agencies that are providing support for business up and down the country.

Eight organisations abolished.

Fifty eight bidding to replace them.

More bodies chasing less money.

That’s what they call the bonfire of the quangos.

And on industry, don’t let the Tories and Lib Dems tell you we were wasting money.

It wasn’t a waste of money to work with Nissan to make sure their first electric car was built here in Britain in the North East.

It wasn’t a waste of money to put a loan guarantee in place for Ford to make the next generation of low carbon diesel engines here in Britain.

And it wasn’t a waste of money to grant the loan to Sheffield Forgemasters to help make Britain a world leader in the civil nuclear supply chain.

Last week Vince Cable made a speech attacking the banks and arguing for corporate change. Fine. We can agree on a lot of that. But in denying this loan the Government behaved just like the banks they like to attack for not supporting industry.

So if they really have a Regional Growth Fund of £1 billion why is its first decision not to reinstate the loan to Forgemasters and put this stupid refusal behind us once and for all?

Conference, together we will keep fighting for this decision to be reversed.

But having jobs and growth in the future isn’t just about individual companies or sectors.

It’s about people.

It’s about giving them a chance to be everything they can be in an age when knowledge is more important than ever.

Before we came to power – just 60,000 apprenticeships. When we left office – 250,000 – apprenticeships a mainstream part of the labour market again thanks to what we did in Government.

All around the world countries are sending more young people to university. Yet here some argue that more achievement means lower standards, as if there was just a small lump of talent that had to be shared among the traditional chosen few.

But more achievement isn’t a decline in standards. It’s people getting chances in life that their parents and grandparents could never have dreamed of. And our movement knows that if you give people a platform, they will achieve.

There are tough decisions coming about how to pay for Higher Education.

And it’s right that if we can get more value out of the system we should.

But I have a message for the ministers in charge who benefited from the best education themselves: stop attacking the goals of more participation in higher education that Labour put in place; don’t pull up the drawbridge up from the generation that comes after you.

Our economic future isn’t just about how far or how fast we cut.

It’s also about shaping something anew out of the crisis we have been through.

Britain isn’t broken.

We could build a recovery that lasts.

But it needs a vision for jobs and growth for our economic future.

It needs belief that more educational opportunity is a goal worth fighting for, not a target to be decried.

And it needs the will and the resources to make it happen.