Peter Hain – 2010 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Peter Hain, the Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, to Labour Party conference in 2010.

Remember last year; the media and the Tories had all written us off, and the fight back started at this conference.

Across Britain, we deprived the Tories of an outright victory when they thought they had it in the bag.

In Wales we stopped them winning the ‘rugby 15′ seats they were boasting about – they only managed four. We stopped the Liberal Democrats in Wales taking any of the three Labour seats they had targeted relentlessly. Plaid Cymru had a truly dreadful election, they came fourth in two of their target seats, and lost their deposit in a quarter of Welsh seats.

And we won back the old Labour stronghold of Nye Bevan and Michael Foot in style with a thumping majority. Nick Smith MP and the local Labour team did a fantastic job. And next year Alun Davies is going to take Blaenau Gwent back for Labour in the Welsh Assembly.

You showed our opponents they can never, ever right off the Labour Party. Our ideas, our vision, our values will never be defeated. Yes – we lost the election and there’s no pretending that wasn’t a terrible result.

But we stopped the Tories winning. And we have immediately bounced back, with council by-election victories right across the land, tens of thousands of new party members flooding in and more support in the opinion polls.

This is not a beaten party. This is a party ready to fight and to win again.

To fight the cruel and callous cuts being rammed through by the Tory Liberal Government.

To stand shoulder to shoulder with our local communities, with trade unionists, with faith groups, with charities, with voluntary organisations, to lead a great peoples movement for change against this right wing government .

We will support pensioners under attack.

We will support disabled people being targeted.

We will support workers faced with the sack.

We will support citizens losing vital public services.

Because the Government’s policies are not only harsh and unjust. They are plain wrong. Of course the deficit has to be cut. But not like this, not so fast or so deep. The Tory Lib Dem government is not cutting like this because it needs to. It is cutting like this because it wants to. Instead of using the power of government to protect our citizens, Cameron and Clegg are deliberately off loading government and leaving citizens to fend for themselves.

And, after a Budget that was unfair to the poor, unfair to pensioners and most unfair to the poorest parts of Britain – Wales and the North East of England – now the Government are also destroying the fairness at the heart of our parliamentary democracy.

Their new legislation changes every constituency in the land in a way that is fair only to the Conservative party. Its grossly unfair to Labour, and especially, and blatantly unfair to Wales. It is also grotesquely unfair to local communities, abolishing independent pubic inquiries: Whitehall just imposing new constituencies from the centre and depriving communities of their traditional rights.

Over the generations, boundary commissions have worked impartially, taking proper account of local views, of community identity, of rurality and sparsity.

The Government have abandoned this fair, practical and sensible system for a new one that is unfair, impractical and arrogant.

Wales will lose three times the proportion of MPs as the average for the rest of the United Kingdom – a reduction in Wales’ voice in Parliament of fully a quarter from 40 to 30.

In the vast rural areas of mid and west Wales, four constituencies – none Labour-he ld, incidentally – covering hundreds of square miles will become two monster ones, each thousands of square miles in size. It could take MPs most of a day to travel from one end to the other – they’ll be needing second homes IN their constituencies at this rate!

It’s obvious the Tories want to fix the boundaries to benefit them at the next election.

But most outrageous, totally unforgivable and totally unjustifiable, is that the new boundaries will be drawn up on a register excluding more than 3.5 million eligible voters, predominantly the young, poor and black and minority ethnic social groups.

And at the same time Nick Clegg says he wants to give prisoners the vote. So some of the most vulnerable, law abiding people in society will be deprived of a vote at the same time as the Deputy Prime Minister wants convicted murderers, rapists and paedophiles to get one.

Today let this conference say loud and clear to the Government: stop trying to rig democr acy and stop riding roughshod over local community views

And now, with Ed Miliband, our new leader, we will rebuild the Labour Party for a new era. To rebuild trust and to rebuild our appeal to voters.

In Wales next spring we will be fighting for outright victory to run the Welsh Assembly Government.

And we will do so not for ourselves, not for our Party, not even just for our new leader! But for the people of Wales and Britain as a whole. Because their values are Labour’s values: the values of caring, community, solidarity, social justice, equality, fairness, liberty, democracy.

These are the values that have always inspired this great Party of ours and these are the values that will inspire Wales to deliver a great Labour victory next year, as we begin the long march back to power in Westminster.

And now the leader of the only Labour Government in Britain today – the man who will be leading Welsh Labour to victory in the Assembly elections next May – the leader to beat the Welsh Tories, the leader to beat the Welsh Liberal Democrats, the leader to beat Plaid Cymru.

Give a rousing welcome to the First Minister of Wales… Carwyn Jones.