Yvette Cooper – 2010 Speech to Labour Party Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Yvette Cooper, the then Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, to the Labour Party conference on 27th September 2010.


Last week I talked to a mother in my constituency.

Her daughter Ellis is 16.

She got her GCSEs this summer. Her mum said she worked really hard.

She was due to start an apprenticeship this September at a local nursery school.

In August they told her the coalition Government has cut the funding.

Her mum was told Ellis can still do her training.

But only if she forks out £1,200. That’s £1,200 she and her family haven’t got.

Conference this is the Britain David Cameron and Nick Clegg want to build.

Hopes betrayed.

Ambitions abandoned.

Young people left to sink or swim.

Unless you can afford to pay yourself.

This is what the Big Society really means.

And this is why, for Ellis and thousands like her, we have to fight to get the Labour Party back into Government as soon as we possibly can.

And that is why we need to come together now, behind our new leader, Ed Miliband, who will lead us in:

– exposing the madness of the Tories’ attack on jobs,

– challenging the deep unfairness of their plans,

– and fighting the biggest assault on families in any of our lifetimes.

Conference, throughout our history the Labour Party has fought for jobs.

Remember as recession started, economists said unemployment would reach 3 million.

That is what happened in the Tory recessions of the 80s and 90s.

But this party vowed we would not let that happen again.

Government, businesses, unions , councils, voluntary groups all pulled together.

Backing jobs building new schools and homes.

Guaranteed work or training for young people.

Working together to keep Britain working.

Look at the results.

The dole queue started coming down last autumn.

Far earlier than in any other recession.

Far below the 3 million predicted.

One and a half million fewer people on the dole than in the 80s and 90s recession.

One and a half million more people in work supporting their families. That is Labour’s achievement and this party should be proud of it.

And Conference I saw the pressures Labour’s Chancellor faced, the decisions Alistair and Gordon took, that:

– stopped banks crashing,

– stopped millions of people losing their savings,

– saved jobs.

Conference we should pay tribute now to Gordon and Alistair for the work they did for this country.

Over the summer, the world economy ha s slipped back into more dangerous waters.

In Ireland the sharp austerity drive has triggered a double dip recession.

Here at home private sector job growth is still too weak.

Vacancies have dropped in the last three months.

And the number of people on the dole has gone up for the first time since January.

So what is David Cameron’s answer?

To cut jobs just when we need them most.

George Osborne’s own Budget said 100,000 more people on the dole each and every year, just as a result of the decisions they made.

Over the next few years, Treasury’s own papers show:

– Half a million jobs lost in the public sector,

– Over half a million jobs lost in the private sector,

– Half a million fewer jobs and opportunities for the unemployed.

So what do ministers have to say to the 90,000 young people now being denied a job on the Future Jobs Fund.

David Cameron said the Future Jobs Fund was “a g ood scheme” and “good schemes we will keep”.

But he didn’t keep it. He abolished it.

Nick Clegg was asked whether these job cuts were fair. He said “of course it isn’t…. It’s a decision taken by the local council.”

But Nick, it wasn’t a council decision, it was a decision announced by a Liberal Democrat Government Minister.

Doesn’t this tell you everything you need to know about this coalition.

David Cameron tells people whatever they want to hear.

Nick Clegg tells them it’s someone else’s fault.

And we in the Labour Party must make sure every conceit and every deceit is exposed for what it is – a betrayal of young people across Britain.

And what reason do they give for cutting so many jobs?

They say they need to do this to get the deficit down.

Conference, of course the deficit does need to come back down. And that will mean some tough and unpopular decisions.

But cutting jobs to get the deficit down?

More people on the dole to bring the deficit down?

What planet are they on?

We’ve heard the Tories say this before.

In the 90s they told us that “unemployment is a price worth paying to bring inflation down”.

20 years later they are telling us again unemployment is a price worth paying to bring the deficit down.

Both times they were badly wrong.

Unemployment is never a price worth paying.

Rising unemployment pushes the deficit up not down.

Every 100,000 people on the dole costs us £700 million in lower tax and higher benefits.

Unemployment isn’t the price of bringing the deficit down.

Higher unemployment means we all will pay a higher price.

Nick Clegg claims the public finances are like a household budget, and we have to cut back quick.

But think about it. Because this is a family with a choice to make.

It’s a family with a mortgage who cut the rep ayments when dad lost his job in the recession – to make sure they could get by til he found work, and to make sure the family didn’t lose their home.

And now they have a choice.

Make good those repayments steadily, bit by bit. Go for some extra overtime or promotion, tighten their belts a little. But spread the payments sensibly.

Or follow the George Osborne plan. Pay it off all at once. Sell the furniture, the car that gets mum to work, sell the dog, even the house itself – whatever it takes to get the debt down.

The truth is that every family knows cutting back too far too fast causes deep damage and ends up costing you far, far more.

Unemployment won’t get the deficit down, more people in jobs will get the deficit down.

Conference, our task is getting more people into work

That means supporting jobs and yes it also means going further on welfare reform too.

We brought in extra help and stronger rules. We cut the numb er of people stuck on out of work benefits. But we need to go further.

We know from the doorstep, we talked to parents worried about whether their children could find work, neighbours worried that other people weren’t playing by the rules.

We should have started sooner on reforms to help people off long term sickness benefits and into work.

And we should go further to guarantee more jobs, but to require more people to take them up.

Opportunities alongside obligations.

But that’s not what this coalition is doing.

Iain Duncan Smith says he wants more people in work.

But George Osborne is cutting jobs for them to go to.

Iain Duncan Smith says he wants people to be better off in work.

But George Osborne cut working tax credit.


Iain Duncan Smith says he wants more conditions on claimants.

But the Government is ending the requirement for young people to take work.


Iain Duncan Smith says a lot. But no one else in Government seems to be listening.


He said himself, he was the quiet man.


So quiet no one else can hear.


They’re not setting out welfare reforms to help people into work. They’re just setting out old fashioned cuts that hit the poorest hardest.

George Osborne is swaggering round like the playground bully – working out who won’t fight back, picking on the weakest – and that’s just Iain Duncan Smith.

Hitting the poorest harder than the rich.

Women harder than men.

Hitting the sick and disabled.

Pensioners and children are being hit hardest of all.

The nasty party is back, and this time they’ve brought along their mates.

From this April, over 50,000 of our poorest pensioners will lose an average £11 a wee k from their housing benefit.

Thousands of pensioners who will struggle to pay the rent.

Conference this party believes people who worked all their lives have a right to a secure home in their retirement.

And we should be proud of action we took to lift 600,000 children out of poverty. But the government is trying to turn back the clock.

Cutting maternity allowance, ending the child trust fund, the baby tax credit.

Taking £1200 from working families with new born babies in that important first year of life.

At least Margaret Thatcher had the grace to wait til the babes were weaned before she snatched their milk.

That money is what lets a new mum stay home with her little one a bit longer before she goes back to work to pay the bills.

It lets new dads cut back on the overtime so they can spend more time at home.

For thousands of new parents across the country, that money means precious, precious time at the start of a family’s life.

David Cameron said this would be the most family friendly Government ever.

In fact they have launched the biggest assault on the family in the entire history of the welfare state. And this party must fight it all the way.

This is a Government which just doesn’t understand women’s lives.

They’ve halved the number of women in the government – and let’s be honest we needed more women before.

George Osborne’s Budget hit women three times as hard as men.

£8 billion raised, £6 billion of it from women.

Even though women earn less and own less than men.

Nick Clegg says things like working tax credits, child benefit, carers allowance make people dependent and should be cut back.

For millions of women across Britain the opposite is true.

The tax credits help mums pay for child care so they can go out to work.

The carers allowance helps daughters look after their elderly parents.

That support doesn’t make them dependent. It gives them greater independence, greater choice about how to cope with the different pressures of work and family life.

Conference, all my life I have assumed that each generation of women would do better than the last.

I know I’ve had more choices, more opportunities than my mum and my grandma, not least because of the battles they won.

With each generation, I assumed, we would break more glass ceilings, change more of the world.

But now for the first time I worry about my daughters, about all our daughters. For the first time I worry that our daughters will have fewer chances in life than we did.

Conference, for women across Britain, backed by the Labour Party, the fight back starts here.

Throughout our history the Labour Party has fought for equality.

Fought for working families.

Fought for dignity in old age.

And throughout our history – from the Jarrow marches to the New Deal – we have fought for jobs.

Fighting for jobs, backing our economy, standing up for fairness, united behind our new leader; this must again be Labour’s crusade.

Andy Burnham – 2010 Speech to Labour Party Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Andy Burnham to the 2010 Labour Party Conference.


You’ve been so good to me this week.

It’s not every day that you lose a leadership election and your team goes bottom of the league.

I am proud of my campaign. I said in my own words what I felt needed to be said.

But I am proud of our new Leader too – the spokesman for a new generation and our next Prime Minister.

Conference, you know me now. I will give him all my support to make that happen.

But I can’t deny that we didn’t have our disagreements on the campaign trail.

Picture the scene – early Sunday morning, on the train to the Cardiff hustings, Ed and his team were sitting in our reserved seats.

It’s fair to say that, if we’d known then what we know now, we probably wouldn’t have turfed him out!

But he’s right – a new generation is ready to lead Labour forward.

We are more united than any other time in our history.

We are ready to rise to the big challenges of our time, drawing inspiration from Labour’s post-war generation.

The way older people have to pay for care today is as great an injustice as health care before the NHS.

A cruel ‘dementia tax’ where vulnerable people empty their bank accounts and surrender their homes – not the British way, but as brutal as American healthcare.

And it’s about to get a whole lot worse.

David Cameron’s cuts to councils will put half a million older people at risk – left alone without help, piling yet more pressure on family carers, paying even more out of their own pockets.

Ending the injustice of the ‘dementia tax’ in this century of the ageing society will be for Labour a cause as great as any that has gone before.

A National Care Service free at the point of use – paid for by a care levy – will give peace of mind to everyone in later life and let them protect what they’ve worked for.

It will be for Labour in this century what the NHS was for us in the last – proudly proclaiming our values to the world, showing how they can build a better and fairer society.

A big, inspiring idea in the best traditions of our Party – that’s the way to Reconnect Labour.

But it means rediscovering the courage of our convictions.

Thank God Nye Bevan wasn’t the kind of man who worried about what the Daily Mail might say. If he was, we might never have had an NHS.

So, going forward, let’s worry a bit less about what the media might say and do what we know to be right.

Bevan called the NHS: “a real piece of socialism”.

Today, it is Britain’s most cherished institution.

But it is now facing the biggest attack in its 62-year history.

A White Paper out of nowhere that will unpick the very fabric of our NHS and turn order into chaos.

They are the wrong reforms at the wrong time – and a bad deal for patients.

Before the Election, Mr Cameron said his priority could be summed up in three letters: NHS.

Barely a week went by without a photocall alongside NHS staff.

No mention of the bombshell he was about to drop on them.

My message today to the Prime Minister is simple: you can’t pose as the friend of the NHS on one day and rip it to pieces the next.

People will not forgive you for it.

You have no mandate for the break-up of a successful NHS.

Patients aren’t asking for it.

GPs and NHS staff don’t want it.

The public did not vote for it.

I say to you today – put these dangerous plans on hold.

Give the NHS the stability it needs.

If you don’t, get ready for the fight of your life – and the public will be on our side, not yours.

You made promises to patients and NHS staff – we won’t let you betray them.

Conference, on some things, though, David Cameron has been true to his word.

Do you remember how in the Election he promised to look out for the ‘Great Ignored’?

Well, to be fair, he has. Nick Clegg could not have had a warmer welcome into the Tory fold.

And it’s hard to ignore Nick now, isn’t it?

Nick, if you don’t mind, a bit of advice: your tie doth protest too much. The yellower it gets, the more you look and sound like a Tory.

That’s today’s Liberal Democrats: Tories in yellow ties.

But I’m told the Lib Dems are happy with this new image. In fact, they’ve already picked a campaign song for the next Election to promote it.

It’s a remake of a classic love song based on the Tory tree logo.

It’s called: ‘Tie a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree’.

Now we all know Nick likes the spotlight. But, incredibly, he is planning to sing the key lines himself in a very personal appeal to his friend David:

‘So tie a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree

It’s been three long years, do ya still want me?’

But, Conference, this is a tear-jerker. Nick goes on to open up his heart about his fear of rejection on campaign trail:

‘If I don’t see a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree –

‘I’ll stay on the bus (he must mean his battle bus), forget about us, put the blame on me.’

Make no mistake, Nick.

If you and your MPs nod through the break-up of the NHS, we will put the blame on you.

Not just us – but the seven million people who voted for you too.

They didn’t vote for this.

You didn’t tell them you would allow your friend Dave to carve up the NHS – a service which is today the envy of the world.

In June, a respected international think tank gave this verdict on the NHS: the 2nd best health care system in the world and top on efficiency.

Conference, feel proud of that – the final word on Labour’s NHS.

No-one can take it away from us, however much they try to re-write history.

But it’s all at risk. 13 years of careful work – staked on the roll of a dice. A 1000-piece jigsaw thrown up into the air.

It makes me want to weep.

Before the ink was barely dry on a Coalition Agreement which promised ‘no more top-down reorganisations of the NHS,’ we get the biggest and most dangerous ever.

A epic U-turn from a Government fond of pious statements on restoring trust in politics.

What changed, Mr Cameron? I think shell-shocked NHS staff deserve an answer.

But patients deserve answers too.

It’s our job, Conference, to tell them what this plan means.

Waiting times getting longer again with the scrapping of our maximum 18-week wait – and our cancer targets.

They deride them as ‘process targets’.

But with cancer, process equals time, and time saves lives.

Patients facing that familiar Tory choice in healthcare – wait longer or pay to go private – as the private patients’ cap is lifted

A postcode lottery writ large, with up to 500 GP groups making different decisions.

Vulnerable patients – people with mental health problems, rare conditions or complex needs – left without the guarantees and certainty they need.

For staff, it means the end of national pay structures which bring stability to the system.

I was proud to make the public NHS my preferred provider. But now staff have no guarantees that they’ll be working in the NHS in five years time.

These reforms have nothing to do with what is best for the NHS – and everything to do with ideology.

It is nothing short of scandalous to spend up to £3 billion on a political experiment with our NHS at a time when every single penny is needed to maintain jobs and standards of patient care.

They are an attack on the N in NHS – a frightening vision of a fragmented health service, where markets rule, competition trumps cooperation, private sector giants outbid the NHS and profits trump patients.

No wonder morale is at rock bottom.

Tens of thousands of decent, hard-working PCT staff have been told they are simply expendable.

It’s no way to treat loyal people who helped put the NHS back on its feet.

I tell them today that I value your contribution and the country should too.

We have GPs wondering when they signed up to become the managers of markets and multi-million pound budgets.

Ian spoke for many when he said: “Don’t destroy what we’ve spent many years building up.”

Lansley says listen to GPs – well it’s about time he did the same. If the Royal College of GPs and the BMA can’t support your plans, something is seriously wrong.

A chorus of protest – from patients, nurses and now even GPs – is rising across the country.

It is aimed at a Tory Party that voted 51 times against the NHS.

It’s never been safe in their hands and it’s not safe now.

So, Conference, let the message go out from here today that we’re getting ready for the battle of our lives.

People need to know that their beloved NHS will never be the same again if this madcap plan goes ahead.

I call on all of you to sign up today.

Put your name on Labour’s Defend Our NHS petition and recruit friends to do the same.

Let’s build an army of NHS defenders in every community in the land.

Let’s take the fight for a universal, public NHS to every street and doorstep.

Let’s give heart to those demoralised NHS staff, who do so much for us all, that Labour will stand up for them and defend what they believe in.

And let’s show this arrogant Government the might of this Labour movement when it fights as one.

To those who say we can’t win – 16,000 people have already proved you wrong.

We saved NHS Direct.

And well done John Prescott for that.

Conference, we can and must win.

We will win.

Because the public will be willing us on.

They didn’t vote for this.

Mr Cameron, you have picked the wrong fight.

We are a resurgent Labour Party – and nothing matters more to us than the NHS.

It is the best thing about Britain today.

Labour’s finest achievement.

Conference, defend it with everything you’ve got – and get ready for the fight of our lives.

Thank you.

Ben Bradshaw – 2010 Speech to Labour Party Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Ben Bradshaw, the then Shadow Culture Secretary, to the 2010 Labour Party conference.

Conference, we’ve just heard some inspiring examples of how the Labour Government left Britain a better place.

And we’ve just heard some stark warnings about the damage the new Government is already inflicting on our communities.

Our record

Last year I described how, under Labour, Britain had become number one in the world in the creative industries.

How, thanks to a decade of sustained investment and active support of the arts, culture and sport, Britain was enjoying more success around the world than any country relative to our size.

In spite of the global downturn, that success continued right up to the election, creating wealth and the jobs our young people need.

I also warned what would happen if the Tories got back into power.

I was accused of scaremongering by our political opponents. But, Conference, in these first few months, the Government has not only been worse than I predicted.

They’ve been worse than I thought they’d be if the Tories had won on their own.

Far from being a moderating force, the Liberal Democrats are complicit in the biggest assault on the arts, culture and sport this country will have ever seen.

– Labour’s free swimming for the under 16s and the over 60s – scrapped.

– The UK Film Council – whose support for British films helps generate millions for our country – abolished.

– Labour’s promise to use the Olympics to get 2 million more people physically active, to tackle obesity and save health costs – abandoned.

This is not sensible deficit reduction, Conference. These decisions will cost money. They are typical of this Government, unthinking, short-sighted and damaging to Britain.

Now, we expect this from the Conservatives.

They love cutting and have always undervalued the arts and sport in Government.

But the Liberal Democrats?

This is what their manifesto said : “The Liberal Democrats will maintain current levels of investment in the arts and creative industries”.

Well, there’s another one to add to a very long list of Liberal Democrat promises that has proved completely worthless.

A week ago, the Liberal Democrat MP, Simon Hughes, said David and Ed Miliband needed to grow up.

Well, up the road from me in Taunton, the constituency of Lib Dem Foreign Office Minister, Jeremy Browne, the Liberal Democrats are running a campaign to “save free swimming”.

They describe the Government’s decision to scrap free swimming as a “total disgrace”.

And they are urging local residents to sign a Liberal Democrat petition to stop the Tory cuts.

And Simon Hughes says Labour needs to grow up?!

We take no lessons in mature politics from people who are still trying to face it both ways, even in Government.

But we know why the Lib Dems are turning their fire on us.

Because we are trouncing them in the polls and in real elections all over the country.

We had local elections in Exeter this month.

You’ve already heard what happened but it merits repeating.

The Tories did badly, but the Lib Dems collapsed and Labour took control of the council.

Let’s go out and repeat this success in next May’s elections all around the country.

Public Service Broadcasting

Conference, when we met last year I warned of the dangers to Britain’s world renowned public service broadcasting from a Tory Government.

Here, too, it’s worse than I feared.

They have relentlessly attacked and undermined the BBC.

They have condemned ITV news in the regions of England and in Wales and Scotland to a slow death.

They have abandoned Labour’s plans to ensure the public can see our major sporting events – including test cricket free on TV.

And they have weakened Britain’s vital media regulator Ofcom.

And we all know why the Coalition Government is doing this don’t we? We know to whose tune they are dancing when it comes to media policy, don’t we?

Vince Cable made a lot last week of the dangers of monopoly capitalism and the importance of competition policy.

If Vince wants to be taken seriously, why hasn’t he referred the proposed 100% take-over of Sky by Murdoch’s News Corp to the competition authorities.

That takeover, if it goes ahead, will result in a concentration of media power in a single company – greater even than in Berlusconi’s Italy.

So come on Vince, what are you waiting for? Show us your halo, or have you undergone in a few short weeks a remarkable transformation from saint to stooge.


Conference it’s been a good week with a stunning debut from Ed yesterday.

We are united, disciplined and determined.

We are back level in the polls and have ensured this Government has had the shortest political honeymoon in history.

But we must not underestimate the challenge, Conference.

The next election will not fall into our lap.

I am one of only 10 Labour MPs left in southern England outside London – we were 45 before the election.

We can’t form a Government without winning back those seats.

We can do it, but to do so, we’ll need not only to be a strong Opposition, but also a credible alternative Government.

That means a responsible approach to tackling the deficit and some of the other tough choices Ed outlined yesterday.

Those people who have lost or are about to lose their jobs, or who are struggling on low incomes, or whose services are about to be destroyed by this Government’s policies – they need a Labour Government and it’s our – duty, all of us, to help make sure, they get one.

Thank you.

Hilary Benn – 2010 Speech to Labour Party Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Hilary Benn to the 2010 Labour Party conference.


I want to begin by expressing my appreciation to you Michael, the members of the Policy Commission, and to the ministerial team who served in Defra – Jim, Huw, Dan, and Bryan – and Joyce, John and Emma who have joined us since May for everything you’ve done.

As Ed said on Tuesday politics is about our values. It’s about wanting to change things for the better. About what we do when we have the chance.

The financial crisis taught us a painful lesson. Take things for granted. Get things out of balance, and they become unsustainable.

Conference, we cannot – we must not – le t the same thing happen to our planet.

We have to leave behind the view that we must choose between the economy and the environment.

That it’s a case of head against heart.

It is not a choice; in the times ahead a strong economy will be built on a strong environment.

And that is why our task is to look to the future.

Now some will say ‘it’s too difficult’. Others will say ‘now is not the time’.

We must reply with confidence that we’ve faced big challenges before.

Our party was founded by the trade unions because the biggest challenge of that age was for us to make the economy – to make life – fair for working people.

From that single powerful idea was born a movement – a movement to protect workers in the mills and factories, to give every child the chance to go to school, to win the right to free medical care when we are ill, and to end the scandal of £1.50 an hour jobs by bringing in a minimum wage.

Yes there’s more to do, but let’s celebrate how our politics changed people’s lives for the better.

This century’s challenge – however – is a different one. How do we sustain a strong and successful and fair economy on our small and fragile planet when the world’s climate is changing?

Where resources – oil and water – are becoming scarce.

Where the population is growing and there will be more mouths to feed.

Where poverty and inequality and disease still scar the lives of many.

The big question of our age is how do we make our planet fair.

Now, we did a lot in government when we had the chance.

The world’s first climate change legislation.

Two new national parks.

A huge increase in recycling.

Putting food production at the heart of our future security.

Producing more electricity from offshore wind than any other country in the world and feed-in tariffs so that peo ple can generate renewable energy at home.

Winning the fight to stop the products of illegal logging from coming into Europe.

The Marine and Coastal Access Act which will protect the wonders that lie beneath our seas around Britain and create a coastal path for everyone to walk and to enjoy.

Every one of these was once just a dream, but it was our values and our politics that made them happen.

It was a Labour Government that made them happen.

What a contrast with the Coalition Government.

David Cameron tells us we are all in this together. Really? If that’s so, then why are you determined to abolish the Agricultural Wages Board. For 70 years it has ensured a fair deal and fair pay for farm workers, overtime rates, standby allowances, bereavement leave.

Even Mrs Thatcher did not dare do this.

All in this together, Mr Cameron ? No. This is a shabby little plan and we will oppose it every step of the way.

A government that says it is compassionate. Really? It wants to bring back the barbarous spectacle of fox and stag hunting, and hare coursing to our countryside. Mr Cameron, this isn’t compassion. It’s animal cruelty and we will oppose it every step of the way.

A government that claims to be the greenest ever but is undermining confidence in feed-in tariffs, dithering on the renewable heat incentive, says it’s alright to go on throwing waste into landfill when it could be recycled, reducing funding for our national parks, abolishing the Sustainable Development Commission, and is about to unveil cuts that will surely affect farming and the natural world.

Cuts that will affect the lives of our children and our grandchildren.

For what does the natural environment give us?

Clean water. Clean air. Food. Fuel. Plants for medicines. But once we start to lose plants or species, they can disappear for ever and no amount of money can bring them back.

That’s why we must protect them every step of the way.

Greenest Government ever, Mr Cameron? No. That’s just empty words from a government devoid of optimism.

And why do we need optimism?

Because what we do about climate chang e and about the loss of forests and habitats is not only about protecting nature’s capacity to inspire and to lift our spirits.

It is also about the biggest – and oldest – cause of all.

Conference. We must build a world that is just.

We must build a world that is fair.

Because those who have least are already feeling the costs and the consequences of our changing climate.

From the floods in Pakistan to the drought in Kenya.

From the melting of the ice sheets to crops ravaged by disease.

From the erosion of soil to the felling of forests that takes from people their food, their fire wood and the chance to shelter from the heat of the mid-day sun.

It’s why we need a climate deal in Cancun.

It’s why we need to invest in renewables.

It’s why we need to put down our axes and pick up our shovels to plants saplings and grow trees.

And we will not be immune either.

Remember the heatwave in Europe seven years ago. It killed thousands.

Remember the flooding in Hull, Sheffield, Tewksbury and Cockermouth.

Imagine what rising sea levels would do to our coastal towns and communities.

Conference – the earth is trying to tell us something and our future existence depends on us using its gifts in a way that can be sustained in the years and centuries ahead.

In a way that will create new jobs.

In a way that will give life to new industries that can both lead the world and lead the change we must make.

And this change will require purpose, determination and, yes, optimism.

That’s how we secured our greatest achievements as a Party and that’s how we will do so again.

And that’s exactly what Sadiq and I saw last week at the Olympic Park in East London.

Environmental sustainability at the centre of every decision and every building.

New homes.

New jobs.

Renewable energy.

Green spaces for all to enjoy.

A community transformed, and an infectious sense of enthusiasm.

And if we can do all of these things there, then we can do them everywhere.

A future not of hairshirts and backward glances.

But a future of possibilities, where by using technology, design, imagination, passion, commitment – and all the skills of all the people – we can build a new Jerusalem of green and pleasant lands.

It’s what Labour has done before.

It’s what Labour does best.

And it’s what – now – together we must do.

Ed Balls – 2010 Labour Party Conference Speech


Below is the text of the speech made by the then Shadow Education Secretary, Ed Balls, at the 2010 Labour Party Conference.



Today – all across our country – millions of children are going to school no longer putting up with leaking roofs or peeling walls…

…but instead going to one of the 4,000 brand new or fully refurbished schools built in the last thirteen years by our Labour government.

So when people tell you that politics doesn’t make a difference – that ‘you’re all the same’ – let us be proud of what we all achieved together in government.

The best generation of teachers we have ever had.

Over 120,000 more teaching assistants.

3,500 Sure Start children’s centres.

More young people getting an apprenticeship or going to university than e ver before.

The best exam results ever.

And standards rising fastest in the poorest areas.

That is a record of which we can all be proud.

So Conference please join me today in thanking my predecessors:

David Blunkett, Estelle Morris, Charles Clarke, Ruth Kelly, Alan Johnson – and the brilliant team of ministers who worked with me over the past three years – for the enormous contribution they have made to our country.

And I want to pay tribute in particular to David Miliband who – as schools minister – made the inspired decision to launch the Building Schools for the Future programme…

Conference, David has made a massive contribution already – and we all know he has a huge contribution to make in the future too.

But we know too – every one of us in this hall:

It’s the teachers and teaching assistants, the heads and caretakers, the social workers and nursery staff, the cooks and lunchtime supervisors whose publ ic service every day transforms the life chances of children in our country.

They are the real heroes and we thank them all.

Building Schools for the Future

Conference, Vernon Coaker and headteacher Neil Wilson have shown us the difference our Labour government has made for the young people attending Newall Green High School here in Manchester.

I am proud that we transformed hundreds of schools across the country – and today we have not one in two schools below our National Challenge standard as in 1997, but just one in 20 – schools Michael Gove has shown he will now abandon.

But because of Michael Gove’s short-sighted and arbitrary and unfair decision to scrap the Building Schools for the Future programme, over 700,000 children in 700 schools up and down our country will now not be getting the new school building they were promised.

And Michael Gove could not even publish a list of cancelled school buildings without getting it wrong – not just once but five times.

We have heard from Councillor Elaine Costigan from Sandwell about the deep hurt and pain that the mistakes in the lists and the cancelled buildings have caused for children and parents in her ward.

Elaine Costigan.

Four weeks ago a Tory Councillor.

Today proud to be a Labour Councillor fighting for fairness for all local children.

Michael Gove.

The man they told us was a genius – the Tories’ rising star.

They don’t say that any more.

In opposition he might have been able to write good jokes for the House of Commons.

But it’s no joke for all the children whose school buildings have been cancelled and whose hopes have been dashed.

And when I hear Michael Gove say that new buildings don’t make a difference.

I remember last year opening a new school in Knowsley, in a deprived ward on Merseyside, and walking round the magnificent new school build ing with a group of the students.

And asking them what’s the best thing about your new school?

And expecting – as usual – them to mention the Astroturf or the new canteen or the IT suite.

And you know what a girl in Year 9 said to me?

‘We never thought anyone would ever think we were worth a place like this’.

And when I mentioned her remark to the headteacher, he said to me ‘you’ve got to understand, all these millions of pounds, there has not been a building built like this in this community for decades – and my job is to use this chance to raise aspirations and to say to all the students – and their parents too – look, work hard, take the opportunity, show them you’re really worth it.’

And that is why it is such a tragedy that in Sandwell, and Liverpool, and Nottingham and Brent and Wakefield and in 80 local authorities round the country Michael Gove has now told hundreds of thousands of children – sorry, but you are not worth it.

And that is why I was proud to stand this summer with the NASUWT and the NUT and ATL and Unison and GMB and Unite and UCATT and parents, governors and teachers from around the country at the Save Our Schools rally to say to Michael Gove:

Think again.

Change your mind.

Our children are worth it.

Curriculum and free schools

But Michael Gove is not just cancelling new school buildings, he is also narrowing the curriculum and his education reforms will entrench division and inequality.

A few weeks ago I went to see a new BSF building for Mossley Hollins High School in Tameside – set to open next February.

It is an ‘outstanding’ school and the headteacher and the school council took me on a building site tour to see the science labs and the library and the dance studio.

Yes, the new dance studio.

Michel Gove says he wants schools now to focus only on ‘academic’ subjects, to drop our new Diplomas and to shun what he sneeringly calls ‘soft’ subjects like design and technology, construction, music, sports or dance.

Conference, I really don’t think he’s got a clue.

I’ve been to so many schools over the last three years where head teachers have taken me to see a lesson in GCSE dance and said to me: ‘look at that class, it’s not just that we have a great dance teacher in this school but the boost to aspiration and the belief and motivation of the students in this studio from this course will translate directly into their GCSE maths and English results as well’. That is great teaching and great leadership – and we should celebrate our pupils’ achievements and not keep running them down.

But what really upsets me is that as Michael Gove is dashing the hopes of children in state schools around our country, he a nd David Cameron are also travelling round promising new school buildings to a few parents but only if they are willing to opt out of the state system and any relationship with the elected local authority and set up one of their go-it-alone DIY ‘free market’ schools.

A policy which we know from Sweden delivered lower standards and greater inequality.

A policy which even the Liberal Democrat conference agrees is divisive, costly and unfair.

A policy which will divide communities and disadvantage children with special educational needs.

Conference, this is the most socially divisive education experiment for 60 years.

In government, our Children’s Plan was driven by a moral cause:

– that every child has talent and potential

– that some children do face greater challenges because of their disability, their special need or where they live

– but that no barrier is too great to overcome if the community works together to make sure every child can succeed

And our academies programme gave more help and support to underperforming schools in the most disadvantaged communities.

Michael Gove’s academies programme gives extra resources to outstanding schools in more advantaged communities.

And he has cancelled many of the radical reforms of our Children’s Plan:

– guaranteed 1 to 1 tuition for all children – cancelled

– free school lunches for half a million primary school children – ditched

– breakfast clubs for disadvantaged children – mocked

– social work reform – shelved

– the new pay negotiating body for support staff – abolished

– hundreds of new play areas – scrapped

What a shameful record after just five months in Government.


And Conference, our Children’s Plan was important because it said no child should be held back through the lack of proper support, whatever their extra need.

That’s why Alan Johnson and I asked John Bercow to review and improve speech and language support.

And this is a personal thing for me.

I have had a stammer all of my life.

That’s why in the past I’ve often had to speak without notes.

I only started to talk openly about this recently – since being in the Cabinet – because it’s only by talking about it, and being open about the challenge, that I’ve been able to deal with it.

I was lucky. I am pretty tough.

I have had help and support, including from Yvette and friends.

But the lesson for me is clear.

There are hundreds of thousands of children struggle with their speech, or communication or their reading or their learning or a disability which so often holds them back.

Struggling on alone without support – and the understanding of those around you – will never get you through.

But if you can help a child deal with something like that – and help them to beli eve in themselves too – then you put their future back into their own hands.

That is why I am in politics.

That is why all of us are in politics.

To get every child the support they need to succeed.

That is our moral cause.


So when anyone tells me that – after 13 years in government – Labour needs a period in opposition, I think they need their head examining.

People say to me: Ed, you’re good at opposition.

I reply: I hate being in opposition.

Because however effective we are in holding this Coalition to account.

If we’re out of power, we can’t turn people’s aspirations into realities.

If we’re out of power, we can’t protect the vulnerable and help those most in need.

If we’re out of power, we can’t get every child the support they need to succeed.

We can stand up for jobs, social justice, equality and fairness – but if we’re out of power, we can’t deliver.

Liberal Democrats and Conservatives

And yet having spent the last four months travelling around the UK as a candidate for the leadership of our party, I know that – despite the General Election result – the Labour Party, Co-operative Party and trade union members I have met are not down or despondent but energised and united and determined to do what it takes to see Labour back in government.

And let me tell you one reason why our party is so determined and our membership is surging.

Two words:

Nick Clegg.

Don’t forget last year at this Conference, when The Sun newspaper came out for David Cameron, he was on track for an 80 seat majority.

But David Cameron failed to convince the country his party had changed and that he could be trusted.

It was not The Sun what won it for the Tories this time. It was not the Sun that put them into power.

It was Nick Clegg:

– the man whose own el ection leaflets said ’Vote Liberal Democrat or you’ll get a Tory government,’

–  who said ‘stop the Tory VAT bombshell,’

– who said spending cuts now would be ‘reckless’ and put jobs and the recovery at risk.

It was Nick Clegg who has given us:

– a Tory Prime Minister

– a Tory Chancellor

– a massive and unfair hike in VAT

– and a Budget which even George Osborne’s new head of Budget responsibility says will hit the poorest hardest.

I say to Liberal Democrats MPs:

It is one thing to want to be in power.

It is quite another thing to sacrifice your Manifesto and – yes – your principles for power.

But to do so on the backs of the young and the poor and the pensioner and the vulnerable is a disgrace.

But Conference.

While we are shocked to see Liberal Democrat MPs propping up this Coalition government – and if we’re shocked, just think what all the people who voted for them feel like…

… there is a second and more important reason why our party is determined.

Because we know that this is a Conservative government – and it is the Tories we’ve got to beat to win the next election.

Nick Clegg may look like David Cameron and increasingly sounds like David Cameron, but it’s David Cameron who is in charge.

And however much David Cameron and George Osborne use the Liberal Democrats as their human shields, we must not let the Tories off the hook.

Because we know the very future of our public services, our welfare state, our economy are now in peril because of the reckless and deeply ideological Tory direction this Coalition government has taken.

There is an alternative 

Take the decision to cancel Building School for the Future.

It is not just educationally short-sighted and unfair.

It is also putting hundreds of thousands of private construction jobs at risk just at the time when the priv ate sector is holding back from investing in new houses or private buildings.

And when the Tories and the Liberal Democrats say we have to cancel our school building programme because getting the deficit down as fast as possible is the number one priority – when they say that there is no alternative to these cuts now, Let us remember:

That is what Margaret Thatcher said in 1980 – and we saw the devastation to our communities, to manufacturing and youth jobs as unemployment rose year by year for half a decade.

And the previous Prime Minister to say ‘there is no alternative,’ was a Labour Prime Minister, Ramsay MacDonald, in 1931, two years after the 1929 Wall Street crash – the second biggest financial crisis of the last hundred years.

There is no alternative, MacDonald said, but to cut spending and unemployment benefits to get the deficit down and keep the financial markets happy.

But this party said No – and so did Lloyd George and the Liberals.

And MacDonald had to form a Coalition with the Conservatives to make his cuts.

And what happened?

The Great Depression of the 1930s, mass unemployment and – yes – the deficit got worse.


You either learn the lessons of history or you repeat the mistakes of history – and that’s what they are doing.

Just think if Clement Attlee in 1945 – when after the war when our national debt was over twice its current level – had said that the first priority was to get the deficit down…there would have been no NHS, no new homes for heroes and no welfare state.

But we don’t need to go back to the history books to see the warning signs over George Osborne’s economic policy – we only need to look across the Irish Sea.

Two years ago, the Irish Government convinced itself they had to slash public services and cut child benefits to get their deficit down as fast as possible and reassure the money markets.

The IMF praised the Irish government for its “sense of urgency”.

And what has happened since?

Recession turned to slump, unemployment at a 16-year high, 19 consecutive months of deflation, consumer spending and tax revenues plummeting, and the deficit worse now than when they started.

The Irish Economist David McWilliams said this week:

“It is like watching a slow car crash. The more they cut, the more the economy will continue to stagnate.”

George Osborne used to say that Ireland has so much to teach us, if only we were willing to learn.

Now he’s the one ignoring the lessons.

Just imagine if Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown had listened to David Cameron and George Osborne in 2008 – and not nationalised the banks, not cut VAT, not invested in a new jobs programme – recession would have turned to depression and unemployment would be much higher today.

And Conference, let me say – I was proud to s erve in Gordon Brown’s Cabinet – we did not get everything right – but he was the right Prime Minister for a world financial crisis and history will give him the credit he deserves.

Of course we need tough decisions to get the deficit down.

But Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown were also right to say: don’t start to cut the deficit until the recovery is secure.

Conference, there is an alternative – a Labour alternative.

We must win the argument – as Alistair said on Monday – that the speed and severity of the Coalition’s ‘ideological’ cuts are both unfair and unnecessary and will put the recovery at risk.

So we must make the case, as Ed Miliband did yesterday, that the credible way to reduce the deficit and get the economic moving again is not to sacrifice jobs and growth – but to put jobs and growth first.

George Osborne

Too many people have worked too hard over the last three years to get us through thi s economic storm to let George Osborne throw it away.

So let this Conference send out a message to George Osborne and David Cameron:

Whenever you put at risk the jobs that we protected.

Whenever your policies threaten the homes that we saved from repossession.

Whenever you put another child and another pensioner back into poverty.

The Labour Party will be there…and we will fight you every inch of the way.

The Leadership

But Conference, there is a final reason – perhaps the most important – why I believe our party is ready for the fight ahead.

Because I believe our Labour leadership contest has shown we have learned the lessons of Labour history – from the 1950s and the 1980s and from more recent times – that to divide is fatal, to look inwards and blame the voters spells disaster.

I have been proud to be a candidate in this leadership election, the first every Co-operative MP to do so, and I want to thank my colleagues who backed me, the CWU, all the party members and councillors and trade unionists round the country who helped me, my brilliant camp aign team –  and Yvette for her immense tolerance.

David, Andy, Diane were great candidates and a credit to our party and we have conducted this election in a truly comradely way.

But for the four of us who finished behind Ed Miliband, there is no shame in losing to someone who has inspired and energised our party – and who brought this hall to its feet yesterday.

And working with him for 16 years in opposition, in the Treasury and in Parliament, I always knew that – for Ed – fairness, opportunity and social justice weren’t just slogans, they were his reason for coming to work in the morning – they were his defining purpose.

Ed, I’ve been proud for 16 years to call you a colleague and a friend.

And now I’m proud to call you our leader.

And it will be my mission to back our new leader, to take the fight to the Coalition and to return us to government in the shortest possible time.


Let that be the mission of us all.

United, disciplined, determined.

Winning the argument for a credible and radical Labour programme.

There is an alternative.

Together we can make sure Labour wins again.