Jim Murphy – 2012 Speech to Labour Party Conference

jimmurphy

Below is the text of the speech made by Jim Murphy, the Shadow Secretary of State for Defence, to Labour Party conference on 1st October 2012.

Good morning.

The conference season marks autumn for many, and what an incredible summer we had. We all have our favourite moment from the summer of sport and London 2012, but I want to start by thanking a group who performed brilliantly this summer.

Some of them with the dust of Afghanistan still in their boots. Men and women with a quiet humility and a pride in their country. We should thank the 17,000 members of the UK Armed Forces who served so that in safety the athletes could compete and we could celebrate.

This year our country has lost 39 service personnel in Afghanistan.

Today there remain almost 10,000 of our service personnel in Afghanistan. Each of them and their families should be in our thoughts. Their efforts are about the Afghan people having the lives and livelihoods they deserve – free from the tyranny of the Taliban, part of a global economy, and a country at peace with its neighbours.

But a distant warning bell should ring ever more loudly with each passing month where there isn’t a political process to match the military might of the past decade. That must be our focus, and we look forward to the day when we can welcome the last of our Forces home as heroes.

Afghanistan remains the UK’s defence priority in a world of profound uncertainty, where unstable states outnumber stable countries two to one.

What has been the Government’s response?

A defence posture without a strategy.

Service personnel sacked just days before collecting their pension.

And who could forget the aircraft carrier chaos?

Only this Government would build two carriers, mothball one, sell our Harrier fleet and have no planes to fly off a carrier for almost a decade.

At each election the Conservatives stand on a platform of ‘government doesn’t work’. Judging by their actions they seem hell-bent on proving their claim.

And what will we hear from them next week? No doubt we will get the same old blame game. But it won’t work because let’s be clear: two-and-a-half years into their Government and in the absence of a defence strategy it just isn’t good enough having a catch-all slogan of “it’s not my fault”.

And what of the Lib Dems? I remember a Lib Dem MP complaining to me at the last election that they couldn’t get votes because the public didn’t know what they stood for. Well say what you want about the Lib Dems but that’s certainly one achievement in Government – never again will they ever lose votes because people don’t know what they stand for: it’s any power over all principle.

As for the SNP, they want to debate how many questions there will be in the referendum because they can’t decide on many of the answers about independence. It’s time for them to come clean about their plans because when it comes to defence, separation is a powerful idea from the 19th century ill-suited to the 21st century.

What does this mean for Labour? We face an enormous challenge from a Tory Party that is born to rule and the Lib Dems determined not to die.

The task for Labour is not just relentless attack – it’s responsible answers.

In opposition we must deal with the issues we would if we were in power.

That is why the Shadow Defence team have been clear about the need for defence savings.

And that is why with a future Labour Government defence spending will be subject to independent expert review. We will account for and justify our spending decisions. No smoke and mirrors, no delay in tough decisions, and a culture of consequence. A defence budget policy alongside a defence industrial strategy that celebrates and supports the 300,000 British workers who do so much to contribute to the defence of our nation.

But while politics is about highlighting differences it is also about making a difference, and while we are out of office we are not without power.

That is why we started a national campaign to end discrimination against our Armed Forces, to strengthen the Covenant and to support veterans’ carers.

Our country is brilliant at turning civilians into soldiers, but we are not good enough when the time comes to turning soldiers back into civilians. Finding work is so important and that’s why we launched the Veterans’ Interview Programme. All answers don’t come from the inside of a Ministerial red box – they can come from our instincts and our values and that’s why I’m delighted that Labour in opposition has signed up some of the biggest companies in the country to guarantee job interviews to unemployed veterans. It is simply wrong for anyone who has served in Afghanistan and comes back to a public parade and heroes’ welcome to be sacked by their Government almost immediately and then be expected to simply join the back of the queue at the local Jobcentre. It’s unfair and it’s wrong. It shouldn’t happen and under the next Labour Government it won’t.

But our task it not just about developing policy, it’s also about changing our Party.

At last year’s conference we agreed the creation of Labour Friends of the Forces, a group to campaign to strengthen the bond between our Party and the Forces.

Then, four patrons joined me on stage. Today I can announce that we now have almost 700 members.

And you’ll remember that together we agreed that we would be the only Party ever to offer a £1 membership for serving and former members of our Armed Forces. I’m delighted to confirm that a fantastic 406 current or former Forces have joined the Labour Party this year.

More than 1,000 new military members and supporters but that’s still not enough. Our commitment to the service community has always been core to our values – now we want it to be part of our Party’s DNA.

Today I can announce that the Labour Party is the first and only party to ensure that our procedures are now in line with the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant. The sacrifice of service will not be a barrier to clear but a badge to be honoured in our movement and no Labour Party member will be disadvantaged as a result of service in the Armed Forces.

Conference, we do all of this because we are idealists. We believe in the utility of service.

Ours is a patriotism that pre-dates the Olympics.

We believe in solidarity with those who have served our country.

Our Forces are central to our national security and to our national character. Let us each make it clear that they are crucial to the future of our Party too.

Iain McNicol – 2012 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Iain McNicol, the General Secretary of the Labour Party, to the Labour Party conference on 30th September 2012.

Conference, this has been year of real success.

A year of real change.

In May we saw over 800 new Labour councillors elected.

Labour now running Southampton, Great Yarmouth and Harlow.

We’ve seen strong leads in the polls.

We have improved in our party finances, allowing us to invest for the future.

And we have made bold changes to refresh and strengthen our senior team.

We are now one party, one team to deliver a one term opposition.

I want to start by paying a special tribute to our outgoing chair of the NEC, Michael Cashman – his personal support and commitment to change has been unwavering.

But this is about you: your effort, your energies and your enthusiasm for new ways of campaigning have delivered for Labour.

You are the people who’ve protected libraries.

You are the people who’ve clamped down on anti-social behaviour.

You are the people who’ve helped debt-ridden families avoid the risks of legal loan sharks.

And that is why I am confident the change our party and country needs will become a reality.

But Conference, with two-and-a-half years before a general election now is no time to be complacent.

Because we have a huge challenge.

Politics is fractured and needs mending.

Earlier we stood in silence to remember those of our friends who have passed away this year including the fantastic Philip Gould.

I remember him once saying politics was like a vital football match being played out between the reds and the blues. But as the players fight for every ball, strain for every goal, the crowd is drifting away.

The game goes on, but the stadium is emptying.

Soon there’ll be nobody left.

But politics is too important to leave to wither.

Too vital to let media cynicism win. To allow demagogues and charlatans take the stage.

Too many have fought, and too many have died for us to let democratic politics fade.

We’ve all heard it on the doorstep – you’ve heard it, I’ve heard it – far too often: the charge that all parties are the same.

It breaks my heart, when I know how different we are.

And the cynicism that declares that politics can’t make any difference to people’s lives.

This makes me angry, when I see the change that politics can make.

Our legacy is the Sure Start centres, the new schools, the thousands more doctors and nurses – that’s the difference our politics has made.

Ed Miliband has set out an ambitious programme to rebuild our economy and recast our society; to tame markets where they do damage and build modern communities.

The political crisis we face is as big as the financial crisis, and just as urgent and pressing. It requires action every bit as bold.

My argument is simple: if we want a strong society and a fair economy, we first need a vibrant politics.

What I see is a party ready for change.

Every single one of us needs to be able to answer this question: what are you going to do to persuade people to support us in 2015?

Before, it was all about leaflets, door-knocking, making sure posters were up all across town.

I do ask for this. But I ask for more, much more.

Because this great Party of ours needs to change more profoundly than we have for a generation.

Some will say: it’s too difficult.

Some will say: it won’t work.

I say: without this change we won’t win on the scale we need.

Let’s be clear. I don’t want to sneak a win on points. I want to deliver that knock-out punch. I want this Coalition out – and I mean all of them.

I want to see Cameron, Clegg and Cable carried out of the ring.

In the election campaigns we are fighting to win in November – for new MPs, for new Police Commissioners, and for a new Mayor in Bristol – we need to be that change. Build relationships and earn trust. And if we do we will help rebuild a fractured politics.

Just ask Jess Phillips – a young mum who got her neighbours together to build the community spirit to tackle the anti-social behaviour that was blighting her street.

Now a Labour councillor, elected in 2012, able to bring more change and more support to the community she loves and cares about.

To deliver it we will have 200 community organisers across the UK.

They reach out to people ignored for years.

They don’t just ask for their vote.

They ask for their views.

They construct real campaigns to solve real problems.

And the results can be spectacular – they get people campaigning who’ve never done it before.

This is also why we need parliamentary candidates in place as soon as possible. A candidate provides leadership, focus and drive for the campaign.

The longer we give them, the greater the chance of success.

That’s why we will have 100 candidates selected in the coming months.

With Harriet Harman and Jon Trickett, we are looking at practical ways to make our candidates more representative of the communities they serve. More women candidates. More black and minority ethnic candidates. And yes, more working class candidates.

This is the Refounding Labour project, turning us into a movement, not merely a parliamentary party.

It means standing with public sector workers when they organise to defend our libraries, Sure Starts and police stations.

It means paying a living wage.

And Conference, let’s start at home. I am proud to announce that on my watch, the Labour Party has become an accredited living wage employer. Everyone who works for the Labour Party is paid a living wage.

And I urge every Labour councillor to make their council a living wage employer too.

Look too at the fantastic work Caroline Flint is doing on energy switching. It means the Labour Party will be able to offer people cheaper energy – not after an election, but now.

It means standing up to the powerful, like Tom Watson has done over News International.

It means seeking justice like Andy Burnham has on Hillsborough.

We may be out of office in Westminster but again and again we are able to show we can make change happen.

This is a different politics.

Imagine what it will be like when people say: this is what they helped us with when they weren’t in government, imagine what they can do when they are.

When I’ve visited party members in every nation and region of the UK, spoken to the Fabian Society, Young Labour, Labour Students, Progress, the Co-operative Party and of course our trade unions, they tell me they understand the case for change.

And they are getting on with it. We are going to change politics.

Not just because of our values and traditions.

But because it works.

When people ask, why should we believe you, vote for you, stand with you?

We say: judge us by our deeds, not just our words.

Judge us by the times you see us outside of elections.

Judge us by the way we look for answers and lead the way.

Judge us by the difference we make, before we ask for your vote.

Don’t just ask people if they vote Labour.

You must be the reason why they vote Labour.

For me, that’s the biggest difference between us and our opponents.

Progressives believe tomorrow can be better than today. The Conservative Party believes the best days are behind us.

Progressives see the good in people. The Conservative Party fears the worst.

Progressives trust the people. The Conservative Party fears the ‘plebs’.

We don’t fear the plebs. We don’t show contempt for workers doing their jobs.

Those who protect, and build, and teach, and care, and struggle for a better day.

We don’t insult them when they won’t kowtow.

So the hard work starts now.

We have the courage to change.

Shoulder to shoulder with the next Labour Prime Minister, Ed Miliband.

Let’s rebuild our Party.

Let’s rebuild Britain.

Owen Smith – 2012 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Owen Smith, the Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, to Labour Party conference on 2nd October 2012.

Chair, Conference: in music and movies, they say you’ve only really made it when you’ve made it in America.

Well by that yardstick, and in political terms, Wales has arrived.

First we saw Ann Romney feeding dodgy-looking Welsh cakes to unsuspecting members of the US press corp.

But last week was the real breakthrough – when, on the Letterman Show, David Cameron was asked the killer question.

No not the one about Rule Britannia or the Magna Carta – the one about the Welsh.

“What about Wales”, asked Letterman, “they didn’t vote for you in Wales, did they?”

At last, I thought, 106 years of not voting Tory in Wales, and we finally get some credit for it!

And in a week in which the media has complained that we haven’t laid out our full manifesto yet, I want to offer one cast iron guarantee: Wales won’t be voting Tory next time either.

No, in Wales we’ll be playing our part in returning a Labour Government led by Ed Miliband at Westminster, to work alongside the Labour Government led by Carwyn Jones in Cardiff Bay.

A Labour Government in Wales that is standing on the side of ordinary people:

Tackling youth unemployment, with a Jobs Fund which we maintained when the Tories were pulling the plug.

Reforming and restructuring our hospitals – not marketising them as would the Tories.

And investing in education – building new schools, modernising our curriculum and holding down tuition costs, keeping open the door to social mobility through educational achievement.

We’re able to do these things because devolution – designed and delivered by Labour – is delivering for Wales.

It is delivering increased local democracy and political accountability – things that people hold dear in our globalised World.

But delivering too a confident country – at ease with its place in the United Kingdom.

The Tories, by contrast, have just one interest in Wales – not how to protect it, but how to exploit it for a political game of ‘divide and rule’.

Whether it is the Prime Minister talking down the Welsh NHS, or Michael Gove smearing Welsh Education, the strategy is the same: creating division instead of respecting devolution, attacking Wales, to attack Labour.

In some ways this should come as no surprise, because the Coalition tactic of divide and rule is clear not just in their approach to the nations of the UK – but to its people too.

Public versus private, North versus South, privilege versus the plebs.

These are the faultlines that the Tory-led Government sees in Britain and that they seek to exploit.

In Labour we believe such division can only weaken Britain.

Our heritage is a party that seeks to unite and unify – classes and countries.

And we remain a meeting place for British people of different faiths and nations, ages and wages.

That’s why Labour would be making different choices, choices informed by our deep roots in communities throughout the UK and our understanding of the tough times being faced by ordinary families.

Choices designed to respect devolution – but also to unite the people and the nations of Britain.

That’s why, for example, we reject Government plans to scrap national pay bargaining.

Yes, because UK-wide deals are more efficient – but most of all because they are fair for workers throughout the UK.

Regional pay would increase inequality and division in Britain – at the very time when we must pull together.

On this issue, as on so many, we are so much stronger, so much better together.

And we believe that the majority of the British people – in all our nations and regions – believe that too.

Now that does not mean that Britain will not change.

People in Wales, Scotland and England too want more local decision making, and devolution or other constitutional change may be needed to accommodate those ambitions.

But separation or independence remains a minority interest – outweighed by economic and emotional reasons for Britain and the British people to stick together.

That point was brought home to us all by the Olympic and Paralympic games.

Patriotism and pride in Team GB swept people up, from Plymouth to Perth – and seemed for a few brief weeks to wash away divisions in our society.

They reminded us how successful our society has been at embracing different cultures and capabilities – and so enriching those of the UK.

That solidarity of people across Britain is just as important a legacy of the games as the bricks and mortar left behind.

And just as it fell to us to build those bricks to last, so too it’s up to us to retain the hope and optimism, tolerance and togetherness that were the Games’ richest prize.

A Tory-led coalition can’t do that. They cannot speak for Britain – just for the rich and the rip-off merchants, whose interests they protect.

Only Labour can speak for Britain.

Only Labour can unite people ordinary working people in England, Wales and Scotland too.

We alone can do that because the Labour movement has always believed that together we are stronger.

We believed it a hundred years ago in the Rhondda Valley, when my great grandfather, Dafydd Humphrey Owen, fought for better prices and wages in the Cambrian Combine strike and the riots that followed it.

One of the legacies of that struggle was a campaign for workers’ rights and education which brought people together from South Wales, Lancashire and Lanarkshire.

It was called, of course, The Plebs League – and it’s been tempting in recent weeks to think about reviving it.

Yet the truth is that its moment is past – ours is not.

Unlike Andrew Mitchell, or Alex Salmond for that matter, our movement is about uniting people across these isles.

And especially today, in these difficult times, we have to be the party that says: “we are always better together.”

So let’s unite the nations and people of Britain behind Ed Miliband and his vision of a more equal, socially just and democratic Britain.

Better Together. Better with Labour.

Ivan Lewis – 2012 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Ivan Lewis, the Shadow International Development Secretary, to the 2012 Labour Party conference on 1st October 2012.

Conference, I want to begin by thanking my wonderful team:

Sir Tony Cunningham, Rushanara Ali and Ian Mearns, all of whom do an excellent job.

But I know they will forgive me if I single out someone special. Someone who has never wavered in the fight for global equality and human rights.

One of the leaders of a new generation of women who changed the face of our party.

Conference, Glenys Kinnock may be leaving the frontbench but I have no doubt she will continue to be the strongest voice for those who are vulnerable and voiceless everywhere in the world.

Glenys, on their behalf we thank you and salute you.

Conference, it’s been quite a year. During the past twelve months I have had the pleasure of shadowing Jeremy Hunt, Andrew Mitchell and now Justine Greening.

So I can tell you as a pleb with a ringside seat: these Tories may think they were born to rule, but as the British people now know, they aren’t fit to govern.

I want to use my speech today to challenge the relentless attacks on development spending which are now coming from “the right.”

But also to demonstrate if other countries match our commitment to aid and sign up to radical global change we could eradicate poverty by 2030 and reduce aid dependency.

Conference, is it any wonder that the British people, so generous in their giving to good causes are conflicted when they think of the challenges facing the squeezed middle and public service cuts.

We need to have the confidence to make the case and win the argument.

We should absolutely clear in our response to those who argue for cuts to the aid budget.

Why should the poorest in the world pay the price for the irresponsible, greedy behaviour of the top bankers?

And a right-wing ideology which continues to advocate light-touch regulation and celebrate casino capitalism.

First and foremost, our contribution to fighting poverty and tragedy is a moral imperative.

But security, trade and migration also mean it is in Britain’s national interest.

In an interdependent world to be a patriot is to be an internationalist. Not just for one fantastic Olympic Games, but always.

Conference, it turns my stomach when I hear multi-millionaire Lord Ashcroft demanding that support for the world’s poorest should be slashed.

The nasty party is back. It’s the same old Tories.

Does this mean that the aid budget should be immune from the very real challenges we face in these difficult times?

Of course not.

That’s why we won’t be able to reverse the Government’s decision to cut the projected aid budget by 1.7 billion pounds.

Although it should be understood that this is due to a reduction in Gross National Income, which in part is due to the failure of Tory economic policy.

But it’s also why the Government should put right its broken promise to enshrine the link between 0.7 and GNI in law.

This would ensure future changes to the budget, irrespective of whichever party is in power, would be permanently related to the economic state of the nation.

And Conference, the critics would have you believe aid doesn’t work.

It isn’t true.

In one year under Labour, the Department for International Development helped train over 100,000 teachers, delivered almost 7 million bed-nets, provided 12-and-a-half million people with better sanitation and helped build or repair 4,500 km of road.

UK aid saves lives and gives people the chance of a better future.

We will support the Government if they honour our commitment to meet the 0.7 target by next year.

But David Cameron is unable to provide leadership on development because the Tories advocate more of the same when what we need is radical change.

The Tories believe in trickle down economics. We believe in the inextricable link between economic prosperity and social justice.

The Tories view aid as charity. For us, development is the pursuit of social justice and human rights. Public-bad private-good drives their funding decisions.

Delivery capacity, value for money, innovation and accountability will be our criteria.

They are isolated in Europe. We need to have influence over an EU development budget which accounts for 20 per cent of UK spend.

Conference, as Ed Miliband has said, we believe now is the time for big global economic and social change.

Growth which is sustainable, companies that are both profitable and responsible, meaningful agreements on fair trade and climate change, universal access to free healthcare, compulsory education and social protection.

Global human rights with no exemptions for our allies. Women’s rights at the heart of conflict resolution.

Decent work, decent labour standards for workers everywhere.

And Conference, no more hiding places for the tax dodgers who steal from the poorest people and poorest countries in the world.

And yes Conference, if these changes were to be made we believe poverty could be eradicated and aid dependency reduced by 2030.

Replacing paternalism with dynamic partnerships between north and south, developed and middle income countries.

Conference, a different vision, different values.

Tony Blair and Gordon Brown didn’t provide leadership on the MDGs, debt and 0.7 to detoxify our brand.

They did so because it is who we are. Social justice and human rights are the very reason for our existence.

They are why we are Labour. For this movement now and through history, social justice has no borders, only new frontiers to be conquered.

That is why today I am delighted to announce the party which created Sure Start in Britain will also be the party which champions the case for prioritising early years development across the world.

I have asked Tessa Jowell, the founder and first Minister for Sure Start and architect of our great Olympic success, to lead a global campaign to ensure an integrated approach to the early childhood years is at the heart of the new post-2015 global development framework.

I am delighted that Sarah Brown, Global Patron of the White Ribbon Alliance who has achieved such amazing progress on maternal health, has agreed to support Tessa in her new role.

If all the evidence demonstrates investment in the earliest years makes the most difference to our children’s lives, the same evidence must surely apply to the health, education and parenting of the poorest children in the world.

Conference, as staunch defenders of development we must also be reformers.

Like any Government Department DfID is not immune from waste or poor decisions.

Also, the more we focus our resources in conflict-ridden and fragile states the greater the risks we are taking.

We should be honest about that.

My value for money test will be what difference is our spending making to the poorest and whether it is contributing to an end to aid dependency long-term.

And the development community, including our world leading NGOs, should be as passionate about how we spend the hard earned money of donors and taxpayers as they have been in campaigning for 0.7.

Even the most radical development agenda in the world will be seriously undermined by inadequate progress in the fight against corruption.

To coin a phrase, it’s time to get tough on corruption and the causes of corruption.

I am determined that from day one of the next Labour Government we will have an effective new anti-corruption plan for the UK and a strategy for building a new anti-corruption coalition around the world.

I am delighted that Hadeel Ibrahim of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, renowned globally for shining a light on governance issues in Africa, has agreed to undertake a review on our behalf and to identify tangible action which will lead to real change.

I am particularly keen UK diaspora communities have an input.

The next Labour Government will be champions of development but also warriors for value for money and against corruption.

Conference, I want to end by dedicating this speech to the women I met in Chad earlier this year.

I felt a mixture of horror and admiration as I watched them beating anthills to extract the tiniest bits of grain to feed their family.

They pleaded with me to make sure they would have enough food to give their kids one proper meal a day as yet another food crisis hit.

They don’t get left from right, the different editorial positions of the Guardian and Daily Mail.

They just want to be able to feed their kids.

You and I joined this movement to change the world not explain the world as it is.

So conference, for us, social justice will always have no borders, only new frontiers.

Thank you.

Harriet Harman – 2012 Speech to Labour Party Conference

harrietharman

Below is the text of the speech made by Harriet Harman at the 2012 Labour Party Conference in Manchester on the 4th October 2012.

Introduction 

Hi conference.

I’m Hattie, 62, from Camberwell.

And here’s today’s news in briefs.

It’s been a great week for the Labour Party.

And it’s been a great week for Ed Miliband.

I’ve known Ed for more than 20 years.

In fact, it was me that gave him his first job in politics.

And, you know, when Ed worked for me, people were always saying, I don’t know how you do it, with all that you do and so busy with 3 young children, you make such brilliant speeches.

But my secret weapon was Ed Miliband.

Ed, with your speech you showed everyone, the qualities you’ve always had:

•      your conviction

•      your confidence

•      your compassion and

•      your courage.

And when you told us the story about your family, you showed everyone why you have

•      such faith in this country

•      and such faith in the power of politics as a force for good.

Ed, we all know you love baseball, of course, you’re a Red Sox fan.

So, can I just say to you…

You knocked the ball right out of the park.

Shadow culture secretary 

Conference, since we met last year, I’ve taken up my new role as shadow culture secretary.

I was lucky enough to go the Brits.

The wine was flowing, the music was loud and I did that thing that politicians must never do.

I hit the dance floor.

I know what you’re thinking…. why is it that our Deputy Leaders always have to make such a prat of themselves at the Brits?

The next morning I was mortified.

As I feared, someone had tweeted about it – “Labour MP in dodgy dancing cringe fest”.

But the good news was it then said – ‘honestly…. you’d think @tessajowell would know better’.

And the other good news is that people are still stopping me in the street and saying “thank you so much for bringing the Olympics to Britain, Tessa”.

And I say, “you’re welcome”.

And we all want to say a huge thank you to Tessa for all her years on Labour’s front bench and the brilliant job she did on the Olympics.

Thank you, Tessa.

Reading material 

And in my new role as shadow culture secretary, I’m always asked what I’m reading.

And just the other week, I had an awkward moment when a journalist asked me if I’d read “that” book.

Women here will know the one…

The one about a sado-masochistic relationship – you know…

with a dominant superior controlling a naive submissive…

And I said: “don’t be silly – of course I’ve read the coalition agreement.”

Now, as it happens I have also read ‘50 Shades of Grey’ – for ‘research purposes’.

But I have to say I don’t think it’s very realistic.

Because, let’s be honest, what most women want is not a man who ties you to the bed, but one who unstacks the dishwasher while you watch the Great British Bake-Off.

Starting gun for 2015 

Each and every conference has its own defining point.

This is the conference – here in Manchester 2012 – where Ed fired the starting gun for the next general election.

Because of what Ed’s done since he became leader – we are now in with a fighting chance of forming the next government.

But we all know that we still have a long way to go.

We’ve got to fight the Tories.

We’ve got to fight the Lib Dems.

We’ve got to work as a team.

And we’ve got to have no, no-go areas for Labour.

Cameron – letting down young people and women

Because people all over this country are suffering with this government.  Young people are finding it really hard to get their first job.

And women are finding it hard to hang onto their jobs – and that’s just the women in David Cameron’s Cabinet.

You know Angry Birds used to be David Cameron’s favourite computer game – now it’s his pet name for Caroline Spelman and Nadine Dorries.

But there is one woman who can always rely on David Cameron’s unswerving, unconditional support – Rebekah Brooks.

But when it comes to the next election, I suspect women in this country will have seen enough and won’t give Cameron one of those famous ‘second chances’ he’s so fond of.

Lib Dems – Tory accomplices 

And what about the Lib Dems.

They claim to be a brake on the Tories – but they are nothing of the sort – they are their accomplices.

They boast of the pupil premium – all well and good – but then they vote with the Tories for the biggest education cuts since the 1950s.

They boast of taking people out of tax by raising the tax threshold – all well and good – but then they vote with the Tories to slash those people’s tax credits.

They boast of a clamp-down on tax avoidance – all well and good – but then they vote with the Tories for tax cuts for millionaires.

People say you get the politicians you deserve.

But no-one deserves Nick Clegg.

Calamity Clegg who has propped up this miserable Tory government every step of the way.

It’s no wonder Vince Cable is on manoeuvres.

But let’s not forget Saint Vince is in it up to his neck too. After all, it was his policy to treble tuition fees.

So I have a message for Vince. Don’t bother texting Ed – he’s changed his number.

We have a first-past-the-post system and voters get just one vote – we’re saying to them vote Labour.

We are not fighting to be part of a coalition government – we are fighting to win.

Corby by-election 

So now, in that all important by-election in Corby:

•      we have got to campaign as never before

•      and make sure people use their vote – their one precious vote

•      to elect our fantastic local Labour candidate Andy Sawford.

Marginal Mindset 

To win the next General Election we must – all of us – adopt a marginal seat mindset and listen to the people where we don’t have Labour MPs as well as where we do.

That’s why every one of our shadow ministers will adopt a marginal seat – working alongside our Labour candidate, to listen to and understand the concerns of people there.

Ed Balls has twinned with Clair Hawkins in Dover and Deal. Chuka is backing Clive Lewis and Jessica Asato in Norwich and I’m proud that I’m twinned with Andrew Pakes in Milton Keynes.

Conference, we’ve got to be the voice speaking up for the young couple in Dartford, as well as the young couple in Darlington.

We’ve got to speak up for the pensioner in Gloucester, as well as in Grimsby.

The commuter in Milton Keynes as well as in Manchester.

Representation 

And at a time when many people have no faith in politicians and think that politics is a dirty word– it’s even more important that people can see, in parliament

•      someone like them

•      people they can relate to

•      people they can trust.

And over the months ahead, in your local parties, you’re choosing your candidates for the next general election I know you will want to choose candidates from all walks of life – from our factories and shop floors, from business to our armed services, people from all different backgrounds and cultures and a balanced team of men and women.

We must reflect the country we seek to serve.

No complacency 

And because we’re determined to achieve the difficult task of making this a one-term coalition there’s no place for complacency – or business as usual.

We have to – and are – doing things in a different way.

We’ve got to reach out beyond our party faithful into communities, connecting with people who otherwise feel that politics has nothing to offer them.

We have to build our party with more members and more supporters – so let’s each and every one of us play our part in Labour’s Plus One Campaign.

Which has already been a great success. Since just the start of this conference, more than 1200 new members have joined, and 5000 have registered as supporters.

Stewards 

Conference, we all celebrated the Olympic games-makers who came here this week.  I want us to thank our very own conference games-makers – our fantastic army of stewards.

And there’s another group of people I know we’ll all want to pay tribute to – our brilliant and hardworking party staff.

This has been a difficult year but the work you put in – in our headquarters and all around the country – is nothing short of heroic.

Thanks to each and every one of you.

Iain McNicol 

And I want to thank our General Secretary Iain McNicol.

Iain, you have led the party staff through those difficult times and I have no doubt, with you at the helm, our party will go from strength to strength.

Conclusion 

It’s always great to be at conference.

But this week has been special.

This week – the game has changed.

We know we have big challenges ahead.

But we leave Manchester emboldened, enthused, with a strong sense of purpose.

We have grown in confidence.

We have grown in self-belief.

This country needs a government of and for all its people, not a coalition that plays divide and rule.

This country needs a One Nation Labour party and a One Nation Labour government.

Stephen Twigg – 2012 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Stephen Twigg, the Shadow Secretary of State for Education, made at Labour Party conference on 4th October 2012.

Thank you.

And thank you to Dave and Joan, you inspire us all. It’s a privilege to do this job when you meet young people like Joan. She came here having claimed political asylum.

Despite all the barriers, she became a grade A student. Conference – she is One Nation Britain.

I learned aspiration from my Mum. A bright girl from the East End of London, she left school at 15. My Mum always told me, “That’s not going to happen to you. You’re going to university.”

I also had great teachers. Funnily enough, one of them was called Mr Coward.

Mr Coward gave me the courage to become the first pupil from Southgate Comprehensive to go to Oxford. He shows the power of a great teacher.

I say this to Michael Gove – stop running down our teachers and young people. Celebrate their ambition instead.

I love doing this job, but I couldn’t do it without the support of the frontbench team.

So thank you to Sharon, Kevin, Karen and Lisa in the Commons and Bev and Maggie in the Lords.

And thanks to my Policy Commission co-chair, the GMB’s one and only Mary Turner. Thanks Mary.

Our central challenge is how to get our economy growing.

We’re not the biggest nation. So for a country like ours, it’s smart to be smart.

Education isn’t just a moral right, it is an economic good too.

The Tories claim they want high standards. But they’ve put standards at risk. The biggest cuts to education since the ‘50s, and teacher numbers falling.

Young people held back. Like the thousands who lost out, when their GCSE English was downgraded.

Michael Gove washed his hands of responsibility.

So much for “we’re all in this together”. His message to young people is – you’re on your own.

It’s no wonder that One Nation Conservatives don’t agree with him. Ken Baker, the former Education Secretary says Labour is right on vocational education, and the Conservative MP Graham Stuart says Michael Gove’s new exams are ill conceived and incoherent.

We know Michael Gove is wrong, but even Conservatives think he’s extreme and out of touch.

He claims to be in favour of rigour. But he is totally outdated. Rote learning and regurgitating facts. An exam system from the 1950s.

We believe young people need both knowledge and skills. The rigour of the future, not the past.

As well as the basics, we need creative subjects like music, design and art.

And practical subjects like engineering and IT. But what do the Tories do? They focus only on the Ebacc and say the engineering diploma, a course designed by Rolls Royce, is worthless.

How out of date can you get?

And how does removing the right to work experience help young people get ready for a job? Now more than ever, young people need quality work experience.

In primary school, companies should provide ‘work discovery’ programmes and in secondary school, every young person should get work experience linked to their studies not just two weeks of photocopying.

Labour will meet the challenge of every young person staying on until 18.

As Ed said on Tuesday, there is already a clear path for those who do A Levels and then go to university.

But we need a clear path for the forgotten 50 per cent.

So we will create a new, gold standard vocational qualification – the Technical Baccalaureate.

Michael Gove wants narrow, elitist education. We are the party of One Nation education.

Instead of going back to O-levels, we will look forward. Instead of coming up with a plan on the back of an envelope, we will engage the experts – in business and education.

So I am delighted to announce today that Professor Chris Husbands, from the Institute of Education will be chairing a taskforce to take forward these ideas.

Every young person must study English and Maths until 18. Incredibly, we are one of the only developed countries in the world that doesn’t require this.

Barely one in ten pupils who are on free school meals at age 11, study English and Maths after the age of 16.

That is a huge injustice. So I hope you will join our campaign, by signing up on the website or tweeting using the hashtag “3Rsto18”.

We will build this One Nation Education system by raising standards for all.

Take Joan’s school, United Learning’s Paddington Academy, set up under Labour. Five years ago, only a quarter of pupils got 5 good GCSEs. Now, three quarters do and they sent their first pupil to Cambridge.

That’s raising aspiration for you.

Or take Barlow Hall Primary, here in Manchester. In 2004, standards were well below average. Today, with a cutting edge Reading Recovery centre, it is a school transformed.

We take on those who say “you can’t turn coal into diamond”.

Michael Gove has a plan for some schools and some pupils. We have a plan for all schools and all pupils.

I want every school to have the freedom to innovate, not just some. To shape their own curriculum. To develop specialisms. To have a longer school day.

Alongside freedom comes responsibility – strong schools should work with weaker schools to raise performance for all.

And all schools should ensure pupils get a minimum of two hours of PE a week, and that every pupil in every school gets a healthy meal.

Because when it comes to a fight between Jamie Oliver and Michael Gove, I know whose side I’m on.

So, all schools with extra rights, and extra responsibilities. One mission: raise standards for all.

What about free schools? On the one hand, some of them are good.

School 21 in Newham. Popular with parents. They use groundbreaking techniques to raise standards for some of the poorest children.

Labour can’t be against schools that drive up standards and narrow the gap in life chances.

But there are serious problems with Michael Gove’s centralised Free Schools programme.

He thinks the way to build new schools is to throw darts at a map. So while there’s a crisis in primary school places, Free Schools are built in areas with spare places.

And unlike Labour’s academies, there’s no focus on under-performance or social and economic need.

I say – engage with local parents and communities, and you won’t end up with the chaos and waste of schools that don’t open or are half empty.

Instead of decisions made in Whitehall, we will restore a partnership between local and central government and end the practice that stops good local authorities setting up new schools.

And whatever the type of school, whether academies, co-op schools or community schools, we will put local communities and parents back in the driving seat.

We know what Michael Gove really wants – profit-making schools. Let me be clear: I will never allow profit-making schools.

But the key to One Nation Education is not the type of school but what happens in the classroom. Our education system is only as good as its staff.

Michael Gove insults teachers – calls them “whingers” – and on his watch 10,000 have left the profession.

We should celebrate the school workforce – not just teachers and heads, but the caretakers, the teaching assistants, the dinner ladies. They are heroes.

The best countries in the world for education see teaching as an elite profession for top graduates.

Take teacher recruitment. In England we consider it a success when we fill every vacancy.

But in Finland and South Korea, there are 10 applicants for every place.

We have the best generation of teachers ever. But it can be even better.

We will have a New Deal for Teachers.

Labour supported Teach First to bring top graduates into teaching.

I want the number of Teach First recruits to double from 1,000 a year to 2,000 and then further still, so it becomes one of the main routes into teaching.

I want to develop ‘teacher taster’ sessions for those who want more of a feel for the job and a new National College for Teaching Excellence.

Teachers need to be rewarded appropriately so we can attract the best candidates, especially in subjects like maths, sciences and IT which are harder to recruit.

This Government wants to reduce salaries for teachers in poorer areas. How ridiculous.

Instead I want to look at ideas like helping pay back your tuition fees, if you go to teach in a poorer area. Something for something.

Teachers should be given more opportunity to collaborate and develop subject knowledge.

Funding should be more flexible, so a teacher can do a master’s degree if they want.

One way to improve teaching is to remove poor teachers. I want a teacher to have the same status as a doctor, but that means incompetent teachers must be removed.

So. A New Deal for Teachers. New rewards, and new entitlements to training.

And with the responsibility to improve year on year.

It’s heartbreaking to see the damage the Tories are doing to our education system.

It’s not enough to criticise. We have to show we will make a difference.

We’d help the teenagers whose GCSEs were downgraded.

We’d help the parents who can’t get their child into primary school.

We’d help the forgotten 50 per cent.

One Nation Education.

Excellence for all.

The comprehensive ideal realised.

Live your dreams, realise your potential.

Wherever you come from, whatever your background – that is our mission.

Thank you.

Rachel Reeves – 2012 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Rachel Reeves, the Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, to the Labour Party conference on 2nd October 2012.

When Ed Miliband calls for an economy that works for working people, some people ask what that means in practical terms.

Well now we’re going to talk about a very concrete example: the campaign for a Living Wage – that’s been built by trade unions, community groups, our own Labour Students who have been fighting for it alongside staff in universities in colleges, and increasingly taken up by far-sighted employers – gives us a great example of the kind of change we want to see and the kind of difference it can make to people’s lives.

The argument for a living wage is moral and economic.

It’s based on the belief that work should bring the dignity of a decent wage – enough to keep a family out of poverty and debt.

And as we’ll hear this morning, it can mean stronger business models, based on better skilled, better motivated, more productive employees.

Those employers that have implemented the policy, including an increasing number in the private sector, report that the extra money put into the pockets of their employees is more than made up for by the savings they make as a result of improved recruitment and retention and the benefits to their business of the boost it gives to staff morale and engagement.

But if that’s what we really believe, then we should be looking to put it into practice wherever we can.

That’s why Ed Miliband and I wanted to do whatever we could to support those Labour councils who wanted to make this commitment to their employees and communities.

It’s a bold ambition, and a very big ask for councils who have are bearing the brunt of budget cuts and unprecedented pressure on services, resulting from the recession, rising deprivation, and an ageing population.

You might be forgiven for thinking that a Living Wage was a nice idea for another day, but not a practical proposition at a time like this.

But you’d be wrong.

Earlier this year, Labour councils in Lewisham and Islington became the first accredited Living Wage authorities in the country.

And today, it gives me immense pride to announce that, thanks to the commitment and creativity of Labour councillors, as well as the work of trade unions like UNISON, the GMB and Unite, and community organisations like Citizens UK and the Living Wage Foundation, the following councils are now on their way to becoming accredited Living Wage Employers:

Camden;

Birmingham;

Preston;

Oxford;

Lambeth;

Southwark;

Hounslow;

And Cardiff.

In total, around the country, we can now point to over 12 Labour councils, from Glasgow to Hackney, showing that a fairer economy isn’t just a noble idea, it’s something we can start building right here, right now.

Even in opposition, even in times as tough as these.

And I know of many other councils up and down the country who are now looking at whether this is something they can deliver.

So to tell us a bit more about how it can be done, I’m delighted to be able to introduce:

Fran Massey, a UNISON member who works at Manchester College;

Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham, the first council to become an accredited Living Wage employer;

And Alan Buckle, Deputy Chairman of KPMG International, one of the first private sector employers to take up the call for the Living Wage.

Johann Lamont – 2012 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Johann Lamont, the Leader of the Scottish Labour Party, to the Labour Party conference on 2nd October 2012.

Conference, I have the privilege of addressing you as the first ever Leader of the Scottish Labour Party.

After what happened in the Scottish parliamentary elections in May of last year we knew we, as the Scottish Labour Party, had to change.

And I want to thank Ed Miliband and everyone in the Party at Scottish and UK levels for helping turn the desire for change into reality.

We know we still have a long way to go. But the work has started. And the revival has started as we showed in this May’s elections where the Scottish Labour Party made gains throughout Scotland, and none was more stunning that Gordon Matheson’s victory in Glasgow where we won again, an overall majority in a proportional system and where all but one of our candidates was elected.

Conference, we need to rebuild Scotland and rebuild Britain.

And we need to rebuild a Scotland which has a Government which isn’t seeking to protect us from Tory cuts, but an SNP Government which is making them worse.

When George Osborne cut the budget, Alex Salmond cut it deeper for Scotland’s local authorities. Even when the Scottish budget went up, he cut funding for vital council services, while heaping more responsibility onto local authorities.

Don’t be fooled by the slogans. Salmond trying to claim more things are free in Scotland as a way of building up resentment with our partners elsewhere in the UK.

The people of Scotland know that nothing is free. And every day we see more clearly that the costs of Salmond’s slogans are being borne by hard working families struggling to make ends meet, borne by the elderly and vulnerable seeing their care slashed, borne by the student who can’t get a place in further education.

Now last week, when I pointed out that Scotland’s families are paying for Salmond’s unsustainable tax break for the rich, I was accused of being a Tory.

I’m not sure if the cap fits with someone who campaigned against Thatcher’s cuts to Scotland in the eighties.

Not sure the cap fits with someone who campaigned for a Scottish Parliament to protect Scotland from future Tory Governments.

And I am not sure the cap fits with someone who sees in surgeries, in meetings and in everyday life the consequences of a Tory Government cutting too far and too fast while we have an SNP Government content to amplify the cuts rather than protect people from them.

It was Alex Salmond who said that Scotland didn’t mind Thatcher’s economic policies. It was Alex Salmond who relied on the Tories to put through four budgets while in Government. It was Alex Salmond who cheered David Cameron into Number 10 because it suited his political argument, in full knowledge of the consequences.

This SNP Government claims to be a progressive beacon but took George Osborne’s cuts, doubled them and handed them to Scottish councils, impacting on our elderly care, our schools and our chances of growing local economies.

This SNP Government is making the poor pay for the election bribes that benefit the better off, but won’t tell us this side of the referendum where he will go to find another £3.3 billion of cuts.

Anyone still want to argue the SNP’s left wing credentials? Let me read you this:

“It is likely that the Barnett formula, far from starving Scotland to death as is often asserted, is actually fattening us to the point of dangerous obesity. Bizarre as the thought may be, could the UK actually be killing us with kindness?”

Not the words of Norman Tebbit. Not the words of George Osborne. But Mike Russell, the man Alex Salmond has put in charge of our schools.

Let me give you another insight into the world of Mike Russell:

“Put bluntly universality now drags down both the quality of service to those most in need, and the ability of government to provide such services. However, our political parties do not have the courage to address the issue for fear of losing votes.”

Conference, Scottish Labour is not afraid to be honest with the people of Scotland, and not afraid to expose Alex Salmond and his Tartan Tories who try to wear our clothing while punishing the people they should be protecting.

The SNP might not have the courage to be straight with the Scottish people but we do.

What Alex Salmond is doing with Scotland’s finances is the equivalent of putting the gas bill in the drawer. We’ve all done it. Not opened the bill because we feared the consequences. So we stuff it away. And the reminder. And the final notice.

But we all know, Conference, that never ends well.

Salmond hopes we won’t ask the tough questions about independence. And he is desperate we don’t ask the tough questions of the here and now. He knows that every Scottish family is bearing the cost of his slogans. We all know that his budget will go bust.

But he hopes that somehow he can keep the truth from the Scottish people until after the referendum.

I won’t wait until after the referendum to be honest with the people of Scotland. We need an honest debate now about how we protect the most vulnerable from the cuts.

Not everyone is going to like the solutions – that is unavoidable. But I will be straight with people now about what is to come, and I will be true to Labour values – that we will not allow those who most need our support to pay the price for populist slogans.

If we are to ensure that the elderly get the help and support it is our duty to give, then we are going to have to ensure that those who have, give to the have-nots.

If we are to make sure that the potential of not one of our children is lost, that means that those who have plenty must share for the common good.

If Scotland stands for anything it is community. And we in Scottish Labour will pull that community together, to stand as one, and reject Alex Salmond’s attempts to divide our society.

Conference, the Labour Party fights for the poor and the vulnerable. The Labour Party fights for the strong. And together, the Labour Party in every part of the UK will fight to rebuild our nations and rebuild our communities.

Tessa Jowell – 2012 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Tessa Jowell, the Shadow Minister for London, to the Labour Party conference on 2nd October 2012.

Conference, it was an incredible summer of sport and culture – one whose shared memories will bind us for years to come.

In this session we are going to answer the question and introduce to you some of the people it takes to make an Olympic champion.

And so many thanks are due.

But let me begin by saying thank you Manchester. Had it not been for your inspirational Commonwealth Games in 2002, we would not have had the courage to bid for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

During those long years of preparation, when the doubters said it would cost too much, that the buildings would not be ready, that the public would not come, we always knew it would work.

So to all those 40,000 construction workers, apprentices and contractors from all over the country who built the Olympic Park on budget and on time, thank you.

The trades unions whose partnership with the contractors and the Olympic Delivery Authority delivered the biggest construction project in Europe with not even one reportable accident, let alone a death, of a worker in the Olympic Park. That is unprecedented and you did that. Thank you.

Seb, Paul and Jonathan, and the outstanding organising committee which always stood aside from party politics even after the election. It proved Harry Truman was right when he observed that it is remarkable what a small group of people can achieve together when they don’t care who gets the credit. We all did that together and thank you.

To the games makers, 70,000 representatives of the best of the British people, and thank you to the millions – 13 million who welcomed the torch to their communities across the UK, and the millions who cheered our Olympic and Paralympic athletes to such extraordinary success – thank you.

To all our athletes who after years of support from scores of people did it on the day and who showed what talent, unremitting hard work and raw courage can achieve – we thank you and we salute you.

Conference, in 1996 in Atlanta we won one gold medal, in London we won 29. It was the sustained and well-directed investment of public money in coaching and facilities which made that leap from the playground to the podium possible.

When you were watching the Olympic and Paralympic summer was anyone out there thinking that Britain was broken? I don’t think so.

This summer we showed ourselves as we are at our best: a country of progressive values, with an inclusive and joyous patriotism which celebrated our open, diverse and tolerant society.

It was a terrible summer for prejudice, intolerance and cynisism.

Our modern Britishness so perfectly embodied.

Mo Farah, a man from Somalia, wrapped in the Union flag, as proud to be one of us as we are proud of him.

And Nicola Adams who not only showed that there are no no-go areas in sport, but that there is not men’s sport and women’s sport, but just sport.

And our Paralympians who showed us that disability is not a bar to athletic greatness. On the contrary: the limiting factor for any athlete in any sport in any circumstance is what his or her body can be pushed to do, which is why so many of our Paralympians proved themselves to be among the greatest athletes in either games.

When we won the right to host the Games we made a promise. That the 2012 Games would inspire a generation. Until the election this was happening in schools across our country.

The dismantling of this world class organisation for sport in our schools is beyond belief.

So in order that we keep our promise, I have invited the Government to work beyond party to develop the facilities, coaching and curriculum space so that we keep our Olympic promise to young people across our country.

Building the next generation of Olympic champions starts with that – a plan for sport at every level. Showing the young people of our country that when we said we would inspire a generation, we meant it.

Because a moment like the summer of 2012 comes along just once in a lifetime.

When we all come together it shows what we can do.

Thank you.

Caroline Flint – Speech to 2012 Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Caroline Flint to the Labour Party conference on 1st October 2012.

Conference it was my birthday the other week.

Apart from them arriving too quickly these days – I find myself reflecting on times gone by when life seemed simpler, but also on the amazing scientific advances that have changed our lives for the better.

Over the past year I have been inspired by the opportunities for jobs and growth new low carbon technologies can deliver for all our futures.

But some changes we have all experienced don’t seem that great. Technology was meant to put you in control and make life easier.

So why do so many of us feel less in control than ever before?

Do you remember a time when you knew what your bank manager looked like?

When you didn’t have to press ten numbers before you spoke to a human being?

When you didn’t have enough passwords to fill a small notebook?

Even buying something as simple as gas and electricity is bewildering today.

We all have to heat our homes and buy gas and electricity from somebody.

And I know that companies that keep the hospitals warm, factories working, and the lights on in 22 million homes are doing a pretty fundamental job for the British economy.

But even the big six energy giants know that something has gone badly wrong when the poorest people pay the most for energy and nearly everyone pays more than they need to.

When fewer than ever trust their energy company to help them.

Fewer than ever switch supplier.

And fewer than ever believe the Government will help.

Energy bills have gone through the roof in the past two years.

Up by £200.

And more price hikes heading our way this winter.

The Government tells people to shop around for a better deal.

It’s down to you they say.

You’re on your own.

That’s not the Labour way. We believe in co-operation.

We know that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more together than we do alone.

Turning the clock back isn’t the answer.

But we don’t have to accept things the way they are.

I want to tell you and everyone at home, that Labour may not run the country but we can help you cut your bills today.

In America, co-operatives, local councils and community organisations are bringing people together to strike a better deal for their custom.

Our sister parties in Belgium and Holland have delivered cheaper energy prices for thousands of people through collective switching.

We can do the same.

I am proud to announce the launch of Labour’s SwitchTogether campaign.

We will ask people to sign up to Labour’s SwitchTogether to get a better energy deal.

And if the energy companies want our business they need to name the price.

Stand together. Buy energy together. Switch together.

Not giving up because we are in opposition but rolling up our sleeves and getting down to work.

Our strength is in our local organisation, our community links, our councillors, our members, our supporters.

I am asking you – knock on doors, deliver leaflets, organise community meetings, make the calls and the tweets.

We can reach out to people who are paying too much but alone can’t change that, and we can make a difference.

The next time someone tells you all political parties are the same – and they will – tell them Labour is buying energy on behalf of many people, as one customer to get a better deal.

Tell them about the first political party in British history to run a collective switch.

We may be in opposition.

We may not run the country.

But we can help people right now when this Government won’t.

There are of course things only Government can do, and the British people deserve to know Labour’s plans for the way our energy is sold.

Whenever bills go up, the energy companies always tell us they’re only passing on their costs.

So why, when prices rise do bills go up like a rocket but when they come down they fall like a feather – if at all?

The reason is – they’re allowed to run their businesses in such a complicated way that it’s almost impossible to know what the true cost of energy is.

This must end.

So we’re calling time on Ofgem.

Too often, Ofgem has ducked the opportunity to get tough with the energy giants, failed to enforce its own rules and let energy companies get away with ripping off hard pressed families and pensioners.

The time has come to say goodbye to Ofgem and create a tough new regulator that people can trust.

We will open the books of the energy giants.

Stop the backroom deals and end the secret contracts.

And if they don’t do it first, we will force the energy companies to pass on price cuts.

An energy market that is simpler and works in the public interest.

An energy market which delivers fair prices, protects the most vulnerable.

An energy market that people trust.

That is our pledge.

I am proud that it was a Labour Government that faced the future – stood by the science and faced the threat of our planet overheating.

We beat our Kyoto target and doubled renewable energy generation.

Ed Miliband delivered the Climate Change Act, a world first, placing Britain at the forefront of global action on carbon and sending out a clear message that Britain was open for green business.

When Labour left Government the UK was ranked third in the world for investment in green growth with £7billion of private money driving new energy and clean technology.

We are now seventh.

David Cameron’s promise to be the greenest government ever lies in tatters.

But let’s not forget the Liberal Democrats

It was Chris Huhne who took the axe to Britain’s solar industry.

It was Ed Davey who fired the starting gun on the next dash for gas.

Tories and Liberal Democrats.

Creating uncertainty.

Deterring investment.

Costing us jobs.

Britain must be part of an energy revolution just as important to this country’s prosperity as the Victorian railways, and the internet in the 20th century.

A cleaner future in a radically different, fairer energy market.

Britain needs:

New jobs.

New growth.

New hope.

And in 2015 – a Labour Government.