Maria Eagle – 2012 Speech to Labour Party Conference


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


Families not only under pressure from energy and food prices, but the rising cost of transport too.

And only real reform will deliver a better deal.

Inflation busting fare rises. Record prices at the pump.

Contributing to the cost of living crisis.

And as I’ve travelled around the country during our Policy Review, let me tell you what I’ve heard:

Young people who say they’ve dropped out of college, because the cost of getting there was just too high.

Commuters who say their season ticket now costs more than the mortgage or rent.

That’s a transport system that isn’t working for working people.

And the response from this Tory-led Government?

After two-and-a-half years. And three transport secretaries:

Bus fares up, and one in five supported services facing the axe.

Because the Government chose to cut funding too far and too fast.

Train fares up, by as much as 11 per cent. Not for one year – but three years in a row.

Because the Government chose to increase the cap on fare rises, then told train companies they could hike some tickets by even more.

And when Labour forced a vote in Parliament last month?

Not one Tory or Liberal Democrat MP voted to limit fare rises to one per cent above inflation.

And just when commuters thought things couldn’t get any tougher:

A planned new ‘super peak’ fare.

So your season ticket won’t even be valid on every train.

Even though most people can’t just pick and choose the hours they work.

And, as if fares weren’t complex enough:

Giving the green light to requests from train companies to close ticket offices.

And fuel prices up too: thanks to a decision to drive VAT up to 20 per cent.

A Government completely out of touch with the impact of rising transport costs.

Labour would be making different choices.

Protecting support for local bus services.

Legislating to make train companies apply the fare cap on every route.

Reversing the increase in VAT, while times are tough.

Immediate measures to ease the pressure on families.

But let’s be honest:

This Government has made things worse, but transport costs were already too high.

Because there are fundamental, long term problems with our transport system.

And only real reform will deliver a better deal for fare-payers and tax-payers.

This Government’s economic failure means we will inherit the toughest pressure on public spending.

So the old answers just won’t work anymore.

Remember back to 1997?

One of our proudest achievements:

Free bus passes for pensioners.

But in a deregulated bus market, there was only one way to deliver it:

We paid the bus companies, and we watched as profits soared.

Now let’s go forward to 2015, and the new challenges we face:

Like helping those young people that I met, who said they couldn’t afford to get to college.

But if the 1997 solution was just to pay the bill, the 2015 answer can only be reform.

So, in return for the profits they make in a subsidised industry:

Requiring bus companies to deliver concessionary fares for young people aged 16 to 19 in education or training.

It’s what we mean by predistribution:

Companies acting responsibly, so that tax-payers don’t have to step in.

In Government we passed legislation to make it possible:

Introducing Quality Contracts, enabling transport authorities to reverse bus deregulation in their area.

But it remains difficult in practice.

So when the Integrated Transport Authority in Tyne and Wear decided to get a better deal for passengers, how did Stagecoach react?

They threatened to close depots, sack drivers and take buses off the road overnight.

Sir Brian Souter claimed he’d rather “take poison” than enter a Quality Contract.

And his Managing Director accused the elected, accountable transport authority of “operating in the same camp as Marx, Lenin and Trotsky.”

Just for wanting a better deal for taxpayers’ money.

And now Lib Dem Transport Minister Norman Baker has stacked the rules on bus funding against transport authorities that pursue reform.

I say to the Government:

Restore a level playing field to Better Bus Area funding.

Consider the case for Deregulation Exemption Zones.

Work with councils, not against them.

And to the bus companies, I say:

You operate successfully in a regulated system right across Europe, and you can do so here.

And only real reform will deliver a better deal on rail.

So that we can end the era of above inflation fare rises, while still delivering vital investment:

The rolling programme of electrification, set out by Labour in government.

The Northern Hub.

A new generation of inter-city trains: to be built in the North East, thanks to Labour.

What a contrast to a Tory-led Government exporting jobs by building the trains for Thameslink in Germany. An appalling mistake that they must not repeat with Crossrail.

And HS2. Delivering new capacity. Cutting journey times across Britain, benefitting cities like Manchester.

I say to the new Transport Secretary: it’s time to get behind this project in a way your predecessors failed to do.

Let’s work together on a cross-party basis to legislate for the whole route in this Parliament.

We began the job of reforming the rail industry in government.

Tackling the legacy of a botched Tory privatisation.

We created Network Rail as a not for dividend company.

Yet tax-payers still don’t get a good enough deal:

Not for the three and a half billion pounds they put into the rail industry each and every year.

We saw again this year: an out of control bonus culture, exposing a corporate governance structure at Network Rail that is not fit for purpose.

So we need greater accountability.

But the real waste comes from the costs of fragmentation:

Like the taxpayers’ money paid to private train companies, just so Network Rail can repair the track.

Even through it’s essential to run their services, and make a profit.

The same companies paid to put on the replacement bus service.

And handed £172 million last year to compensate for delays.

Even though very little found its way to the passengers who’d been inconvenienced.

And then, time and time again, the public sector picking up the pieces after private failure.

Not just the disaster of Railtrack. But companies failing to fulfil contracts to deliver services. Not once, but twice on the East Coast line.

And what have we seen, since it is no longer run for private profit?

£187 million returned to taxpayers this year. £170 million the year before.

Profit that next year will once again be shared with shareholders.

That’s if the contract isn’t won by the German, French or Dutch state railway, who already run large parts of our rail network.

Exporting profits to deliver lower fares on the continent, at the expense of passengers in Britain.

So if we were in government today, we’d provide long term certainty and stability on the East Coast line.

Not privatisation for its own sake: but a real public sector comparator.

And if resolving the franchise fiasco on the West Coast Main Line means the Government has to run that on the same basis? Then we will support them.

Labour’s Policy Review will continue to look at what we can learn from other countries, where the structure of their rail industry is more efficient – and fares are lower as a result.

And we’ll continue to look at how best to empower communities to have a greater say over local and regional rail services.

Because only reform can deliver a better deal.

And motorists need to see change too.

Instead of just talking about it, Ministers should act on their promise to crack down on profiteering by petrol companies.

And tackle the abuses in the car insurance market that drive up premiums.

And when two-thirds of the journeys that we make are under five miles:

Let’s make alternatives to driving, not just a possibility, but an attractive choice.

Not just affordable public transport. But supporting cycling and walking too.

Easing the pressure on the household budget.

And in a year when we’ve seen a 12 per cent increase in pedestrians killed on our roads and the appalling tragedy of eighty-eight cyclists losing their lives, we must have a renewed focus on safety.

I know that Patrick McLoughlin agrees.

So I urge him to restore the axed targets to cut deaths and injuries on our roads.

I congratulate The Times on their Cities Fit for Cyclists campaign.

The Government should implement the campaign’s manifesto for change. In full.

Separated cycle-ways. Redesigned junctions. Advance green lights for cyclists.

Setting aside a proportion of the roads budget to make it happen.

Supporting local authorities to extend 20mph speed limits in residential areas.

Better cycling facilities at train stations and on trains.

Safe routes to schools.

And learning the lessons for England from the innovative Active Travel legislation being taken forward by the Labour Government in Wales.


A government out of touch with the impact of rising transport costs.

New thinking from Labour.

Immediate steps:

Protecting bus services.

Capping rail fares.

Reducing VAT on fuel.

Reform to meet fundamental long term challenges:

Empowering transport authorities to regulate bus services.

Tackling fragmentation in our rail system. Putting passengers before profit.

Cycling and walking: a genuine priority.

Because only real reform will deliver a better deal on transport.

Mary Creagh – 2012 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Mary Creagh, the Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Rural Affairs and Food, to the Labour Party conference on 1st October 2012.

Conference, in 2010 no-one knew what a foodbank was.

Well we do now.

I have spent the last nine months visiting foodbanks, where people collect and distribute food to families who cannot afford to feed themselves.

In 2012.

In Britain.

In Norwich, organiser Grant Habershon told me how demand at his foodbank had risen by 50 per cent compared to last year as more parents struggled to feed their children during the school holidays.

In Bradford, I packed a food parcel for a mum who skipped meals so her children could eat –dry toast with no jam.

In Harlow, in Skelmersdale, Halesowen, Dorset, the story was the same.

Cuts to lunch clubs, breakfast clubs, changes to tax credits and housing benefit are all forcing proud parents to rely on charity.

I saw the daily struggle of families to put a hot meal on the table.

And I learned about the work of churches, and charities like the Trussell Trust, FoodCycle and Fareshare.

The Trussell Trust will feed 200,000 people this year.

FareShare feeds 36,000 people a day through their network of 700 charities.

We are the seventh richest nation in the world yet we face an epidemic of hidden hunger, particularly in children.

Working families relying on charity for a daily meal.

But there is more than enough food to go round. Food is not the problem. The problem is a Tory-led Government making the wrong political and economic choices.

A Government so out of touch that their farming minister didn’t even know the price of a pint of milk.

A cost of living crisis.

But what is the cost of hunger?

Hunger costs millions in poorer educational results for children too hungry to concentrate in class.

Hunger costs millions in lost productivity.

This is the poverty trap. This is the real cost of hunger.

Last year, Conference, I asked you to join ‘Back the Apple’, our campaign to save the Agricultural Wages Board, to protect the pay and conditions of rural workers in England and Wales.

I am pleased to say that, despite the Tories and Liberal Democrats, voting to abolish the AWB, thanks to our campaign alongside Labour MPs, Unite the Union and the Welsh Assembly Government, the Government has not managed to get rid of it.

Today, 1 October, what may be the last Agricultural Wages Order comes into force. Today over one hundred and fifty two thousand farmworkers, fruit pickers, food packers will get a pay rise – thanks to you.

Next year, if the Tories have their way, they won’t.

But I will be working with my Shadow team to expose how out of touch the Tories and Lib Dems are with rural areas.

I want to thank my fantastic shadow Ministers Huw Irranca-Davies, Gavin Shuker, Tom Harris, in the Commons; Jim Knight and our very own dairy farmer John Grantchester in the Lords; our whip Susan Elan Jones; team PPS Chris Evans; and Fiona O’Donnell and Heidi Alexander who have now left the team.

And what have the Tories been doing in rural areas?

Youth unemployment rose faster in rural areas than in cities in the first two years of this Government.

Decimated rural bus services.

Delayed the roll out of universal broadband.

Making it harder to start and grow a business in the countryside.

So what can Labour do to tackle this cost of living crisis and create green jobs?

We have focussed on three big areas.

First, people are struggling to pay their water bills.

Bad debt adds £15 a year to everyone’s bill.

We want water companies to cut that bad debt by taking tough action on those who won’t pay in order to help those who can’t pay.

A Labour Government would force all water companies to offer social tariffs to help those most in need. But this Government wants to leave it to water companies to decide for themselves.

Second, we want the food industry to create the new green jobs that Britain needs.

The food industry is our largest manufacturing sector. It turns over £76 billion a year, with export earnings worth £12 billion pounds.

Big numbers, big opportunities.

The world will need to feed an extra billion people by 2025.

We need food security here at home and to export more to a world hungry for Great British food.

We want a fair deal on food.

That means a fair price for the milk that dairy farmers produce and a Groceries Code Adjudicator with real teeth.

Labour have been working alongside the Consumer Association for clearer pricing in supermarkets to ensure special offers really do offer a good deal.

Third, our strategy for new green jobs means we’ve got to stop talking about waste and start talking about natural resources.

Businesses need a secure supply of raw materials. They are struggling to source those materials in the UK as we export so much of our waste.

When we export waste, we export jobs. If we keep it here we keep those jobs in the UK.

We will raise our recycling targets and give waste processors the certainty they need to invest in new facilities and create new green jobs.

And in a world where food prices are rising and people are going hungry we think it is wrong that edible food goes to landfill.

We can create low carbon jobs collecting that food and getting it to people who need it.

But this Government just doesn’t have a plan.

Conference, families need a Labour Government that is on their side.

But even in opposition we can do our bit.

This Saturday, 6 October, I will be standing outside a supermarket in Wakefield with the whole Labour team asking people to donate one food item to FareShare’s Million Meal appeal.

You can join us by going to The twitter hashtag is #MealAppeal.

Across the country, hundreds of Labour MPs, councillors and party members will be doing the same.

Sign up to stand up at

We may not make the rules in government but we can still make the change we need on the ground.

Conference, Labour has changed.

Let’s show people we are the change the country needs.

Vernon Coaker – 2012 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Vernon Coaker, the Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, to Labour Party conference on 4th October 2012.

Conference. Northern Ireland is a great place and I’m very privileged to be Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State.

Let me say that one of Labour’s greatest achievements was to help bring about peace in Northern Ireland.

We should never be afraid to say how proud we are of that and how strongly we feel about protecting its legacy. And that’s because Northern Ireland has changed and changed for the better since the bad old days of conflict, violence and isolation.

A fortnight ago I visited the new Giant’s Causeway Centre in North Antrim that already is attracting thousands of visitors. During the summer I toured the new Titanic Quarter and saw the very positive difference the regeneration of that part of Belfast is making.

I’ve been to cities, towns and villages, from next year’s City of Culture in Derry~Londonderry to the twin cathedrals of Armagh and the picturesque Fermanagh lakes around Enniskillen.

What makes Northern Ireland special is its people.

But they are being let down by this Tory-led Government at Westminster. One out-of-touch Secretary of State has been replaced by another. But changing the Tory faces at the Northern Ireland Office isn’t what counts.

They need to change the Tory policies on Northern Ireland.

Unemployment has risen to over 8%.

Nearly one in four young people are without a job. Almost half of those without work have been unemployed for over a year.

Time and again we see that this Government has all the wrong priorities.

Because when hundreds of thousands of people – families, communities and businesses – across Northern Ireland are suffering in these very difficult economic times, the Tories are giving millionaires a £40,000 a year tax break. Giving the richest more money, but at the same time taking money away from those who can’t afford to lose it.

As I told the Northern Ireland Pensioners’ Parliament, 90,000 older people in Northern Ireland – 1 in 3 pensioners – are being hit by the Tory-led Government’s ‘Granny Tax’. And 20,000 families with children will lose out because of changes to tax credits.

And businesses are suffering too.

But after two years of talking about devolving corporation tax powers to Northern Ireland there is still no agreement about whether it should happen and what it would cost.

And with estimates of the cost to the block grant varying from £200m to £700m, there is still a significant gap between the Treasury and the Executive that needs to be bridged.

But rising unemployment and the recent announcements of major job losses show that Northern Ireland’s economy can’t wait. The Tory-led Government needs to catch itself on. The Secretary of State and the Treasury need to stop dithering. Northern Ireland needs action now.

Major decisions that impact upon people in Northern Ireland are still taken at Westminster.

On tax and spend, welfare reform and the overall economic direction taken by the UK. And on all of these the Government is making the wrong decisions.

That’s why Labour has a real plan for jobs and growth in Northern Ireland. We want to support the First and Deputy First Ministers, and the Executive, to build and develop the economy.

So we would reverse the Government’s damaging VAT rise for a temporary period to give immediate help to high streets and struggling families and pensioners in cities, towns and villages across Northern Ireland.

We would bring forward long-term investment projects to get people back to work and strengthen our economy for the future. Northern Ireland’s construction industry needs that help.

We need to build skills through apprenticeships and training that will equip our young people for the future.

And we would give a one-year national insurance tax break to every small firm that takes on extra workers, helping to create jobs and grow local businesses that make up the bulk of Northern Ireland’s private sector.

We would reduce VAT on home improvements, repairs and maintenance, helping to create work for our young tradesmen and women and stop them having to move to Canada and Australia. They are needed at home.

And we would have a £2 billion tax on bank bonuses to fund a real jobs guarantee that would help 2,000 young people in Northern Ireland back to work.

Because I know that young people will be the driving force behind further progress in Northern Ireland. But they are being let down by this Tory-led Government.

The young men and women I meet are ambitious for themselves and their communities. But they can’t realise those ambitions if they aren’t given the chance to get on.

No job, no hope and no future are no choices at all.

We can’t be complacent about the challenges facing Northern Ireland. The threat from those who want to destroy the peace and progress remains high.

I want to thank the Police Service of Northern Ireland for all that they do to keep people safe and secure. I’ve been privileged to meet police officers drawn from every community and serving every community with dedication and integrity. They have my admiration and our support.

Recent weeks have also shown that sensitivities about parades are still very evident in some areas, particularly in Belfast. The reality is that many communities in Northern Ireland are still deeply divided and that sectarianism is an ingrained and uncomfortable truth across all sections of society.

But a shared future can only happen through building shared spaces and shared experiences with shared prosperity and shared responsibility.

That includes taking responsibility for what happened in the past. Because we need to deal with the legacy of Northern Ireland’s Troubles, the death of 3,000 people and injuries and trauma for tens of thousands more. We can’t truly move forward until we do.

I’ve met so many people – families and friends of those who died during the terrible conflict of the past – who simply want justice and to know the truth about what happened to them or their loved ones.

Our view is clear. We need a comprehensive, inclusive process to deal with the past, and victims and survivors should be at the heart of it.

It won’t be easy.

There are many challenges and complications. And there is no consensus about what that process should look like. But then there was no consensus at the start of the negotiations that led to the Good Friday agreement.

The Agreement showed that you have to get people talking and keep people talking until you find a way forward.

But the Tory-led Government says nothing.

Does nothing.

Even when the Assembly asked the Secretary of State to help facilitate talks between all parties.

They did nothing.

If I’d been in that position, I’d have heeded the call of political parties and victims and survivors in Northern Ireland and convened talks to discuss how we move forward.

Because unlike the do-nothing Tories, I won’t hide away or shirk my responsibility on this or any other issue, and neither will any Labour government.

Ed Miliband and I feel strongly that we, the Labour Party, made a promise to a generation in Northern Ireland that theirs would be a better future.

Because as I said at the outset, one of Labour’s proudest achievements is helping to bring about peace in Northern Ireland.

We know that there is still work to be done.

We know that big challenges remain.

And we know Northern Ireland still matters.

That’s why I will keep standing up and speaking up for Northern Ireland, and keeping to the promises we made for a better and brighter future for all.

Margaret Curran – 2012 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Margaret Curran, the Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, to the Labour Party conference on 2nd October 2012.

Conference, I want to tell you about Scotland.

I want to tell you about a country of just 5 million that has the passion and pride of a place with millions more.

A country that contains in its history the beginnings of the enlightenment and the engine room of an empire.

And where people today are forging a future that relies as much on the digital economy as it does on heavy industry.

Conference this is my country – and because of the Union it is your country too.

But, Conference, too many want to leave the story there.

They’re happy to celebrate these glories, but they’re not prepared to see the realities that, today, too many people across Scotland face.

Because how could a nation that gave the world the steam engine, the telephone and penicillin be expected to watch as the ingenuity of young Scots goes unrealised with one in four heading from the school gate to the dole queue?

How can a country whose education system was the envy of the world be expected to stay silent when 10,000 of our sons and daughters languish on college waiting lists?

And how can a people whose sense of solidarity was so deep that closing a yard meant much more than the loss of a workplace be expected to watch again as their communities are ravaged by recession?

Let me tell you Conference – we can’t stand for it and we won’t.

Scots are trapped between two Governments that have their priorities all wrong.

And by the day, the similarities between them are growing.

What’s the solution to every economic problem?

A cut in the taxes paid by their people and an assault on the services used by our people.

So when George Osborne suggests lowering corporation tax to 22 per cent, Alex Salmond goes further and says bring it down to 20.

While Osborne makes nurses and care workers and classroom assistants pay for a crisis not of their making, Salmond joins in and cuts 30,000 jobs from Scotland’s public sector.

And when the coalition cuts and Scots are at the sharp end, where is the Secretary of State for Scotland?

Conference, Michael Moore is nowhere to be seen.

Take it from me, it’s a difficult job to Shadow the Scottish Secretary when he’s barely casting a shadow on Government himself.

But I’ll tell you the one place you can find him. Day after day, night after night, he’s there in the voting lobbies with the Tories.

Regardless of the consequences.

A double dip recession.

Tax credits cut.

Long term unemployment at a 16 year high.

Parents relying on food banks to feed their families.

Taking from pensioners to provide to millionaires.

All his Government’s choices.

All his shared responsibility.

Conference, Scotland could and should be better than this.

We have a life sciences industry that employs over 32,000 people.

Creative industries that contribute £3 billion to our prosperity.

And close to a fifth of our nation’s economy relies on our energy sector.

Our people have so much to give, but still too many just don’t get that opportunity to get on, to do well and to flourish.

And as the world changes around us,

As the weight of the global economy moves to the world’s South and East,

As technology opens up new fronts in our search for prosperity and opportunity,

Scots realise that we can’t look to the solutions of the past to make us strong in the future.

Our response has to be rooted in the reality of the world around us, a world that is more interconnected and interdependent than ever before.

We cannot afford to listen to those who say that the answer to Scotland’s problems is to build a wall around ourselves.

So, the strength to overcome the challenges of our time comes from binding together, not breaking apart.

And that is as true of the challenges we face as a nation as it is of those we face in our families, our towns or our cities.

And, Conference, this is what separates us from the Tories and the SNP.

That whether we’re talking about improving our schools, raising our living standards, or deciding how we govern ourselves we are led by one simple truth: “That by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone.”

This isn’t just a slogan written on our membership cards but a truth written on our hearts.

We believe it, we live by it and if we are honoured with the confidence of the Scottish people at the next election we intend to govern by it.

Conference, with Ed Miliband as our Leader, we have a vision for a new economy, a new politics and a new society.

And in Johann Lamont, as we saw last week, we have a Scottish Leader who is unafraid to tell the hard truths or face the big issues.

And thanks to that great top team, we’re off our knees and winning again, across Scotland.

Winning people’s confidence.

Winning the trust of business, our vibrant third sector and our community groups.

Winning the elections which give us the chance to put our principles into action.

We’ve got a long way to go yet, but conference, if you want to know why all the campaigning and hard work and long nights and tough fights are worth it – just remember how you felt when you heard the magic words:



We know that when we fight, we win. And we are in the fight of our lives. Because in 2014, Scotland faces a decision about whether to break up Britain.

A decision with consequences not only for every Scot but every person across these islands.

And in the years that follow we will have to fight again, when we face UK and Scottish General Elections.

On the one side two parties that play the politics of division.

And on the other a Labour Party that sees the strength in all of us to work together and succeed.

A Labour Party that isn’t satisfied with what Scotland is today, but obsessed with what Scots could be tomorrow.

A Labour Party with the ideas, imagination and strength to rebuild Scotland and rebuild Britain.

And a Party which believes the Scots’ ideals of solidarity and social justice speak to concerns which are so great, so urgent, so universal, that we should never allow them to stop at our border, but send them onwards and outwards, to inspire not just the rest of Britain, but the rest of the world.

Chuka Umunna – 2012 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Chuka Umunna, the Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, to the 2012 Labour Party conference.

Conference, my late father arrived in this country in the mid-1960s from Nigeria. It was the Labour Party that insisted he – and others like him – should be able to pursue their aspirations and dreams free from prejudice.

My mother, who comes from an altogether different background, benefited from the right to equal pay at work after she graduated in the 1970s, again, thanks to this Labour Party.

You see, this party has given me, my family – all of our families – so much. That is why we all join the Labour Party – to put something back.

And I never forget that those who founded our party in every sense of these words: built Britain.

They built the mills, the factories, the railways and the roads.

They built our hospitals, our homes and our schools.

They made our success as a country possible.

That is why we – Labour – have always insisted that those who put in the hard work should be able to share in the fruits of our success.

It is why we – Labour – have always insisted people should have the right to fair and decent treatment at work.

Fair opportunity, shared responsibility, wealth creation for the good of all – it’s in our DNA.

So, more than a million new businesses created during our 13 years in government.

And when we left office:

–    rated 4th in the world for ease of doing business;

–    the lowest barriers to entrepreneurship in the OECD.

That is a record to be proud of.

And I follow in the footsteps of John Denham – big shoes to fill. Thank you, John, for all the advice and support you have given me.

I want to pay tribute too to our fantastic Shadow Business team for all their hard work:

–    listening to business up and down the country;

–    setting the agenda;

–    exposing the failings of the Tory-led Government.

When this Government took over in May 2010, they embarked on an irresponsible experiment with people’s livelihoods.

If you took a risk, set up your own business, they pulled the rug from under you, with confidence nose-diving as a result of their spending review.

Fifty businesses a day are going bust under this government – dreams crushed, boarded up.

And because it is our businesses which create jobs, it is little wonder that as firms have gone under unemployment has soared beyond 2.5 million people.

In my constituency, long term youth unemployment has more than tripled in the last year.

That is the price of their failed experiment.

And let us be clear: David Cameron, Nick Clegg, George Osborne, and Vince Cable.

You are all in this together.

Co-authors of a failed economic plan. The longest double dip recession since the War.

It is not like they have not been warned by Ed Balls and Rachel Reeves.

But they refuse to listen.

Directionless and divided, we have seen chaos heaped upon confusion.

Delays in delivery summed up by their flagship Regional Growth Fund.

The uncertainty they have caused is holding back investment – from defence to renewables, higher education to energy.

Our business leaders and our trade unions are united in telling them we need a proper plan for growth. But out-of-touch Ministers rubbish them and accuse them of being whingers.

It’s the same old Tories playing the same old tunes:

–    they insult the British people by claiming the economy is being held back by your rights at work;

–    they say working people are lazy;

–    business leaders aren’t doing enough;

–    and those just doing their jobs are plebs.

Everyone is to blame but them.

And, as ever, what is their great solution? A large dose of rampant free market liberalism – deregulate everything, stand aside, and let the market rip.

But if we learned anything from the 2008/09 crash, it is that that approach is wrong.

It won’t solve the problems in our economy, and it won’t address the challenges we face.

Under successive governments growth became concentrated in too few sectors, and in too few regions.

Though productivity rapidly rose during our period in office, rewards were not evenly spread.

And under Labour, strong growth meant employment reached record levels. But still too many people remained distant from the job market, or in insecure employment.

We are determined to learn from this.

Meanwhile, technology is transforming our world and opening up new markets to our businesses.

The rise of those new markets around the world is increasing competition, but it is creating new opportunities on a breathtaking scale too.

We have got to respond to the new landscape and ensure that everyone benefits.

Yes, markets have been the greatest engines of innovation and prosperity the world has ever known.

But we know that, left to their own devices, markets cannot meet these challenges. But nor can governments.

This Government seeks to divide our society – public from private, trade union member from non trade union member, the many from the few.

But here’s the thing. Everyone has a contribution to make to the next chapter of our national story:

–    active government;

–    businesses and entrepreneurs;

–    our trade unions;

–    assertive consumers;

–    our universities and our colleges;

–    our cities, towns and our regions.

All working together in partnership to create wealth and build a better future.

That is why we have been arguing for an active industrial strategy – it is at the heart of the more responsible capitalism Ed Miliband talks about.

We need it to fashion a new economy:

–    An economy competing on quality, creating good jobs – not an insecure economy, competing mostly on low wages;

–    An economy that rewards those that work hard and create sustainable value – not those just out to make a fast buck;

–    An economy offering the opportunities and training not just for young people who want to work in banking, media or law, but also prestigious vocational routes for those eager to become engineers, digital programmers, or advanced manufacturers.

Conference, once more, we must rebuild Britain:

–    Backing British business with a modern industrial strategy, as governments all around the world back their own;

–    Buying from British business, as governments across Europe and around the world buy from their own;

–    Investing in business with a proper British Investment Bank, like every other country in the G8.

This will mean being willing to challenge the way that government itself works with business.

That is why I have asked Lord Adonis to lead a team of business leaders and former Ministers to produce a blueprint to transform the Business Department into the most effective department for enterprise in the world.

Conference, week in week out, I meet businesses and listen to their concerns.

They don’t tell me they want us to step aside.

They tell me they want us to step up, to help them grow and prosper.

We are the only party in this country able to do this because each of us believes that we stand and fall together.

We believe that by the strength of our common endeavour – with our families, our communities, our businesses and our trade unions – we achieve more together than we achieve alone.

That is what our Party is about.

That is what we do.

By continuing to win back the support of the British people, in line with this Party’s great traditions, we will rebuild Britain once more.

Thank you.

Glenis Willmott – 2012 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Glenis Willmott, the Leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party, to the Labour Party conference on 1st October 2012.

Conference, I want to start by telling you about Jack and Ollie.

Two young people I met on a recent visit in my constituency.

Two skilled and hardworking young men who left school and started what they hoped would be long careers in the carpentry and glazing trades, only to be made redundant when the recession hit.

They told me of their experiences of being young and unemployed in Britain:

– The feeling of worthlessness

– The constant rejection

– The closed doors

– The smashed confidence

Conference, it is only thanks to Leicester’s Labour Council – working together with a local training provider and rail company – that Jack and Ollie have managed to escape this cycle and have now secured an apprenticeship.

Their futures now look so much brighter.

They are the lucky ones.

Conference, across our continent, young people are being left behind as never before.

One in two young Greeks and Spaniards are jobless.

One in three young Italians, Portuguese and Bulgarians.

And here in Britain, youth unemployment has reached over one million.

Shocking isn’t it?

But this is about more than just numbers.

It is about the blighted lives of the young people who unlike Jack and Ollie, and through no fault of their own, are fast becoming Europe’s ‘Lost Generation’.

They are a generation paying the price for the recklessness of the global financial elites and the failed policies of their governments.

Conference, without urgent action, the scars these young people bear will only deepen.

Experience tells us that their economic and social development will be severely stunted.

They will face decades of reduced employment and lower earnings.

That’s why Labour MEPs are putting our nation’s – and our continent’s – youth at the very top of the agenda in Brussels.

Indeed, today we call on the European Union to bring forward plans to fund a Youth Jobs Guarantee.

It will allow EU countries to ensure that every young person in long term unemployment is offered a job, further education or work-focused training.

The fund would be fully flexible – to allow countries like the UK to develop a programme specific to our own needs.

It can be paid for initially by using 10 billion euros in unused European Social Funding.

And if it’s a success we can secure long term funding through reprioritising the EU’s Budget.

Your Labour MEPs will push for specific proposals to be made by the end of this year.

We will also convene a conference here in the UK this December to bring together young people, activists and social democratic politicians from across Europe to discuss further measures to help and support the jobless young.

Because there is another way.

All it takes is political will.

And because youth unemployment matters.

It matters to the individuals whose lives and prospects are blighted.

It matters to the thousands of parents up and down the country who fear for their children’s future.

It matters to the European governments currently picking up the 2 billion euros it costs for youth unemployment each and every week.

And it matters to the future of our continent.

You know, so many column inches have been devoted to the debate over the future of our continent, and in particular the fate of the EU itself.

And just as there are those who believe that jobless youth are an unavoidable economic casualty of the global economic downturn.

So too are there those who believe the EU is now an unavoidable political casualty.

They say that the ineffective, indecisive and often incompetent EU response to recent challenges is evidence that the Union it is not fit for purpose.

But just as with youth unemployment, it all boils down to political choice.

Let me make this crystal clear.

The Europe we see today is the ‘CaMerKozy’ Europe.

The child of the right wing dogmatists that dominate national governments across our continent.

It is their Europe of austerity.

Their Europe of unemployment.

Their Europe of political stagnation.

Because Conference, the European Union is not a fixed entity.

Europe is what we – its member countries – make of it.

It was created to serve our best interests.

And it can still do so.

But there are political choices.

The Europe we in Labour choose is very different to the one we see today.

The Europe we choose is one of prosperity.

Where a strong economy provides quality jobs.

The Europe we choose is one of fairness.

Where rewards are earned and the vulnerable are protected.

The Europe we choose is one of opportunity.

Where young people can enjoy the dignity of a fulfilling working life.

This is the Europe your MEPs are fighting for every day in the European Parliament.

This is the Europe that social democrats across the EU are calling out for.

We know that the Europe of today must change if it is to become the Europe of tomorrow.

So we are battling to reform the European Budget – to cut any wasteful spending and focus it instead on supporting an innovative economy and creating decent jobs.

We are campaigning to ensure millions in EU regional funds get to the British businesses and communities who need it as part of a strategic EU jobs and growth agenda.

We are putting in place EU-wide laws to end once and for all the casino-capitalism that has wrought such economic misery.

Conference, we all joined this great Party because we believed that politics makes a difference.

This is as true today as it ever was – in Brussels just as it is at home.

Europe doesn’t have to be a bastion of austerity and unemployment.

We can make a difference.

We can change Europe.

Let’s work for our Europe of tomorrow.

And let’s secure a better future for the next generation.

Yvette Cooper – 2012 Speech to Labour Party Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Yvette Cooper, the Shadow Home Secretary, to Labour Party conference on 30th September 2012.

Conference, we have heard in today’s debate from delegates on a range of issues, from diversity in our Party and the challenges faced by women, to the impact of the Government’s policies on disabled people.

But Conference, we, in this Party will not just be debating equality today.

Yesterday, 800 women gathered for Labour’s Annual Women’s Conference.

Tomorrow when we debate the economy, we’ll talk about child care, jobs for young people and support for disabled workers.

On Tuesday our Party Leader Ed Miliband, who has done such a great job for our Party this year, will talk about making the economy work for everyone not just the privileged few.

And on Wednesday and Thursday we’ll debate our public services.

The importance of Sure Start in giving all kids a better start in life.

And the future of our NHS – one of the most important institutional embodiments of fairness and equality in British society. One of Labour’s proudest achievements, now under threat from the Tories. An institution that we will strain every sinew to defend.

And Conference, as we talk about equality, not just today, but throughout the week, we’ll also talk about why the police need to challenge racism and pursue hate crimes which have been rising.

And we will remember that in six weeks the country will vote for the Government’s new Police and Crime Commissioners. Our chance to send a message to the Tories about policing.

But also an important campaign in Bedfordshire, where we are backing Olly Martin’s campaign against a candidate from the EDL.

Because Conference we must never, never let policing be taken over by racists or extremists. Policing must be fair for all.

Conference, all week we will talk about Labour’s belief in fairness, in justice, in equal life chances, equal respect for individuals, wherever they come from, whatever their background.

And our anger that this Government time and again is turning the clock back, widening the gap. Reinforcing, rather than challenging discrimination.

Look at the way unemployment among young black men has reached over 50 per cent.

Look at the way David Cameron is taking more money from disabled people than he is from the banks.

Look at the way 80 per cent of the rise in long term unemployment is among women.

And the way the squeeze on child care, social care, and universal credit are all penalising women who work.

And with women bearing the brunt of the tax and unemployment changes, we, Conference, are more proud than ever, because it is more important than ever, that we now have the first woman General Secretary of the TUC – who made a fabulous speech at Labour’s Women’s Conference yesterday – Frances O’Grady.

Sometimes it is the double discrimination that is hardest.

For example, for older women, who now face a toxic combination of ageism and sexism.

They’ve seen a 30 per cent increase in unemployment since the election, compared to 5 per cent on average for everyone else.

And even in the Cabinet.

David Cameron told Caroline Spelman she was too old for the job, aged 54. Then replaced her with Owen Paterson, aged 56.

That’s why Labour has set up an Older Women’s Commission led by our Harriet Harman.

Because the generation who fought for equal pay, for childcare, for maternity leave, will not be silenced now.

We know too that many disabled workers are getting a bad deal. The Work Programme is missing its target for disabled people by 60 per cent.

And Conference, it is shocking the way this Government has closed so many Remploy factories with no jobs for people to go to. They have turned their back – we will not turn our back. We will keep campaigning for those Remploy workers because they have a right to work.

Perhaps the most disturbing thing of all is the rising child poverty that we are seeing across the UK. Families in Britain forced to depend on food banks. That is the shocking state of Britain under David Cameron and Nick Clegg. No child should have to grow up in our country in the twenty-first century feeling hungry, cold or left behind.

Conference, this isn’t an accident.

It is the direct result of deliberate policies.

Economic policies that push Britain back into double-dip recession.

Fiscal policies that help the richest in the country and make everyone else pay more.

And an approach to equality which sees positive action as somehow a burden, as opposed to the opportunities and doors that we know positive action can open.

So the action we took to tackle discrimination is now being dismantled.

Abandoning Labour plans for pay audits, even though it will take another 65 years for the gender pay gap to close.

Ending requirements on employers to protect their staff from racist or homophobic abuse.

Repealing laws that could help older women fight the toxic combination of ageism and sexism.

Introducing a new thousand-pound price tag to purse an equal pay claim.

Stopping the Equality and Human Rights Commission from assessing whether policies affect the poor.

Bit by bit they are eroding the protection people have – salami-slicing here and there. And Conference, the Labour Party must not let them get away with it.

We can build a fairer society. We’ve done it before and we’ll do it again. Progressive campaigning against prejudice and discrimination has changed our country.

When we brought in Civil Partnerships for lesbian and gay couples there was huge opposition.

Now the majority of the public agree with finishing what we started – and introducing same sex marriage. Ministers mustn’t chuck this into the long grass because they are afraid of the Tory right.

When people who love each other want to get married, we shouldn’t discriminate we should celebrate.

It is time to change the law now.

But the Government should go further. We respect freedom of religion and that means different faiths will make their own decisions.

But freedom of religion means we should support the Quakers, the Unitarians, Liberal and Reform Judaism and other faiths who want to celebrate same sex marriage.

And Conference this is the year of London 2012.

Britain put on the best Paralympics ever. Ever.

An amazing spectacular of sporting excellence – role models from Ellie Simmonds to Hannah Cockcroft, Johnny Peacock to David Weir – we celebrate their achievements and stand in awe of their excellence.

Because, the truth is Team GB made politics look small.

We have to be inspired by them. Our Paralympians changed Britain this summer – as a result of the Olympics and Paralympics that the whole country built together.

We mustn’t let it slip back now.

Because we know how much more all of us can achieve, whatever our circumstances, when we support each other, rather than leaving people to sink or to swim, alone.

And Conference, I think this – the spirit of the Olympics and the Paralympics – underpins Labour’s vision for equality.

It is a vision of a society that supports those who care for children or for elderly relatives, who are getting older, or who have a disability, to do all they can do. Be all they can be.

Equality laws that create a can-do society.

An economy that works for the working people.

A government that works for all the people.

Conference, this is Labour’s pledge on equality.

This is the kind of Britain we know we can be.

Liam Byrne – 2012 Speech to Labour Party Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Liam Byrne, the Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, to Labour Party conference (delivered live via Skype from a Jobs Summit at Manchester College) on 1st October 2012.

Conference, let me apologise for not being with you in the hall right now.

But sometimes you have to strike a balance between argument and action – and when it comes to youth unemployment what we need right now is action.

So I’m here with Tony Lloyd at the fantastic Manchester College.

Where we’ve brought employers, colleges, business with apprenticeships, and hundreds of young people to see what we can do to get young people in this city into jobs.

And what I’ve heard this morning is just wrong.

It’s wrong that young women like Nazish have been out of work six months, desperate for a job or apprenticeship.

It’s wrong that young men like Colm who’s 23 have been out of work since July.

This is the economics of the madhouse.

You know our welfare is rising by £29 billion.

And yet people like Colm and Nazish and a million others just like them and hungry to work and are forced to stand idle.

Now as some of you know, I represent the constituency in Britain where youth unemployment is highest.

What I’ve realised is that the anger we feel about youth unemployment is the anger we feel when we see our values under attack.

We believe in the pride and dignity of work. That’s why we’re called the Labour Party.

We believe that we’re stronger when we pull together as a country. We don’t believe in the economics of you are on your own.

We believe in an economy that works for working people.

And we believe that when you see an injustice, you don’t just walk past it.

You roll up your sleeves and you do something about it.

Today every single one of those values is under attack and it’s our young people paying the price.

So we have to take a stand.

That’s why Labour are calling for a real jobs guarantee – paid for by sensible tax on bankers bonuses.

And, we have to organise the fightback.

We can’t and won’t stand on the sidelines and watch our young people take a kicking.

So today I’m very proud to launch our Youth Jobs Taskforce.

Just because we’re not in government doesn’t mean we can’t make a difference.

We run Wales, and London’s big boroughs and Britain’s big cities.

Right now it’s our councillors and local leaders who leading the charge for youth jobs: thinking, organising, making a difference to get young people work.

Today, these local leaders are coming together in a new coalition to galvanise action.

They are going to join forces with good people from our trade unions, from business, from enterprise, from civil society, and from our youth movement.

We want to make sure that the best ideas anywhere, become the way we do things everywhere.

We know how high the stakes have become.

The young people we serve are good people.

They don’t dress up in white tie and smash up restaurants.

And they don’t swear at policemen.

They are people who want to work hard and get on in life if only someone will let them.

And today we send an emphatic message: that we are on their side.

Let me just finish with a story.

You know Iain Duncan Smith likes to boast that he was once inspired in his reforming zeal to smash up the welfare state by what he saw in Easterhouse in Glasgow’s East End.

Well last week I too went to Easterhouse, together with the great Margaret Curran.

To meet a group of young people to talk about the future.

What they say inspires them, isn’t yet another Tory attack.

It’s investment in skills. In jobs. In chances.

Those young people are just like people we’re here with today.

They’re people who want to rebuild Britain.

And Labour is going to help them.

Because we’re the party that knows how futures are really built.

It’s built by people like those behind me here in Manchester today – and a million more like them all over the United Kingdom.

They might have a do-nothing Government.

But they’re going to have a do-what-it-takes Labour Party.

So thanks for listening.

I’ll let you know how we get on a bit later.

If you’d like to get involved in the taskforce, drop me a line: we’d love to have your help.

And I’ll catch up with you later this afternoon.

Andy Burnham – 2012 Speech to Labour Party Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Andy Burnham to the 2012 Labour Party conference.

Conference, my thanks to everyone who has spoken so passionately today and I take note of the composite.

A year ago, I asked for your help.

To join the fight to defend the NHS – the ultimate symbol of Ed’s One Nation Britain.

You couldn’t have done more.

You helped me mount a Drop the Bill campaign that shook this Coalition to its core.

Dave’s NHS Break-Up Bill was dead in the water until Nick gave it the kiss of life.

NHS privatisation – courtesy of the Lib Dems. Don’t ever let them forget that.

We didn’t win, but all was not lost.

We reminded people of the strength there still is in this Labour movement of ours when we fight as one, unions and Party together, for the things we hold in common.

We stood up for thousands of NHS staff like those with us today who saw Labour defending the values to which they have devoted their working lives.

And we spoke for the country – for patients and people everywhere who truly value the health service Labour created and don’t want to see it broken down.

Conference, our job now is to give them hope.

To put Labour at the heart of a new coalition for the NHS.

To set out a Labour alternative to Cameron’s market.

To make the next election a choice between two futures for our NHS.

They inherited from us a self-confident and successful NHS.

In just two years, they have reduced it to a service demoralised, destabilised, fearful of the future.

The N in NHS under sustained attack.

A postcode lottery running riot – older people denied cataract and hip operations.

NHS privatisation at a pace and scale never seen before.

Be warned – Cameron’s Great NHS Carve-Up is coming to your community.

As we speak, contracts are being signed in the single biggest act of privatisation the NHS has ever seen.

398 NHS community services all over England – worth over a quarter of a billion pounds – out to open tender.

At least 37 private bidders – and yes, friends of Dave amongst the winners.

Not the choice of GPs, who we were told would be in control.

But a forced privatisation ordered from the top.

And a secret privatisation – details hidden under “commercial confidentiality” – but exposed today in Labour’s NHS Check.

Our country’s most-valued institution broken up, sold off, sold out – all under a news black-out.

It’s not just community services.

From this week, hospitals can earn up to half their income from treating private patients. Already, plans emerging for a massive expansion in private work, meaning longer waits for NHS patients.

And here in Greater Manchester – Arriva, a private bus company, now in charge of your ambulances.

When you said three letters would be your priority, Mr Cameron, people didn’t realise you meant a business priority for your friends.

Conference, I now have a huge responsibility to you all to challenge it.

Every single month until the Election, Jamie Reed will use NHS Check to expose the reality.

I know you want us to hit them even harder – and we will.

But, Conference, I have to tell you this: it’s hard to be a Shadow when you’re up against the Invisible Man.

Hunt Jeremy – the search is on for the missing Health Secretary.

A month in the job but not a word about thousands of nursing jobs lost.

Not one word about crude rationing, older people left without essential treatment.

Not a word about moves in the South West to break national pay.

Jeremy Hunt might be happy hiding behind trees while the front-line of the NHS takes a battering.

But, Conference, for as long as I do this job, I will support front-line staff and defend national pay in the NHS to the hilt.

Lightweight Jeremy might look harmless. But don’t be conned.

This is the man who said the NHS should be replaced with an insurance system.

The man who loves the NHS so much he tried to remove the tribute to it from the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games.

Can you imagine the conversation with Danny Boyle?

“Danny, if you really must spell NHS with the beds, at least can we have a Virgin Health logo on the uniforms?”

Never before has the NHS been lumbered with a Secretary of State with so little belief in it.

It’s almost enough to say “come back Lansley.”

But no. He’s guilty too.

Lansley smashed it up for Hunt to sell it off with a smile.

But let me say this to you, Mr Hunt. If you promise to stop privatising the NHS, I promise never to mispronounce your name.

So, Conference, we’re the NHS’s best hope. Its only hope.

It’s counting on us.

We can’t let it down.

So let’s defend it on the ground in every community in England.

Andrew Gwynne is building an NHS Pledge with our councillors so, come May, our message will be: Labour councils, last line of defence for your NHS.

But we need to do more.

People across the political spectrum oppose NHS privatisation.

We need to reach out to them, build a new coalition for the NHS.

I want Labour at its heart, but that means saying more about what we would do.

We know working in the NHS is hard right now, when everything you care about is being pulled down around you.

I want all the staff to know you have the thanks of this Conference for what you do.

But thanks are not enough. You need hope.

To all patients and staff worried about the future, hear me today: the next Labour Government will repeal Cameron’s Act.

We will stop the sell-off, put patients before profits, restore the N in NHS.

Conference, put it on every leaflet you write. Mention it on every doorstep.

Make the next election a referendum on Cameron’s NHS betrayal.

On the man who cynically posed as a friend of the NHS to rebrand the Tories but who has sold it down the river.

In 2015, a vote for Labour will be a vote for the NHS.

Labour – the best hope of the NHS. Its only hope.

And we can save it without another structural re-organisation.

I’ve never had any objection to involving doctors in commissioning. It’s the creation of a full-blown market I can’t accept.

So I don’t need new organisations. I will simply ask those I inherit to work differently.

Not hospital against hospital or doctor against doctor.

But working together, putting patients before profits.

For that to happen, I must repeal Cameron’s market and restore the legal basis of a national, democratically-accountable, collaborative health service.

But that’s just the start.

Now I need your help to build a Labour vision for 21st century health and care, reflecting on our time in Government.

We left an NHS with the lowest-ever waiting lists, highest-ever patient satisfaction.

Conference, always take pride in that.

But where we got it wrong, let’s say so.

So while we rebuilt the crumbling, damp hospitals we inherited, providing world-class facilities for patients and staff, some PFI deals were poor value for money.

At times, care of older people simply wasn’t good enough. So we owe it to the people of Stafford to reflect carefully on the Francis report into the failure at Mid-Staffordshire Foundation NHS Trust.

And while we brought waiting lists down to record lows, with the help of the private sector, at times we let the market in too far.

Some tell me markets are the only way forward.

My answer is simple: markets deliver fragmentation; the future demands integration.

As we get older, our needs become a mix of the social, mental and physical.

But, today, we meet them through three separate, fragmented systems.

In this century of the ageing society, that won’t do.

Older people failed, struggling at home, falling between the gaps.

Families never getting the peace of mind they are looking for, being passed from pillar to post, facing an ever-increasing number of providers.

Too many older people suffering in hospital, disorientated and dehydrated.

When I shadowed a nurse at the Royal Derby, I asked her why this happens.

Her answer made an impression.

It’s not that modern nurses are callous, she said. Far from it. It’s simply that frail people in their 80s and 90s are in hospitals in ever greater numbers and the NHS front-line, designed for a different age, is in danger of being overwhelmed.

Our hospitals are simply not geared to meet people’s social or mental care needs.

They can take too much of a production-line approach, seeing the isolated problem – the stroke, the broken hip – but not the whole person behind it.

And the sadness is they are paid by how many older people they admit, not by how many they keep out.

If we don’t change that, we won’t deliver the care people need in an era when there’s less money around.

It’s not about new money.

We can get better results for people if we think of one budget, one system caring for the whole person – with councils and the NHS working closely together.

All options must be considered – including full integration of health and social care.

We don’t have all the answers. But we have the ambition. So help us build that alternative as Liz Kendall leads our health service policy review.

It means ending the care lottery and setting a clear a national entitlement to what physical, mental and social care we can afford – so people can see what’s free and what must be paid for.

It means councils developing a more ambitious vision for local people’s health: matching housing with health and care need; getting people active, less dependent on care services, by linking health with leisure and libraries; prioritising cycling and walking.

A 21st century public health policy that Diane Abbott will lead.

If we are prepared to accept changes to our hospitals, more care could be provided in the home for free for those with the greatest needs and for those reaching the end of their lives.

To the district general hospitals that are struggling, I don’t say close or privatise.

I say let’s help you develop into different organisations – moving into the community and the home meeting physical, social and mental needs.

Whole-person care – the best route to an NHS with mental health at its heart, not relegated to the fringes, but ready to help people deal with the pressure of modern living.

Imagine what a step forward this could be.

Carers today at their wits end with worry, battling the system, in future able to rely on one point of contact to look after all of their loved-one’s needs.

The older person with advanced dementia supported by one team at home, not lost on a hospital ward.

The devoted people who look after our grans and grand-dads, mums and dads, brothers and sisters – today exploited in a cut-price, minimum wage business – held in the same regard as NHS staff.

And, if we can find a better solution to paying for care, one day we might be able to replace the cruel ‘dementia taxes’ we have at the moment and build a system meeting all of a person’s needs – mental, physical, social – rooted in NHS values.

In the century of the ageing society, just imagine what a step forward that could be.

Families with peace of mind, able to work and balance the pressures of caring – the best way to help people work longer and support a productive economy in the 21st century.

True human progress of the kind only this Party can deliver.

So, in this century, let’s be as bold as Bevan was in the last.

Conference, the NHS is at a fork in the road.

Two directions: integration or fragmentation.

We have chosen our path.

Not Cameron’s fast-track to fragmentation.

But whole-person care.

A One Nation system built on NHS values, putting people before profits.

A Labour vision to give people the hope they need, to unite a new coalition for the NHS.

The NHS desperately needs a Labour win in 2015.

You, me, we are its best hope. It’s only real hope.

It won’t last another term of Cameron.


Three letters. Not Here Soon.

The man who promised to protect it is privatising it.

The man who cut the NHS not the deficit.

Cameron. NHS Conman.

Now more than ever, it needs folk with the faith to fight for it.

You’re its best hope. It’s only hope.

You’ve kept the faith

Now fight for it – and we will win.

Hilary Benn – 2012 Speech to Labour Party Conference


Below is the text of a speech made by Hilary Benn to the 2012 Labour Party Conference on 4th October 2012.

Good morning Conference.

I want to begin by thanking Dave Sparks for his leadership of our LGA Group.

Our great CLG team in Parliament – Jack Dromey, Helen Jones, Roberta Blackman-Woods, Chris Williamson, Paul Blomfield, Nic Dakin, Bill McKenzie and Jeremy Beecham for everything that they do.

And I want especially to thank – as I am sure you will too – our 6,000 Labour councillors, including the 824 elected in our great victories this year, who do such an outstanding job in cities, towns and villages up and down the country flying the Labour flag.

As we come to the end of our Conference, the message we take home with us has to be one of hope.

Why? Because at a time when people are really worried about what all this economic uncertainty means for them and their family’s future, the biggest threat we face is not the scale of the challenge.

No. It is that too many people feel that too many decisions are being taken too far away from them.

It is that people may lose faith in the capacity of politics to do something. To change things. To transform lives.

Now we know that it does. And we know that when you transform one life, you start to transform a community.

And why do we know it. Because our history teaches us so.

Just think what we have achieved as a country, as one nation. Look back 200 years to when poverty, disease and slums scarred our land. What changed that here in Manchester? Social conscience, civic pride, collective endeavour – people who did something extraordinary.

They brought gas and electricity, and schools and hospitals.

They opened the first public parks.

They built homes.

They provided the clean water and the sewers that did more than anything else to defeat disease and increase life expectancy.

And a century ago in David Cameron’s constituency – and I bet he wouldn’t know the answer to this question about British history – the Workers’ Union set up a new branch in Witney, not to campaign for a cut tax for millionaires, but for a fair deal, a living wage: the Just Reward of Our Labour.

And none of these peoples waited to be told what to do by Whitehall. They looked around them, saw the problems, decided what needed doing and they got on with it.

And that’s exactly the spirit of Labour in local government today – a spirit we should celebrate.

Now let’s face it, these could not be tougher times for councils.

They have been singled out for cuts in funding that are unjust and unfair, and in true Tory style the poorer the area, the bigger the cuts.

All in this together, Mr Cameron? You’ve no idea what that means, do you?

Now while Labour councils are fighting for a fair deal for their communities, they are also facing impossible, agonising choices.

But with a quiet and steely determination, they are making those choices not because they don’t care, but because they do.

To choose is to express our Labour values and to show that we can make a difference to people’s lives.

And so, while Labour may not be in government nationally, we are in government locally and we’re gaining more councils.

By winning the public’s trust.

By showing the Labour difference.

By proving, however tough it gets, that we don’t write people off. We stretch out a hand and pull each other up.

One thing we did in Government to pull young people up was our Educational Maintenance Allowance . The Tories and the Lib Dems scrapped it.

I’d like to welcome Cllr Nick Forbes, Labour Leader of Newcastle, to tell us what they are doing to help the young people affected in their city.


[Cllr Nick Forbes, Labour Leader of Newcastle City Council:

Educational Maintenance Allowance was just one of the many socially progressive measures introduced by Labour. It helped thousands of young people to stay longer in education, meaning they could improve their skills and increase their job prospects. And, because it was targeted to people from disadvantaged backgrounds, it helped with social mobility.

I know how important it was to young people in Newcastle, because they marched through our city centre in their thousands when it was scrapped.

We were determined to do something to help. So we worked with our local schools – this one, Benfield, is just one of the many schools rebuilt by the last Labour Government – and introduced our own version of EMA, which we called the Newcastle Bursary. Let me tell you about some of the people it has helped.

Lucy was knocked down in Year 9 and has suffered extensive and on-going surgery ever since. She did quite well at GCSE and is determined to go to university, and would be the first to do so in her family. She is progressing well academically with good AS grades and the bursary has helped her with travel and study costs.

Jamie lives with his granddad in Byker. They really struggle financially. He did not do well at GCSE with a few E and F grades but in Sixth form he has not missed a single lesson! The bursary has allowed him to carry on with his education; without it he would not have been able to stay on. He passed his BTEC last year and is now studying ICT at A level, as well as progressing with English and Maths qualifications.

Our bursary has meant that these young people, and hundreds like them, can afford to stay in education. I am proud to say that this is a real difference that we have been able to make.

Because we believe no one should be overlooked, no one should be left behind. And no one should be denied opportunities simply through the circumstances of their birth and upbringing. That’s the difference a Labour council makes, and how we are doing our part in rebuilding Britain.]

Thanks Nick.

There you are.

Practical help to bring out the future talent of our country – the next generation. That’s the Labour difference.

Now once those young people have completed their studies, what awaits them? Youth unemployment over a million. No experience, no job. No job, no experience.

So in my city Leeds, council leader Keith Wakefield has brought together the City College, Jobcentre Plus and local employers to help 600 young people get their careers started. By offering them what they really want – advice, training and, most of all, work experience.

And in November they’ll be launching the Leeds Apprenticeship Agency. Why? Because the council listened to small businesses who said: we want to take on apprentices, but we’re worried about employment liabilities and all the administration.

So the council said, ok, we’ll create a company to take on those responsibilities, so your company can take on those apprentices. A Labour council working with small businesses to make a big difference.

Now, one area where jobs have been badly hit is construction.

House building is falling. Because of the Government’s failed economic policy, people can’t get mortgages. They can’t raise deposits. And so developers aren’t building.

And it’s all very well Nick Clegg talking last week about wanting to build lots of new homes but where was he when his Government slashed the affordable housing budget by 60% and the number of affordable housing starts collapsed by more than two-thirds.

Now you’ve started saying sorry – how about apologising for that Nick ?

But while the Government is cutting, Labour is building. Let’s hear now what Labour Islington is doing about it from Cllr James Murray, Executive Member for Housing and Development.

[Cllr James Murray, Islington Council:

Conference, if you’ve been to any fringe meetings about housing this week you will have heard lots of speakers saying our country needs more homes.

That is certainly true in Islington. But, for us, it is vital that if we’re building more homes, they need to be the right kind of homes. They need to be decent, secure, and affordable homes.

And in Islington, a desperate need we have is for more social housing.

We have 3,000 families living in overcrowded council housing.

Take the example of Leslie Hynes, who lives and works near the Arsenal tube. He was living with his wife and four-year-old daughter in a one-bed council flat above some disused garages that were just a brick wall onto the street.

But after Labour won control of Islington Council in 2010, we got on with converting the ground floor garages under his flat, and the space at the ends of his block, into 23 new council homes.

And so this summer, through our local lettings policy for new council homes, Leslie and his family moved the short distance from their overcrowded flat upstairs, to a new 2-bed flat downstairs with a garden.

Their daughter now has her own room, and the family is now living in a new high-quality home with a secure tenancy at a social rent.

This is just one of the projects we’ve been working on. We are building new council housing now, and have plans for hundreds more homes over the coming years.

And we are working with housing associations to bring the number of new affordable homes well into the thousands. We have a plan where we give them land and then they build homes for social rent.

The Tories and Liberals in government want to raise social rents to near-market levels – that would triple the cost of the average council 2-bed in my borough. We’ve said no to this. That would be no use to Leslie and his family. That would destroy the mix of housing that Islington needs to work socially and economically, and that makes the borough fairer.

So, we are stepping in where we can: we know what Islington needs, we are confident how we’re going to get there, and we know we are making a difference.]

Thanks James for helping the Hynes family. They now have a place they can really call home this Christmas.

That’s one Labour difference in housing. Here’s another. Many older people wouldn’t mind moving into a smaller home, but they don’t want a one bedroom flat. Why? Because they might need a carer to come and stay with them or they want their son or daughter to come and visit.

So Labour Sandwell listened. ‘Fair point’ they said, and so now they are building 2 bedroom bungalows on the same estates – this one is in West Willows, Great Barr – so that residents can move there and still have someone to come to stay over. And because of that they are releasing 2, 3 and 4 bedroom properties to let to families on the waiting list. Good idea eh?

And what are the Tories doing? Taking away people’s housing benefit if they have a spare bedroom. A shameful attack on families, carers and people with disabilities, whose homes have been adapted.

Now Conference you’ve been telling us “Build more homes”. We hear you.

When you’re in recession the best way is to build yourself out of it.

And that’s why this week we’ve said: use the money from the 4G auction to build 100,000 new affordable homes to take people off the waiting lists and thousands of unemployed building workers off the dole queue.

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

But we also need an economy that is fair.

When households are feeling the squeeze, it’s hardest for those on low pay.

I’d now like to invite a guest to speak to us Conference.

Not a Labour councillor, but someone who is benefiting because of a choice made by Labour councillors.

Will you please give Elaine Hook a warm welcome.

[Elaine Hook:

My name is Elaine Hook. I am a cleaner employed by Birmingham City Council. I take pride in my work. And I work hard. I love my job.

Labour took control of Birmingham City Council in May. The very first thing they did was to introduce the living wage. No council worker now earns less than £7.20 per hour. That’s a big difference from the minimum wage of £6.08 per hour.

It’s made a real difference to me. It’s made it easier to pay the bills. It’s really helped improve my quality of life. And there are over two thousand five hundred lower paid workers like me. My colleagues who benefited are dinner ladies, catering staff and street cleaners.

So, I’d like to thank the council and the Labour Party for helping me and other workers like me – who now get a decent wage, a living wage. Thank you.]

Thank you very much Elaine and thanks to Albert Bore and his team in Birmingham for making that difference.

And you know what Conference?

People like Elaine are benefiting up and down the country because it’s not just Labour Birmingham that’s paying the Living Wage; it’s also Labour Preston, Oxford, Lewisham, Islington, Camden, Lambeth, Hackney and Glasgow.

And more Labour councils are on the way. So let’s applaud all of them for making that Labour difference too.

So that is the difference.

The Tories got rid of EMAs. Labour Newcastle steps in to help.

The Tories put youth unemployment up. Labour Leeds provides apprenticeships.

The Tories slashed the affordable housing budget. Labour Councils are building new homes.

The Tories punish people for having a spare bedroom. Labour Sandwell provides one for its pensioners.

Rail fares and heating bills are up while the Tories want to drive wages down by paying council cleaners in one part of the country less than someone doing the same job elsewhere.

Shameful. What are Labour Councils doing ? They’re trying hard to pay a living wage.

Who said politics doesn’t make a difference. Who said we are all the same. Not true.

And when people ask us ‘what would you do?’, look them in the eye, and reply ‘Look at what we are doing’.

So let’s be proud, let’s celebrate the difference that Labour is making in local government.

That’s the message we’ve got to take into next May’s County Council elections.

Now one of the places we are fighting hard to win is here in Lancashire.

Please welcome our last contributor Jenny Mein, the Leader of the Labour Group, who is going to tell us about the difference she wants to make.

[Cllr Jenny Mein, Lancashire County Council:

It is a privilege to speak to Conference about our campaign in Lancashire to regain control of the County Council.

I want to talk about the difference that a Labour Lancashire will make and just how important our County Council campaign is.

The Tories in Lancashire are letting people down.

Our young people have seen cuts to the youth service, our disabled have seen the cost of their day care services increase by 700 per cent and our older people are being priced out of community centres.

Lancashire is being let down by a Tory government in Westminster and the Tory county council is hurting our residents.

Lancashire was once a place where everybody mattered and Lancashire Labour want to make it that way again.

A Labour controlled Lancashire will work with local businesses, the third sector, trade unions, schools and colleges to stop a generation of our young people from being thrown on the scrap heap.

A Labour Lancashire will give every young person a chance in our County and our priority will be to tackle youth unemployment.

As one of the largest employers in the County, Lancashire Labour needs to take the lead in ensuring a living wage economy, and a Labour controlled Lancashire will deliver a living wage for its employees.

We believe in the power of the living wage and will use our influence across the County to improve the living standards of thousands of Lancashire residents. We congratulate colleagues in Birmingham and as Elaine shows, we can make a real difference.

To achieve this, we know that we must work hard and campaign harder than ever before.

We have made over 100,000 contacts already this year and have delivered over 1/2 million pieces of literature for our Operation Red Rose campaign.

But we still need to do more.

So, if you’ve got any spare time over the coming months we would love to extend a warm Lancashire welcome to you all!]

Thanks Jenny. I’ll come. Conference will you?

So, as we leave here today we’ve got counties to win next year and a mayoral election in Bristol this November so that Marvin Rees can introduce a living wage there too.

But Conference, while we do so, remember this.

Everything we’ve just heard about is a testament to local ideas. Local commitment. Local action.

We need more of it, and yet too much power in England is still wielded in Westminster, and if we are honest we have been too wedded to that way of doing things in the past. That needs to change. We really need to change.

And do you know what? There’s nothing to fear and there’s everything to gain.

Because our job is to give people locally the tools they need to do their job.

Decisions taken closer to the people, by the people.

And there’s so much that needs doing. Just look around us.

Improving people’s health so that life expectancy doesn’t fall with income.

Making sure that broadband – the artery of economic development in our century – is available everywhere.

Generating renewable energy on our roofs to help reduce people’s bills and look after the planet.

Caring for a growing elderly population, so that we can remain independent and be looked after in our own homes, as Sandwell is doing.

Building decent affordable homes for families like Leslie Hynes’, as Islington is doing.

Helping more people like Elaine by paying a Living Wage, as Birmingham is doing.

And as we do all these things, as we give people hope, so confidence will build in us and in Labour politics.

200 years ago the circumstances may have been different, but our mission – what we are about – has not changed.

And we will stand shoulder to shoulder with you as – together – we get to work.