Ed Miliband – 2013 Labour Party Conference Speech


Below is the text of the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband, to the 2013 Labour Party Conference held in Brighton in September 2013.

It’s great to be in Brighton. And I want to start by thanking somebody from the bottom of my heart for the kindest of words. Not Justine …oh, I would like to thank her, a round of applause for Justine please, ladies and gentlemen. Not my mum … but a woman called Ella Philips. It was local election day, Ella rode past me on her bike, she fell off …it’s not funny! I helped her up and afterwards she called me something I had never been called before: she said I was an “action hero”. Why are you laughing? She said I was an action hero “who mysteriously appeared out of nowhere”. And she said, “What added to all the confusion was that Ed was actually attractive and not geeky at all”. I promise you, she did say that. She said, “Even the way he appeared was suave”. I don’t know why you find this so funny, friends. “He was dressed casually, but he had style”. Sounds quite me, doesn’t it? Now I was pretty pleased with this, as you can tell, until something dawned on me: Ella was concussed. She was badly concussed. In fact, she herself said, “I was seeing things because I was still in quite a daze”. Well, Ella, you are not kidding. But let me say, Ella, if you are watching today, thank you, you have made my year.

I want to start today with the simplest of thoughts. An idea that has inspired change for generations. The belief that helped drive us out of the Second World War and into that great reforming government of 1945. An ambition that is more important now than it has been for decades. An emotion that is felt across our country at kitchen tables every night. A feeling that is so threatening to those who want to keep things as they are. Words that are so basic and yet so powerful, so modest and yet so hard to believe. Six simple words that say: Britain can do better than this. Britain can do better than this; we are Britain, we are better than this. Are you satisfied with a country where people are working for longer for less, year after year? Are you satisfied with a country divided losing touch with the things we value the most? Are you satisfied with a country that shuts out the voices of millions of ordinary people and listens only to the powerful? Are you satisfied with a country standing apart as two nations? Well I am not satisfied. We are Britain, we are better than this. And we have to rebuild anew One Nation. An economy built on your success, a society based on your values, a politics that hears your voice – rich and poor alike – accepting their responsibilities top each other. One Nation, we are going to make it happen, and today I am going to tell you how.

I want to start with leadership. Leadership is about risks and difficult decisions. It is about those lonely moments when you have to peer deep into your soul. I ran for the leadership of this party, it was really hard for my family, but I believed that Labour needed to turn the page and I was the best person to do it. I when I became leader I faced a decision about whether we should stand up to Rupert Murdoch. It wasn’t the way things had been done in the past, but it was the right thing to do so I did it. And together we faced them down. And then the other week I faced an even bigger decision about whether the country should go to war. The biggest decision any leader faces, the biggest decision any Parliament faces, the biggest decision any party faces. All of us were horrified by the appalling chemical weapons attacks in Syria, but when I stood on the stage three years ago, when I became your leader, I said we would learn the lessons of Iraq. It would have been a rush to war, it wasn’t the right thing for our country. So I said no. It was the right thing to do.

You see, the real test of leadership is not whether you stand up to the weak, that’s easy; it’s whether you stand up to the strong and know who to fight for. And you know I am reminded of a story back when I was starting out, standing to be an MP in Doncaster, with a woman called Molly Roberts. Molly was in her seventies, and there I was candidly trying to get her vote, sitting in her front from sipping a mug of tea. And she said to me, “How can you, who weren’t brought up in this area, possibly understand the lives of people here, their hopes and their struggles?” It was the right question, and here is the answer. For me it lies in the values I was brought up with. You see in my house it was my mum that taught me these values. About the importance of reaching out a listening to people, of understanding their hopes and their struggles. She is the most patient, generous person I have met in my whole life. And she taught me never to be contemptuous of others, never to be dismissive of their struggle. Now she was teaching me a lesson of life. And some people will say, ah yeah but you have to leave decency behind when it comes to politics. Well I say they are wrong, because only if you reach out and listen can you do the most important thing a leader can do, the most important qualification in my view for being Prime Minister. Only then will you have the ability to walk in the shoes of others and know who to fight for, whoever your opponent, however powerful they are, guided by the only thing that matters: your sense of what is right. This is what I believe, this is where I stand, this is the leadership Britain needs.

And when I think about who we need to fight for I think about all the people I have met over the last year. I think of the people Britain and their enormous and extraordinary spirit. I think of our troops, serving so bravely all around the world. Let us pay tribute to them today. You know I have seen in Afghanistan those young men and women, young men and women who are young enough to be my son or daughter serving our country, and it is a truly humbling experience. And the events of the last few days in Kenya remind us of the importance of being ever-vigilant against terrorism at home and around the world. I think of the brave men and women of our police force, who serve with so little credit each and every day for our country. Let us thank them for what they do.

And then I think of all the people I have met over the last year. During the local election campaign I did something unusual. I went to town centres, market squares and high streets and I stood on a pallet – not a soapbox, but a pallet. And I talked to people about their lives. I remember this town meeting I had in Cleverly. It was just coming to the end of the meeting and this bloke wandered up. He was incredibly angry. It’s a family show so I won’t exactly repeat what he said. He was so angry he wouldn’t give me his name, but he did tell me his story about how he spent the last ten years looking after his disabled wife, and then another four years looking for a job and not finding one. He was angry about immigration and some people in the crowd booed him. But actually he wasn’t prejudiced, he just felt the economy didn’t work for him. And then I think about the two market traders I met in Chesterfield, standing by their stalls, out in all weathers, working all hours, and they said look this country just doesn’t seem to be rewarding our hard work and effort. There seem to be some people getting something for nothing. This society is losing touch with our values. And then I think about this beautiful sunny spring day I spent in Lincoln. And the face in the crowd, this young woman who said she was an ambulance controller. So proud to be working for our National Health Service. And so proud too of her young son. Because she was a single parent, nineteen years old, and what she said to me was, “Why does everybody portray me as a burden on the system? I am not a burden on the system, I am going out, I am doing the right thing for the country, why doesn’t anyone listen to my voice?” And then I think about this scaffolder I met just around the corner from where I live. I was just coming back from a local café I’d been at. He stopped in me the street, he said to me, “Where’s your bodyguard?” I said I don’t have one, but that’s another story. He told me his story. And what he said to me was “look, I go out, I do the work, I go all around the country, again out in all weathers, I earn a decent wage, but I still can’t make ends meet”. A nd he said to me, “Is anyone ever going to do anything about those gas and electric bills that just go up and up, faster than I can earn a living?” He wanted someone to fight for him. Now if you listen to these stories – four of millions of the stories of our country – and you have your own, and your friends and family, what do you learn? All of these people love Britain, they embody its great spirit, but they all believe that Britain can do better than this. Today I say to them and millions of others you’re right, Britain can do better than this, Britain must do better than this, Britain will do better than this with a government that fights for you.

But for Britain to do better than this we’ve got to understand why we got here, why things are so tough at the moment even while they tell you there is a recovery and why unless we put things right it will only be a recovery for the few. Now what I’m about to tell you is the most important thing I’m going to say today about what needs to change about our country. For generations in Britain when the economy grew the majority got better off. And then somewhere along the way that vital link between the growing wealth of the country and your family finances was broken. This is, this goes beyond one party or one government. It is more important to you than which party is in power, even more important than that. You see, when I was growing up in the 1980s, I saw the benefits of growing prosperity, people able to buy a house, a car, even a second car, go on a foreign holiday their grandparents would never have dreamed of. Not spend all their hours at work, able to spend time with kids, not working all the hours that God sends, have a secure pension in retirement and also believe that their kids would have a better life than them. That feels a long way away from where Britain is today doesn’t it and that is because it is. You see, somewhere along the way that link got broken. They used to say a rising tide lifts all boats, now the rising tide just seems to lift the yachts. Now I say this to the people of Britain. If I were you I wouldn’t even take a second look at a political party unless they make this their central defining purpose because your future depends on it. Your children’s future depends on it. Britain’s future depends on it. I say we are Britain we can do better than this.

Now I have got a question for you ladies and gentlemen, do the Tories get it?

Oh come on, I didn’t hear you, do the Tories get it?

OK that is better. They don’t get it do they. I want to say this. I understand why three and a half years ago some people might have thought that David Cameron did get it and that is why people voted for him at the last general election. But they voted for change and I don’t believe they got the change that they were voting for. Let me just explain it this way: next week we are going to see David Cameron resuming his lap of honour for how brilliantly he’s done as Prime Minister. Claiming credit for his enormous achievements, how he has saved the economy as they put it. No doubt he’ll even be taking off his shirt and flinging it into the crowd expecting adoration from the British people like he did recently on holiday and maybe I should make this promise while I’m about it, if I become Prime Minister I won’t take my shirt off in public, I mean it is just not necessary is it. I’ll try and keep the promise. Anyway, back to David Cameron, so he is going on this lap of honour, everything is brilliant, he’s saved the economy, George Osborne, he deserves the garlands as well, you know, aren’t they brilliant. Come on. The slowest recovery in one hundred years. One million young people looking for work. More people on record working part-time who want full time work. More people than for a generation out of work for longer. The longest fall in living standards since 1870. That is not worthy of a lap of honour. That is worthy of a lap of shame and that is the record of this government.

He does have one record though but I don’t think it credits a lap of honour. He has been Prime Minister for 39 months and in 38 of those months wages have risen more slowly than prices. That means your living standards falling year, after year, after year. So in 2015 you’ll be asking am I better off now than I was five years ago? And we already know the answer for millions of families will be no. You’ve made the sacrifices, but you haven’t got the rewards. You were the first into the recession but you are the last one out. Now of course it would have taken time to recover from the global financial crisis whoever was in power. But when these Tories tell you that the pain will be worth the gain, don’t believe them. They can’t solve the cost of living crisis and here is why. The cost of living crisis isn’t an accident of David Cameron’s economic policy it is in his economic policy. Let me explain why. You see he believes in this thing called the global race, but what he doesn’t tell you is that he thinks for Britain to win the global race you have to lose, lower wages, worse terms and conditions, fewer rights at work. But Britain can’t win a race for the lowest wages against countries where wages rates are pennies an hour and the more we try the worse things will get for you. Britain can’t win a race for the fewest rights at work against the sweat shops of the world and the more we try the worse things will get for you. And Britain can’t win a race for the lowest skilled jobs against countries where kids leave school at the age of 11. And the more we try the worse things will get for you. It is a race to the bottom. Britain cannot and should not win that race.

You see it is not the low achievements of these Tories that really gets me. That is bad enough. It is their low aspirations; it is their low aspirations for you. It is their low aspirations for Britain but their high hopes for those at the top. The City bonuses are back. Up 82% in April alone thanks to the millionaire’s tax cut. So when they tell you the economy is healing, that everything is fixed, just remember, they are not talking about your life, they are talking about their friends at the top. That is who they are talking about; it is high hopes for them. And every so often you know the mask slips doesn’t it. The other day a man they call Lord Howell, he was I think their advisor on fracking at one point… There is nothing funny about that. He said it was wrong to frack in some areas but it was ok in others, it was ok in the North East of England because he said, and I quote ‘it was full of desolate and uninhabited areas.’ In one casual aside dismissing one whole region of the country. Let’s tell these Tories about the North East of England and every other part of Britain. People go out to work. They love their kids. They bring up their families. They care for their neighbours. They look out for each other. They are proud of their communities. They are proud of their communities. They hope for the future. The Tories call them inhabitants of desolate areas. We call them our friends, our neighbours, the heroes of our country. They are fed up of a government that doesn’t understand their lives and a Prime Minister who cannot walk in their shoes. We are Britain, we are better than this.

Now, to make Britain better we have got to win a race to the top, not a race to the bottom. A race to the top which means that other countries will buy our goods the companies will come and invest here and that will create the wealth and jobs we need for the future but we are not going to be able to do it easily. It is going to be tough and let me just say this friends. You think opposition is tough, you should try government. It is going to be tough; it is not going to be easy. And I’m not going to stand here today and pretend to you it is. We are going to have to stick to strict spending limits to get the deficit down. We are not going to be able to spend money we don’t have and frankly if I told you we were going to you wouldn’t believe me, the country wouldn’t believe me and they would be right not to believe me. But we can make a difference. We can win the race to the top and let me tell you how. It is about the jobs we create, it is about the businesses we support, it is about the talents we nurture, it is about the wages we earn and it is about the vested interests that we take on. Let me start with the jobs of the future.

The environment is a passion of mine because when I think about my two kids who are 2 and 4 at the moment and not talking that much about the environment, more interested in The Octonauts. There’s a plug. In 20 years’ time they’ll say to me ‘were you the last generation not to get climate change or the first generation to get it?’ That is the question they’ll be asking. But it is not just about environmental care. It is also about the jobs we create in the future. You see some people say, including George Osborne, that we can’t afford to have environmental at a time like this. He is dead wrong. We can’t afford not to have an environmental commitment at a time like this. That is why Labour will have a world leading commitment in government to take all of the carbon out of our energy by 2030. A route map to one million new green jobs in our country. That is how we win the race to the top. And to win that race to the top we have also got to do something else, we’ve got to support the businesses of the future. Now many of the new jobs in the future will come from a large number of small businesses not a small number of large businesses. And this is really important. If you think 15 years ahead, the rate of change and dynamism is so great that most of the new jobs that will be being done will be by companies that don’t yet exist. Now that changes the priorities for government.

When this government came to office, since they came to office they cut taxes for large business by £6 billion but raised taxes on small businesses. Now I don’t think that is the right priority. Yes we need a competitive tax regime for large businesses but frankly they’ve short-changed small business and I’m going to put it right. If Labour wins power in 2015 we will use the money that this government would use to cut taxes for 80,000 large businesses to cut business rates for 1.5 million businesses across our country. That is the way we win the race to the top. One Nation Labour. The party of small business. Cutting small business rates when we come to office in 2015 and freezing them the next year benefitting businesses by at least £450 a year. That is how we win the race for the top friends, and to win that race to the top we’ve also got to nurture the talents of the next generation. The skills of people. There are so many brilliant businesses in our country who provide amazing training for the workforce, but look, we have got to face facts, leading businesses say this to me too which is there aren’t enough of them and we have got to work to change that so we will say if you want a major government contract you must provide apprenticeships for the next generation. And we’ll also say to companies doing the right thing, training their workforce that they will have the power to call time on free-riding by competitors who refuse to do the same. That’s how we win the race to the top friends.

It’s not just business that has to accept responsibility though, it’s young people. We have a tragedy in this country. Hundreds of thousands of young people who leave school and end up on the dole. We’ve got this word for it haven’t we? NEET: Not in education, employment or training. Behind that short word is a tragedy of hundreds of thousands of wasted lives. If the school system fails our young people they shouldn’t be ending up on benefits. They should be ending up in education or training so they can get back on the road to a proper career. That requires them to accept responsibility but it requires government too to accept our responsibilities for the next generation in Britain, and that’s what we’ll do.

But to win the race to the top we’ve also got to take advantage of the talents of Britain’s 12 million parents. Justine and I had one of the great privileges in any parent’s life this year, which was taking our son Daniel to his first day at school. He was nervous at first, but actually pretty soon he started having fun; it’s a bit like being leader of the Labour Party really. Well it’s not exactly like being leader of the Labour Party. But look, for so many parents in this country the demands of the daily school run, combined with their job are like their very own daily assault course and we’ve got to understand that. Because we can’t win the race to the top with stressed out parents and family life under strain – we’ve got to change that.

In the last century, schools stayed open till mid-afternoon and that was okay back then because one parent usually stayed at home. But it’s not okay now: that’s why we want every primary school in Britain to have the breakfast clubs and after school care that parents need and that’s what the next Labour government will do.

To win the race to the top we’ve also got to deal with the issue of low pay. The National Minimum Wage, one of the last Labour government’s proudest achievements, friends. But we have to face facts: there are millions of people in this country going out to work, coming home at night, unable to afford to bring up their families. I just think that’s wrong in one of the richest countries in the world. The next Labour government must write the next chapter in dealing with the scourge of low pay in this country. And to do that though, we’ve got to learn lessons from the way the minimum wage came in, because it was about business and working people, business and unions working together in the right way so we set the minimum wage at the right level and we’ve got to do the same again. The minimum wage has been falling in value and we’ve got to do something about it.

There are some sectors, and I don’t often say anything nice about the banks but I will today, there are some sectors which actually can afford to pay higher wages, and some of them are – a living wage in some of the banks. So we’ve got to look at whether there are some sectors where we can afford a higher minimum but we’ve got to do it on the right basis – business and working people working together. That’s what we will do: the next Labour government will strengthen the minimum wage to make work pay for millions in our country. That’s how we win the race to the top.

And to win that race to the top we’ve got to call a halt to the race to the bottom, between workers already here and workers coming here. I’m the son of two immigrant parents. I’m proud of the welcome Britain gave me and my family, and we’ve always welcomed people who work, contribute and are part of our community. Let me say this, if people want a party that will cut itself off from the rest of the world, then let me say squarely: Labour is not your party. But if people want a party that will set the right rules for working people then Labour is your party, the only party that will do it. Employers not paying the minimum wage and government turning a blind eye – it’s a race to the bottom; not under my government. Recruitment agencies hiring only from overseas – it’s a race to the bottom; not under my government. Shady gang masters exploiting people in industries from constructing to food processing – it’s a race to the bottom; not under my government. Rogue landlords, putting 15 people in tied housing – it’s a race to the bottom; not under my government. And our country, sending out a message to the world that if you need to engage in shady employment practices, then Britain is open for businesses? It’s a race to the bottom; not under my government. And in case anyone asks whether this is pandering to prejudice, let’s tell them, it isn’t. It’s where Labour has always stood – countering exploitation, whoever it affects, wherever they come from. We’ve never believed in a race to the bottom, we’ve always believed in a race to the top, that is our party.

And to win the race to the top we’ve also got to take on the vested interests that hold our economy back. In the 1990s we committed to a dynamic market economy. Think of those words: ‘dynamic, ‘market’, ‘economy’. And then think about this, what happens when competition fails? What happens when it just fails again and again and again? Then government has to act. Train companies that put the daily commute out of reach. Payday lenders who force people into unpayable debt. Gas and electric companies that put prices up and up and up. It’s not good for an economy. It’s not a dynamic market economy when one section of society does so well at the expense of others. It’s bad for families, it’s bad for business and it’s bad for Britain too.

Now some people will just blame the companies but actually I don’t think that’s where the blame lies. I think it lies with government. I think it lies with government for not having had the strength to take this on. Not having stood up to the powerful interests. Not having the strength to stand up to the strong.

Take the gas and electricity companies. We need successful energy companies, in Britain. We need them to invest for the future. But you need to get a fair deal and frankly, there will never be public consent for that investment unless you do get a fair deal. And the system is broken and we are going to fix it.

If we win the election 2015 the next Labour government will freeze gas and electricity prices until the start of 2017. Your bills will not rise. It will benefit millions of families and millions of businesses. That’s what I mean by a government that fights for you. That’s what I mean when I say Britain can do better than this.

Now the companies aren’t going to like this because it will cost them more but they have been overcharging people for too long because of a market that doesn’t work. It’s time to reset the market. So we will pass legislation in our first year in office to do that, and have a regulator that will genuinely be on the customers’ side but also enable the investment we need. That’s how Britain will do better than this.

So, making Britain better than this starts with our economy – your economic success as a foundation for Britain’s economic success. But it doesn’t just stop there it goes to our society as well. I told you earlier on about those market traders in Chesterfield and how they felt that society had lost touch with their values. I think what they were really saying was this: that they put in huge hard work and effort, they bring up their kids in the right way and they just feel that their kids are going to have a worse life than them. And nowhere is that more true than when it comes to renting or buying a home.

There are 9 million people in this country renting a home, many of whom who would want to buy. 9 million people – we don’t just have a cost of living crisis, we have a housing crisis too. In 2010 when we left office there was a problem. There were one million too few homes in Britain. If we carry on as we are, by 2020 there will be two million too few homes in Britain. That is the equivalent of two cities the size of Birmingham. We’ve got to do something about it and the next Labour government will. So we’ll say to private developers, you can’t just sit on land and refuse to build. We will give them a very clear message – either use the land or lose the land, that is what the next Labour government will do.

We’ll say to local authorities that they have a right to grow, and neighbouring authorities can’t just stop them. We’ll identify new towns and garden cities and we’ll have a clear aim that by the end of the parliament Britain will be building 200,000 homes a year, more than at any time in a generation. That’s how we make Britain better than this.

And nowhere do we need to put the values of the British people back at the heart of our country more than in our National Health Service, the greatest institution of our country. You know I had a letter a couple of months back from a 17 year old girl. She was suffering from depression and anxiety and she told me a heart-breaking story about how she had ended up in hospital for 10 weeks. Mental health is a truly one nation problem. It covers rich and poor, North and South, young and old alike and let’s be frank friends, in the privacy of this room; we’ve swept it under the carpet for too long. It’s a bit of a British thing isn’t it; we don’t like to talk about it. If you’ve got a bad back or if you’re suffering from cancer you can talk abbot it but if you’ve got depression or anxiety you don’t want to talk about it because somehow it doesn’t seem right – we’ve got to change that. It’s an afterthought in our National Health Service.

And here’s a really interesting thing – so you might say, it’s going to be really tough times Ed, you told us that before. You said there would be really difficult decisions in government, and that’s true, so how are you going to make it work? Well here’s the thing, the 17-year-old said in that letter, look if someone had actually identified the problem when it started three years earlier I wouldn’t have ended up in hospital. I wouldn’t have ended up costing the state thousands of pounds and the anguish that I had. So it’s about that early identification and talking about this issue.

And if it’s true of mental health, it’s true in an even bigger way about care for the elderly. There’s so much more our country could be doing for our grandmas and granddads, mum and dads, nuclease and aunts. And it’s the same story. Just putting a £50 grab rail in the home stops somebody falling over, prevents them ending up in hospital with the needless agony, and all of the money that it costs. The 1945 Labour government, in really tough times, raised its sights and created the National Health Service. I want the next Labour government to do the same, even in tough times, to raise our sights about what the health service can achieve, bringing together physical health, mental health, and the care needs of the elderly: a true integrated National Health Service. That’s the business of the future.

But we don’t just need to improve the health service, friends; we’ve got to rescue it from these Tories.

And the Liberals too. Now look, before the election, I remember the speeches by David Cameron. I remember one where he said the three most important letters to him were NHS. Well he has got a funny way of showing it, hasn’t he? And when they came to office, they were still saying how brilliant was in the health service, how the health service was doing great things and the doctors and nurses and so on. Now have you noticed they have changed their tune recently? Suddenly they are saying how bad everything is in the NHS. Now the vast majority of doctors and nurses do a fantastic job. Sometimes things go wrong. And when they do, we should be the first people to say so. But hear me on this. The reason David Cameron is running down the NHS is not because the doctors and nurses aren’t doing as good a job as they were before. It is because they have come to a realisation that the health service is getting worse on their watch and they are desperately thrashing around trying to find someone else to blame. Blame the doctors, blame the nurses, blame the last Labour government. That is what they are doing. Well let me tell you about the record of the last Labour government. When we came to office there were waiting time targets of 18 months that were not being met, when we left office there were waiting time targets of 18 weeks that were being met. When we came to office there was an annual winter A&E crisis, when we left office the people had A&E services they could rely on. When we came to office there were fewer doctors and nurses, we when left office more doctors and nurses than ever before. And when we came to office people said well the health service, it was a good idea in previous generations but I don’t really believe it will be there in the next, and we left office with the highest public satisfaction in the history of the health services. Yes friends, we did rescue the National Health Service. So when you hear David Cameron casting around for someone to blame for what is happening in the NHS just remember it is not complicated, it’s simple, it’s as simple as ABC: when it comes to blame, it is ‘Anyone But Cameron’. We know who is responsible, the top-down reorganisation that nobody voted for and nobody wanted, the abolition of NHS Direct, the cuts to social care, the fragmentation of services. We know who is responsible for thousands of fewer nurses, we know who is responsible not just for an annual A&E crisis, but an A&E crisis for all seasons. It is this Prime Minister who is responsible. So friends it is the same old story, we rescue the NHS, they wreck the NHS and we have to rescue it all over again. And that is what the next Labour government will do.

Right, I have explained to you how we can make Britain better by changing our economy and changing our society, and now I want to talk about how we change our politics. And here is the bit you have all been looking forward to: party reform. Now look let me say to you, change is difficult, change is uncomfortable. And I understand why people are uncomfortable about some of the changes, but I just want to explain to you why I think it is so important. With all of the forces ranged against us, we can’t just be a party of 200,000 people. We have got to be a party of 500,000, 600,000, or many more. And I am optimistic enough – some might say idealistic enough – to believe that is possible. And the reason it is possible in our party is the unique link we have with the trade unions. The unique link. I don’t want to end that link, I want to mend that link. And I want to hear the voices of individual working people in our party, louder than before. Because you see, think about our history. It is many of you who have been telling us that actually we haven’t been rooted enough in the workplaces of our country. And that is what I want to change. And that is the point of my reforms. See my reforms are about hearing the voices of people from call centre workers to construction workers, from people with small businesses to people working in supermarkets at the heart of our party. Because you see it is about my view of politics. Leaders matter, of course they do, leadership matters, but in the end political change happens because people make it happen. And you can’t be a party that properly fights for working people unless you have working people at the core of your party, up and down this country. That is the point of my reforms. And I want to work with you to make them happen so that we can make ourselves a mass-membership party. Friends, let’s make ourselves truly the people’s party once again.

But to change our politics we have got to a lot more than that. We have got to hear the voices of people that haven’t been heard for a long time. I think about our young people, their talent, their energy, their voices. The voices of young people demanding a job, the voices of young people who demand that we shoulder and don’t shirk our responsibilities to the environment. The voices of gay and lesbian young people who led the fight and won the battle for equal marriage in Britain. And the voices of young people, particularly young women, who say in 2013 the battle for equality is not won. You see they are not satisfied that 33% of Labour MPs are women, they want it to be 50% and they are right. They are not satisfied that 40 years after the Equal Pay Act, we still do not have equal pay for work of equal value in this country. They are not satisfied and they are right. And they are not satisfied that in Britain in 2013, women are still subject to violence, harassment, and everyday sexism. They are not satisfied and they are right. Friends, let’s give a voice to these young people in our party. And let’s give a voice to these young people in our democracy, let’s give the vote to 16 and 17 year olds and make them part of our democracy.

But you know we have got to win the battle for perhaps the most important institution of all, our United Kingdom. Friends, devolution works. Carwyn Jones, our brilliant First Minister of Wales, he is showing devolution works. And let’s praise the leadership of our Scottish Joanne Lamont for the brilliant job she is doing against Alex Salmond. Now that referendum on September the 18th 2014, it is going to be conducted on the basis of fact and figures and arguments and counterarguments, but I have a story I want to tell you which I think says even more. It’s the story of Cathy Murphy. Cathy Murphy lives in Glasgow, she worked in the local supermarket. In 2010, Cathy was diagnosed with a serious heart problem, but she came to Labour conference nonetheless in 2011 as a delegate. She fell seriously ill. Her family were called down from Glasgow. The doctors said to her that to save her life they’d have to give her a very long and very risky operation. She had that operation a few weeks later at the world-leading Liverpool Broadgreen hospital. Cathy pulled through. She went back to Glasgow some weeks later. She comes back down to Liverpool every six months for her check-up. Now she said to me the nurses and doctors don’t ask whether she is English or Scottish, the hospital doesn’t care where she lives. They care about her because she is Scottish and British, a citizen of our United Kingdom. Friends, Cathy is with us today, back as a delegate. Where is she? Cathy’s here. Friends, I don’t want Cathy to become a foreigner. Let’s win the battle for the United Kingdom.

So I have talked to you today about policy and what a Labour government would do, how it would make Britain better and win a race to the top in our economy, put our society back in touch with people’s values and change our politics so it lets new voices in. But the next election isn’t just going to be about policy. It is going to be about how we lead and the character we show. I have got a message for the Tories today: if they want to have a debate about leadership and character, be my guest. And if you want to know the difference between me and David Cameron, here’s an easy way to remember it. When it was Murdoch versus the McCanns, he took the side of Murdoch. When it was the tobacco lobby versus the cancer charities, he took the side of the tobacco lobby. When it was the millionaires who wanted a tax cut versus people paying the bedroom tax, he took the side of the millionaires. Come to think of it, here is an even easier way to remember it: David Cameron was the Prime Minister who introduced the bedroom tax, I’ll be the Prime Minister who repeals the bedroom tax.

You see here is the thing about David Cameron. He may be strong at standing up to the weak, but he is always weak when it comes to standing up against the strong. That is the difference between me and David Cameron, so let’s have that debate about leadership and character, and I relish that debate. And we know what we are going to see from these Tories between now and the general election, it is the lowest form of politics, it is divide and rule. People on benefits versus those in work. People in unions against those outside union. People in the private sector versus those in the public sector. People in the north against those in the south. It is the worst form of politics. Like sending vans into areas of Britain where people’s mums and granddads have lived for years, generations, and telling people to go home. I say we are Britain, we are better than this. Telling anyone who’s looking for a job that they are a scrounger. However hard they are looking, even if the work is not available. I say we are Britain we are better than this. So come on. So David Cameron I have got a message for you. You can tell your Lynton Crosby, it might work elsewhere, it won’t work here. We’re Britain, we’re better than this.

Friends, the easy path for politics is to divide, that’s the easy part. You need to know this about me, I believe in seeing the best in people, not the worst. That’s what I am about. That’s how we create One Nation. That’s how we make Britain better than this. That’s how we have a government that fights for you.

Now, it is going to be a big fight between now and the general election. Prepare yourself for that fight. But when you think about that fight, don’t think about our party, think about our country. I don’t want to win this fight for Labour; I want to win it for Britain. And just remember this, throughout our history, when the voices of hope have been ranged against the voices of fear, the voices of hope have won through. Those who said at the dawn of the industrial revolution that working people needed the vote and they wouldn’t wait – they knew Britain could be better than this, and we were. Those that said, at the birth of a new century, those who said at the birth of a new century that working people needed a party to fight for them and the old order wouldn’t do – they knew Britain could be better than this, and we were. Those who said at our darkest hour in the Second World War that Britain needed to rebuild after the war and said ‘never again’, they knew Bri tain could be better than this, and we did. Those who said, as the 20th Century grew old, that the battle for equality was still young; they knew Britain could do better than this, and we did.

And so now it falls to us, to build One Nation, a country for all, a Britain we rebuild together. Britain’s best days lie ahead. Britain can do better than this. We’re Britain, we’re better than this. I’ll lead a government that fights for you.

Hilary Benn – 2013 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Hilary Benn, the Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, to the 2013 Labour Party conference in Brighton.

I want to begin by thanking David Sparks and all our Labour councillors, including the 291 newly elected last May, for the terrific job they do standing up for our communities and flying the flag for Labour values.

We may not be in government nationally, but we are increasingly in government locally and in exceptionally tough times our councillors are leading the way.

I would also like to thank my great team in the Commons and the Lords for holding this awful Government to account.

Three years on, we now know exactly whose side they’re on. And what they think.

Do you know what, Michael Gove actually said recently that the reason people have to go to food banks – I know it’s hard to believe it – is because they can’t “manage their finances.”

No, Mr Gove, that’s not why they swallow their pride and ask for help. It’s because they haven’t got any money, and they haven’t got any food. And instead of you patronising them, we should be helping them.

And what about Eric Pickles? He told us he was protecting people from council tax rises, but what did he actually do in April? He imposed a hefty increase in council tax on over two million of the very poorest households.

Nearly half a million already in arrears. Thousands of summonses issued. People facing fines and even the threat of jail. Mr Pickles, you should be ashamed of your new Tory poll tax.

And then there’s Iain Duncan Smith, the man who came up with the hated bedroom tax. Hated because it hits families, and widows, and disabled people. Hated because it’s unfair, immoral and doesn’t work. And who helped him do it?

Forget all those troubled consciences you saw paraded around Glasgow last week. It was the Liberal Democrats who helped him to do it and they should be ashamed of themselves too.

Well, I’ll tell you what we’ll do. The next Labour government led by Ed Miliband will stop taxing the bedrooms we have and start building the homes we need.

Conference, our housing system is broken. Parents and grandparents worry. “Where are our children and grandchildren going to be able to afford to live?”

Young couples unable to buy their first home. Families forced to pay spiralling rents and wondering if they’ll still be in the same home next year when their tenancy ends.

This is the reality of the cost of living crisis for many people.

And what’s the Government done? Cut the affordable housing budget cut by 60 per cent.

And when the IMF said to the Chancellor that Britain should be investing £10 billion in infrastructure – that would build 400,000 affordable homes – what did the Government do? Nothing.

No wonder housing completions are at their lowest peacetime level since the 1920’s.

But there is hope. Labour councils. Labour councils building council houses.

In Liverpool and Leeds, Stevenage and Southwark, Manchester, York, Exeter, Nottingham, Ipswich and in many other Labour areas our councillors are building social homes on a scale we haven’t seen for a generation. Tackling the cost of living crisis by building homes that families can afford.

And, Conference, that’s why a Labour government will help councils to build more affordable homes by reforming the Housing Revenue Account.

And for the 8.5 million people who now rent privately, we will tackle the unfair fees charged by lettings agents. We’ll introduce a national register of private landlords. And we’ll fight for longer tenancies and predictable rents so that families can put down roots.

And for the millions of people who dream of owning their own home, Labour will get Britain building again. We’re just not building enough homes and yet, in the last few years, the profits of the big housebuilders have soared.

Land is too expensive. Too often developers hang on to it hoping for the price to rise. And communities feel powerless.

Today Ed Miliband will pledge to change that.

So what will a Labour Government do?

First, we must admit that we can’t carry on saying on the one hand “where are the homes for the next generation?” and on the other “please don’t build them near me”.

Nor will we get more homes by top-down targets. Councils and communities must take that responsibility but they need more power to be able to do so.

Communities should know where land is available. That’s why we will ensure developers register the land they own or have options on.

And where land is not brought forward for homes, communities should be able to do something about it.

And when communities have given planning permission they should be able to say to developers: we’ve given you the go ahead so please get on and build the homes you said you would. And if you don’t then we’ll charge you and, if you still don’t, we’ll sell the land on to someone else who will.

Secondly, there are areas in the country where councils and communities see the need for more homes but there just isn’t the land to build them on. So the next Labour government will give those communities a new ‘Right to Grow’, allowing them – if they want – to expand and ensuring that neighbouring areas work with them to do so.

Thirdly, conference, it’s time to build new communities – new towns and new garden cities. That’s what the great Attlee Government did as they started to rebuild Britain and we need that same spirit again. So we will invite local authorities to come forward, and in return, we will make sure that they get the powers and the incentives they need to acquire land, put in the infrastructure and build. Build those new communities.

Getting Britain building, with communities taking the lead. People deciding where the new homes will go and what land they want to preserve.

Passing down power is the answer to many of the great challenges we face as a nation.

With an ageing population we need Andy Burnham’s revolution in whole person care with local government and the NHS working together.

We need more school places. That’s why Stephen Twigg will get rid of Michael Gove’s absurd ban on local councils opening their own schools for their own children in their own area.

Too many people can’t find jobs, including nearly one million young people. So, Liam Byrne wants councils to take a lead in helping people to find work, get skills and deliver Labour’s jobs guarantee.

We need to get the country moving. So why do we tolerate the endless journey back and forth to Whitehall so that ministers can decide on local transport schemes when we all know – as Maria Eagle says – that local government could do it faster and better?

Now, what about fairness. This Government has imposed the deepest cuts on our most deprived communities and they have the nerve to give David Cameron’s council an increase.

It’s just not fair and a Labour Government will change it. Money should go to meet need.

And why do we need to do all this? Because of what Ed calls the new politics.

We have reached a defining moment for our country.

A fork in the road.

A moment of huge danger but also of great opportunity.

The financial crisis rocked the foundations of our banking system and our economy. But it did far more than that.

It undermined people’s sense of hope and their confidence in a better future.

It damaged the faith in politics to make a difference.

It has left a generation unsure that their children’s lives will be better than the life they have enjoyed.

And that’s why these days there is so much despair.

I get that, but despair didn’t inspire the previous generations who first brought gas, electricity and clean water to our homes. The schools that teach our children, the parks in which they play, the hospitals that treat us when we’re sick and the libraries that transform lives.

And it won’t help us – our generation – to build the homes we need. To care for our Mums and Dads as they get older. To bring fast broadband to every city and village. To kick out the local sharks and bring in the credit unions. To generate our own energy to keep down the bills.

Our task is to turn despair into hope.

For with hope comes confidence. And with confidence comes trust.

And if we, as Labour, are going to win people’s trust, then we must trust the people. We must be the movement that helps people to change their own lives.

Money may be short, but in every community – every village, every town, every city – there is an inexhaustible supply of energy and of ideas.

That’s how we helped to change the country for the better before.

And that’s how we will make our country One Nation again.

Owen Smith – 2013 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Owen Smith, the Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, to the 2013 Labour Party conference in Brighton.


It was 25 years ago this week that I came here to start life as a student at the University of Sussex.

The year was 1988, the year the Lib Dems were founded, and Sussex, renowned for its progressive politics, was among the first universities to establish a Lib Dem Society.

I wondered how they were getting on.

So I looked up the university society listings before I came here today and sure enough there’s a Clegg-shaped hole between the Labour Club and the Mexican society.

The University was also famous as the setting for Malcolm Bradbury’s novel, The History Man.

The story’s anti-hero begins as a nice but naive, bearded and sandal-wearing radical, who open marriage descends into treachery, lies and a trough of ‘moral turpitude’.

Sound familiar, Nick?

In the TV version, our hero ends up voting Tory, for a rotten right wing government which privatised our public goods, put a million young people on the dole, and introduced a tax which united the country in opposition.

Who says life can’t imitate art?

But that’s enough of the jokes. Their conference finished last Thursday.

Ours is just beginning – and what a beginning with that wonderful, welcome announcement that a Labour Government led by Ed Miliband will scrap the bedroom tax.

Of course a Labour Government will scrap it.

We will scrap it because it is an affront to our values of fairness and decency,

Because it neither saves the money they claim, nor solves the crisis in our housing.

We will scrap it because like so many of the policies of David Cameron’s deeply out of touch government it seeks to balance the books on the backs of the poor and the disabled.

And let me tell you Conference, people in Wales – hit harder by the Bedroom Tax than anywhere in Britain – will have heard that news and understood that Labour is on their side.

And just as the bedroom tax has hit Wales harder than any other part of Britain, Wales also has more workers earning less than the living wage than anywhere else – more than one in five of the total workforce.

So Welsh workers and Welsh wages need a Labour Government in Westminster as well as in Wales to fight their corner. And Labour this week is sending a clear message to the hard working people of Wales.

We are on your side. We will strengthen the minimum wage and push for a living wage too.

Our values in action, conference.

And our proof, conference, that there is always an alternative.

In Wales, a Welsh Labour Government, has been getting on with the job of defending those values and articulating that alternative, protecting the living standards of ordinary people that have fallen so drastically under the Tories.

In Wales, we kept the EMA and refused to treble tuition fees – holding firm the ladder of education and social mobility that the Tories are so keen to draw up behind them.

In Wales, we’ve rejected the privatisation of Bevan’s NHS and held fast to its role as a beacon of excellence and equality.

And in Wales we’ve been on the side of working people with policies that have put 6000 young people back to work, and by taking bold action earlier this month to stamp out the disgraceful blacklisting of construction workers.

But conference, despite Carwyn and our Welsh colleagues’ values and innovations and sheer hard work, devolution alone is not enough.

– Not enough to stop Welsh wages from falling by £1600

– Not enough to prevent under-employment become the new norm in our economy.

– And not enough to stop food-banks become a shaming feature of communities across Wales.

No, a Labour Government in Wales alone is not enough – and will never be enough – however much devolution we deliver.

Because the social and economic union between the nations of Britain provides a safety net that Scotland or Wales could never recreate if they chose to fly alone.

And though Labour will always defend and cherish the proud identities of the different nations of the UK, we will also celebrate the centuries of common endeavour and shared history that makes us also One Nation.

And which allows Labour Governments in Westminster to share Britain’s wealth more fairly than the market or the out of touch Tories ever would.

So credibility, yes. And deficit reduction, of course. But decency, fairness and transformation too.

Because we need a Labour Government to rebuild the very foundations of our economy, from the bottom up so that it works for the many, not the few.

We need banks that serve the industry of our country – not speculate idly in its success or failure.

We need companies that feel a duty to the society in which they operate – not just to the shareholders who trade them around the Globe.

We need work that pays a decent wage – a Living Wage, with prices under control and growth that is fairly shared across classes and regions.

And we need a Labour Government to consign the Bedroom Tax to history, to strengthen the Minimum Wage and to deal with the cost of living crisis that is damaging our communities.

Conference, Ed Miliband spoke for Britain on this week when he said we will do these things.

That we can do better than this.

That Britain can do better.

He spoke for Britain…and he warmed hearts in Wales.

He set Labour marching forward once again…

And Wales will march with him.

Led by our First Minister, Carwyn Jones…

Ivan Lewis – 2013 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Ivan Lewis, the Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, to the 2013 Labour Party conference in Brighton.

Conference, this is a historic year for our commitment to international development.

And I want to start by saluting you. Without your campaigning, your passion and your values there is no way the United Kingdom would have reached the historic landmark in 2013 of spending 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income on overseas aid.

It would never have happened without you. And it would never have happened without the leadership of a Labour Government.

A Labour Government which tripled aid, transformed DFID into a world leading development agency and ensured the world wrote off debt.

A Labour movement working with the decent majority of the British people in pursuit of social justice at home and abroad. That combination was unstoppable then and can be unstoppable again in the future.

When the cynics say politics doesn’t make a difference. All politicians are the same. Remind them who created the National Health Service, who established Sure Start and who introduced the national minimum wage? And yes conference, who put Britain on the road to delivering its responsibilities to the poorest in the world. Labour, Labour, Labour and Labour again.

Friends, too often we have allowed foreign policy to either be the preserve of an intellectual elite or fundamentalist anti-Europeans. Today, I signal our determination to take the fight and the arguments to the squeezed middle. That the interdependence and interconnectivity of the modern world is not a choice but a reality.

People’s cost of living – their food bills, the costs of their fuel and the jobs which will be available to our kids and grandkids in the future are all influenced by developments way beyond our borders. That is why fair trade, energy security, tackling climate change and tax dodging are relevant to the everyday lives of people in our country.

And to those who say we can’t afford to spend less than 1 penny in every pound on overseas aid, I say you are wrong. The One Nation Britain I love is a compassionate Britain, a Britain committed to fairness, a Britain which wants to see no child anywhere in the world left without food, a decent education or access to universal healthcare. A Britain where people give record amounts to Comic relief year after year in the good times and the bad.

But also a Britain which understands our world is changing. We can’t allow short term austerity to undermine our long term national interests. Our aid recipients of today will be our trading partners of tomorrow. ‘One Nation One World’ is not a slogan but a living breathing expression of today’s interconnected and interdependent world.

So Conference, what of the Tories?

Of course, I welcome their decision to honour our commitment to 0.7. But the difference between them and us can be summed up in one sentence. “I didn’t come into politics to help poor people.” The chilling words not of some rogue right-wing Tory backbencher, but Justine Greening, David Cameron’s choice to be Secretary of State for International Development.

Well, Justine I have a message for you this morning. I did come into politics to help poor people. So let’s bring this election on. And swap jobs as soon as possible.

In only three years the Tories have squandered Britain’s world leading legacy on international development. David Cameron was unwilling to put the time in in the run up to the recent G8. This led to disappointing progress on the tax dodging which costs developing countries millions in lost revenue.

Cameron has also failed to turn up for work at several key meetings where UK leadership on development could have made a real difference.

And in typical Cameron style in retreat from the right wing of his party he has sought to face two ways. One day he says increasing aid is morally right, the next he panders to the right and makes false claims that in future it will be primarily used to plug holes in the defence budget or support business.

A divisive Prime Minister leading a deeply divided party. For him, aid detox for the nasty party; for us, development an expression of our core values.

Last year at Conference I asked Tessa Jowell to launch a global campaign to ensure investing in early childhood is put at the heart of the new post-2015 development framework. This summer Tessa and I visited Malawi where we saw for ourselves how in difficult circumstances and against the odds organisations like Sightsavers are offering hope to disabled children and their families.

Today I can announce that Tessa is launching a global petition to mobilise people across the world to send a clear message to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that an integrated approach to the early years should be at heart of international development.

If Sure Start and children’s centres are right for our kids then surely their underlying principles must be applied equally to the poorest kids in the world.

And Conference, when we think about the poorest kids in the world let us reflect on what the children of Syria are facing today – witnesses to and victims of horrific violence.

One million children made refugees; almost two million unable to go to school. That’s why it is so important that we not only do our part but galvanise other countries to step up to the plate and fulfil their responsibilities. Unfettered access for humanitarian agencies must now be the immediate top priority for the international community.

Conference, Ed Miliband and Ed Balls have made it clear Labour will apply iron discipline to the use of taxpayers’ money. This will mean a Labour DFID from East Kilbride to offices around the world will only invest in programmes which offer value for money, deliver change for the poorest and seek to support self-sufficiency and end aid dependency. We will always to be the first to respond to humanitarian crises.

A tough independent inspection regime will inspect both DFID programmes and DFID offices. Where programmes aren’t delivering they will be ended, where offices aren’t performing they will be subject to special measures. And we will end the scandal of private consultants inspecting private consultants.

We will work with business and NGOs to invest in the infrastructure and drive the cutting edge innovation deeloping countries tell us they need. But in return business will have to operate decent Labour standards throughout their supply chain, demonstrate a commitment to environmental sustainability and be transparent about tax and profits both at home and abroad.

Conference, the horrendous collapse of Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh which killed over eleven hundred people should be a wakeup call to us all. Fair rights for workers, progressive trade unionism and decent jobs should be the hallmark of successful economies and civilised societies. They will play a central role in Labour’s progressive development policies for the twenty-first century.

In 2015 the world will come together to agree a new framework to replace the Millennium Development Goals.

A framework which will apply equally to all countries. Where developed, developing and middle income countries have an equal stake in change.

In the aftermath of the financial crisis and with the emergence of new economic and political powers such as China, India and Brazil this is a big opportunity to recast the values which shape our world. For us, business as usual is simply not acceptable. We want to see a focus on inequality, not just poverty, growth which is sustainable and benefits the poorest. Good governance which deals with the responsibilities of donors and multi-national companies as well as governments in developing countries.

We have set out our vision for a new social contract without borders which brings together the world’s poverty reduction and sustainability objectives. Today I can announce we are mobilising global political change from opposition. We are in the process of developing a centre-left progressive coalition of politicians who share Ed Miliband’s belief that now is the time for radical change in the world, not tinkering at the edges. We favour big structural changes on tax, trade, climate change and inequality. We want to see an end to extreme poverty by 2030, but also an end to aid dependency with new relationships between nations built on reciprocity and shared values.

In only 18 months we will be fighting an election in this country. The Tories will try to persuade the British public that international development is safe in their hands, that Britain’s role in the world is governed by cross-party consensus. Conference, don’t believe it. Our commitment is different, deeper-rooted in our history, broader in its ambition, and above all more firmly based on the values of social justice.

When we come to the election, international development won’t be an issue we just tick off and pass by. It is an issue we will have to fight for.

You see Conference, the difference between us and the Tories is we didn’t come into politics to explain the world as it is, we came into politics to change the world.

Harriet Harman – 2013 Speech to Labour Party Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Harriet Harman, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, to the 2013 Labour Party conference.

Harriet Harman MP, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, speaking to Labour Party Annual Conference 2013 in Brighton, said:

Conference, this week, we’ve packed in hours of debate; hundreds of fringe meetings; and most importantly delivered a One Nation fiscal stimulus for the bars of Brighton.

We began on Saturday at our fantastic Labour Women’s Conference – with 1,000 women. The biggest political gathering of women at any party conference, ever.

Proving, once again, Labour is the only party for women.

And what a contrast with the other parties.

David Cameron believes that women should be seen and not heard – and that’s especially when it comes to his Cabinet.

And as for the UKIP conference – where to begin?

What can you say about the human car crash that is Godfrey Bloom? A man so unreconstructed, he makes Jeremy Clarkson look like a Fabian.

But Godfrey, all is not lost.

You’ve got some time on your hands now – so we’ve arranged a special emergency session for you.

At the “Harriet Harperson Institute of Political Correctness”.

And Godfrey, the good news is that I, myself, will be there to give you some advanced ‘one to one’ training.

And we’ll start with you whisking that Dyson round the back of my fridge.

And as for the Liberal Democrats – Lib Dem women are an endangered species.

Our Women’s Conference was a women-only event. But Yvette and I decided we would do a bit of positive action and let one man in – our leader Ed Miliband and he got a fantastic reception.

The Shadow Chancellor wanted to come too – but we had to say to him “sorry we’ve already got a man on the platform – and he’s called Ed.”

Conference, in Ed Miliband we have a great leader.

Ed, we hoped you’d do a good speech yesterday, but you gave an amazing speech.

Ed has an unerring ability to understand the concerns that people have in their everyday lives.

It was Ed who warned that we are seeing, for the first time, a generation who won’t do as well as the one that went before. That’s something every parent worries about.

Then while Cameron and Clegg wallowed in complacency, Ed was the one who spoke up about the cost of living crisis.

And when Ed sees something’s wrong, he will not shrink from the challenge.

He will never say:

– it’s just too difficult;

– or the odds are stacked against us

– or you’ll have to put up with it – because the energy companies are just too powerful.

Ed fights for what’s right. People often feel that in this day and age there are forces which are just too big and powerful for politics to make a difference.

But Ed has shown – even from opposition – the ability to make change.

He stood up against phone hacking.

He averted David Cameron’s rush to war in Syria.

And he has shown that politics can make a difference.

But Ed is about a new kind of politics. And that shines through in everything he does. Like when he got egged.

You can really see the change.

When John Prescott got egged, he was massively angry and threw a punch.

When Ed Miliband got egged, his immediate thought was ‘Oh God – I really hope this is free range’ That’s just the kind of guy he is.

And Ed is a leader who listens. To the people he meets and the party he leads.

And that’s why yesterday on this stage, he moved Labour from being a party of protest which understands people’s concerns – to a party of policies which will address those concerns.

Better childcare – for mothers who tear their hair out trying to balance work and home.

Freezing fuel bills – how can you feel the warm glow of recovery if you can’t turn your heating on.

And helping the next generation get their first home by putting housing at the heart of our mission and getting Britain building again.

So now – every single one of us – our shadow cabinet, MPs, MEPs, Peers, Councillors, our great parliamentary candidates, representatives from the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly, trade unionists, our members and supporters.

Our whole Labour team in every part of this country, will get out on the doorstep and give people hope that their lives can be better than this. Britain can do better than this.

Our momentum comes not just from our policies – but from the people in our party – the whole Labour team. We are a party that has grown.

Just look at the membership.

Since the General Election, our membership is up by 17 per cent.

Since David Cameron became leader of the Tories their membership is down 40 per cent.

We now have more members than the Tories and the Lib Dems put together.

We are working hard and campaigning in communities all around the country.

But we all know that we could be doing more – particularly to reach out to and involve people at work. After all, Labour is the party of people at work.

The plan for party reform that Ed is proposing is not to weaken the relationship between Labour and trade union members – it is to make it a reality – especially at local level.

And I want to spell out what is obvious and what is true but needs saying.

We are fiercely proud of the link between our party and trade unionists. That link is at the heart of our history and will be an essential part of our future.

Because while the Tories are bankrolled by a handful of millionaires – we are a movement of millions of working people.

But these men and women are under attack.

And so when David Cameron attacks trade unionists and stokes up hatred against them we will stand up for them.

Because we know with the Tories – it’s one rule for them and their privileged friends – and another for everyone else.

The rich will work harder if you cut their taxes.

Make the poor work harder by slashing their benefits.

Under – occupy a mansion – well you need protecting – so of course we can’t have a Mansion Tax.

Under occupy a council home – tough – pay the bedroom tax or face eviction.

Well, not under a Labour Government. We will axe this cruel, useless, hated tax.

And speaking of cruel, useless and hated, let’s spend a moment thinking about how good it will feel to kick out this miserable government.

When it came to austerity, they said “we’re all in it together”.

But they’re not saying that about the recovery.

It cannot be a recovery that’s only for the rich and not the rest.

And what about the Lib Dems?

They say they are in coalition. But look what they do in Westminster?

Week in week out – the Tories bring forward their nasty policies and the Lib Dems – they vote them through.

They call it coalition – we call it collusion.

And then Nick Clegg had the nerve to stand up at his conference and claim that he had been a brake on the Tories.

With the Lib Dems, it’s not just collusion – it’s delusion.

Here’s a little reminder of just some of the things the Lib Dems voted for.

– putting up VAT,

– slashing tax credits,

– cutting police,

– trebling tuition fees,

– tax cuts for the richest

– the bedroom tax and

– let’s not forget the top down reorganisation of our NHS – which no-one wanted and no-one voted for.

One thing they did announce last week at their conference was they were going to bring in free school meals.

But when Southwark Labour Council did exactly that last year – the Lib Dems bitterly opposed it.

So, Nick Clegg, come to Southwark for a free school meal – and I’ll serve you a very large portion of humble pie.

But it’s just not fair to say that Clegg has got no principles at all.

He has got one principle – one that means a lot to him.

That is, regardless of who’s in government, Nick Clegg must be Deputy Prime Minister.

He wants to go on and on and on.

No wonder Vince Cable looks so miserable – you almost have to feel sorry for him.

So Conference – let’s have no talk about us being in coalition.

Labour is not fighting for a draw.

Labour is fighting to win.

Conference, we know we face a huge task.

It’s barely three years since we were kicked out of government.

The Tories will fight a dirty, vicious campaign.

And Lynton Crosby will be the ring-master for the right wing press.

But remember – this is not a popular government.

They stand up for the wrong people.

They’ve failed on the economy.

They’re ruining the NHS.

And people know it.

So yes – it is tough.

We will not lose our nerve.

Because the polls which are most important, are the ones where people actually vote.

And in local councils up and down this country, the Tories are losing seats, the Lib Dems are losing seats and it is Labour who is making gains.

Since Ed Miliband became leader, we have gained 1,950 new Labour Councillors.

Conference – those are the polls you won’t read about in the newspapers but those are the polls that count.

So it is tough – but we can do it.

The General Election is there for the taking.

So, Conference, while we are in no doubt about the scale of our task, we leave here determined to do whatever it takes to kick out this miserable coalition and fight for a Labour government.

Johann Lamont – 2013 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 2013 Labour Party conference.

Conference, I am delighted to be here and honoured to address you as Scottish Labour Leader in these challenging times for people in Scotland and across the UK.

I am a proud Scot. And it because I am a proud Scot, not despite it, that I want us to stay strong in the United Kingdom.

That is why I am determined to campaign with every bit of energy I can muster to ensure that on 18 September 2014, the people of Scotland will not just reject separation, but reaffirm their commitment to the United Kingdom.

Scotland is known for its proud industries – shipbuilding, oil and gas, whisky. But in the last few months you could be forgiven for thinking we have a new boom industry – the creation of historic days.

It seems the Scottish Government just need to call a press conference for the day to become historic.

Well I look forward to coming back to conference after the historic day next year when Scotland renews its embrace of the United Kingdom – and makes the politics of narrow nationalism a thing of history.

There are those who in the next year will want to perpetuate some myths about Scotland and the rest of the UK.

We are told that somehow Scotland is another place, with different values and concerns. But we know the reality. That across the UK families are worrying about the future.

About their children’s education, about the care of their elderly loved ones, about whether they will keep their jobs and how to make the world a safer place.

The nationalists claim that we as Scots are denied our rights, refused our potential, held back by the rest of the UK.

But the truth is that we Scots were part of shaping the United Kingdom through time. And it is the Labour movement united across the country which shaped it for the better – and will again.

That is why not only do we play our part in Better Together, the cross party campaign, but with the energy and talent of my deputy Anas Sarwar, we have established United With Labour, making Labour’s own case for staying in the UK and recasting the values that shaped labour’s legacy – that we are stronger together.

The nationalists’ central deceit is that inequality in Scotland was created in 1707 and can be eradicated by the re-establishment of an independent Scotland.

They believe that Scotland is, by its nature, more progressive. They create the impression that this debate is somehow Scotland versus the Tories. It is not.

Scotland does not agree with Alex Salmond – and if we work hard over the next year it will become increasingly clear this is Scotland versus Salmond and Scotland is going to win.

The struggle in Scotland is between truth and deceit, between a Scottish Government content to sloganize rather the address the real problems in our communities.

For above all we are fired by the determination that politics is about the real world, that identifies the challenges and creates the solutions that make a difference to people’s lives – and insists that the real world experience of the trade unionist, the agricultural worker, the mum, the carer should shape our politics, our policy and ultimately our lives.

And that is the test that others fail.

The Tories tell us things are getting better, in denial about the lives most people live, without security, but with increasing uncertainty, and increasing bills and stress.

And the Lib Dems, with empty policy offer to demonstrate they care, yet collude with and embrace the argument that this economic crisis is because Labour’s investment in schools, hospitals and our children.

And as a consequence of that betrayal, they are content to see the most vulnerable bear the brunt of the reckless decisions of a banking system that nearly brought the country to its knees.

And the nationalists? When they see the policies driven by the coalition – of austerity, of the bedroom tax, what do they say? Do they see the affront to families across the UK? No, they see they see a political opportunity.

For the Nationalists the misery of the people isn’t a wrong to be corrected – it is a chance to be exploited. For them grievance is not to be addressed it is to be nurtured.

And that cynicism, that calculation which leaves families suffering now is a price worth paying if it translates into votes next September.

It is a cynicism which corrodes our politics. It should create in us a revulsion that demands a Labour campaign of truth, passion and hope in the months ahead.

A cynical SNP that in private questions the affordability of the state pension and in public says what it thinks it needs to say to get over the line.

And when confronted with the real world:

With the health refugee to England seeking the cancer drugs not available in Scotland.

With the person with a free bus pass but no bus.

With the care worker distressed by their care for an elderly person reduced to less than 15 minutes and with an instruction to ‘task and go’.

With the student denied a place a college to learn the skills to access the unfulfilled jobs in oil and gas, what do they say?

They hunt the alibi – Westminster, local government, anyone except themselves.

Opposition is frustrating and in these tough times unity and focus to secure power will never be at a greater premium.

But how much more frustrating is it in Scotland when the Government behaves like a reckless opposition, refusing to take responsibility, happy to take the credit and energetic in blaming others. And above all, this truth – content to ensure that all those who could be protected are not helped.

For that would be to show devolution working. Devolution protecting. And if they allowed devolution to do what it was meant to do, how then they would achieve their own and only real ambition – for Scotland to be separate from the rest of the UK.

The SNP are fond of saying that Scotland should complete its home rule journey. Pity they didn’t join us on the first two legs of that journey. They stood outside the Constitutional Convention which shaped the Parliament. They wouldn’t be part of the Calman Commission which delivered real change to devolution. Yet they shamelessly rewrite Scotland’s history.

They deceive because it was the Labour Party which delivered the Scottish Parliament, it was we who started the journey to enhanced powers. And it is the Labour Party who will do so again – the party which delivered home rule for Scotland – who will enhance home rule and defend it. A strong Scotland within a strong United Kingdom.

So the prize next year is a huge one – to defeat the politics of nationalism.

Because the politics of identity is not the politics of justice. It wasn’t Scots, or the English or the Welsh or the Irish who fought for women’s votes, it was women and men who believed in justice.

We didn’t join the fight against Apartheid because we were South African, we joined that battle because it was our duty, whatever our identity, race or gender to fight against injustice.

And I believe that Scotland is too big a country to hide behind Hadrian’s Wall and not play our part in fighting injustice in all its forms throughout these islands, and through partnership with our friends and neighbours across the world.

And we will deliver hope and change at home. To the elderly person who needs help, and who wonders what it means when their government trumpets free personal care, but who only sees a carer for a few minutes a day, who gets tucked up in bed by six o’clock because that is all a pressured carer can do, I tell them Labour will deliver hope and Labour will deliver change.

To the men and women, denied the opportunity to better themselves by this Scottish government, to learn the skills which could lead to a career not just a job, I say Labour will deliver hope and deliver change.

And to those people in Scotland who do not believe that politics can change lives because they have been fed on a diet of smart slogans not real policies to change lives, I promise to restore integrity to our politics.

Reality. The truth about how real people live real lives will be at the heart of our politics. We will be honest about what we can do and we cannot do in an era of scarcity.

But there will be no limit to our vision and our thirst for justice. The limits of today should not limit our vision of a better tomorrow.

We know in this movement, in all its forms, that when we stand together there is nothing we cannot achieve.

Division is the greatest bar to our progress.

But we will stand together. Labour in all its forms, in every corner of the country, to fight the case that the nations on these islands will stand together. That is how we achieve justice at home and abroad.

Yes, conference. The next year is about defeating the politics of nationalism, a virus that has affected so many nations and done so much harm. An ideology that never achieved anything.

But it is about more than that. It is about Scotland and all our nations embracing the ideal of the United Kingdom.

It is about being a beacon to the world about how people can preserve their identity, share their values and live together and bind together to form a stronger community.

It is about embracing a new United Kingdom. One of justice. One of fairness. One of opportunity.

And conference, I promise you, I will be back next year to tell you how Scotland will play its part in building a new United Kingdom.

Sadiq Khan – 2013 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Sadiq Khan, the Shadow Secretary of State for Justice, to the 2013 Labour Party conference in Brighton.


Our justice system – a One Nation justice system – relies on a fundamental principle.


Victims, witnesses and communities need to have confidence in the system.

Victims need confidence so that they report crimes.

Witnesses need confidence so they come forward and give evidence to the police and in trials.

Communities need confidence those committing crimes will be caught and properly punished.

Confidence is precious.

But it’s also fragile.

We must do all we can to protect this confidence.

But we must also strive to do better.

And make people more confident in our justice system.

But too many incidents over recent years have damaged people’s confidence.

Did the Dowler family have confidence after the way they were treated at the trial of the man responsible for Milly’s murder?

Does putting Milly’s parents through mental torture, as Milly’s sister described it, lead to confidence in the system?

Or when the victims of vile sexual grooming are told by the authorities that it’s a lifestyle choice?

Does it promote confidence when a 13 year old victim of sexual abuse is called a “sexual predator”?

Bad enough for a Crown Prosecution Service lawyer, but a disgrace when a judge says it too.

And did the rape victims who, on the 30 occasions last year reported the crime, feel confident when their rapist got away with just a caution?

Does it inspire confidence in the victim of a violent assault who does everything possible to secure a conviction?

And then finds out the attacker is freed from jail by bumping into them in the local supermarket?

Does it inspire confidence when the Prime Minister rewards failure?

Rewarding the current Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, with a promotion.

Despite being the architect of the failing Work Programme.

Rewarding G4S and Serco with more and more contracts.

Despite them letting down the taxpayer time, and time again.

And let’s not forget the monumental gamble that Chris Grayling is proposing with public safety.

Privatising our Probation Service, and handing over supervision for dangerous and violent offenders to G4S and Serco.

Public safety in the hands of the same companies that let us down on Olympic security, tagging and prisoner transport.

Not let down by the workers.

We’ve all seen the great job G4S staff have done on conference security.

But let down by their management.

And what happens if these companies repeat their failings, and let us down in probation?

Our communities lose confidence in a justice system that rewards failure.

Victims of crime lose confidence in the ability of our justice system to punish and reform criminals.

Public safety is put at risk.

So there must be no half-baked dismantling of probation.

No reckless gambles with public safety.

No dangerous privatisation of probation by this out of touch Government.

But this out of touch Prime Minister is damaging confidence.

His Government is time and again letting down victims.

What happens when you slash compensation for innocent victims of crime?

I’ll tell you what happens.

The losers are people suffering permanent brain injuries and fractured joints through no fault of their own.

What do you get when you abolish indeterminate sentences?

You weaken public protection against the most serious and violent offenders.

What happens if you give half off sentences for guilty pleas?

You insult victims, who think the system is too tame on criminals.

What happens when you cut back judicial review?

You betray bereaved families, like the Hillsborough campaigners, who can’t challenge terrible decisions.

What’s the outcome of cutting legal aid?

The family of Jean Charles De Menezies, the innocent Brazilian man shot at Stockwell tube station would no longer have access to expert lawyers in the future. Nor indeed the Gurkhas or the Lawrence family.

It’ll be harder for victims of domestic violence to break away from abusive partners.

And what if the Conservatives succeed in their clamour to abolish human rights laws?

There’d be less protection for victims of crime.

We’d lose:

– Laws that halted the diabolical situation of rape victims being cross-examined directly by their attackers.

– Laws that helped bereaved families find out how loved ones died.

– Laws that offer protection against the grotesqueness of modern day slavery, human trafficking.

Human rights laws the Tories want to scrap.

Human rights laws of which Labour is proud.

Human rights laws Labour will defend.

And Conference, Britain can do better.

It deserves a One Nation justice system with victims and witnesses at its heart.

I spend a lot of time visiting courts and prisons,

And speaking to victims of crime and those who work in our justice system,

So I know the task is impossible for any Justice Secretary to do this alone.

We want to stop people becoming victims of crime in the first place.

That’s the best thing Governments can do.

The Justice Secretary must work closely with other members of the cabinet to achieve it.

We need a Justice Secretary who’ll persuade the Education Secretary that cutting Sure Start or family intervention projects is a false economy.

One who’ll work with health colleagues to end the scandal of those with mental health problems languishing in our prisons.

One who’ll work with local government, the voluntary sector and those employed in or using the justice system.

I will be that Justice Secretary.

And as a One Nation Justice Secretary I understand the needs of victims.

And on that, can I just say I’m so proud that Parliament is gaining the enormous expertise of Doreen Lawrence.

I’m privileged and honoured she has accepted Ed’s offer and will be joining Labour’s benches in the Lords. On issues like these Doreen brings considerable personal experience, shining a light on all the issues I’ve raised in my speech.

So what would a One Nation Labour justice policy mean?

Number One – when someone reports a crime, the police will tell them what action will be taken and kept regularly updated.

Number Two – when someone’s charged with an offence, victims will track the progress of the case, from beginning to end, charge to sentence, using IT.

Number Three – victims will be kept informed when the offender is released from custody.

Simple, common sense changes that would transform thousands of lives.

We need a change of culture.

But that needs to be led and underpinned by a new Act of Parliament.

That will sweep away the worthless codes of practice that’s nothing more than pieces of paper hidden away in a drawer.

Labour will ensure victims who regularly complain that they aren’t aware of their rights and entitlements will know where they stand.

And so will judges, magistrates, the CPS, the police, lawyers, court officials, victim support, probation and everyone else.

There will be no excuses for ignoring or overlooking the rights of victims and witnesses!

And it’s not on that only legal experts truly understand how long someone will spend behind bars when a judge sentences.

Under Labour, judges and magistrates will set out in plain English a clear minimum and maximum time that will be served in prison.

With sentences published on the internet.

Labour will also raise the standard and scope of restorative justice.

We know that victims who sit down with the offender, helped by well-trained facilitators, emerge feeling better from the experience.

And done properly it reduces reoffending and, yes, saves money too.

Win, win, win!

And Labour will turn the Victims Commissioner into a full time job with real teeth and powers, reversing this Government’s disgraceful downgrading of the role.

And victims and witnesses treated as criminals in our courts must end.

Labour will push judges to stop this happening, and protect the innocent from feeling criminalised.

How we treat the vulnerable is a hallmark of a civilised society.

So we owe it to victims to put their needs first and not be treated as an afterthought.

We’ll change the culture of our justice system so victims are a priority.

We’ll bring in clear, tangible, and enforceable rights set out in an easy to understand Act of Parliament.

We’ll have a Justice Secretary, a Victims Commissioner and everyone who works in the justice system on the side of victims.

We’ll have a One Nation justice system – because Britain can do better.

Carwyn Jones – 2013 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Carwyn Jones, the First Minister of Wales, to the 2013 Labour Party conference in Brighton.

Cadeirydd, gynhadledd.

Chair, Conference.

Thank you Owen for that introduction and thank you for the work you’re doing at Westminster holding the Tories and Lib Dems to account.

You’ll hear much during this conference about the harm the Tories and Lib Dems are wreaking on ordinary families up and down the land:

– their one-size-fits-all approach to welfare reform;

– and their laissez-faire approach to the economy which has resulted in so many young people being out of work.

Their iniquitous bedroom tax, which penalises the disabled in particular.

Well done Ed!

Your pledge to do away with this morally bankrupt policy will bring hope to 40,000 households in Wales and many more across the rest of the UK which have been blighted by this tax.

Well, let me tell you some of the things we – as a Welsh Labour Government – have been doing to stand up for the people of Wales during these difficult times.

Our greatest focus as a Government has been on jobs and growth.

Trying to make the difference to the lives of people in Wales and not rely on the failed Tory policies which have blighted the rest of the UK since 2010.

As a result of our actions, in Wales, things are going in the right direction.

Over the last 12 months, employment, unemployment and economic inactivity rates in Wales have all moved in a positive direction and outperformed the UK average.

Since 1999 there has been a 101.2 per cent increase in Welsh exports, the fourth largest of any UK region and compared to an increase of 79.2 per cent for the whole of the UK.

Wales is on the up under Labour.

On inward investment into Wales, we are transforming the picture compared to some parts of the rest of the UK.

Over the last 12 months there have been 67 foreign direct inward investment projects for Wales, creating 2,605 new jobs and safeguarding another 4,857.

Through our ‘Our Business Start-up programme’ we’ve helped establish 6,800 new enterprises and that has helped create more than 13,433 jobs.

Conference one of the first things the Tories did when they came to power back in 2010, was to axe the Future Jobs Fund.

By contrast one of the first things the Welsh Labour did it when elected in 2011, was to introduce a Welsh version of that scheme – what we call, Jobs Growth Wales.

I am proud to stand here today and tell you that over the last 18 months we’ve created eight and a half thousand job opportunities for young people aged between 16 and 24 – with six and a half thousand of those going on to find work.

Conference – Labour delivering hope for young people in Wales for the future!

When it comes to tackling poverty, we are equally as focused.

In England you are witnessing the cuts to Sure Start.

In Wales we have Flying Start and by the end of this year nearly 28,000 children and their families will be receiving support from the programme.

It means we are on track to double the number of children benefitting from Flying Start by 2016.

Also Conference, I am proud to stand here today and tell you that, the Welsh Government introduced a support programme for Remploy workers who were abandoned by the Tories in Wales.

Our funding has helped 117 Remploy workers find new jobs – that’s a 117 disabled workers who faced redundancy thanks to Tory closures.

You see, as a Welsh Labour Government, we don’t have different policies for the sake of being different.

We have different policies in Wales because they’re right for our people.

Right for our young people – who need hope for the future.

Right for our older people – who need security and certainty.

Right for our vulnerable people – who need a government that cares.

Conference, we are building a Wales that’s a living, breathing example of what Labour values can achieve when in Government.

So, what are we doing to make Wales a fairer, more equal country with more opportunity for our people?

Well, for a start – when it comes to the NHS, there’s no market, no privatisation, no unworkable reform agenda.

Our NHS – the Welsh NHS – remains true to Bevan’s founding principles and remains true to ethos that has served it well since inception.

We have kept free prescriptions.

We’ve increased access to GPs.

And I’m proud to tell you that we recently passed a new law which means Wales will have the first opt-out system for organ donation anywhere in the UK – potentially providing organs to some of the 50 people in Wales who die every year waiting on the transplant list.

In education, we have introduced the Foundation Phase for the youngest children –a curriculum based on learning through experience.

Despite fierce opposition from the Lib Dems and Tories over many years, we have kept Free School Breakfasts for our children.

Yes conference  – the same Lib Dems and Tories who last week adopted Welsh Labour policy and will now follow our example in England.

We welcome their conversion, however late it is!

We’ve kept Education Maintenance Allowance to encourage our young people to stay in learning.

And, after the Tory debacle earlier this year, I am proud to say that in Wales we will retain GCSEs and A-levels as key school qualifications.

We will not follow the shambles that Michael Gove has presided over in England.

Conference, every day in Wales, we see tangible benefits of being a part of Europe.

Whether it be helping farmers and rural communities, increasing skills, creating jobs and improving research and innovation at our universities.

Thanks to EU money we have helped 50,000 people across the whole of Wales into work and nearly 140,000 to gain qualifications.

EU funding has invested £110 million in some 500 businesses, helping them grow and create jobs.

Europe is Wales’ largest trading partner and over 600 firms across the country export goods and services worth around £5bn every year to other EU countries.

There are around 150,000 jobs in Wales depending on that trade.

Wales cannot afford to leave the UK and we cannot afford to leave the EU.

As the First Minister of a Welsh Labour Government, I am proud of our strong links with the trades union movement in Wales.

We see trades unions as crucial social partners – just as we do with the CBI, for example.

In Wales, we work with all sectors of Welsh society to make Wales a better and more prosperous place for all of us – whether they be employer or employee.

We have worked with the trades unions to improve the lives  of our people and at a time when working people are under threat, they need trades unions to defend them.

When it comes to workers’ rights in Wales, I am proud of the various stands my Government has taken over the last twelve months.

If you remember one of the first things the Tories signalled when they came to office was their intent to scrap the Agriculture Wages Board and in England, they’ve already done it.

But in Wales – as a Labour Government, we decided not accept this. So we have now passed legislation to protect the wages of over 13,000 farm workers in Wales.

A Welsh Labour Government standing up for workers.

When the Tories tried to undermine UK wide pay agreements by floating the idea of the regional pay, we knew that for thousands of public sector workers in Wales and other parts of England such a move would mean less money for some of the most lowest paid workers in the UK.

Not only did we say “no” in Wales – we backed up our message of opposition with hard facts and hard evidence that destroyed the UK Government’s case to force it through.

Again, a Welsh Labour Government standing up for workers.

And more recently conference, I am proud to say we have taken action to stamp out the heinous practice of blacklisting.

Last week, my government issued a Procurement Advice Note to all Welsh public bodies making clear those circumstances where they can exclude blacklisters from bidding for a public contracts in Wales.

Conference, blacklisting has ruined the careers and livelihoods of good, decent trade unionists all over the UK.

In Wales we have said “enough”.

In Wales, there is a Government that is standing up for workers!

In Wales, we have a Labour Government – we need a Labour in Scotland with Johann as First Minister and we need a Labour Government in London with Ed as Prime Minister.

Working together, we can give people hope.

Show that there is a better way.

And lead the way to a fairer and more prosperous Britain.

In Wales, because of the bedroom tax, there are 40,000 good reasons to elect a Labour Prime Minister.

So let 2015 be the year to give hope.

And let 2015 be the year to win.

Thank you.

Diolch yn fawr.

Caroline Flint – Speech to 2013 Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Caroline Flint to the 2013 Labour Party Conference in Brighton.


Margaret is 88.

Lives on her own.

Hard of hearing and finds it difficult having conversations on the phone.

In five months, her monthly electricity bill jumped from £45 to £67.

She couldn’t afford the new payments, so a debt built up.

Her energy company wanted it to be repaid in full.

Margaret has never been in debt before.

Frightened – she turned her heating off.

Embarrassed that her flat was too cold, Margaret stopped inviting friends over too.

Nicola is 32.

She’s a mum, with two kids.

Both her and her husband work.

But after a few cold winters, the gap between what Nicola could afford and her bills left her in debt, too.

Now, she’s worried about what will happen if prices rise again this winter.

David Cameron and George Osborne say the economy is fixed but for people like Margaret and Nicola, things are getting harder, not easier.

They’re at least now getting some help from the National Energy Action charity.

But millions more face the same problems and worse.

Unfolding day-by-day in kitchens and living rooms, in every town and every village – North, South, East and West, is a cost of living crisis.

Of course, the worst off are the hardest hit.

But everyone’s living standards are under attack.

People who always thought themselves “comfortable”, now feel under pressure.

Now, the slightest misfortune – a broken boiler, a faulty fridge, or another inflation-busting rise in their energy bills, can mean real hardship.

So if ever there was a time for action over energy prices it is now.

But what is this Government doing?

Have they taken our advice over the last year?

Will they put all those over 75 on the cheapest tariff this winter?

Did they sit up and listen when we revealed that energy companies have seen their profits soar while ordinary people’s bills have rocketed?

No, support for people struggling to pay their bills has been cut in half.

The Prime Minister promised that energy companies will have to give their customers the cheapest tariff.

A year later, four out of five people still on the wrong deal, paying more than they need to.

And what about the big promise to insulate homes and save us all money? The Green Deal.

It was meant to be the biggest home improvement programme since World War Two.

Ministers said they’d be having sleepless nights if 10,000 people hadn’t signed up by this Christmas.

They’ve spent £16 million promoting this scheme so far.

But just 12 households have had any work done.

£16 million for 12 homes.

Only nine thousand nine hundred and eighty eight to go. They won’t be getting much shut eye this year.

This Government, complacent over soaring bills.

Indifferent to people’s struggles.

Always standing up for the wrong people.

It doesn’t have to be like this…

Imagine if a certain beer company was your energy supplier?

You know who I mean.

They’d ring up one day and say “the wholesale price has fallen, so we’re going to cut your bill today”.

A few weeks later, they’d ring you again “we’re really sorry you’ve overpaid us, we’re refunding the money today”.

They’d ring you up a few weeks after that and say “we’ve got to own up, we’re not the cheapest supplier to you, so we’re cutting your tariff today to make sure we are.”

Conference, we’d all raise a glass to that.

But it’s not like that is it?

Half a dozen companies, squeezing out competition, setting prices in secret, and never telling you if you’re getting a rotten deal.

Prices rising year after year, followed by record-breaking profits.

Conference, it’s not right.

We all joined the Labour Party to fight injustice

And this is one injustice Ed Miliband and I won’t stand for.

Now is the time for politicians that are bold enough to argue for big changes in our energy market.

Today, I promise with a Labour Government the most radical, comprehensive reforms since energy privatisation.

No more price setting in secret.

The energy companies will be forced to open their books.

And do all their electricity trading on the open market, in a pool.

A single place, in public, for everyone who wants to buy or sell power.

No more secret price setting. No more back room deals.

The days where a company generates energy, sells it to themselves… and then sells it to us…

Those days will end.

But that’s just the start.

Have you ever wondered how it is that whatever world energy prices, whatever our bills are, somehow the energy companies always manage to make bigger and bigger profits?

Conference, let me spell it out.

If they own the power station and sell the electricity to themselves, what’s the incentive to keep their prices down, if all it does is reduce their profits?

So Conference, today I pledge, we will break up the Big Six.

The power stations will be separated from the companies that send you your bill.

Just as the banks will have to separate their investment and trading arms from the high street branches, so we will make the energy companies separate their production from the companies that supply your home.

And let me say one more thing about the bills you will receive…

Under Labour, on every bill you will see one standing charge and one unit price.



Easy to compare. Easy to switch.

Conference, ultimately, our best protection against volatile world energy prices is to save the energy that escapes through our windows, walls and rooftops.

And invest in home-grown British clean energy.

Around these small islands that make up Britain, from the Shetlands to Southampton, we must invest in the low-carbon energies that will power our country for a new industrial age.

And I say to every nation in our great country, we invest in energy together, we share the risks, we share the rewards.

We are stronger, together.

And to the Tory backwoodsmen, understand this: clean energy is not the enemy, climate change is.

So in government, we will set a clear course to clean up our power system.

To keep our country safe and secure, we will establish a new dedicated Energy Security Board, to identify our energy needs, secure investment for the future and keep the lights on.

And I promise we will end the disastrous decline in new jobs and industries under David Cameron.

I want Britain at the forefront of change, building a cleaner economy, creating the jobs our nation needs.

Conference, together, we can build a better Britain.

A Britain where the energy we share is secure, affordable and clean.

A Britain where Margaret, and millions like her, can warm their homes without fearing the bill.

A Britain to which we all truly belong.

For the many, not the few.

A Britain built by Labour.

Maria Eagle – 2013 Speech to Labour Party Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Maria Eagle to the 2013 Labour Party conference in Brighton.


Do you remember David Cameron’s promise on rail fares last year? Capping future increases at just one per cent above inflation.

But remember what actually happened?

The new year slog back to work.

The first commute on a cold, dark January morning.

But the nastiest shock awaiting commuters? A third year in a row of inflation-busting fare rises – some tickets up by as much as eleven per cent.

David Cameron’s broken promise on rail fares.

Because he cannot, and will not, stand up to vested interests.

Because David Cameron will always put the privileged few before working people.

But we can’t be One Nation if we price more and more people off our transport system. If people can’t afford to live near their job, then find the cost of commuting goes up faster than their wages. If young people are told to stay in education, or find an apprenticeship, but then find they can’t afford to get there.

That’s why a One Nation Labour government will tackle the cost of living crisis. Banning train companies from hiking fares beyond strict limits. No more averaging out the so-called fare cap, but an actual cap.

Not on some routes, but on every route.

Let me say this to the train companies:

You make hundreds of millions a year, in a system that pays out more in subsidies than you pay back.

So when fares go up again in January, do the right thing:

Voluntarily cap fare rises, since Ministers won’t.

Do your bit to ease the cost of living crisis.

But if you choose not to act, then a One Nation Labour government will put a proper cap on fares.

You know, Ministers did announce a cap on rail fares last week – new maximum prices for singles and returns.

And the new cap?

£250 one way. £500 return.

And, that’s not even First Class. Conference, what planet is David Cameron on?

And it isn’t just the level of fares that drives people to distraction. It’s the feeling that the system is always trying to rip you off. You buy an off peak ticket. But nowhere does it tell you when off peak actually starts. And every train company seems to use a different set of rules.

So, yes we need to cap fare rises.

But we need a new deal for passengers too.

No more talk of Super Peak fares, meaning your season ticket wouldn’t even be valid on every train.

No more stretching peak time, when it’s actually about stretching profits.

No more confusing tickets, but the exact time you can use it printed on the ticket.

No more inflexibility when you book in advance, so you can’t get the next train – even when it’s empty.

And if you do have the wrong ticket on the train, take off the price you’ve already paid from the cost of a new one.

No more single and return journeys costing the same. Not just in one pilot area after 2015, as the government plans, but across the network.

No more charging more at the ticket office than online, just to provide another excuse to close them.

No more rip offs at ticket machines, but a new legal right to be offered the cheapest fare regardless of how or where you buy a ticket.

No more inflation-busting increases in the cost of leaving your car at the station, when it’s just another way to clobber commuters.

No more ripping people off with internet charges, just because you can’t afford to travel First Class.

And isn’t it time that all trains had wifi in the 21st century? So let’s require it in franchises.

And when train companies are paid £136million by Network Rail for delays, no more pocketing tens of millions of pounds that should be passed on to passengers.

In future, it should be paid to passengers, or not be paid at all.

Isn’t it time to end the racket on our railways, and once again put passengers before profit?

And let’s tackle overcrowding on our railways that can make the journey to work such a misery. So let’s free up space for new commuter services by moving the growth in longer journeys onto a new north-south rail line. Reducing journey times. Getting more freight off our roads.

But, unlike the Tories, let’s use the project as an opportunity to create thousands of new apprenticeships for our young people.

And, unlike the Tories, no blank cheque for any government project. So, as Ed Balls rightly says: we support the idea of a new north-south rail line but, if costs continue to rise – and the value for money cannot be demonstrated, we will have to ask if this is the right priority for £50billion pounds.

So I say to David Cameron: get a grip on this project. Get a grip on its budget. And get it back on track.

And get a grip on the chaos in rail franchising too. Entirely caused by ministerial incompetence. What an appalling, unacceptable, scandalous waste of public money.

Fifty million pounds of compensation to train companies.

Millions more to lawyers and consultants.

The expense of two inquiries.

And now Ministers forced to extend rail contracts by as much as fifty months, while they sort out the mess. And how do you think the crack negotiating team of Patrick McLoughlin and Simon Burns are doing?

With just two out of twelve extensions agreed, the train companies will pay a staggering £78 million less than last year. Enough to have ended above inflation fare rises.

Ministerial incompetence adding to the cost of living crisis.

And now Ministers have come up with a new plan to waste money. A costly and unnecessary privatisation of East Coast trains. It’s on course to have returned £800million to tax-payers. And reinvests all of its profits to benefit passengers. Profits that, from 2015, will be shared with shareholders.

David Cameron: even at this late stage, abandon this costly, unnecessary, ideological, dogmatic, cynical, wrong-headed, vested-interest driven, disastrous privatisation.

But if you go ahead:

End the nonsense that means the only rail company in the world barred from bidding is the one that is running it – and doing so well. Even the French, German and Dutch state railways can bid.

How completely bizarre that Tory Ministers have no problem with a government-run rail service so long as it isn’t British.

So, instead of all this waste, let’s reduce costs in our railway. Save money by bringing a fragmented industry together. With responsibilities currently spread across the Transport Department and multiple separate bodies, brought within a reformed and more accountable Network Rail.

Save money by ending wasteful repainting and rebranding of trains and stations with every new contract. Restore a coherent InterCity identity to national train services, regardless of public or private operator.

Not just reducing waste, but making life easier for passengers too.

Conference. To tackle the cost of living crisis, we need reform of local transport too.

Bus fares, rising by nearly twice the rate of inflation. Transport authorities, powerless to act.

Unable to insist that tickets work across operators.

Unable to introduce smart ticketing, like Oyster.

Unable to cap the daily, weekly and monthly cost of travel.

Unable to require bus companies to let young people travel free.

And unable to take control of local rail services, to create a genuinely integrated network.

All things taken for granted in London.

But David Cameron’s government is making it harder for councils to deliver change.

His franchising fiasco has put the brakes on local control over rail. His decision to rig bus funding now penalises authorities that pursue reform.

I pay tribute to Labour councils and councillors that are determined to fight for a better deal for passengers. Like David Wood, the chair of Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority, now – with his colleagues – pursuing the first ever Quality Bus Contracts. Leading the way and others will follow. Reversing the failure of bus deregulation. Tackling the cost of living crisis.

And a One Nation Labour government would make it easier. A simpler, faster route to reform. Devolved funding to give transport authorities greater clout.

Deregulation Exemption Zones, so government can give them the backing they need.

Let me say this to those bus companies that are opposing reform:

You already bid for contracts to run rail services.

You already bid for contracts to run buses in London. And across Europe.

And you can do so in Tyne and Wear.

And wherever councils want to secure a better deal.


Let’s take another step to tackle the cost of living crisis, while improving our health and protecting the environment:

When nearly a quarter of all journeys are less than a mile, Let’s Get Britain Cycling.

On this issue Norman Baker and I agree.

He’s tried to get his Tory bosses to take cycling seriously. But while they’ve set out a plan to spend £28 billion on roads, he’s secured just £38million a year to support cycling.

And conveniently forgotten the three wasted years that followed his decision to axe Cycling England and its £60million a year budget.

Come off it, Norman: On ya bike.

So, here’s what we need to do:clear goals to increase cycling.

Separated routes.

Redesigned junctions.

Phased traffic lights.

Cycling Safety Assessments for all new transport schemes.

Restored targets to cut road deaths and serious injuries.

Duties to support Active Travel, as Labour introduced in Wales.

20mph zones, the default in residential areas.

Long term support for teaching safe cycling.

Space on trains.

Secure facilities at stations – required in rail contracts.

Sentencing guidelines reviewed.

Tough new rules on HGVs.

Supporting cycling. Increasing numbers. Improving safety.

Conference. Practical measures to reduce the cost of living.

Capping fare rises.

Reforming ticketing.

Integrating transport.

Supporting cycling.

New help for commuters. Removing barriers facing young people.

One Nation Labour, led by Ed Miliband:

Dealing with the cost of living crisis. Reducing the pressure on household budgets. Delivering a One Nation transport system that works for working people.