Ed Miliband – 2016 Speech on the EU Referendum


Below is the text of the speech made by Ed Miliband, the former Leader of the Opposition, on 22 March 2016.

I want to start by echoing Alan’s words about the terror we have seen unfolding in Brussels.

All my thoughts are with the victims and their families.

It is a terrible reminder of the threats we face and the whole of our party will be feeling the deepest solidarity with the people of Belgium.

I am speaking out today because of the importance of the EU referendum.

I am doing so because I know some Labour voters feel ambivalent about it.

Because this was a referendum called by David Cameron.

Because the EU, like any institution, is not perfect and needs reform.

And because there are so many other issues that concern us about the future of the country.

We may not have sought this referendum, we may not have chosen its timing but this debate is too important to be one conducted between the centre-right, the right and the further-right.

My speech today will be followed after Easter by our leader Jeremy Corbyn.

And today I want to explain why this referendum should matter to us as Labour supporters and to every progressive in Britain.

This is not a debate about whether we support David Cameron or who will lead the Tory Party after him.

It is a debate about the future of our country.

I want to send a very clear message to the nine million people who voted Labour at the last election:

I believe the change you voted for and still want to see in Britain can only be achieved by us remaining in the European Union.

And leaving would irreparably set back the cause of Labour politics.

So I urge you to vote for Remain on June 23rd.

And I want to say to all members of our party that we cannot sit this one out.

We cannot sit it out when this choice is so fundamental to helping build the kind of country we want.

We cannot sit it out when the decision of Labour voters will be so crucial to the outcome of this referendum.

We are united, we can speak with one voice, and we need to do so.

By contrast, the last few days have shown the Conservative Party is divided, disunited and at each other’s throats.

But that makes it all the more important that we set out our case on Europe.

The civil war in the Conservative Party cannot and must not obscure the central question in this referendum:

Are we more likely to secure social justice and progressive change inside the EU or outside?

The answer is resoundingly that we should vote Remain.

This is my case:

First, the problems of the 21st century need co-operation across borders more than ever.

Second, yes, the EU needs to change to make it the more progressive union it needs to be – but that cannot be an argument for leaving.

Third, we need to expose the real agenda of most of those who would Leave –a direct route to a more unequal, unfair, unjust Britain.

My argument begins with the most basic of all Labour principles.

It unites Keir Hardie and Tony Blair, Clement Attlee and Jeremy Corbyn.

At heart our principle as a party is one of collectivism: the idea that we achieve more together than we can alone.

It says it on our party card.

It is true in Britain as we think about our great achievements produced by collective struggle and collective advance: trade unions, workers’ rights, the NHS, the minimum wage.

And it has always been the case that we have applied that principle internationally too: from the Spanish civil war, to the fight against the Nazis, to post war reconstruction.

But the unique thing about the 21st century is that this principle of international co-operation applies to so many more of the problems we face.

Think of any of the great challenges we care about in Britain 2016, and I will tell you why it is essential we stay in the EU.

Tackling inequality is the cause that brought me and so many of us into the Labour Party.

Then think about the different ways we need to tackle it.

We need to trade across borders to ensure good jobs and keep prices low.

That’s why we need to be in the European Union.

We need to make companies pay their taxes but one country can’t do it alone.

That’s why we need to be in the European Union.

We need to guarantee basic rights for workers but one country will find it much harder to do it on its own.

In a world where countries can be played off against each other, we need to co-ordinate across borders to make it happen.

That’s why we need to be in the European Union.

And don’t just take my word for it, look at the rights that have been delivered: four weeks paid holiday, better maternity leave, the 48 hour week.

It didn’t happen by chance, it happened because of our collective power in the European Union.

We need to cope with the threat of global stagnation, not with continued austerity but a different response.

But once again one country cannot do it on its own.

That’s why we need to be in the European Union.

Then take the most important threat of all; climate change.

It just isn’t realistic to think one country can do this on its own.

Britain is about one per cent of global emissions, the EU ten per cent.

Far from us being smaller, weaker and less significant in the EU the opposite is true.

We walk taller, prouder and have more influence inside not outside.

Membership of the EU has cleaned up our beaches, improved our water supplies and without the EU we would not even be debating the silent killer that is air pollution.

It is only EU legislation that is forcing any action from this government.

And then take the wider world in which we live.

The high ideals that led to the setting up of the EU after two world wars – are more relevant than ever

How do we deal with global threats and challenges?

Only by acting together not alone.

So mine is an argument rooted deep in Labour values of solidarity and co-operation.

And it is not based on the idea that our country doesn’t need to change – far from it.

We need to tackle inequality, turn away from austerity, make companies pay their taxes, confront the threat of climate change, and work internationally for a just world.

But the best way, indeed the only way we can effectively do it is by remaining in and not leaving the European Union.

The EU is an essential tool to tackle the great injustices of the 21st century.

But as I said at the outset, the EU is not perfect.

Some people on the Left look at what has happened in the European Union in recent years and see quite a lot they don’t like: austerity, the remoteness of some EU institutions, the response to the migration crisis, the proposed trade agreement with the US.

Some Labour voters worry about free movement of workers.

And in particular, what it means for them.

Let me confront head on both sets of concerns.

To the first set of concerns, I say, let’s not take the flaws in the implementation of a great principle and conclude that cooperation between countries is somehow the problem.

Because it isn’t.

The idea that we could confront the great causes of the 21st century outside the European Union is simply a fantasy.

We can’t end centre-right austerity across Europe on our own.

We can’t tackle climate change on our own.

We can’t make companies pay their taxes on our own.

We can’t solve the refugee crisis on our own.

We can’t confront any of the great injustices on our own.

Nothing in our values, our history, our beliefs tells us otherwise.

I ask you – how would we explain to our Socialist partners in France, Germany, Sweden, Spain that we had decided to abandon our principles of internationalism and go our own way?

The Labour party with our proud history.

They would look at us with disbelief and dismay.

They would ask why we are abandoning them and their attempt to build a centre-left Europe.

And they would be right to do so.

The answer is not to leave or hedge our bets, but instead implement a compelling progressive reform agenda for Britain and Europe.

We know the areas where we need change.

We must champion the opening up of EU institutions.

We must make the EU the powerhouse for tackling corporate tax avoidance.

We should be persuaders for the EU stepping up on the environment and not shrinking back.

And on the trade agreement with America, say ‘yes’ to trade across borders, but say ‘no’ to undemocratic, corporate dominated decision-making.

This kind of reform agenda is not only necessary but is in my view, also possible.

As far as the second set of worries is concerned, as a constituency MP, I hear it a lot.

The workers brought in and used to try and undercut wages.

The loopholes in rules which seem to mean unfair treatment.

The exploitation of migrant workers to undermine terms and conditions.

This is a profound issue.

But the answer is not to leave the European Union.

Because think about how much our workers would lose out from the end of the single market and all that means.

And even if we were to stay within the single market, but outside the EU, the experience of Norway shows, you end up being subject to free movement anyway – but having no say over the rules.

The real answer is to do a far better job of tackling that exploitation here at home.

Exploitation that this Government chooses not to act on.

Exploitation that is nothing to do with Europe and everything to do with political will.

We can end the abuse of agency workers rules.

We can end the rogue landlords.

We can change the rules in Europe to counter the undermining of collective agreements.

All this is possible.

It doesn’t need us to leave Europe.

It needs a government willing to make it happen.

So the answer is reform and remain – not leave.

And as we make our positive case, we need to be clear about the real agenda of most of those who would have us leave.

There are honourable Labour colleagues who have been consistent advocates of Leave.

I leave them aside in this.

But the vast majority of those who would Leave are not trying to build a fairer, more just Britain as we understand it.

They may play on people’s concerns about standards of living but just think of what they believe.

They are people who are anti-regulation wherever it comes from, who are anti-workers’ rights wherever they come from, who are sceptical about laws on the environment wherever they come from.

To be fair, that is because they have a consistent position.

When I say that the EU is a necessary tool against the power of corporations, they shake their heads.

They do not want to counter that corporate power.

Iain Duncan Smith in his maiden speech as an MP lauded the opt out from the social chapter.

Boris Johnson has repeatedly said he wanted to create a narrow relationship with Europe simply focussed on the single market.

Nigel Farage opposes protections for workers not simply because of Europe but because of what he believes.

Now these people may differ in some respects but they are united in their vision of a free market, low regulated, race to the bottom offshore Britain.

They believe low tax, low regulation is the way we succeed.

You can hear it in their speeches and see it in their agenda and even read it in their articles in the Daily Telegraph.

Think of the vision of Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, Iain Duncan-Smith for the country.

It is not my vision, it is not your vision and it is not the vision of nine million Labour voters either.

If Britain left the European Union, it would not serve a progressive, optimistic agenda.

It would serve a reactionary, pessimistic agenda.

Tax avoiders want to divide country from country to drive down tax rates.

Polluters want to turn country against country in a race to the bottom on standards.

Russia and those who disagree with us want to divide Europe.

Outside the EU that is what we would be exposed to.

Our strategic influence would be diminished, our country would be weaker and our capacity to achieve fairness and justice would be shrunken.

And in the end this is about the character of our country.

The fundamental question being asked now in Europe as in America is are we stronger as a nation when we build bridges or build walls?

Are we a people who choose to face our problems linking arms with our friends or hunkering down on our own?

Where the little Englanders look at the channel and see a moat, Britain’s success has been built for centuries by those who saw not a moat but sea lanes, shipping, the means of bringing our peoples together not dividing them.

That is what my parents found when they got refuge here.

They built a life for themselves and their family.

They made a contribution to the country.

Theirs was a life built from optimism out of the darkness and pessimism of the second world war.

And I believe we are the optimists in this campaign.

Optimists that we can conquer problems of inequality together.

That we can tackle climate change together.

That we can build social justice together.

That we can tackle the threats the world faces together.

Our opponents are not the optimists.

They share one thing in common

They are the pessimists.

Pessimists that we can work with others to build a better Britain.

Pessimists that these great causes like inequality and climate change can be tackled.

Pessimists that a more hopeful, internationalist future lies ahead.

We have always been the optimists.

So my message to you is to go out and win this referendum heart and soul.

Let’s recognise that we cannot put our feet up and see what happens

We cannot as party members be spectators or bystanders in this campaign.

Let’s understand the obvious fact: that those who turn up and vote will decide this referendum

Let’s be for remain not with apathy but enthusiasm.

Let’s win this referendum not simply with the arguments for remain but the arguments for how we want to change Britain and change Europe.

I want a more equal, a more just future.

We can only get it by remaining in the European Union.

Let’s vote to remain and then let’s elect a Labour government that can change Britain and change Europe.

Ed Miliband – 2014 Speech on Condition of Britain Report


Below is the text of the speech made by Ed Miliband, the Leader of the Opposition, at the launch of the IPPR Condition of Britain Report. The speech was made on 19th June 2014.

Along with Rachel Reeves and the Head of Labour’s Policy Review, Jon Cruddas, I am delighted to be here with you launching the IPPR’s Condition of Britain report.

For years, IPPR has done brilliant work to help us respond to the challenges Britain faces.

And they have done it again with this important report.

So I want to thank the report’s authors Kayte Lawton, Graeme Cooke and Nick Pearce for the work they have done.

And all those – voluntary group leaders, campaigners and community organisers – many of whom are here today who helped IPPR with their work.

The issue that motivates this report is the same one that brought me into politics.

A belief that the deep inequalities of income, wealth and power in our country are damaging, wrong and can be tackled.

In each generation, we must seek to tackle these inequalities.

And today this belief means there is one question, over-riding all others, that matters to the future of this country.

It is a question that goes beyond one party, one government or one election.

It is a question that countries all around the world are grappling with:

How can we make the country work not just for a few at the top but for the security and success of ordinary families?

When I went round the country in the recent elections, so many people told me the country didn’t work for them.

They were talking about the basic fundamentals of work, family and community.

Things many people at the top of our society just take for granted.

The basic bargain that if you work hard there would be a degree of security, an ability to make ends meet, has been broken.

Low paid, low skill, insecure work that doesn’t give people any sense of fulfilment: that is the reality for millions of people.

That is not good enough for me.

And it is not good enough for Britain.

For the first time in generations, parents from all types of background, fear that their children will do worse than them.

That is not good enough for me.

And it is not good enough for Britain.

And all round this country people who are doing the right thing don’t seem to be rewarded anymore.

That is not good enough for me.

And it is not good enough for Britain.

For my Party, in everything we do, in every reform we make, in every decision we take, in opposition and in government, our job is to tackle this challenge.

And no vested interest, no orthodoxy, should stop us changing the country for this cause.

The importance of this report is that it shows there is a distinctive and compelling answer to addressing this issue, in particular when it comes to our welfare state.

This report shows we can change things at a time of scarcity.

Because we know the next Labour government won’t have money to spend.

It starts with work.

And a welfare system that helps all our young people to succeed.

For decades we have known about the problem of young people with no or poor qualifications entering adulthood, facing little chance of being able to get on.

But it hasn’t been addressed.

Indeed the perversity of the system means that the one thing we most discourage those young people from doing is getting the skills they need for a decent career.

Because we tell them that they should sign on for benefits not sign up for proper training.

And we say, at the same time, to those who go to university that they are entitled to financial support to improve their skills and qualifications.

There can be no better example of a divided country which seems to value the 50 per cent of young people who go to university and fails to value the untapped talents of the 50 per cent of young people who don’t.

It is about people like Danny who I talked to yesterday.

I asked him whether the Job Centre had been good enough at getting him in to training.

He said it had been completely useless.

And that’s because of the rules and the system.

How can he have faith in the system when that happens?

It is no wonder that people feel that politics doesn’t serve them.

It is not good enough for me.

And it is not good enough for Britain.

We can’t succeed as a country with unskilled young people going from benefits to low paid work and back again without proper skills.

Because it doesn’t give business the productive workforce they need.

And it costs the taxpayer billions of pounds in extra welfare spending and lower productivity.

So we’re going to change it.

What the proposals in this report show is that we can address these issues and reform welfare in a way that is progressive not punitive.

And a Labour government will get young people to sign up for training, not sign on for benefits.

So for 18 to 21 year olds, we will replace Job Seekers’ Allowance with a new youth allowance.

An allowance dependent on young people being in training

And targeted at those who need it most.

These are the right principles:

Britain’s young people who don’t have the skills they need for work should be in training not on benefits.

We should abolish the limit on training that has for decades held young people back.

And to pay for these changes in tough times, we should say young people will be entitled to financial support only if they really need it.

Assessed on the basis of parental income, as we do for those young people who go to university.

This is the right thing to do and it doesn’t cost money, it saves money.

So with this proposal and others, this report says to those worried about work in Britain that there are answers.

And we can restore the link between hard work and reward.

And to properly reward hard work and effort, we need contribution to be at the heart of our welfare system too.

We talk about the problem of people getting something for nothing.

And we are right to do so.

But there is a problem that politicians rarely talk about of people getting nothing for something.

How many times have I heard people say: “for years and years, I paid in and then when the time came and I needed help I got nothing out”?

Rewarding contribution was a key principle of the Beveridge Report.

And it is a key intuition of the British people.

But it is a principle that has been forgotten by governments of both parties.

Aside from pensions, less than one tenth of social security spending now goes on entitlements that are based on contribution.

We should not allow the contributory principle to recede still further.

Instead, we should strengthen it.

That’s why as one example, the next Labour government will change the way Job Seekers’ Allowance works.

To make sure that someone who has been working for years and years, paying in to the system, gets more help if they lose their job, than someone who has been working for just a couple of years.

And we will pay for it not by spending more money in social security.

But by extending the length of time people need to have worked to qualify.

And this report faces up to the tough reality that my party understands.

We won’t be able to ensure the security and success of ordinary families in the years ahead with higher benefit spending.

Instead, we must do so by tackling the problems at source.

That’s why we have set out proposals to tackle low pay, increasing the minimum wage.

Saving money on benefits.

Supporting childcare to help mums and dads get back to work.

Reducing the costs of worklessness.

And this report shows also how we can start to tackle a historic problem in Britain, a problem which has developed over decades: a housing benefit bill going up and up and investment in housing itself falling further and further.

Higher housing benefit spending is not a sign of progressive success.

It is a sign of failure.

And again in this report shows the right vision for how we can start to turn this round.

Moving from benefits to bricks by empowering local authorities to use the money they save on housing benefit and reinvest it to help build homes.

And this report is right also that if we are to tackle the generational challenge our country faces of inequality, we cannot do so simply by pulling levers at the centre.

We can’t make the country work for people again by relying on Whitehall and Westminster.

We can only do it by devolving power.

Whether it is getting work for our young people.

Creating the jobs of the future.

Supporting business.

And in public services:

Giving more powers to parents in shaping the future of their schools.

And patients in shaping the future of their hospitals.

People-powered public services.

That is why devolving power is a key part of this report and other reports that are being published in the coming months.

Anyone looking to bring change to Britain today is confronted with a huge problem.

People’s desire for change is enormous, just as it was at the time of the Beveridge Report in the 1940s.

But their belief that this change is possible has been profoundly shaken.

There is a deep sense of pessimism about whether Westminster politics, or anyone within a million miles of it, has any of the answers.

People see a country that doesn’t work for them and hasn’t done so for a long time.

And they believe nobody really gets it.

And it is not just that people think the problems are huge, it is that they don’t believe they can be solved because of the financial challenges the country faces.

I know we must meet the cause of our time, the cause I came into politics for, while confronting a fiscal situation the like of which we have not seen for generations.

The result of a financial crash the like of which none of us have ever seen.

What this report shows is that we do have answers.

Distinctive answers that are right for this time.

Above all the situation means we can’t just hope to make do and mend.

We can’t just borrow and spend money to paper over the cracks.

The old way of doing things won’t work anymore.

Instead, we need big, far-reaching reform.

Which means big changes, not big spending.

Reform that can reshape our economy, so that hard work is rewarded again.

Rebuild our society, so that the next generation does better than the last.

And change our country so that the British people feel it is run according to their values.

That kind of reform is going to be tough.

No one said it would be easy.

I know that.

And you know that.

But it is a cause worth fighting for.

It is the way we change Britain.

That is our mission.

That’s what the Condition of Britain teaches us.

And I congratulate IPPR on your report.

Ed Miliband – 2014 Speech to Labour Friends of Israel


Below is the text of the speech made by Ed Miliband, the Leader of the Opposition, to the Labour Friends of Israel on 17th June 2014.

Friends, it is once again a privileged to have the opportunity to address the annual LFI lunch.

I would like to thank everyone from LFI for organising today’s lunch, and I am sure you would like to join me in thanking Sir David Garrard and Isaac Kaye for helping make it happen.

I am delighted that Ambassador Daniel Taub is with us today and I would also like to take this opportunity as we approach the first anniversary of his induction to say how much I have admired the humanity and generosity of spirit shown in his tenure by Chief Rabbi Mirvis.

I am proud to be a supporter of LFI.

You play a vital role in promoting Israel and passionately campaigning for a two state solution for two peoples.

We are committed to working with LFI to further deepen the relationship between my party and the Israeli Labour Party led by Isaac Herzog, who I was delighted to welcome to my home during his recent visit.

I would also like to play tribute to Anne McGuire who has done an excellent job in chairing LFI over the last year.

I also want to welcome Adrian Cohen to his new position as chair of LFI and I am sure we all want to show our appreciation for the tireless efforts of Jennifer Gerber who joined us on our recent trip to Israel.

Let me say before I get into the main part of my remarks, I am sure all of our thoughts today are with the 3 kidnapped Israeli teenagers, Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar, and Eyal Yifrach and their families. We all profoundly hope for their speedy and safe return. And it is a measure of this community’s concern that on Sunday afternoon the Chief Rabbi led a service attended by over a thousand people to pray for their safe release.

Today I want to talk to you about my reflections following my recent trip to Israel.

And what it meant to me as a Jew, as a son, a grandson and a father.

And what it means for Labour in government and our approach to Israel.

We travelled out on the El Al flight LY316 three days before Passover.

Justine and I had not entirely anticipated something, which I am sure will be more familiar to so many in this room, and Chief Rabbi I am sure in particular to many of your congregants – that every other passenger on the plane seemed to know each other.

And it wasn’t long before complete strangers were coming up to Justine and me to ask the same question – “So where will you both be for Seder?”

On our trip we would witness the candour of Israelis and the willingness to speak their minds.

I particularly enjoyed the moment at a briefing given by a group of Knesset Parliamentarians, one of whom, in a state of complete exasperation, turned to me and referring to his colleague said, “Mr Miliband, please don’t listen to him he has no idea what he is talking about”.

It makes the Parliamentary Labour Party appear positively benign.

As we touched down on that pre-Passover plane, it immediately took me back to being a young boy and travelling to Israel for the first time.

For the next two days, I would have the most vivid reminders of the deep roots that I have in Israel: like visiting my cousins at the Nachshonim Kibbutz, where I had picked oranges as a child, and having dinner with my extended family in Tel Aviv, arguing and debating, with love and affection.

And there were three particular things which made this visit not only an official trip but a deeply personal journey:

First, being approach by the assistant to the President of the Hebrew University, who said to me: “My grandmother was in hiding in the same Belgian village as your grandmother”.

I can truly say to you, that experience would be unlikely to happen to me in any other country in the world.

That is just one of the reasons why Israel has special meaning for me and a special place in my heart.

Second, my visit to Yad Vashem.

A moment of reflection, mourning and discovery.

Reflection on the loss of so many millions of Jews.

Mourning for so many members of my family that were lost.

And discovery. As I left Yad Vashem I was handed a collection of documents about my family including new information, 70 years later, about what happened to my grandfather and where he perished.

It was an extraordinary feeling, so many years after he died, to make new discoveries about his death.

The new Yad Vashem tells an overwhelming story of the greatest single stain on the conscience of humanity – the Holocaust.

But it also tells, in a way that I was not expecting, a story of life; the richness and the colour of life for European

Jews before 1939. And of course, it also tells how Israel became a miraculous affirmation of life in the face of death.

Finally, I would also say that it was a joy for me to have Justine with me on my trip to Israel. And for her to have a chance to meet my family.

She was moved and delighted to be there.

And I look forward to travelling to Israel with my children, Daniel and Sam, when they are older.

So these are some personal reflections about my trip.

But I did not simply go as a Jew returning to his family’s roots, but also as someone who wants to be the next Prime Minister of this country.

So I also want to reflect on the lessons I learn as the person wanting to do that job.

And my theme, the promise I want to make to you today, is about the priority the next Labour government will attach to its relationship with Israel.

Because of its importance to the Jews of Britain, because of the democracy it represents, because of its economic lessons, and because of the importance of a Middle East peace process for the stability of the world.

I specifically chose this as one of my first official overseas visits because of all these reasons and more.

The priority that I attach to our relationship with Israel, is not just a promise for Opposition, but a commitment for government.

And today I want to tell you where that sense of priority leads me on the major issues that matter.

Israel: economic power with social challenges

As LFI has repeatedly argued, the world needs to get to know Israel better for its economic achievements, as well as its security and diplomatic challenges.

And what struck me is that while Israel is an amazing economic powerhouse, it also faces the common challenges of inequality that so many countries around the world are wrestling with.

The Israel I experienced on my trip was one that is seizing the future: like the young people at Hebrew University and the thrilling innovation and entrepreneurship of new and high tech businesses.

Israel is a major world innovator and I was inspired by the work of the high tech hub, organised by the British Embassy.

We learnt some of the interesting lessons about Israel’s success: the rate of graduate entry, immigration bringing new skills, the availability of venture capital and the collaboration between private and public enterprise.

I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the excellent work of our brilliant Ambassador Matthew Gould.

And I can tell you that a major priority for a Labour Government would be to further collaborate, building stronger working relationships between British and Israeli companies.

And yet for all the innovation, and economic success, it is impossible to ignore the security challenges that Israel faces.

Indeed, they are an economic issue, holding back investment and preventing Israel from achieving even greater things economically and socially.

And they are not simply issues for Israel, because we all have an interest in a stable and secure Middle East.

Visiting Israel brings home the security challenges that it faces very starkly.

We visited Sderot and I saw the rockets that had been fired from Gaza and landed in that town.

I heard from the Mayor about the reinforcements against rockets they had to build for their local schools.

And Justine and I met children, no older than my own, who don’t get the luxury of playing outside as ours do, but are assigned to an inside bunker playground.

And we met the parents of Daniel Viflic, who had been killed in a rocket attack just before Passover in 2011.

He had simply been visiting his grandmother.

The Viflics are the bravest people, but nothing can change the grief and loss they face.

And after 10 years of continuing rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli civilians from Gaza, of course there remains deep concern amongst Israeli citizens about their security.

So attaching the right priority to our relationship with Israel means fully understanding its security concerns and the threat to its people.

Therefore, we must ensure Israel’s security and right to protect itself.

With the unfolding situation in Iraq, we are also reminded of the security situation that Israel faces beyond its borders.

Iraq is today facing fundamental threats to its integrity, security and stability.

ISIS is a violent and brutal military group posing a threat to the entire region. As we have seen in a horrifying way in the last few days.

Their advances in Iraq and their growing base in northern Syria should be seen by all as extremely grave developments.

As Douglas Alexander said yesterday the priority now must be to promote the political integrity of Iraq, to help the Iraqi government through support and advice and do everything we can to provide humanitarian assistance.

Nobody should be in any doubt about the seriousness of the situation and the priority it demands from the world.

Given all of our interests in stability in the region it is right also to be seeking dialogue with other countries in the wider area.

Which brings us to Iran.

I want to be clear about Labour’s position: we are under no illusions about the Iranian regime.

It has supplied thousands of missiles to Hamas and Hezbollah which have been used against Israel.

If Iran continues its illegal nuclear programme and develops a weapon, it poses a grave threat to Israel and to the stability of the region.

That is why the world has such a strong interest in preventing this happening.

The interim agreement brokered by Cathy Ashton is a step forward. We should take nothing for granted about Iran’s behaviour but that route represents by far the best hope for avoiding what we all fear: Iran with nuclear weapons.

But while it is absolutely right to remain deeply sceptical about the nature of the regime, we support the Government’s decision today to reopen the Embassy as a means of engagement.

All of us are conscious, especially at this moment of the instability of this region. Not just in Iraq but also the unfolding tragedy in Syria and the consequences that is having for neighbouring states.

For us that reinforces the importance of a successful peace process.

Our trip to Israel turned out to be just prior to the collapse of the talks.

We can all see the considerable challenges to the peace process. And there is a growing sense as to what those challenges are.

Settlement building in the occupied territories is a significant threat to a negotiated agreement.

The daily reality of all this was brought home on our visit.

We had the chance to visit a Bedouin camp in the Occupied Territories.

People there lived difficult, impoverished lives, and are faced with the potential threat of eviction.

As we heard during our trip, the real fear is that settlement activity makes the viability of a two state solution more challenging.

And those significant challenges to the peace process include the role of Hamas, not just its failure to renounce violence against Israel but to accept its very right to exist.

These deep concerns about time running out represents reasons for pessimism.

They lead some to say that support for a two-state solution should be abandoned.

I don’t agree.

After all what is the alternative?

So we should step up, not abandon, our support for a two state solution.

We should do so deeply conscious of the pressure of time.

But having set out the reasons for pessimism, there are reasons for optimism too.

Most conflicts are unresolved because we do not know what an agreement looks like.

What came home to me on this trip was reasonable people on both sides have a sense of what a resolution looks like.

Two states for two peoples, based on 1967 lines with mutually agreed land swaps, with Israel as the homeland for the Jewish people and the state of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people, and with each state enjoying self-determination, security and mutual recognition.

We know that compromises in key areas must be made on both sides.

We must also do nothing that will get in the way of peace.

So we are clear that the threat of boycotts of Israel is the wrong response. We do and we will resolutely oppose the isolation of Israel. And my party does so.

No one in my party either should question Israel’s right to exist.

And what is our role in all this? As friends of Israel.

We must, as LFI is, be persuaders for peace and the two state solution.

We can’t deliver peace unless both sides in the conflict want it.

The international community can set high expectations of both sides.

That is what Secretary Kerry has sought to do in an outstanding and brilliant way, winning the trust of both sides.

That will be how a future Labour government approaches the peace process, passionate and engaged in a successful outcome.

I am reminded of the words of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin used twenty years ago next month at a joint session of both houses of Congress:

“We all love the same children, weep the same tears, hate the same enmity and pray for reconciliation. Peace has no borders…here is where we were born. Here is where we created a nation. Here we forged a haven for the persecuted and built a model of a democratic country. But we are not alone here on this soil, in this land we have neighbours, the Palestinian people – we who have seen you in your difficulties, we saw you for generations; we who have killed and been killed are walking beside you now toward a common future and we want to be good neighbours.”

So let me make this pledge today: in that spirit, we stand with Israelis and Palestinians in their pursuit of peace.

It was meeting extraordinary Israelis and Palestinians that made my recent trip an extraordinary journey.

And a complete privilege for me.

The Jewish community in Britain is also extraordinary: civic minded people of the charity world, dynamic business people, committed public servants, people from every walk of Jewish life with deep love and affection for Britain.

Over these four years, I have learnt a lot from you.

And I hope you have found me willing to listen and learn.

I want you to know that if I become Prime Minister in less than a year’s time, I will be proud to do so as a friend of Israel, a Jew and, most of all, someone who feels so proud to be part of the community gathered here today.

Ed Miliband – 2014 Speech to GMB Congress


Below is the text of the speech made by Ed Miliband, the Leader of the Opposition, to the GMB Congress held in Nottingham on 12th June 2014.

I want to pay tribute to the fantastic work that the members of the GMB have done over this year.

The GMB takes a stand for the values of our movement, even when that is hard.

And we have seen that in the work you have done.

Leading the campaign against blacklisting in our construction industry.

Standing against tax avoidance by some of the world’s biggest and most powerful firms.

Doing all you can to make work pay, with your campaign for a Living Wage.

And I also want to thank you for playing your part in the fight to keep Scotland in the United Kingdom.

And let us also stand for this debate being conducted in a decent way.

We have seen over the last 24 hours the most unpleasant and unseemly attacks on JK Rowling for her speaking out.

All leaders should say that this has no place in the debate about independence.

Friends, I want to talk today about the country we can begin to build in less than 11 months’ time if we win the next general election.

And I want to talk about Labour’s cause between now and that election.

And, more important than that, the crucial cause for our country.

You know how your members are feeling.

They have been at the sharp end of the worst cost-of-living crisis in living memory.

More and more people who are working all the hours God sends and are still being left behind.

One in five people are now working for poverty in the 4th richest country in the world.

Millions more struggling to make ends meet.

And a deep sense of unfairness about how Britain is run.

Friends, it’s not good enough for Britain.

And the Labour Party I lead will not let it stand.

And these aren’t just problems for today.

They are problems for our country’s future as well.

For the first time we can remember, parents in Britain are worrying that their children will have a harder life than they did.

Young people are unable to get the best start in life.

The apprenticeships and secure jobs people used to rely on, just don’t seem to be there anymore.

There aren’t flats or houses that young people can afford to rent or buy.

What I call the promise of Britain, that the next generation does better than the last, has been broken.

What does all this tell you?

This country doesn’t work for most working people.

The vital link between working people’s family finances and the wealth of the nation as a whole has been broken.

And it is the task of the next Labour government to restore it.

The bond between hard work and fair reward has snapped.

And it is the task of the next Labour government to mend it.

Inequality has been on the rise.

And it is the task of the next Labour government to turn the tide.

These are our tasks.

And that is why we need big changes.

Big changes in how our country is run.

And who it is run for.

And that is what One Nation Labour is all about.

And there’s one thing we can be certain of.

We’re never going to see the kind of action Britain needs from David Cameron and George Osborne.

Friends, the Tories can never be the solution to the cost-of-living crisis.

Because they are part of the problem.

It is because of how they think an economy succeeds.

They really do believe in the old ideas.

If a few at the top do OK, it will be all right for everyone else.

That’s why they give the millionaires their tax cut.

While to everyone else they say:

Keep your wages down.

Put up with insecurity.

Trade in your rights at work.

Accept the zero-hours contracts.

A race to the bottom.

Friends, what you know, what I know is that Britain doesn’t need a race to the bottom.

It needs solidarity, fairness and a country that works for all.

And don’t let anyone tell you UKIP are the answer either.

They say they want to be the champion of working people.

But what do they stand for?

Charges to see your GP.

Attacking the minimum wage.

Bring back the 11 plus.

Tax cuts for those at the top.

Keeping the flame of Thatcherism alive.

These aren’t the values of working people.

And they offer no solution for Britain.

So it will fall to Labour, as it has fallen to us before, to make the changes we need.

To have the determination to rebuild the economy.

I’m not going to pretend it will be easy.

Because it won’t.

We will face tough an economic situation.

That’s why we’ve said we won’t borrow more for day-to-day spending in 2015-16.

And we will balance the books in the next Parliament with a surplus in current spending and the debt falling.

But don’t let anyone tell you that it means we can’t make a difference.

We can.

And we will.

On every aspect of inequality, of the cost-of-living crisis, of the break between hard work and reward – we will act.

And I want you to know, your members to know, your friends and neighbours to know, the difference a Labour government will make.

We will take action on wages, on jobs and on prices.

It starts with wages.

The next Labour Government will write the next chapter in the battle against low pay.

For the first time since records began, most of the people in poverty in Britain today are in work, not out of work.

There’s a low pay epidemic in this country.

It has not happened overnight.

It has been coming for generations.

And it shames us all.

A Labour government would start to turn it round.

Let’s today congratulate the 26 Labour councils who are already leading the way in moving to a living wage.

A living wage is good for employees as it means they can better afford to bring up their family.

It makes sense for government, saving money on subsidizing the cost of low pay.

And leading businesses are showing it makes sense for them too,

improving productivity and reducing turnover of staff.

That’s why in government we want to help more employers become living wage employers.

Why for the first time we will give tax incentives to employers who do the right thing.

Because we know the living wage is an idea whose time has come.

And working together we’ll strengthen the minimum wage too.

We all need to take action – government, trade unions and businesses together – to stop those who abuse the minimum wage.

Exploiting workers who come here from abroad and driving down wages for everyone else.

I’m the son of immigrants and I believe that immigration has benefited our country.

But it is part of a progressive, Labour agenda, a trade union agenda, to say it is right to tackle exploitation whoever it affects, including when it undercuts wages.

You know your members are concerned about immigration.

Because you hear it in the workplace.

Let us tell them Labour doesn’t stand for cutting Britain off from the rest of the world.

But Labour stands for fair rules.

Enforcing the minimum wage, stopping employers putting 15 people in a house to sidestep the minimum wage, regulating the gangmasters operating in industry.

And it means something else as well.

It took too long for the last Labour government to introduce rules on agency workers.

The next Labour government will act on the loopholes in those rules that mean agency work can be used to undermine the pay of permanent employees.

And we will set our sights higher as a country too.

With a clear ambition for the minimum wage at the start of each Parliament.

Because we know the single most important truth:

A country can only succeed if those who work hard and do the right thing get a fair day’s pay.

That’s why I guarantee today: the next Labour government will increase the minimum wage.

And we won’t just increase it, we will narrow the gap between the minimum wage and average earnings.

So we can make hard work pay again in our country.

These are the values of the British people, that if you work hard you should get a decent reward and be able to bring up your family.

And these will be the values of the next Labour government too.

Securing good wages for the working people of Britain is also about creating the jobs of the future.

The principle of the next Labour government is that we must not just secure full employment but decent jobs with decent wages.

That means successful businesses, making profits, creating wealth in a dynamic economy.

After the next election the route to social justice lies through the creation of these well paid, private sector jobs.

Jobs that help people build a career, a future for themselves and their families.

Secure. High skill.

Like those you have been campaigning for in the construction industry.

Getting Britain building again.

I believe in a simple idea: there should be a future for all of our young people including the 50 per cent who don’t go to university.

Decent qualifications.


And careers for all our young people.

We can’t build the good quality jobs of the future, when zero-hours contracts are spreading like wildfire through our workplaces.

There’s no place for exploitative zero-hours contracts in Britain today.

So the next Labour government will have a simple rule:

If week after week, you do regular hours, you deserve a regular contract not a zero-hours contract.

And creating the jobs of the future, means backing Britain’s small businesses too.

The businesses that invent and create and sell, that make the opportunities, but so often can’t get a break themselves.

That’s why we will cut and freeze business rates for Britain’s small firms.

And why we will take on the big banks that still refuse to lend.

Breaking up the banks on the high street.

Establishing a British Investment Bank.

And creating regional banks in every part of the country.

So that there are successful companies creating good quality jobs in every single part of Britain.

Not just in the City of London.

Because I believe in the same principle that you do.

We don’t want businesses serving our banks, we want banks that serve our businesses.

Tackling inequality and the cost-of-living crisis, also means dealing with the costs families face.

The next Labour government will have a simple principle: we will take action on the broken markets that have held our country back for so long now.

Driving prices too high, ripping people off.

It starts with the energy companies.

We’ve seen the problem this very week.

The wholesale price goes up, your bills go up.

The wholesale price comes down, your bills still go up.

Not under a Labour government.

We will freeze gas and electricity bills until 2017 to stop them rising.

And we will give new powers to the regulator to cut prices too.

But it doesn’t stop there.

Isn’t it time we had a government that faced up to one of the biggest causes of the cost-of-living crisis in our country?

The price of renting or buying a home

There are nine million people renting their homes.

Think of the million families in this position, with kids starting the school year this September.

Who don’t know whether they will be in their house in 12 months time.

That insecurity is bad for them and bad for our country.

That’s why we will give those who rent, three-year secure tenancies, with rent rises that are stable and predictable.

The government might think that reminds them of Venezuela.

But I think it is the minimum sense of decency and fairness that the nine million people of Britain who rent their homes have the right to expect.

And we will get homes built again in this country.

We all know why house prices are out of reach for so many families.

Because there are fewer house completions in Britain today that at any time since the 1920s.

That’s why the next Labour government will make sure that 200,000 homes a year are built by the end of the next Parliament.

We’ll give local authorities the right grow.

And at the same time, we’ll tackle the problem of developers buying up land, getting planning permission, and then just sitting on it waiting for it to rise in value.

Half a million homes part of the landbanks in our country.

We won’t let it continue.

And to those developers, we’ll have a simple message:

You either use the land, or lose the land.

And we know we can only make this country strong for all and not just a few if we have strong public services.

People have lost faith in lots of institutions in Britain.


The press.

The banks.

But amidst all that, there is a public service, an institution, that people still have great faith in.

And that’s our National Health Service.

We created it.

We invested in it.

And brought it back to health after 1997.

And it will be our job to save it once again.

The NHS is going backwards under the Tories.

The highest waiting times in A&E for a decade.

Longer waiting lists.

Longer waiting times to see your GP.

And creeping privatization of our NHS.

David Cameron said the NHS was safe in his hands.

He has betrayed the trust of the British people.

It will be up to the next Labour government to protect and improve our NHS.

Stop the Tory privatization.

And repeal their terrible Health and Social Care Bill.

Friends, we face a generational challenge in Britain right now.

For years, for decades even, we’ve had a country that works well for a few.

But that leaves most working people behind.

We’ve got to turn that round.

We face the fight of our lives in less than a year’s time.

We all know how the Tories will fight that election.

We all know the tactics they will use.

How desperate they will be to cling to power.

But I have to tell you.

We have a bigger opponent at these elections.

Bigger than the Tories.

Bigger than UKIP.

And it’s certainly bigger than the Liberal Democrats.

It is the sense that nothing can be done.

The sense that Britain’s problems are too big.

And politics is too small.

We all heard it time after time during the election campaign last month.

“You’re all the same. In it for yourselves. You don’t keep your promises.”

Friends, we know that’s not right.

We know we are different.

We have to show people.

We can do it.

Remind people that we came into this party, and this movement, for a reason:

Show that we can change Britain.

That we can rebuild our economy.

Save our NHS.

That we can make our country a fairer, more prosperous, more equal place.

And that we can do all that even when times are hard.

Friends, that is our mission.

A fairer society.

A more just society.

A more equal society.

That is our cause.

And together, we can make it happen.

Ed Miliband – 2014 Speech on One Nation Labour


Below is the text of the speech made by Ed Miliband, the Leader of the Opposition, in London on 17th January 2014.

Today I want to tell you what the next election is about for Labour.

It is about those families who work all the hours that God sends and don’t feel they get anything back.

It is about the people who go to bed anxious about how they’re going to pay their bills.

It is about the parents who turn to each other each night and ask what life their sons and daughters are going to have in the future.

It is about those just starting out who can’t imagine they will ever afford a home of their own.

It is about the most vulnerable in our country who feel they are just being tossed aside.

And it is about all those who are doing OK but still feel Britain should be doing a lot better.

It is about who we are as a country.

And who we want to recover to be.

It is about all those who believe that we’re Britain and we should never settle for second best.

All those millions of people who believe, like I do, like you do: We’re Britain, we’re better than this.

But we can only do better if the conversation in politics catches up with our country.

For too long politicians acted as if when something wasn’t talked about in politics or wasn’t big on our television screens, somehow it wasn’t happening.

The banking crisis.

The problems in the eurozone.

Ups and downs on the stock market.

They are the daily stuff of politics.

But all the while something just as important, something even deeper, has been going on.

And we have been far too silent about it.

That is the cost-of-living crisis.

Some people in Westminster still ask me: is the cost-of-living crisis really such a big deal?

Isn’t it just a short-term problem?

This shows they just don’t understand.

The cost-of-living crisis is the single greatest challenge our country faces.

Not since the century before last have we seen such a sustained fall in living standards.

What is the cost-of-living crisis?

On my very first day as leader of the Labour Party, I talked about the squeezed middle.

I realise now that back then I didn’t grasp the full scale of the problem.

It only really came home to me later.

And since then we’ve had three more years of that squeeze.

It is why I focused on it in my Labour Party conference speech this year.

And today, I think about the fragments of the conversations I have had since then, about the problems people face.

“My wages are stuck but all the bills carry on going up.

I just can’t get the hours I need so everything is a struggle.

The weekly food shop.

Gas and electricity.

Petrol for the car.

I just can’t afford this government.

I don’t know how much I am going to earn from one week to the next.

Work sixty hours a week.

I have to do two jobs.

I don’t have time to see my kids.”

“Of course, life’s going to be hard,” people say, “but surely it doesn’t need to be this hard?”

“And what’s going to happen to my kids when they grow up?

Will they get a regular job?

What about when they want to start a family?”

“They tell me on the news the economy is fixed.

And the people at the top they certainly seem to be doing OK.

But why isn’t that happening for my family?”

It is used to be that this country worked for ordinary people.

It just doesn’t seem to any more.

You see, this cost-of-living crisis is about the pound in people’s pocket today.

But it is not just about that.

It reaches deeply into people’s lives.

Deeply into the way our country is run.

Deeply into who our country is run for.

And because the problems are deep, the solutions need to be too.

That is the task for the next Labour government.

What is going to happen?

At least, politicians are finally talking about the cost-of-living crisis.

But talking about it isn’t enough.

People need to know that we’re going to do anything about it.

This government think it is all going to be OK.

Because this year the forecasts say that average wages will finally overtake prices.

Let’s hope that happens.

But I really warn this government:

If they think a few months of better statistics will solve this crisis, they are just demonstrating again that they have absolutely no idea about the scale of the problem or the solutions required.

This cost-of-living crisis is about who gets the rewards, not just the averages: ordinary people or just those at the top?

It is about the nature of work and whether it is secure or insecure.

It is about the prospects for people’s kids and the quality of jobs.

It is about decent homes at affordable prices.

It is about a strong sense that this cost-of-living crisis has been coming for a long time.

And that there are some big things need to change if we’re going to sort it out.

This government says: “the job is not even half done.”

You might think that’s a good sign.

But when they say that, they are not talking about your living standards.

The work you do.

The prospects for your kids.

They are just talking about the deficit.

Of course, we need to reduce the deficit.

That’s why Labour won’t borrow more for day to day spending in 2015/16.

But deficit reduction alone can’t fix our economy.

Deficit reduction alone can’t make hard work pay.

Deficit reduction alone isn’t a vision for the country.

And why does their vision fall so short?

It is not an accident.

Because they think low wages, insecure work, the hope of a bit of wealth trickling down from the top, is the way Britain succeeds.

Their economic policy is not the solution to the cost-of-living crisis.

It’s part of the problem.

They believe in a race to the bottom.

Low wages, low skills.

Not the race to the top Britain needs to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

High skills and high wages.

The symptoms of their failure to make the long-term changes that Britain needs are there for all to see.

Personal debt for ordinary families rising again, as wages are squeezed and productivity remains low.

The largest deficit in traded goods since records began back in 1955, because there’s no proper industrial policy and no plan for growth in every region.

Investment 159th in the world because reforms haven’t been made so firms can take the long-term view.

Over-reliance on insecure, low paid jobs, not enough of the secure, high paying ones that used to keep our middle class strong.

Millions of people unable to afford to buy or rent a home, because the homes just aren’t being built.

Broken markets, from gas and electricity to transport, which are not being reformed.

And a banking system that still doesn’t serve Britain’s firms.

Higher personal debt.

Uneven growth.

Low investment.

Insecure jobs.

House prices out of reach.

Bills still too high.

Banks not serving the wealth-creators.

And David Cameron and George Osborne want congratulation.

This is not a recipe for building the new economy that can tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

It is a recipe for clinging on to the old economy.

I say: Britain can do better than this.

How we earn our way to a higher standard of living

Over the coming months, Labour will be setting out the long-term changes we need.

So we earn and grow our way to a higher standard of living.

A One Nation industrial policy serving every region of Britain.

An end to the fast buck with a new culture of long-termism, from our infrastructure to our takeover rules to the stock market.

An education policy to help provide skills, training and a career to all of our young people, not just the 50% who go to university.

A plan to build 200,000 homes a year by the end of the next Parliament, so we can tackle the housing crisis.

Taking on the vested interests in every broken market to get a fairer deal to help consumers.

And building a banking system that serves the real economy.

At our party conference in September, I talked about how we will reform Britain’s broken energy market.

As you may remember, the big energy firms didn’t like it.

But it is broken.

And only Labour will put it right.

Today, I want to talk about another broken market.

Britain’s banking system.

Because there can be no bigger test of whether we are serious about building a new economy and tackling the cost-of-living crisis.

Part of the reason as a country we rely too much on low paid, insecure work is that the small and medium sized firms that could create the good, high paying jobs of the future can’t get the finance they need.

Of course, financial services is an important industry in itself.

But for an industry that calls itself a “service”, it has been a poor servant of the real economy.

And it has been an incredibly poor servant.

Not just since 2010.

Or 2008.

But for decades in this country.

We need a reckoning with our banking system not for retribution but for reform.

Labour has already laid out important plans to change our banking system.

A Green Investment Bank, with proper powers to invest.

A new British Business Investment Bank, supported by a network of regional banks in every region of the country.

And we’ve said very clearly if the big banks can’t demonstrate real culture change by the time of the next election they will see their high street and casino arms broken up.

But to really change our banking system, we have to tackle a decades long problem in British banking: too much power concentrated in too few hands.

Britain has one of the most concentrated banking systems in the world.

Just 4 banks control 85% of small business lending.

Not lending to firms.

Poor customer service.

High charges.

The old economy.

The next Labour government will act.

On day one of the next Labour government, we will ask the Competition and Markets Authority to report within six months on how to create at least two new sizeable and competitive banks to challenge the existing high street banks.

I want to be clear about the difference this will mean:

This is not about whether we should have new banks.

The question this government is still asking.

But about how.

It is not about creating new banks that control some tiny proportion of the market.

But new banks that have a substantial proportion and can compete properly with existing banks.

And we are not asking whether existing banks might have to divest themselves of significant number of branches.

We are asking how we make that happen.

And we will go further too.

In America, by law, they have a test so that no bank can get too big and dominate the market.

We will follow the same principle for Britain.

And so under the next Labour government we will establish for the first time a threshold for the market share any one bank can have of personal accounts and small business lending.

Preventing mergers and acquisitions over this threshold.

After decades of banking becoming more and more concentrated, Labour will turn the tide.

I want to send a message to our small and medium sized businesses: Under a Labour government, you will no longer be serving the banks.

The banks will be serving you.

You will have a better chance of getting the support you need to grow your business, employ more people, at decent wages, making profits and helping Britain succeed.

Only if we take on powerful vested interests, from energy to banking, and reform broken markets, can we make the long-term changes Britain needs.

And tackle the cost-of-living crisis.


All of us face a choice about how we want to fight the next election.

Optimistic about Britain and its future.

Or pessimistic.

Giving people a sense of hope.

Or trying to win by fear.

In the next 16 months, I want you to tell people:

About our belief that Britain can do better than this.

About how we believe we can tip the balance away from struggle and towards hope.

And tell them exactly what we will do to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

An energy price freeze.

Strengthening the minimum wage.

Tackling the payday lenders.

Better childcare.

Abolishing the bedroom tax.

Alongside the long-term changes our country needs:

New banks on our high street.

Skills for all our young people.

A new culture for long-termism.

An industrial policy for every region.

Building homes again in Britain.

I say Britain can do better than this.

To build the new economy.

And leave the old economy behind.

To tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

That’s what the next Labour government will do.

Ed Miliband – 2013 Speech on the Cost of Living


Below is the text of the speech made by Ed Miliband, the Leader of the Opposition, in Battersea, London, on 5th November 2013.


It is great to be here in Battersea with you today.

Last Friday, I was in my constituency, at the local Citizens Advice Bureau.

And I talked to some people who had been preyed upon by payday lenders.

There was a woman there in floods of tears.

She was in work.

But she took out a payday loan for her deposit so she could rent somewhere to live.

And then disaster followed.

A payday loan of a few hundred pounds became a debt of thousands of pounds.

She still faces bullying, harassment and threats from multiple payday lenders.

Like the young mum I met who described sitting at home with her daughter and seeing an advert on the TV for a payday lender.

She said she was down to the last nappy for her baby.

She took out the payday loan.

And one led to many more, with her ending up spending most of the money she had each week on repayments and charges.

She was so frightened by the harassment she faced that she had given her mobile phone to her mum.

Her mum showed me the phone and told me that she’d had fifteen calls that day.

The woman who worked at the CAB said the problem had got far, far worse in the last couple of years.

She said: “payday lenders are running riot through people’s lives in this community.”

Yesterday Wonga released a film all about themselves.

And last night the boss of Wonga said he was speaking for the ‘silent majority’, who are happy with their service.

But the truth is he wants us to stay silent about a company where in one year alone their bad debts reached £120 million.

An industry in which seven out of ten customers said they regretted taking out a loan.

With half saying they couldn’t pay it back.

Payday lenders don’t speak for the silent majority.

They are responsible for a quiet crisis of thousands of families trapped in unpayable debt.

The Wonga economy is one of the worst symbols of this cost of living crisis.

And as I listened to these stories, my overwhelming thought was: how is this being allowed to happen in Britain, 2013?

Because these stories of payday lenders are just one part of the cost of living crisis facing families across our country.

Low skilled jobs.

Wages that are stagnating.

Predatory behaviour by some companies.

This isn’t just an issue for the lowest paid, it affects the squeezed middle just as much.

A country where a few at the top do well, but everybody else struggles.

This is not just an issue facing Britain.

It is the issue facing Britain.

It is about who our country is run for.

How it is run.

And whether we believe we can do better than this.

I do.

The Nature of the Problem

Now, David Cameron said recently that I wanted to “talk about the cost of living” because I didn’t want to talk about “economic policy.”

So we have a Prime Minister who thinks we can detach our national economic success from the success of Britain’s families and businesses.

He doesn’t seem to realise that there is no such thing as a successful economy which doesn’t carry Britain’s families with it.

And he obviously doesn’t get that the old link between growth and living standards is just broken.

Growth without national prosperity is not economic success.

The first and last test of economic policy is whether living standards for ordinary families are rising.

And the scale of the problem is familiar to millions of people in our country.

The official figures say that on average working people are £1,500 a year worse off than they were at the election.

And it has happened because prices are rising faster than wages.

In 39 out of the 40 months that David Cameron has been Prime Minister.

But the average doesn’t tell you the whole story.

We don’t just need average wages to creep higher than prices.

For people to be genuinely better off, we have to do much better than that.

Ordinary families are hit harder than average by higher prices.

They rely more on expensive basic necessities, like electricity and gas.

And ordinary families do worse than the average when it comes to wage increases.

Because those increases are scooped by a few at the top.

Chief executive pay went up by 7 per cent last year.

When everyone else’s wages were falling.

We can’t just make do and mend.

We need to do much better than we are.

Can Anything Be Done?

And that means we can’t just carry on as we are.

We have to permanently restore the link between growth and living standards for all of Britain’s working people.

This Government can’t do it.

And the reason is because they are wedded to Britain competing in a race to the bottom.

Listen to their silence on our plans for a living wage.

Nothing to say.

On the falling value of the minimum wage.

Nothing to say.

On zero-hours contracts.

Nothing to say.

On the exploitation of low-skill migrant labour which undercuts wages.

Nothing to say.

They’re silent because of what they believe in.

In his speech to the Conservative Party Conference, George Osborne described my argument that they believed in a race to the bottom as something straight out of “Karl Marx” and “Das Kapital.”


He’s wrong.

It is about what is happening in this capital city.

Right here.

And towns and cities across the country.

Right now.

Now, they think that this low wage economy is the best we can do.

Because they believe doing anything about it means intervening in markets in ways that we shouldn’t.

I disagree.

A dynamic market economy, with profitable private sector companies is essential for creating the wealth we need.

But markets always have rules.

The question is: what do those rules allow?

And what do they encourage?

Do they encourage companies to create high-skill, high-wage jobs, as part of a race to the top?

And provide the support they need to do so?

Or do they encourage a race to the bottom of low wages and low skills?

Do the rules mend broken markets?

Or allow some firms to take advantage of broken markets at the expense of everybody else?

All governments set rules for what they want to see.

This Government does intervene in markets but in the wrong way.

They make it easier to fire people.

Water down rights for agency workers.

Turn a blind eye to the failure to pay the minimum wage.

Pushing companies to compete on low wages, low skills and worse terms and conditions.

They introduce tax cuts for the richest.

Defend bonuses for the bankers.

Stand up for a powerful few.

Supporting their belief that wealth will trickle down from those at the top to everybody else.

Don’t believe it when they say they are stepping away, they are stepping in all the time, stepping in to stand up for the wrong people.

High hopes for those at the top.

Low expectations for everyone else.

A race to the bottom.

When what we need is a race to the top.

Dealing with the Cost of Living Crisis: Jobs

To win that race to the top, we are going to earn and grow our way out of this cost of living crisis.

Not by spending money we don’t have.

Because we have to bring the deficit down.

But by building a different kind of economy.

One that really works for working people.

That starts with the jobs our country creates.

David Cameron is still on his lap of honour.

To celebrate how brilliantly he has done.

In the slowest recovery for a hundred years.

We still face a massive challenge of creating jobs in this country.

There are still nearly two and half million people unemployed in Britain and nearly a million young people are still looking for work.

And when we look at the jobs in our economy, too many are low paid, part-time and temporary.

Half of new jobs have been in low paid sectors of the economy.

We have 1.4 million people working part-time when they want full-time work.

More than ever before.

And we’ve got more people in a temporary job because they can’t find a permanent one.

The Tories don’t think we can do anything about it.

They think it is the way we compete with China and India.

But they are wrong.

A Labour government will put all our country’s effort into winning a race to the top.

And that means taking action on both the quantity and quality of jobs that we are creating.

We can only win a race to the top if we transform our vocational education system and apprenticeships in this country, which is what we will do.

We can only win a race to the top if we radically transform the way we support business in every part of our country, with a proper regional banking system learning the lessons of Germany, which is what we will do.

We can only win a race to the top if we support the small businesses that will create the jobs of the future, by cutting business rates, which is what we will do.

We can only win a race to the top if we help parents get back to work and start earning to support their families by extending childcare for working parents to 25 hour a week, which is what we will do.

And we can only win a race to the top with a proper industrial policy, including for environmental jobs, which is what we will do.

All this is about re-engineering the British economy so that we make a difference to the kinds of jobs we create.

You can’t do it if you believe in a race to the bottom.

You can only do it if you believe in a race to the top.

Dealing with the Cost of Living Crisis: Wages

So dealing with the cost of living crisis starts with jobs.

But it is also about wages.

Wages for millions of people have been in decline for far too long.

I am talking about people battling to do the right thing and struggling and struggling.

Hard, honest work, in supermarkets, on building sites, in call centres.

Working harder, for longer, for less.

We have a low pay emergency in this country.

Five million people now paid less than the living wage.

Working for their poverty.

Up at least 1.4 million in just the last four years.

To one in five of all employed workers.

More of Britain’s poor children today are being brought up in working families than in jobless families.

And low wages aren’t just bad for working people.

They cost money in benefits too.

As the country has to subsidise more and more low paid jobs with higher and higher tax credits and benefits.

The government now pays more out on tax credits and benefits to those in work than it does for who are unemployed.

So to those who say we can’t afford to do anything about wages in our country today:

I say we can’t afford not to.

And many businesses now recognise that a low pay economy is bad for them too.

I was in Bristol last Thursday night talking to cleaners who are paid the living wage.

They told how proud to work for a firm like that.

Better pay means lower turnover of staff.

Higher productivity.

So we have to end the scandal of poverty pay in this country.

We would strengthen the minimum wage, which has lost 5 per cent of its value under this government.

We are looking at the case for higher minimum wages in particular sectors of the economy, like financial services, where they can afford to pay more.

And we will go further than that too.

That is why the next Labour government from its first day in office, will offer “make work pay” contracts to employers all over Britain.

It is a simple deal.

For the first year of a Labour government, we will say to every firm:

You start to make work pay, through a living wage.

And we will give you a 12 month tax rebate of 32p for every extra pound they spend.

Make work pay contracts will raise wages, keep the benefit bill down and tackle the cost of living crisis.

It is a good deal for workers, business and the taxpayer too.

And by tackling low pay we won’t just strengthen our economy, we will strengthen our society as well.

It is not good for our country for people to be working 60 or 70 hours a week, doing 2 or 3 jobs, not having time to see their kids.

We will change it.

Under a One Nation Labour government: work will pay.

Dealing with the Cost of Living Crisis: Broken Markets

And tackling the cost of living crisis is also about ensuring markets work for working people.

And that means fixing markets when they are broken.

This power station was built in the 1920s after a Conservative government intervened to fix a broken energy market.

That government, of Stanley Baldwin, knew that if government didn’t fix broken markets, nobody else was going to.

Stanley Baldwin knew it.

John Major seems to understand it.

But David Cameron doesn’t.

His response to Labour’s energy price freeze shows how out of the mainstream he is.

He took issue with the whole idea of government intervention in a broken market.

Ever since, on energy he seems to have had a different policy every day of the week.

But what we know is that we can never expect him to stand up to the energy companies, because they are a large and powerful interest.

It is not who David Cameron is.

It is not what he does.

He stands up to the weak, never to the strong.

For the next eighteen months, people will hear scare stories from the unholy alliance of the energy companies and David Cameron.

The Big Seven.

It will just reinforce in people’s minds who he stands up for.

The six large energy companies.

Not the 60 million people of Britain.

Today, new figures confirm that most of the recent price rises weren’t caused by government levies or by a rise in wholesale prices.

But are the direct result of a broken market.

For the average increase in the price for electricity and gas since 2011, over half went straight to the costs and profits of the companies themselves.

This shows exactly why we need a price freeze now.

Because only a price freeze will protect customers while we re-set the market.

A price freeze until 2017 will happen if Labour wins the election.

A freeze that will benefit 27 million families and 2.4 million businesses.

It is workable and it will happen.

And tomorrow, Parliament will vote on that price freeze.

So Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs could vote for it now.

And if they line up against it, the British people will know the truth:

This Government is on the side of the big energy companies not hard-pressed families.

And our price freeze until 2017 will pave the way for us to radically improve the energy market for the long term.

We will publish an Energy Green Paper for:

A regulator that can cut unjustified price rises.

A ring fence between the generation and supply businesses of the energy companies, so there is proper transparency.

Forcing energy companies to trade the energy they produce in the open market.

And a new simple tariff structure that people can understand.

So we will change the way the energy market works.

In a way that will provide long-term confidence for investors and a better deal for consumers.

And we will mend other markets that aren’t working in the public interest.

Opening up competition in banking.

A cap on the cost of credit in payday lending.

Proper regulation of our train companies.

Ending unjustified charges and fees in the private rented sector.

And new social tariffs in the water industry.

The Conservative Party defends broken markets and the few people that profit from them.

I am proud that the Labour Party stands up for markets that work for working people.


The next general election will offer a big choice.

A choice about whether we tackle the cost of living crisis or shrug our shoulders.

A choice about whether we run a race to the top or a race to the bottom.

A choice about whether we reform broken markets or defend them.

A choice about how we succeed as a country.

Above all, the choice will be about who our country is run for.

There is a Tory vision for Britain that has low expectations for what most people should be able to expect.

Payday lenders can prey on the vulnerable.

Millions of families see stagnating living standards.

Energy companies can just carry on as they are, ripping off consumers.

My vision is different.

We can run Britain in a different way.

Different from the past.

Building a different future for our country.

Where ordinary people feel the country is run for them.

In their interests.

And for their future.

Earning our way to a better standard of living.

Sharing rewards fairly.

And making markets work for people, not the other way round.

Britain can do better than this.

And that’s what One Nation Labour will do.

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.

Ed Miliband – 2013 Speech to the TUC


Below is the text of the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband, to the TUC Conference in Bournemouth on 10th September 2013.

Frances, thank you so much for that introduction.

And let me pay tribute to you, as the first female General Secretary of the TUC, for the fantastic job that you do.

But I am sure you would agree that it would be wrong not to also remember those who did so much before you.

And I want to pick out one particular individual.

In a speech I remember reading, he argued that the problem of British politics had been that the “voices of Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, all the other important centres of … industry have been unheard.”

He went further.

He praised that trade union march through the centre of London.

He talked evocatively of its “immense organisation, with marshals and sub-marshals, scarves, banners and an exhibition of almost perfect military discipline.”

Yes, I am talking, believe it or not, about:

The Conservative Prime Minister of 1867.

The Fourteenth Earl of Derby.

The longest ever serving leader of the Conservative Party.

The man who first legislated to allow trade unions in this country.

His real name: Edward Stanley.

Or as he would be called today:

Red Ed.

I tell this story to make a serious point.

The Earl of Derby and Benjamin Disraeli who succeeded him were One Nation Conservatives.

They knew the Conservative Party had to represent the whole country.

They couldn’t write off whole swathes of people if they were to be worthy of governing Britain.

It seems extraordinary to have to even talk about this historical lesson.

But I do.

We have a Prime Minister who writes you and your members off.

Who doesn’t just write you off, but oozes contempt for you from every pore.

What does he say about you?

He says the trade union movement is a “threat to our economy”.

Back to the enemy within.

Six and a half million people in Britain.

Who teach our children.

Who look after the sick.

Who care for the elderly.

Who build our homes.

Who keep our shops open morning, noon and night.

They’re not the enemy within.

They’re the people who make Britain what it is.

How dare he?

How dare he insult people – members of trade unions – as he does?

How dare he write off whole sections of our society?

The Earl of Derby, Benjamin Disraeli, and other One Nation Conservatives, would be turning in their graves if they could hear the nasty, divisive, small-minded rhetoric of the leader of their once great party.

But friends, just remember this.

We know from recent experience what happens to political leaders who write off whole sections of a country.

That’s what Mitt Romney did when he talked about the 47 per cent of people who would never vote for him.

And look what happened to him.

They didn’t.

Friends, my job is to make sure that’s what happens to David Cameron as well.

A One Nation Party.

Unlike Mr Cameron, I am a One Nation politician.

And One Nation is about governing for the whole country.

To do this we are going have to build a new kind of Labour Party.

A new relationship with individual trade union members.

Some people ask: what’s wrong with the current system?

Let me tell them: we have three million working men and women affiliated to our party.

But the vast majority play no role in our party.

They are affiliated in name only.

That wasn’t the vision of the founders of our party.

I don’t think it’s your vision either.

And it’s certainly not my vision.

That’s why I want to make each and every affiliated trade union member a real part of their local party.

Making a real choice to be a part of our party.

So they can have a real voice in it.

And why is that such an exciting idea?

Because it means we could become a Labour party not of 200,000 people, but 500,000 or many more.

A party rooted every kind of workplace in the country.

A party rooted in every community in the country.

A genuine living, breathing movement.

Of course, it is a massive challenge.

It will be a massive challenge for the Labour Party to reach out to your members in a way that we have not done for many years and persuade them to be part of what we do.

And like anything that is hard it is a risk.

But the bigger risk is just saying let’s do it as we have always done it.

It is you who have been telling me year after year about a politics that is detached from the lives of working people.

That’s why we have to have the courage to change.

I respect those who worry about change.

I understand.

But I disagree.

It is the right thing to do.

We can change.

We must change.

And I am absolutely determined this change will happen.

It is the only way we can build a One Nation party.

So we can build a One Nation country.

And most importantly a One Nation economy, one that works for all working people, not just a few at the top.

Now at the moment you hear the Tories congratulating themselves on the recovery.

George Osborne was at it again yesterday.

And it is welcome that the economy is growing.

But we have to ask: “whose recovery is it anyway”?

The million young people looking for work.

It is not their recovery.

The long-term unemployed, higher than at any time for a generation.

It is not their recovery.

The 1.4 million people, more than ever before, desperate for full-time work but only able to get part-time work.

It is not their recovery.

And all the millions of people who are seeing their living standards falling year on year under this government.

It is not their recovery either.

Living standards have been falling for longer than at any time since 1870.

About the time our old friend, the Earl of Derby, left office.

We know whose recovery it is.

A recovery for the privileged few in our society.

The City bonuses are back.

Up by 82 per cent in April of this year alone.

Helped along by David Cameron’s millionaire’s tax cut.

It is a recovery for a few.

It is an unfair recovery.

An unequal recovery.

And an unequal recovery won’t be a stable recovery.

It won’t be built to last.

The only way we can have a durable recovery is with an economy that works for all working people.

Because what makes an economy succeed is not just a few people at the top, but the forgotten wealth creators.

The people who put in the hours, do the work, do two jobs.

Who get up before George Osborne’s curtains are open in the morning and come back at night well after they have closed.

They’re the people who make our economy strong.

They’re the people we have to support to make a recovery that lasts.

We know life won’t be easy under a Labour government.

We’ll have to stick to strict spending limits.

I know that means you ask:

What do we have to say to our members about what would be different under a Labour government than a Tory government?

The answer is we’d make different choices in pursuit of a fundamentally different vision of our economy.

One that works for all working people, not just a few.

These different choices start with young people.

On day one as Prime Minister, I would be mobilising all of Britain’s businesses behind the idea of getting our young people back to work.

If we were in government now, we would be saying to every young person out of work for more than a year, we will offer a compulsory jobs guarantee, funded by a tax on the bankers’ bonuses, for a job with proper training, paying at least the minimum wage.

A Labour government would get our young people working again.

And we need to get the best out of all of our young people.

It is time to end the snobbery in our country that says that university is always best and apprenticeships second best.

That’s why the next Labour government will get proper careers and qualifications for that forgotten 50 per cent who don’t go to university.

And we’ll say to any business: if you want a major government contract, you must provide apprenticeships to the next generation.

And to get a recovery that works for working people, we need proper investment in the future too.

Britain is currently 159th in the international league table of investment.

We’re not going to succeed in the future with a record like that.

Turning it round means changing our banking system.

We’ve still got businesses that serve our banks rather than banks that serve our businesses.

So we would have a new British Investment Bank to get finance to small businesses.

And regional banks too.

Banks that are legally obliged to invest in their region of the country and their region alone.

Not chasing a quick profit in the City of London.

But investment in the future doesn’t just come from our banks.

It needs to come from the government too.

I believe the way we get the best companies to come here is not on the basis of low skills and low wages.

But high skills and a decent infrastructure.

So we’d be doing something that hasn’t been done for decades.

Investing properly in housing in this country.

So, building a recovery that can last, one that works for working people and not just a few at the top, needs different choices on young people, on jobs, on skills, on investment and on infrastructure.

But it means something else too.

The Tories really do believe we get success through a few at the top.

So they say to get more out of the very wealthiest, you give them a tax cut.

But you get more out of working people, if you make them feel more insecure.

I disagree.

We can never build a recovery works for all, unless working people feel confident and secure at work.

That’s what other countries know.

And I think that’s what the British people know too.

Now I recognise, as do you, that both workers and businesses need flexibility.

It is how you unions and employers worked together to keep people working even during the most difficult moments of the recession.

Putting jobs above pay rises.

Working fewer hours in order to protect employment.

Flexibility yes.

Exploitation no.

And nowhere is that more true than when it comes to zero hours contracts.

Of course, there are some kinds of these contracts which are useful.

For locum doctors.

Or supply teachers at schools.

Or sometimes, young people working in bars.

But you and I know that zero hours contracts have been terribly misused.

I had the privilege last week of speaking to some people working on zero hours contracts.

One in particular in the care sector who said “You can’t build your life on what you get from a zero hours contract”.

Another told me of her experience: 23 years on a proper, regular contract and now had the nightmare of 2 years on a zero hours contract.

As she said, just imagine if you didn’t know from one week to the next whether your wages were going to halve.

That is the reality for so many people on zero hours contracts.

They don’t know how many hours they’re going to do from one week to the next.

They don’t know how much they’re going to be paid.

They have no security.

All of the risks in the economy which we used to believe should be fairly shared between employers and working people.

Now placed on the individual worker alone.

That’s why the worst of these practices owe more to the Victorian era than they do to the kind of workplace we should have in the 21st century.

It’s wrong.

And the next Labour government will put things right.

We’ll ban zero hours contracts which require workers to work exclusively for one business.

We’ll stop zero hours contracts which require workers to be on call all day without any guarantee of work.

And we’ll end zero hours contracts where workers are working regular hours but are denied a regular contract.

Because I am determined to build an economy that works for working people.

And that means security, not insecurity at work.

Because that is how our country will succeed.

Let me end by saying this.

The next election is a high stakes election.

High stakes for your members.

High stakes for working people.

High stakes for our country.

We’re in the fourth year of this government.

We know who they stand for.

A privileged few at the top.

We know that they will never create an economy that works for working people.

It is not what they believe.

We know how they’ll try to divide our country.

For political advantage.

I stand for a different and better way forward for our country.

A vision that draws on the best of our traditions.

I think about the 1945 government.

We didn’t lower our sights in the face of difficulty.

We raised them.

That government was a One Nation government.

It listened to the voices of all.

Used the talents of all.

Built a country fit for all.

My vision: a One Nation Britain.

Let’s rebuild that country together.

Ed Miliband – 2013 Speech to Women in Advertising and Communications Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband, to the Women in Advertising and Communications Conference in London on 28th June 2013.

I am delighted to be here tonight.

I am hugely proud to join the illustrious list of politicians who have spoken to you during your extraordinary history.

David Lloyd George

Jennie Lee

Stanley Baldwin

And it is an extraordinary tribute to the history and influence of your organisation that you are still going strong in your 90th year.

Nine months ago at the Labour party Conference I set out the idea of One Nation.

Not a Labour vision or a Conservative one.

But a British one.

Benjamin Disraeli, the great Conservative Prime Minister, was probably first to use the idea in the 19th century.

But it was also used by Labour after 1945 as Britain rebuilt after the War.

Its essence is that the way a country succeeds is by everyone playing their part.

For me, it is rooted in something that drives my politics: the cause of equality.

Not mathematical equality for every person.

But a passionate belief in equal opportunity for all.

And in the dangers of a society becoming too unequal.

About citizens living separate lives from one another.

Tonight I want to talk—appropriately I hope to this group— about the equality of women and men.

We have some of the most senior people in advertising and communications here.

And I believe there are urgent issues we need to address together.

First, at the heart of a One Nation idea is that we must drive further and faster towards equality for men and women from the shop floor to the boardroom to the cabinet room.

Second, if we are truly to become a more equal society — not just in numbers but in reality — we must change the structures of our society.

Third, I want to address a subject which a growing number of people, especially young women, are talking about: the representation of women in our culture, in our national life.

I want to do that as a Dad, the father of two boys, and not just as a politician.

Let me start with representation in its most formal sense.

We should celebrate progress but note how far we have to go.

When Harriet Harman, my Deputy, entered Parliament, just 3% of Labour MPs were women.

Today it is 33%.

And my Shadow Cabinet is now 40% women.

That has changed politics.

From childcare to parental leave to women’s employment – women MPs have put these issues centre stage.

Indeed, there are women MPs in Parliament now who would not have been there but for the trail that people like Harriet blazed.

But I don’t need to remind this audience that there are still enormous problems in the representation of women.

Even now, all these years after women got the vote, still over three quarters of MPs are men.

More than four fifths of the Cabinet.

And as our shadow equalities minister Yvette Cooper has exposed, this government’s chosen cuts have affected women at least three times as hard as men.

I strongly believe that wouldn’t have happened in a Cabinet with equal female representation.

And I know we have the same problems in business, the law and other areas too.

Being here tonight celebrating women in business, it is simply wrong that just 17% of FTSE 100 Directorships are held by women.

Just 14% of senior judges.

Just 5% of national newspaper editors.

Now I know that people have campaigned for decades to put this right.

But let me be clear: my goal is to get to a Labour cabinet that is 50% women and a Parliament that is like that, and boardrooms and everywhere major decisions are made.

We can’t be One Nation if the majority of the population is under-represented in every area of public life.

My second point tonight is that it is not enough to think about how we change representation but leave everything else unchanged.

The reality is that women are so often at the sharp end of the injustices in our society.

They are more likely to be carers for the elderly and disabled.

More likely to have primary responsibility for looking after the children.

More likely to be low paid, finding that their husbands or partners are working the longest hours in Western Europe.

Tonight as we enjoy this dinner, there are women all over this city, working as cleaners and carers, doing two jobs or sometimes three, travelling late into the night to get there, and still not earning a living wage.

And finding themselves working for their poverty.

So the call of economic and social change is urgent.

It is what I call a more “responsible capitalism”.

Because I think our country faces a choice in the years ahead:

A nasty, brutish, more insecure country.

Or a country where we recognise that to get the best out of workforce we need big change.

Reforming our workplace to make it less exploitative.

Taking further steps to make it more supportive of those who have families.


Dealing with all the many other issues we face: zero hours contracts, exploitation of agency workers, and shockingly low pay.

These are vital for the cause of equality.

And for the cause of equality between women and men.

So if we are truly to be One Nation where everyone can play their part we need change in formal representation, change in the way our economy works, but I believe we need something else.

We need cultural change if women and men are to realise their full potential.

Let me read you something that a 15 year old wrote to the Everyday Sexism project.

She said:

“I am 15 and I feel that girls my age are under pressure that boys of my age aren’t under … I always feel like if I don’t look a certain way, if boys don’t think I’m sexy or hot then I’ve failed and it doesn’t even matter if I am a doctor or writer, I’ll still feel like nothing.”

Friends, I think of my two sons, Daniel and Sam.

They are 4 and 2 years old.

And I think about the world that they are set to grow up in.

I think forward a decade, to their teenage years.

And thinking that decade ahead, I want different messages going out to them than too often go out to teenage boys and girls today.

Representation is not just about the jobs that people do, it also about how people are seen.

About the images we have of each other.

Now, we all know the changes our culture has gone through in recent years.

But I still believe we face a crisis of representation of women and men in our culture today.

Greater prominence is given to fantastic role models for women and girls than was true in the past.

Clare Balding, Doreen Lawrence, J.K. Rowling, Jocelyn Bell Burnell.

As well as some of you present tonight.

My kids will grow up with Dora the Explorer as much as my generation did with Dennis the Menace, and that matters.

The success of Jessica Ennis inspired a generation, just as much as Mo Farah.

And we are supporting Laura Robson just as much as Andy Murray at Wimbledon.

And if they both win, they will finally now be rewarded to the same extent too.

But we would be fooling ourselves if we deny the problems.

There is a culture of increasingly sexualised images among young people.

The culture that says that girls will only get on in life, if they live up to the crudest of stereotypes, as that 15 year old wrote.

The culture where pornographic images, some violent, are available to children at a click on a smartphone or a laptop.

Like any parent, I worry about this.

There are things that can be done about that, like safer default settings on our computers.

But my point tonight is different.

It puts a greater responsibility on all of us to do what we can to counter these images.

Schools should offer proper relationship education at all stages to ensure all our children have a proper chance to understand what good loving relationships are about.

And Schools should always encourage the aspirations of girls and boys.

And our society should always be promoting real role models of heroic women and their achievements.

That applies to everything from banknotes to statues around our great city of London.

When Winston Churchill replaces Elizabeth Fry, everyone who will appear on our banknotes will be a man apart from the Queen, our Head of State.

What kind of signal does that send?

I read this week that Jane Austen is “quietly waiting in the wings” to appear on a banknote one day.

But 100 years on from the great struggle to give women the right to vote, women shouldn’t be “waiting quietly in the wings” for anything.

This is a small but important symbol of the kind of country we are.

Why don’t we have one of our great women scientists, like Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, and a suffragette like Emmeline Pankhurst on our banknotes?

And it applies to the school curriculum too.

We all know the trouble Michael Gove has had writing a History curriculum.

He’s on his third go now.

But he still can’t get it right when it comes to women.

It seems as if he thinks it is alright to talk about women when you are specifically teaching Women’s History.

But then to talk almost exclusively about men when you are teaching the rest of History.

Well I don’t think that’s right.

The role of women should be taught throughout the History curriculum in our schools.

And, if I may say so, responsibility applies to broadcasting and communications.

In broadcasting, it is just wrong that older male broadcasters are seen as distinguished, and older female broadcasters are not seen at all.

What greater example could there be of double standards.

And it applies to your world, to advertising.

That same young woman I talked about earlier, also wrote: “I wish people would think about what pressures they are putting on everyone, not just teenage girls … I wish the people who had real power and control of the images and messages we get fed all day actually thought about what they did for once.”

Now, of course, you do think about these issues.

There are great examples where the advertising industry has led the way in displaying 21st century images of men and women.

Including people in this room.

And I applaud the creativity, the freshness, the innovation that your industry displays.

But it does not always do so.

We all know there are still too many images in our advertising that reflect outdated ideas about the role of men and women, boys and girls.

There are still too many adverts which do not show the modern world as it is – let alone as it should be.

Of course, there are limits to what government can do about this.

But it is something we must to talk about.

And something which advertisers have a responsibility to address.


Let me end with this thought.

Ninety years ago WACL was founded.

Just five years after women had got the vote.

In the 1924 Parliament, there were just eight woman MPs.

There had never been a woman Cabinet Minister.

And no thought that there could ever be a woman Prime Minister.

Mary Wollstonecraft, one of the founders of feminism right back in the eighteenth century, said:

“In every age there has been a stream of popular opinion that has carried all before it.”

And what she meant is this:

If we change the way we think, then we can change the way we are.

Change has happened not because politicians wanted it to happen.

But because people made it happen.

There needs to be political leadership, but as I always say politics is too important simply to be left to politicians.

What excites me about this debate, about the equality between men and women, is that there is a new wave of young women, with high expectations of what this society should offer.

They are not impressed that we have a Parliament of 25% women, they expect it to be 50%.

They are not impressed that there are some women business leaders, they expect there to be half of business leaders to be women.

They are not impressed that there is a law on equal pay, they expect pay actually to be equal.

They are not impressed that we have some positive female role models in advertising, they expect to see them every day.

They are not impressed that women can be doctors and writers, they expect all women to be respected for who they are.

We should listen to their voices.

All of us.



Business leaders.

Newspaper editors.

Because they are right.

We can only be One Nation if we have true equality for men and women.

This is one of the biggest causes of our century.

To complete the work of the last century.

To turn a formal commitment to equality in to real equality.

I know that it is your cause.

And this will be my cause, as part of the next Labour government.

Ed Miliband – 2013 Speech in Response to Budget


Below is the text of the speech made by Ed Miliband, the Leader of the Opposition, in response to the Budget on 21st March 2013.

Mr Deputy Speaker.

This is the Chancellor’s fourth Budget, but one thing unites them all.

Every Budget he comes to this house and things are worse not better for the country.

Compared to last year’s Budget

Growth last year, down.

Growth this year, down.

Growth next year, down.

They don’t think growth matters, but people in this country do.

And all he offers is more of the same.

A more of the same Budget from a downgraded Chancellor.

Britain deserves better than this.

I do have to say to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he almost need not have bother coming to the House because the whole Budget, including the market-sensitive fiscal forecast was in the Standard before he rose to his feet.

To be fair to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I sure he didn’t intend the whole of the Budget to be in the Standard before he rose to his feet and I hope he will investigate and report back to the House.

Now, what did the Prime Minister declare late last year, and I quote:

“The good news will keep coming”.

And what did the Chancellor tell us today?

Under this Government the bad news just doesn’t stop.

Back in June 2010 the Chancellor promised:

“a steady and sustained recovery…”

He was wrong.

We’ve had the slowest recovery for 100 years.

Last year he said in the Budget there would be no double dip recession.

He was wrong, there was.

He told us a year ago that growth would be 2% this year.

He was wrong.

Now he says it will be just 0.6%.

He told us that next year, growth would be 2.7%.

Wrong again.

Now just 1.8%.

Wait for tomorrow the Chancellor says, and I will be vindicated.

But with this Chancellor tomorrow never comes.

He’s the wrong man.

In the wrong place.

At the worst possible time for the country.

It’s a downgraded budget from a downgraded Chancellor.

He has secured one upgrade this year.

Travelling first class on a second class ticket from Crewe to London.

And the only time the country’s felt all in it together, was when he got booed by 80,000 people at the Paralympics.

Mr Deputy Speaker, I’ve got some advice for the Chancellor.

Stay away from the cup final, even if Chelsea get there.

And, who is paying the price for the Chancellor’s failure?

Britain’s families.

In his first Budget he predicted that living standards would rise over the Parliament.

But wages are flat.

Prices are rising.

And Britain’s families are squeezed.

And what the Chancellor didn’t tell us, is that the Office for Budget Responsibility has confirmed the British people will be worse off in 2015 than they were in 2010.

It’s official: you’re worse off under the Tories.

Worse off, year after year after year. And wasn’t there an extraordinary omission from his speech, no mention of the AAA rating.

What the Prime Minister called the “mark of trust”.

Which he told us had been “secured”.

The Chancellor said it would be a humiliation for Britain to be downgraded.

So not just a downgraded Chancellor.

A humiliated Chancellor too.

And what about borrowing?

The Chancellor made the extraordinary claim in his speech that he was “on course”.

Mr Deputy Speaker, even he can’t believe this nonsense.

Debt is higher in every year of this Parliament than he forecast at the last Budget.

He is going to borrow £200 billion more than he planned.

And what did he say in his June 2010 Budget:

He set two very clear benchmarks, and I quote, “We are on track to have debt falling and a balanced structural current budget” by 2014/15.

Or as he called it “our four-year plan”.

This was the deal he offered the British people.

These were the terms.

Four years of pain, tax rises ….

The Prime Minister says from a sedentary position, borrow more, you are borrowing more.

And he just needs to look down the road, because the Business Secretary was asked and he said: “We are borrowing more”. From his own Business Secretary.

So these were the terms: four years, tax rises, and spending cuts, and the public finances would be sorted.

So today he should have been telling us:

Just one more year of sacrifice.

In twelve months the good times will roll.

Job done.

Mission accomplished.

Election plan underway.

But three years on, what does he say?

Exactly what he said three years ago.

We still need four more years of pain, tax rises and spending cuts.

In other words, after all the misery, all the harsh medicine, all the suffering by the British people:

Three years.

No progress.

Deal broken.

Same old Tories.

And all he offers is more of the same.

It’s as if they really do believe their own propaganda.

That the failure is nothing to do with them.

We’ve heard all the excuses:

The snow, the royal wedding, the Jubilee, the eurozone.

And now they’re turning on each other.

The Prime Minister said last weekend, and I quote:

“Let the message go out from this hall and this party: We are here to fight”.

Mr Deputy Speaker, they’re certainly doing that.

The Business Secretary’s turned on the Chancellor.

The Home Secretary’s turned on the Prime Minister.

And the Education Secretary’s turned on her.

The whole country can see that’s what’s going on.

The blame game has begun in the Cabinet.

The truth is the Chancellor is lashed to the mast, not because of his judgement, but because of pride.

Not because of the facts, but because of ideology.

And why does he stay in his job?

Not because the country want him.

Not because his party want him.

But because he is the Prime Minister’s last line of defence.

The Bullingdon boys really are both in it together.

And they don’t understand, you need a recovery made by the many not just a few at the top.

It’s a year now since the omnishambles Budget.

We’ve had u-turns on charities, on churches, on caravans.

And yes, on pasties.

But there is one policy they are absolutely committed to.

The top rate tax cut.

John the banker, remember him?

He’s had a tough year, earning just £1m.

What does he get? He gets a tax cut of £42,500 next year.

£42,500, double the average wage.

His colleague, let’s call him George, his colleague has done a little better, bringing home £5 million. What does he get in a tax cut?

I know the Prime Minister doesn’t like to hear what he agreed to, what does he get? A tax cut of nearly £250,000.

And at the same time everyone else is paying the price.

The Chancellor is giving with one hand, and taking far more away with the other.

Hard working families hit by the strivers tax.

Pensioners hit by the granny tax.

Disabled people hit by the bedroom tax.

Millions paying more so millionaires can pay less.

Now the Chancellor mentioned childcare.

He wants a round of applause for cutting £7bn in help for families this Parliament, and offering £700m of help in the next.

But what are the families who are waiting for that childcare help told? They’ve got to wait over two years for help to arrive.

But for the richest in society, they just have to wait two weeks for the millionaires tax cut to kick in.

This is David Cameron’s Britain.

And still the Prime Minister refuses to tell us – despite repeated questions – whether he is getting the 50p tax cut.

Oh he’s getting embarrassed now, you can see.

He’s had a year to think about it.

He must have done the maths.

Even he should have worked it out by now.

So come on.

Nod your head if you are getting the 50p tax rate.

They ask am I?

No I am not getting the 50p tax rate, I am asking whether the PM is.

Come on answer.

After all, he is the person that said sunlight is the best disinfectant, let transparency win the day.

Now let’s try something else. What about the rest of the Cabinet, are they getting the 50p tax rate?

OK, hands up if you are not getting the 50p tax cut?

Come on, hands up.

Just put your hand up if you are not getting the 50p tax cut. They are obviously … they don’t like it do they?

At last the Cabinet are united, with a simple message:

Thanks George.

He’s cutting taxes for them, while raising them for everyone else.

Now the Chancellor announced some measures today that he said would boost growth.

Just like he does every year.

And every year they fail.

I could mention the “national loan guarantee scheme”, he trumpeted that last year.

And then he abolished just four months later.

The Funding for Lending scheme, that he said would transform the prospects for small business.

The work programme that is worse than doing nothing.

And today he talked a lot about housing.

And the Prime Minister said this in 2011. He launched his so-called housing strategy, and in his own understated way he labelled it “a radical and unashamedly ambitious strategy”. He said it would give the housing industry a shot in the arm, enable 100,000 people to buy their own home.

18 months later, how many families have been helped?

Not 100,000.

Not even 10,000.

Just fifteen hundred out of 100,000 promised

That’s 98,500 broken promises.

For all the launches, strategies and plans, housing completions are now at the lowest level since the 1920s.

And 130,000 jobs lost in construction because of their failing economic plan.

It’s a failing economic plan from a failing Chancellor.

The Chancellor has failed the tests of the British people:

Growth, living standards and hope.

But he has not just failed their tests. He has failed on his own as well.

All he has to offer is this more of the same Budget.

Today the Chancellor joined twitter.

He could have got it all into 140 characters.

Growth down. Borrowing up. Families hit. And millionaires laughing all the way to the bank. #downgradedChancellor.

Mr Deputy Speaker, more of the same is not the answer to the last three years.

More of the same is the answer of a downgraded Chancellor, in a downgraded Government.

Britain deserves better than this.