Harriet Harman

Member of Parliament for Camberwell and Peckham. Mother of the House of Commons.

Labour Party Conference - Deputy Leader Closing Speech - 25/09/1

Wednesday 25th September 2013

Thank you.

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

We began on Saturday at our fantastic Labour women's conference -
with 1,000 women. The biggest political gathering of women at any party conference, ever.Proving, once again, Labour is the only party for women.

And what a contrast with the other parties.

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

And as for the UKIP conference - where to begin?

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

But Godfrey, all is not lost.

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

At the "Harriet Harperson Institute of Political Correctness".

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

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

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

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

The shadow chancellor wanted to come too - but we had to say to him "sorry we've already got a man on the platform - and he's called Ed."


Conference, in Ed Miliband we have a great leader.

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

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

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

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

And when Ed sees something's wrong, he will not shrink from the challenge.
He will never say:
*it's just too difficult; or
*the odds are stacked against us or
*you'll have to put up with it - because the energy companies don't like it!

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

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

• He stood up against phone hacking.
• He averted David Cameron's rush to war in Syria.
• And he has shown that politics can make a difference.

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

You can really see the change.

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

When Ed Miliband got egged, his immediately thought was 'Oh God - I really hope this is free range...'  That's just the kind of guy he is.

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

And that's why yesterday on this stage he moved Labour from being a party of protest which understands people’s concerns -
to a party of policies to those concerns

• Better childcare - for mothers who tear their hair out trying to balance work and home
• Freezing fuel bills - how can you feel the warm glow of recovery if you can't turn your heating on. 
• And helping the next generation by putting housing at the heart of our mission and getting Britain building again.

So now - every single one of us has a job to do - our shadow cabinet, MPs, MEPs Peers, councillors, our great parliamentary candidates, representatives from the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly, trade unionists, our members and supporters…
Our whole Labour team in every part of this country, will get out on the doorstep and give people hope that their lives can be better than this. Britain can do better than this.

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

Just look at the membership. 

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

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

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

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

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

Standing up for unions

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

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

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

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

But these men and women are under attack.

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

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

The rich will work harder if you cut their taxes.

Make the poor work harder by slashing their benefits.

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

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

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

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

When it came to austerity, they said "we're all in it together".

But they don't say that about the recovery.

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

And what about the Lib Dems?

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

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

They call it coalition - we call it collusion.

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

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

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

*putting up VAT,
*slashing tax credits;
*cutting police;
*trebling tuition fees,
*tax cuts for the richest
*the bedroom tax and
*let's not forget the top down reorganisation of our NHS - which no-one wanted and no-one voted for.

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

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

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

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

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

That is, regardless of who's in government, Nick Clegg must be deputy prime minister.

He wants to go on and on and on....

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

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

Labour is not fighting for a draw.

Labour is fighting to win.


Conference, we know we face a huge task.

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

*The Tories will fight a dirty, vicious campaign.

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

But remember - this is not a popular government.

They stand up for the wrong people.

They've failed on the economy.

They're ruining the NHS.

And people know it.

So yes - it is tough.

We will not lose our nerve.

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

And in local council elections up and down this country,

*the Tories are losing seats;
*the Lib Dems are losing seats
*and it is Labour who is making gains.

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

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

So it is tough - but we can do it.

The General Election is there for the taking

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



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