Harriet Harman

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

NPF Speech - Milton Keynes - 19/07/2014

Milton Keynes
Harriet Harman
19th JULY 2014



It’s great to be here at this national policy forum.  Every policy forum is important but it’s particularly important ahead of the general election.
It’s also great to be here in Milton Keynes.
It’s the fastest growing city in Europe, it's all about aspiration looking positively to the future. 
And one of the best things about Milton Keynes is the fact that Labour won it off the Tories and I want us all to congratulate our fantastic new council leader Pete Marland.
And I also want to pay tribute to our brilliant parliamentary candidates Emily Darlington and Andrew Pakes who are already leading lights in the local community.
And that was clear yesterday when I was at the launch of the Milton Keynes international arts festival.
Andrew and Emily were there right at the front of the room with Pete together with the chair of the arts council and other senior figures… and where were the two Tory MPs…. Squashed right at the back of the room…. sweating away… and I can tell you, it wasn’t just because of the warm weather it’s because we’re turning up the heat and Labour’s going to win Milton Keynes.
Just like the last pre-election policy forum in 2009, it has been baking hot and humid. It’s always the same with the NPF. It always seems to bring meteorological disturbances. I think UKIP were wrong, it’s not gay marriage which causes climate change, it’s the National Policy Forum.
It’s been so hot today that at one point I was sweating more than Billy Hayes at one his hot yoga sessions.
Instead of it being torture like it was 5 years ago in Warwick, it has been completely different – there’s been a great atmosphere and good humour and everyone has had a really good time.
It’s a bit like our version of Glastonbury – except we don’t need Dolly Parton when we’ve got Anne Black.
I’d like to thank all of you for making the time to do this really important work so that we’ve got the right policies for our manifesto and for the country.
And I’d us all to thank the brilliant and hard working party staff who have made this all run so smoothly.
And one of the reasons why it’s all gone so well because of our fabulous NEC chair Angela Eagle.
We know she’s a woman of absolute principle and dogged commitment to Labour progressive values but she’s also got a really sharp sense of humour.
Remember when a Boris Johnson said that Nick Clegg was like a prophylactic for the coalition government.
Quick as a flash Angela said “I’m no expert when it comes to these things, but you’re supposed to be able to trust a prophylactic…”
After the reshuffle, she was taunting William Hague because he was now Leader of the House. Saying when he was Foreign Secretary he was swishing around the world mingling Angela Merkel and hanging out with Angelina Jolie and now he’d have to make to do with Commons Angela.
But there’s nothing common about our Angela.
In fact, she’s got quite a lot in common with Angelina Jolie.
Stay with me….
Angelina Jolie has a hot, glamourous partner – so has our Angela
Angelina Jolie in her films, vanquishes useless men – so does our Angela.  She’s already vanquished two Tory leaders of the Commons – Sir George Young and Andrew Lansley.
And Angelina is known for her glamorous outfits – usually skin tight – so is our Angela – usually day glow jackets.
So eat your heart out Angelina Jolie, we’ve got Angela Eagle – and you’re a jewel in our crown.


We all know the general election is going to be a tough fight. We know three things. They are going to be relentless, dishonest and awash with cash from hedge funds and bankers.
And as they try and attack our party, they will focus on attacking our trade unions, our shadow cabinet and our leader.
But we are 100% up for that fight and comrades, it is within our grasp.
We know that there are Labour seats which the Tories are targeting where they have no chance and that there are Tory seats which we are targeting like here in Milton Keynes where we have every chance.
And the Tories know that and that’s why they are going to fight so dirty.
Just look at what they did this week to me at PMQs. The Prime Minister told a lie about what I had said – you cannot trust him. They lie about us, they are dishonest about their own plans and anyway, why would anyone believe a man whose Director of Communications gets sent to prison – says it all.
David Cameron will say anything and do anything to cling on to power.
No depths to which they are not prepared to sink mean that we all have to extra vigilant and be very careful about we say.  It’s very easy for people to either misinterpret what you say and it’s possible for people to get totally the wrong end of the stick.
Let me tell you what happened to me last week.
Jack and I are proud to have a new member of the family – Oatis the kitten – this is important to tide us over until we get grandchildren.
It’s come to that sad time for Oatis where his manly bits have got to go.
So I said my team – I’ve got a really important call to make at 2:30pm to my vet… we’ve got get rid of the Balls
They were horrified because what they thought I’d said was “I’ve got to call YVETTE….. we’ve got to get rid of Ed Balls…”
So there’s a lesson for all us there….


Last week we saw the Tory reshuffle.
Let’s take a moment to savour what happened. Will you join me in raising a glass to toast the   demotion of Michael Gove.
The Tories always boast that they don’t listen to the trade unions.
5 days before the reshuffle the NUT were marching on the streets waving placards saying “GOVE OUT” and guess what… 5 days later, he was. What a delicious irony.
But leaving aside the Westminster gossip about who’s in and who’s down out the reshuffle, the really important story that matters for people in this country was that they have failed in their three big flagship policies.
They’ve failed on the NHS with a mounting crisis in A&E.
They’ve failed in education with their free schools policy unravelling.
And they’ve failed on welfare with universal credit in shambles and the disgrace of the bedroom tax – supported by Nick Clegg.
He voted for it, just like he voted for the trebling of tuition fees, just like he voted for the tax cut for millionaires.
That’s our Deputy Prime Minister.
Now, last week there were a lot of people saying that I was never good enough to be Deputy Prime Minister.
Well, my response to them is two words – Nick Clegg.


Tomorrow we will conclude this historic pre-election national policy forum.
And you have all helped shape the policies that our leader Ed Miliband will take forward.
The country will be deciding on policies.
But they will also be deciding on leadership.
And the sort of leadership that this country needs is someone with principles, decency and guts – and that describes Ed Miliband.
We’ve had a really positive discussion about our policies this weekend and I know you will all gone home feeling really gratified about the work that you’ve done.
But how we all feel was summed up by Liz Snape who said “The most important thing now, is we must win” and we will.

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