Harriet Harman

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

Speaking to Labour Party Conference - 29/09/11

This morning I gave the following speech to Labour Party Conference in Liverpool.

- Check against delivery -

It's been great to be in Liverpool this week.

On behalf of everyone here at our Conference I want to give a huge thank you to all the people of Liverpool.

You gave us such a warm welcome.

You're rightly proud of your magnificent city.

And we're proud of Labour's role in its transformation.

But people are worried - here and throughout the country.


About their job.

The prospects for their kids.

About what's going to happen in their local area.

And there is only one party leader who understands that.

It isn't Nick Clegg.

And it certainly isn't David Cameron.

It's our Labour Leader - Ed Miliband.

He spoke up for the squeezed middle and he's right.

He's understood people's fears for their children - and their ambition for them too.

He shares the anger that the bankers are getting off scot-free and he's said that as Prime Minister he would end reckless irresponsibility from the bottom right to the top.

And Ed was the first party leader to speak up against the abhorrent phone hacking.

Ed took on Murdoch and won.

There will be change now.

I hear the phone hacking scandal is being made into a film.

One of the leading roles is, Chris Bryant - that's been easy to cast. It's obviously Daniel Craig.

But there is one problem though - and it's a huge headache for the casting director.

They just can't find anyone with enough raw animal magnetism to play our very own Tom Watson.

But all the time that Murdoch has been in the headlines, another crisis has been going on as people see the economic storm clouds gathering.

Today we talked about the terrible job losses at BAE Systems.

Behind their front doors people are worried - behind the front door of Downing Street the Tories are oblivious.

It's not going to affect them - so it doesn't matter.

They're so removed from people's lives.

But I hear that they do watch TV from time-to-time and I hear they love Downton Abbey.

The only problem is they think it's a fly-on-the-wall documentary.

They never need to do their own dirty work - why would they, they've got the Lib Dems for that.

The Lib Dems boast of being a brake on the Tories.

So what happened then.

On tuition fees


On police cuts

On the NHS

Clearly the brakes failed.

But there's no doubt whose in the driving seat. It's clear whose at the wheel - this time it's not Chris Huhne - it's the Tories.

But on the rare occasions when the Lib Dems in government do get their way - what do they do.

They make it harder for local communities to get CCTV.

And they force the police to destroy DNA evidence which is vital for detecting crime.

And the Lib Dems - to their eternal shame - are colluding with the Tories in changing the law on the electoral register.

The plans the Tories have set out are going to push people off the electoral register - deny them their vote, deny them their voice. The numbers are going to be huge.

The independent Electoral Commission warn that this could deny millions of people the right to vote. The Tories hope it will help them win the election.

That is a shameful assault on people's democratic rights and we will expose it and campaign against it.

Parliament has no right to take away people's right to vote.

The government cannot be allowed to get away with it.

As we look to the year ahead.

As more people suffer from the Tories.

As fewer people trust the Lib Dems.

The political map is changing and Labour's activists are mobilising.

We will make strong challenges in councils and constituencies all over the country - including areas where we didn't think we had a chance.

There's no place for the old orthodoxies of no-go areas for Labour. In every election from now on - it will be Access All Areas.

And we will fight as a united team. Our party members - strengthened by the 65,000 members who've joined us since the General Election.

Labour MEPs led by our brilliant Glenis Willmott.

Our Labour councillors.

Our dedicated Labour parliamentarians in Westminster, Holyrood and Cardiff.

Our trade union friends.

I want to congratulate our 800 new councillors.

450 seats from the Lib Dems and 350 from the Tories.

There are now many more Labour councils. And they are protecting people - like Southwark Council - helping families with the squeeze on their living standards by free school meals for all primary school children.

And even where we only have one Labour councillor they make a difference.

Like Mike Le Surf in Brentwood, campaigning against the cuts of 25 beds in the Brentwood Community Hospital. Just one man - but making a difference for the whole area.

The two Eds both acknowledged - what we all know - that not everything we did in government turned out right. And people need to know that over the past year we've taken a hard look at what we did and we've learnt lessons.

But it's time now to move on. Because we've got important work to do.
You know.

When it comes to Sure Start Children's Centres - we've got to fight to stop them closing.

When it comes to the 50p tax rate - we've got to say now's not the time to drop it.

When it comes to saving lives in the developing world - we've got to make the Tories keep our aid budget.

When it comes to the NHS - we've got to defend it.

This week has seen debate and discussion of Labour people from all across the country.

I want to say to our Welsh delegates how proud we are of the work of Carwyn Jones and his team in the Welsh Assembly and I want to say too, how much our hearts go out to the families of the four Welsh miners and to the family of the Yorkshire miner who died this week - men who worked hard in difficult conditions and who tragically lost their lives.

We've heard this week about the process of renewal underway in Scottish Labour.

I'd like to pay tribute to Iain Gray.

Iain's passionate speech at this Conference shows he is the best First Minister Scotland never had.

This week we've had a sharp focus on our campaign for the Greater London Assembly and for Mayor of London.

What does Tory Boris Johnson stand for?

Higher fares for Londoners.

Lower tax for bankers.

Lets face it - Boris is in it for himself.

Labour's Ken Livingstone is in it for London and we say
"Yes we Ken".

The spirit and enthusiasm of Refounding Labour has run throughout this conference and we go forward with:

A new supporters' network.

A more powerful role for local councillors.

The historic decision - a first for any British political party - to always have a women in our leadership team.

The brilliant innovation of our Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy - Labour Friends of the Forces.

And a stronger voice for young members of our Party.

We've heard those voices this week.

Many at our Conference for the first time.

Some as young as 16.

Speaking with such conviction.

With the Tory/Lib Dem attack on:

The Future Jobs Fund.


On tuition fees.

The Government have hit the prospects for young people.

But young people are hitting back.

We've seen that here this week.

The dynamic new generation of Young Labour.

I'd like to say a huge thank you to Ray Collins - our own blond bombshell. Ray stepped into the role of General Secretary at a most difficult time. Stepped up to the plate. With tremendous passion for the Party.

We'll miss you Ray.

Ray, you've put our party on a sound footing - built a foundation which Iain McNicol will build on. We look forward to working with you Iain.

So I'd like us to give a big thank you to everyone who has worked so hard to make everything this week all go like clockwork - the party staff and volunteers, the porters and the stewards - our own red army.

This week has been a turning point.

Ed has shown his bold and optimistic vision for the future.

We've challenged the unspoken orthodoxies that have governed Britain for too long and

We've refounded our party so that we can be the force that changes people's lives.

Conference - let's go for it.


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