Harriet Harman

Parliament has been dissolved until after the General Election and I am no longer an MP

Speech to Labour Party Conference - 04/10/12

Speech to Labour Party Conference, Manchester, 4th October 2012



Hi conference. 

I'm Hattie, 62, from Camberwell. 

And heres todays news in briefs. 

Its been a great week for the Labour Party. 

And its been a great week for Ed Miliband. 

I've known Ed for more than 20 years. 

In fact, it was me that gave him his first job in politics. 

And, you know, when Ed worked for me, people were always saying, I don't know how you do it, with all that you do and so busy with 3 young children, you make such brilliant speeches.   

But my secret weapon was Ed Miliband. 

Ed, with your speech you showed everyone, the qualities you've always had:

      your conviction

      your confidence

      your compassion and

      your courage. 

And when you told us the story about your family, you showed everyone why you have

      such faith in this country

      and such faith in the power of politics as a force for good. 

Ed, we all know you love baseball, of course, you're a Red Sox fan. 

So, can I just say to you... 

You knocked the ball right out of the park. 

Shadow culture secretary 

Conference, since we met last year, I've taken up my new role as shadow culture secretary.  

I was lucky enough to go the Brits. 

The wine was flowing, the music was loud and I did that thing that politicians must never do.  

I hit the dance floor. 

I know what you're thinking.... why is it that our Deputy Leaders always have to make such a prat of themselves at the Brits? 

The next morning I was mortified.  

As I feared, someone had tweeted about it - "Labour MP in dodgy dancing cringe fest". 

But the good news was it then said - 'honestly.... you'd think @tessajowell would know better'. 

And the other good news is that people are still stopping me in the street and saying "thank you so much for bringing the Olympics to Britain, Tessa 

And I say, you're welcome. 

And we all want to say a huge thank you to Tessa for all her years on Labour's front bench and the brilliant job she did on the Olympics.  

Thank you, Tessa. 

Reading material 

And in my new role as shadow culture secretary, I'm always asked what I'm reading. 

And just the other week, I had an awkward moment when a journalist asked me if I'd read "that" book. 

Women here will know the one... 

The one about a sado-masochistic relationship - you know... 

with a dominant superior controlling a naive submissive... 

And I said: "don't be silly - of course I've read the coalition agreement." 

Now, as it happens I have also read 50 Shades of Grey - for research purposes. 

But I have to say I don't think it's very realistic.  

Because, let's be honest, what most women want is not a man who ties you to the bed, but one who unstacks the dishwasher while you watch the Great British Bake-Off. 

Starting gun for 2015 

Each and every conference has its own defining point.  

This is the conference - here in Manchester 2012 - where Ed fired the starting gun for the next general election.  

Because of what Ed's done since he became leader we are now in with a fighting chance of forming the next government. 

But we all know that we still have a long way to go. 

We've got to fight the Tories.

We've got to fight the Lib Dems.

We've got to work as a team.

And we've got to have no, no-go areas for Labour. 

Cameron letting down young people and women 

Because people all over this country are suffering with this government.  Young people are finding it really hard to get their first job.   

And women are finding it hard to hang onto their jobs - and that's just the women in David Cameron's Cabinet. 

You know Angry Birds used to be David Cameron's favourite computer game - now it's his pet name for Caroline Spelman and Nadine Dorries. 

But there is one woman who can always rely on David Cameron's unswerving, unconditional support Rebekah Brooks.

But when it comes to the next election, I suspect women in this country will have seen enough and wont give Cameron one of those famous 'second chances' he's so fond of. 

Lib Dems Tory accomplices 

And what about the Lib Dems. 

They claim to be a brake on the Tories but they are nothing of the sort they are their accomplices. 

They boast of the pupil premium all well and good but then they vote with the Tories for the biggest education cuts since the 1950s. 

They boast of taking people out of tax by raising the tax threshold all well and good but then they vote with the Tories to slash those peoples tax credits. 

They boast of a clamp-down on tax avoidance all well and good but then they vote with the Tories for tax cuts for millionaires. 

People say you get the politicians you deserve.

But no-one deserves Nick Clegg. 

Calamity Clegg who has propped up this miserable Tory government every step of the way.  

It's no wonder Vince Cable is on manoeuvres. 

But lets not forget Saint Vince is in it up to his neck too. After all, it was his policy to treble tuition fees. 

So I have a message for Vince. Don't bother texting Ed - he's changed his number. 

We have a first-past-the-post system and voters get just one vote - we're saying to them vote Labour.  

We are not fighting to be part of a coalition government - we are fighting to win. 

Corby by-election 

So now, in that all important by-election in Corby:

      we have got to campaign as never before

      and make sure people use their vote - their one precious vote

      to elect our fantastic local Labour candidate Andy Sawford. 

Marginal Mindset 

To win the next General Election we must all of us adopt a marginal seat mindset and listen to the people where we don't have Labour MPs as well as where we do.  

That's why every one of our shadow ministers will adopt a marginal seat working alongside our Labour candidate, to listen to and understand the concerns of people there. 

Ed Balls has twinned with Clair Hawkins in Dover and Deal. Chuka is backing Clive Lewis and Jessica Asato in Norwich and I'm proud that I'm twinned with Andrew Pakes in Milton Keynes. 

Conference, weve got to be the voice speaking up for the young couple in Dartford, as well as the young couple in Darlington. 

Weve got to speak up for the pensioner in Gloucester, as well as in Grimsby. 

The commuter in Milton Keynes as well as in Manchester. 


And at a time when many people have no faith in politicians and think that politics is a dirty word its even more important that people can see, in parliament

      someone like them

      people they can relate to

      people they can trust. 

And over the months ahead, in your local parties, youre choosing your candidates for the next general election I know you will want to choose candidates from all walks of life - from our factories and shop floors, from business to our armed services, people from all different backgrounds and cultures and a balanced team of men and women. 

We must reflect the country we seek to serve. 

No complacency 

And because we're determined to achieve the difficult task of making this a one-term coalition there's no place for complacency - or business as usual. 

We have to and are doing things in a different way.  

Weve got to reach out beyond our party faithful into communities, connecting with people who otherwise feel that politics has nothing to offer them.  

We have to build our party with more members and more supporters so let's each and every one of us play our part in Labours Plus One Campaign.  

Which has already been a great success. Since just the start of this conference, more than 1200 new members have joined, and 5000 have registered as supporters. 


Conference, we all celebrated the Olympic games-makers who came here this week.  I want us to thank our very own conference games-makers - our fantastic army of stewards. 

And there's another group of people I know we'll all want to pay tribute to - our brilliant and hardworking party staff. 

This has been a difficult year but the work you put in in our headquarters and all around the country is nothing short of heroic. 

Thanks to each and every one of you. 

Iain McNicol 

And I want to thank our General Secretary Iain McNicol. 

Iain, you have led the party staff through those difficult times and I have no doubt, with you at the helm, our party will go from strength to strength. 


It's always great to be at conference. 

But this week has been special. 

This week the game has changed. 

We know we have big challenges ahead. 

But we leave Manchester emboldened, enthused, with a strong sense of purpose. 

We have grown in confidence. 

We have grown in self-belief. 

This country needs a government of and for all its people, not a coalition that plays divide and rule. 

This country needs a One Nation Labour party and a One Nation Labour government.

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