Harriet Harman

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

The Choice Speech - Ealing - 26/08/2014


Harriet Harman
The Choice
26th August 2014



I'm so pleased to be here with you in Ealing.

Ealing Central and Acton is a constituency saddled with a Tory MP – who has voted to introduce the bedroom tax, give tax cuts for millionaires, squander precious NHS resources on a massive reorganisation, voted against cutting fuel bills and against measures that would start bringing some sanity into the London housing market – for renters and buyers. 

Ealing and Acton desperately needs a Labour MP. And in Rupa Huq, we’ve got a great candidate who will make an outstanding MP for this constituency and an outstanding contribution to Parliament.

Labour's team is stronger here since we won more council wards in the local elections earlier this year – in fact, in this constituency, on council Election Day,it was Labour which won the most votes – so that's very encouraging.

But I know Rupa and her team are taking nothing for granted, and campaigning hard, with the help of our local councillors, members and activists for a Labour win next year.

The gains we've made at council level – not just here in Ealing, but all over the country – are a vital building block in our General Election campaign. But they are important in their own right.  It has never been more important to have a Labour councillor, and a Labour council, on your side

Our councillors are at the forefront of demonstrating fairness in tough times.

Yesterday Hilary Benn showed that the most deprived areas are being hit hardest by the Tories' spending reductions. And that some of the wealthiest areas have actually seen an increase in spending power.

So I want to pay tribute to the work that our councillors are doing across the country – paying the living wage, finding creative ways to protect services, battling the Bedroom Tax and expanding schools whilst facing some of the toughest budget cuts.

In my role as Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, I have been impressed by how Labour councillors are achieving this.

We know it is a difficult time for our culture leads in local government, having to make the case for arts and culture spending when social care, elderly care, rubbish collection and other essential services are facing cuts too.

But we have to make the case for culture – the arts are important for individual opportunity, in shaping communities, and in bringing jobs, economic growth and regeneration.

That's why we’ve invited Labour councils to share their ideas, and there are already some great examples.

Here in Ealing, the Labour Council has an arts strategy which aims to enable more opportunities for all to participate and get involved locally. They help shape their communities through festivals and by supporting organisations like Pitzhanger Manor where we are today.

And, just as Pitzhanger Manor is used In TV production, in Ealing they seek to link their arts and heritage to regeneration, valuing the contribution that the creative industries make to the local economy.

And we have just seen another summer of Ealing arts festivals – enlivening the local community with jazz, blues and comedy – and the London Mela is being held right here in Ealing next Sunday.

Our councillors – we’ve had 2,288 more Labour councillors beating Tories, and Lib dems and other parties since 2010 – are advocates for change and progress, and a key part of our fight for a Labour government.

But before the General Election, there's another vital vote in this country – next month's referendum on the future of Scotland. And Labour is at the forefront of the campaign to say that Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom are Better Together.

Labour's values of solidarity and equality are shared by people in Scotland and across the UK. Labour's achievements, like the NHS and the minimum wage, are achievements hard won by people from all over the United Kingdom, and now enjoyed by people in all parts of the United Kingdom.

The values we share, the institutions we value, the future we build, are best safeguarded by staying together, not breaking apart – which is why I hope that Scotland will say "No, thanks" to separation next month.

The Tories’ summer

The Tories performance over this summer has been woeful.

They should have been thinking about the best interests of this country – to fight the cost of living crisis. INSTEAD THEY said they were going to take the fight to Labour. In fact, they took the fight to each other.

Two ministerial resignations, countless backbench attacks on David Cameron, and Boris Johnson's leadership campaign.

Their summer started with a reshuffle – supposedly to be the reshuffle for women.

David Cameron said he wanted a third of his ministers to be women. In fact, only a quarter of the Cabinet are women – compared to 44 per cent of the Shadow Cabinet.

Even when David Cameron put a woman into the Cabinet in place of a man, he combined that with a cut in her salary.

The new Leader of the House of Lords, a woman, is paid £22,000 less than the old one, a man. Talk about a gender pay gap.

The reality is that the Tories are about conservatism – not progress towards equality. They are a million miles away from being a team of men and women delivering for women as well as men in this country.

They know that people don't like to see a male dominated government. But they haven’t changed. The Tory Party is now a party where you can see women – but in the Tory Party women are seen but not heard.

Labour has made a choice to strive for equality – for women and men to be on equal terms. And to listen to and act on the concerns of women. That is why, when we were in government, we pressed forward on the progressive agenda which brought real change to women’s lives – doubling maternity pay and leave, free breast cancer screening for women aged 50-70, to introducing Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit to help working families, toughening action on domestic violence.

We have more women MPs than all the other parties put together. And we have selected more women to stand for seats that Labour hold and where Labour hopes to win. We are resolutely pressing on with all women shortlists to ensure that the number of women in the PLP continues to rise.

It’s just one example of the difference between the parties.

And while we've got a strong, united team, pulling together to win the next election and put Ed Miliband into Ten Downing Street...

The Tories haven’t got a united team. They’ve got Boris Johnson.

So convinced that the Tories aren't going to win the next election and that there will then be a leadership contest, Boris Johnson clearly feels that he's got as much out of London Mayor as he's going to and is determined to come back to Parliament.

There's a pattern here. Boris Johnson did precious little in Parliament when he was MP for Henley. But it was a useful stepping stone for moving on to be London Mayor. And then he used his office as Mayor of London as a stepping stone to be Tory leader. Just two years into his term as Mayor, he's looking for his next step up.

And it looks like he's not the only Tory who thinks that they are doomed to lose. Look at Baroness Warsi – warning David Cameron that he can’t win.

And look at the seven Tory MPs who were only elected for the first time in 2010 are throwing in the towel and standing down.

And while Labour’s membership has risen since the General Election, the Tory membership is melting away – their membership has halved under David Cameron’s leadership.

The Tories think they’re losing. It's our job to prove them right.

Labour’s summer – The Choice

No wonder David Cameron wanted to get away from it all. We all saw the photos of him pointing at fish.

Cold, slippery – and the fish didn’t look great either.

But while David Cameron has been pointing at fish, Labour's Shadow Cabinet has been pointing out the threat of five more years of a Tory government. The Choice could not be clearer.

The Choice on leadership, with Ed Miliband showing the difference between David Cameron's photo-op politics and a leadership, based on big ideas for the future, sticking to your principles even when it's hard, and caring about people's lives.

And from that Choice – about who is right to lead the country, and what values and priorities they should have, comes two very different futures.

Another five years of the Tories means no answer to the big challenges facing Britain: no solution to the cost-of-living crisis, an imbalanced recovery that just helps a few at the top, and a lack of long-term planning so that we won't even get close to building the new houses and infrastructure we need.

Another five years of the Tories means an NHS with longer waiting lists, more rationing and more privatisation, schools with rising class sizes and more unqualified teachers, more violent criminals getting away with it and fewer police officers on the beat.

Another five years of the Tories means rail fares rising by hundreds of pounds, no reform of the Big Six energy companies and no action to freeze your energy bills, and five more years of insecure, poor quality jobs that pay less and cost taxpayers more through working people having to rely on benefits to make ends meet.

It doesn't have to be like this. Labour has been setting out a better way – the Labour future.

Action on the cost of living, with a freeze on energy bills, expanded free childcare, an increase in the minimum wage and a lower 10p starting rate of income tax to help millions of people on lower and middle incomes.

Action on the NHS, with a guaranteed GP appointment within 48 hours, and integration of health and social care, organising services around the needs of people, their families and their communities.

Action in schools, where we'll make teaching standards the top priority, ensuring that all teachers in all state schools become qualified. And reform of our education and skills system to create a clear route for the forgotten 50 per cent of young people who do not go to university.

So now we face a contest between these two visions for Britain. It’s a contest we know we can win.

But we know the Tories are going to throw everything they’ve got at it as well.

Labour’s strength on the ground versus Tory money

While the Tories can’t beat us on the number of activists campaigning on the ground in key seats –they have a steady stream of big donors willing to bankroll their campaign.

The same people they handed a tax cut to. The people who go to David Cameron’s dinners.

Hedge funds, bankers, millionaires – you can see who they are. But there’s one group of people bankrolling the Tories whose identity is completely secret.

Since the last election, the Tories have been given over five and a half million pounds by unincorporated associations – organisations who don’t declare where their money comes from. They donated £372,000 in the last 3 months alone.

And this money is being funnelled into the Tories’ key marginal seats. In 27 of their key seats, more than half the money raised since 2010 has come from these secretive clubs.

It's no wonder they need this shady money. In three quarters of their most marginal seats, their membership is falling.

We may be outspent, but we won’t be out-organised or out-campaigned. They want to buy the election. We’re fighting to win it.

We’re ahead of them on selections – we’ve already selected three quarters of the candidates we need. The Tories have only filled one third of their vacancies.

And it seems that every time they select a candidate, another of their MPs resigns.

We’ve got more members than the Tories and the Lib Dems put together. We’ve got activists out on the doorsteps in our key seats, rain or shine. Working hard and campaigning all over the country.

And we’re recruiting even more – which is why Gloria de Piero and Jonathan Ashworth last week launched Labour's Seaside Express.

They even managed to attract a Tory mole to join them. Unfortunately for him, he was unmasked when he forgot what his own name was supposed to be.

Even Grant Shapps remembers when he’s supposed to be calling himself Michael Green.

But everyone who supports Labour is welcome to join our new Registered Supporters scheme, part of Ed Miliband’s party reforms, doing even more to reach out and involve more people in our party.

The Tories are bankrolled by a few millionaires – but we are a movement of millions of working people.

What’s at stake in this election is nothing less than the future of the country. Your vote in 2015 will help to define what Britain looks like, not just in 2020, but for decades to come.

We’ve set out the Choice. Now we have to fight for a Labour future.

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