This year will be an eye opener as it will be based mostly on Europe, Local and General Elections from 2014-2015. Let’s see how the leaders will do with their posturing during conference season.
Now that all the conference season is almost over for the political parties where does all the political parties goes from my guess will be to prepare for battle.
Let’s see how all the political parties did before deciding which way to vote in 2014/15 as I know the gloves are off on the doorstep I’m seeking a Labour victory I make no apologies for saying many Labour activists really want to see a return of a Labour Government with its renewed values.
I enclose all the political parties’ leader speeches:
Three years ago – nearly three and a half – I walked into the Cabinet Office for my first day as Deputy Prime Minister.
Picture it: history in the making as a Liberal Democrat leader entered, finally, into the corridors of power, preparing to unshackle Britain after years of Labour and Conservative rule. Only to arrive and find an empty room and one shell-shocked civil servant promising me we’d get on with things shortly – but first he had to get us some desks.
You saw the calm bit in the rose garden. What you didn’t see was the utter chaos indoors. To say the Coalition caught Whitehall off guard is a massive understatement. The Government machine had no idea how it was going to handle power sharing – and not just the furniture, this was going to need a complete overhaul of how decisions would be taken and departments would be run. And – while no one really wanted to admit it at the time – the truth is, no one was quite sure how it was all going to work.
Here we were, this anti-establishment liberal party – which hadn’t been in power for 70 years – smack bang in the middle of Her Majesty’s Government: a Government machine built to serve one party, with only one party leader at the centre, now suddenly having to answer to two parties and two party leaders. Alongside us were these Tories, who we had been at war with for the past month – well, actually, more like the last hundred years.
The country was deep in economic crisis, in desperate need of stable Government. And the whole thing was set to a soundtrack of pessimism and naysaying: the Liberal Democrats had signed their own death warrant. The Coalition would fall in a matter of months. Britain would be the next Greece.
So let’s just stop and think about where we are now: The country’s economy growing stronger by the day. Stable, successful coalition – something that seemed impossible now accepted as the norm. And the Liberal Democrats proving that we can be trusted with the biggest responsibility of all – fixing the economy.
I know how hard it has been getting here – facing down all the vitriol from our opponents. Trust me, there were days I thanked my lucky stars that my children were too young to understand some of the things that were written and said. But every insult we have had to endure since we entered Government, every snipe, every bad headline, every blow to our support: That was all worth it – because we are turning Britain around.
We haven’t won over every critic; we’ll be tested a million more times. But the big question mark that has always hung over the Liberal Democrats – could we handle Government, and handle it when the going got tough? – that question mark is now gone. This recovery wouldn’t be happening without us.
We have made sure the deficit is being cut at the right pace. We were the ones who said you don’t just get growth by cutting red tape – Government also needs to invest in things: infrastructure, apprenticeships, regional growth.
So I want you to feel proud today. Feel proud that the country’s fortunes are turning. Feel proud that, when we were under pressure to buckle and change course, we held our nerve. Feel proud that we are right here, in the centre of Government and the centre of British politics, standing up for the millions of people in the middle.
I have talked to you before about our journey from the comforts of opposition to the realities of Government – but not anymore. Liberal Democrats – we are a party of Government now. And just think of what we have achieved in three short years.
For the first time ever, our schools get given money – our Pupil Premium – to stop children from the poorest families from falling behind – the first time ever. More than a million men and women have started training as apprentices – record numbers. Businesses across every region are being given billions to help them grow.
We’ve made the biggest investment in our railways since the Victorian times. We’ve created a bank devoted to clean, green industry – a world first. Elderly people will no longer have to sell their homes to pay for social care because we’ve capped the crippling costs. Mothers will no longer be worse off in retirement because our new simpler, fairer state pension recognises the value of raising a family.
Fathers will have the choice of staying at home once their children are born because we’re transforming parental leave.
All parents will get free, extra childcare, paid for by the state, when their children turn three or two for the families who need it most. We stopped ID cards. We’ve taken innocent people off the DNA database. We’ve ended child detention in the immigration system. 0.7% of national wealth spent on aid for the world’s poorest – our party’s policy for years. Not to mention getting the banks in order and helping create over a million new jobs.
And, one last one: at a time when millions of people are feeling the squeeze, when every penny counts, we’ve cut income tax bills by £700 and taken almost three million people on low pay out of paying any income tax altogether.
The Tories like to claim credit for that one now, don’t they? But do you remember the TV debates? David Cameron turned to me, in front of the whole country, and said: ‘I would love to take everyone out of their first £10,000 of income tax Nick, but we cannot afford it’. Well, we can afford it. And we did it. A stronger economy and a fairer society too.
Actually, just one more, and my new favourite: just a few months ago, our Government – our Government – passed a law that will make Britain a place where we finally celebrate love and commitment equally between couples whether they are gay or straight: Equal Marriage. Three years. Three years. We’re not even done yet.
Can you imagine what we could do with five more? You should be able to –we’ve spent the last five days talking about it. This whole week has been about looking forward and one thing is very clear: the Liberal Democrats don’t want to go back to the opposition benches, because we aren’t done yet.
Because here’s what’s at stake at the next election: The country is finally emerging from the biggest economic crisis in living memory. The absolute worst thing to do would be to give the keys to Number 10 to a single party Government – Labour or the Conservatives.
All of the sacrifices made by the British people – the pay freezes, the spending cuts, the lost jobs, the daily grind of austerity – all of that would be for nothing. Labour would wreck the recovery. The Conservatives would give us the wrong kind of recovery. Only the Liberal Democrats can finish the job and finish it in a way that is fair.
In 2015 the clapped out politics of red, blue, blue red threatens everything we have achieved. But, back in Government – and next time that will mean back in coalition Government – the Liberal Democrats can keep the country on the right path.
Imagine the next round of leaders’ debates everyone watching to see who agrees with whom this time. David Cameron will say to Ed Miliband: you’re irresponsible, you are going to drive the economy to ruin. Ed Miliband will say to David Cameron: you can’t be trusted to help everyone, your party only cares about the rich. For once, I will agree with them both. Because they’re both right: left to their own devices, they’ll both get it wrong.
But, Liberal Democrats, we have learned a lot since getting into Government, and one of the main things I have learnt is this: If we’re asking people to put us back in the room next time round, if we want them to know why it’s better to have us round the table when the big decisions are made, they need to be able to make a judgement about what we’ll do there. And that’s as much about values, character, background as anything else.
They need to know who we are. Who I am. Why I’m a Liberal Democrat and why I’m standing here today. So, let me start with this: I was part of a generation raised – in the 70s and 80s – on a constant diet of aggressive, us-and-them politics.
I have so many memories of my brothers, my sister and I watching television and asking our parents why everyone seemed so upset. Angry, shouty Labour politicians. Union leaders gesticulating furiously, next to pictures of rubbish piling up on the streets. And later: stand offs between crowds of miners and rows of riot police.
At school I was being taught all about the Cold War – the backdrop to all of this; I even remember a history teacher telling me and my petrified classmates that we probably wouldn’t make it until Christmas because there was bound to be a Soviet strike. So the world I grew up in was all about stark, polarised choices. Us vs them; East vs West; Left vs Right.
An incompetent Labour Government had been replaced by a heartless Conservative Government. All anyone seemed to care about was whose side you were on. So I steered clear of party politics.
Then, one day, when I was 22 and studying in America, the phone rang and it was my mum. She had just heard on the News that the Berlin Wall was coming down. So my flatmate and I tuned in our radio, and we sat and listened for hours to reports of people coming out of their homes in the middle of the night and literally hammering away at this symbol of division and hate.
And I can remember so clearly the sense of optimism and hope. Anyone here who’s my age will understand: it really felt as though the dark, drab days of angry politics and conflict could now give way to something better. But, in the weeks and months that followed, when I looked to the Government of my country, the British Government, to see if they were raising their sights to help shape this brave new world.
All I could see was a bunch of Tories too busy tearing strips off each other – embroiled, surprise surprise, in rows about European Treaties and widget directives. It was so totally dispiriting: everything I’d come to abhor about the politics with which I’d grown up: insular, petty, polarised.
And if that had been the end of the story, I doubt I would have entered politics at all. But it wasn’t. Enter Paddy Ashdown. I met Paddy, for the first time, when he came into a dingy, grey, bureaucratic office I was working in in Strasbourg. It was the middle of a major trade dispute between America and Europe.
He marched in, everyone instinctively stood to attention, and in what seemed like the blink of an eye: he ordered a cup of coffee, instructed the room on how to solve the world’s trade wars, issued a series of action points that should have been delivered yesterday, reassured us all it would be alright, and then swept out.
This was the first time I’d seen a British politician talking with passion and conviction and without defensiveness or fear about the challenges in the world and the leadership Britain needed to show. The Liberal Democrats seemed so outward looking and forward looking, compared to the tired, old, introverted politics of Labour and the Conservatives. For me, that was it. That’s how I found our party.
So I know what it is like to look at the old parties and want more – to want a party that speaks for big, enduring values. And what the Liberal Democrats gave me 20 years ago. Showing me there was something better than the tired choice between Labour and the Conservatives is something I want us to give to people across Britain today.
What do you think Britain would look like today if the Tories had been alone in Whitehall for the last three years? What would have happened without Liberal Democrats in this Government? I haven’t said enough about it.
It’s a bit old fashioned, but I always thought it was better, in politics, to tell people about the things you’ve achieved not just the things you’ve stopped. But people do need to know how coalition operates and what we do day in day out inside Government.
Ultimately it’s up to the Prime Minister and me to make this work; where there are disagreements, we try and seek compromise, and by doing that we’ve cracked problems that single party Governments have struggled with for decades: social care, pension reform, reducing reoffending, and so on.
But sometimes compromise and agreement isn’t possible and you just have to say “no”. Inheritance tax cuts for millionaires – no. Bringing back O’ levels and a two-tier education system – no. Profit-making in schools – no. New childcare ratios – no. Firing workers at will, without any reasons given – no, absolutely not.
Regional pay penalising public sector workers in the north – no. Scrapping housing benefit for young people – no. No to ditching the Human Rights Act. No to weakening the protections in the Equalities Act. No to closing down the debate on Trident. Had they asked us, no to those ‘go home’ poster vans.
No to the boundary changes if you cannot deliver your side of the bargain on House of Lords reform. And if there’s one area where we’ve had to put our foot down more than any other, have a guess. Yep, the environment.
It’s an endless battle; we’ve had to fight tooth and nail; it was the same just this week with the decision to introduce a small levy to help Britain radically cut down on plastic bags.
They wanted to scrap Natural England, hold back green energy. They even wanted geography teachers to stop teaching children about how we can tackle climate change. No, no and no – the Liberal Democrats will keep this Government green.
I don’t pretend it’s always easy to say no. Sometimes I’ve had to wrestle with some genuinely difficult dilemmas – not just Tory party dogma.
With the Snoopers’ Charter, I took months listening to Home Office officials, the IT experts, the security services and the police because, as much as I am in Government to protect civil liberties, I also have to go to sleep at night knowing I did my bit to keep people safe.
Government ministers, loud voices in the Labour party, the securocrats and Whitehall were all adamant I should say yes. But, when push came to shove, it became clear that the surveillance powers being proposed were disproportionate: they would have massively undermined people’s privacy, but the security gain was neither proven nor clear. It was right for the establishment, but wrong for the people. So I said no.
Obviously, we haven’t been in coalition with Labour. I could give you a hypothetical list of bad ideas the Liberal Democrats would have to stop – but that would involve Labour producing some actual policies. Who here knows Labours plan for our schools? Or welfare? What would they do for the NHS? For industry? To cut crime?
Well, Labour may not have an economic strategy, but fortunately we do. A bold plan for growth agreed by conference two days ago, built on sound public finances, with house-building, infrastructure and lending to business at its heart – Liberal Democrats turning Britain around.
The truth is, Labour haven’t set out any kind of vision for Britain because they didn’t think they needed to. They have spent the last three years lazily assuming austerity would drive voters into their laps. For them, 2015 is all about the coalition parties losing rather than Labour having to actually try and win. And that tells you everything about why they act the way they do: their deliberate decision to put tactical victories ahead of long-term reform.
Remember the AV referendum? Not a happy memory for the Liberal Democrats, I accept. But do you remember that AV was in fact in Labour’s manifesto? Yet it was Labour figures who were most staunch in the defence of the status quo – just to score points against us. Lords reform – something they historically believe in. Yet when they had the chance to vote for it they found excuses not to – just to score points against us.
Even when we hear good news about the economy, they’re miserable – they’d rather it be bad, just to score points against us. So I have a message for Labour today: you can’t just duck responsibility for the past – refuse to spell out what you’d do in the future – and expect people to give you a blank cheque.
You can sit and wait for the British people to come back to you, but don’t hold your breath. And if there is one area all of the parties need to put politics aside, it’s Europe, and Britain’s place in it. The Conservatives have this bizarre view that we can turn our back on Europe and still lead in the world.
As if we’ll be taken seriously by the Americans, the Chinese, the Indians, all the big superpowers when we’re isolated and irrelevant in our own backyard. But the truth is we stand tall in Washington, Beijing, Delhi when we stand tall in Brussels, Paris and Berlin.
I know it because I worked there; I have seen with my own eyes what can be achieved for Britain by engaging with our neighbours and building the world’s largest borderless single market upon which millions of jobs in our country now depend.
Of course the European Union needs reform – no one is saying it doesn’t. But we cannot allow the contorted confusion of the right, the outright isolationism of UKIP, to jeopardise millions of British jobs and diminish Britain’s standing in the world.
Liberal Democrats, it falls to us to stand up for the national interest: we will be the party of In. I am an internationalist – pure and simple; first by birth, then by marriage, but above all by conviction. We may be an island nation, but there’s no such thing as an economic island in an age of globalisation.
And Britain is always at its strongest and proudest when we are open to the world – generous-spirited and warm-hearted, working with our neighbours and a leader on the world stage. That’s the message I will take to New York next week, when I represent the UK at the United Nations General Assembly.
There are some in the world who seek to present us as pulling up the drawbridge, following Parliament’s decision not to consider a military intervention in Syria – but they will hear from me that they are wrong.
My views on Syria are well known: I believe the use of chemical weapons – a war crime under international, humanitarian law – should be stopped wherever possible.
But I understand why some people are wary of another entanglement in the Middle East – Iraq casts a long shadow – and we now have the opportunity to work with the UN, the Russians, the Americans, the French and others to put these heinous weapons beyond the reach of Assad’s regime.
What matters now is that we are clear that this nation is not heading into retreat. It would be a double tragedy if the legacy of Iraq was a Britain turned away from the world.
Others look to our values and traditions for inspiration. Democracy, peaceful protest, equality before the law. That, in itself, confers a leadership role on us. Not as some military superpower. Not out of some nostalgic impulse after the loss of empire.
But because we believe in the virtues of law, peaceful dissent, political stability and human rights as enduring liberal values.
These are values that my own family – affected by the wars and conflicts of the past like so many other families – never took for granted.
And Miriam and I try to teach our sons that they shouldn’t take these values for granted either. After Spain moved to democracy in the 1970s, Miriam’s father was the first democratically elected Mayor in a small agricultural town in the middle of the countryside.
He single handedly brought better schools, more jobs and better housing to his community. He was hugely proud of being the first Mayor to serve his community through the ballot box. He sadly died some years ago, and there’s a small statue of him today outside the church in Miriam’s village.
Our small boys see that statue every holiday and Miriam tells them of the wonderful things he did. And they always ask about why he was elected and no one before him. We teach them that democracy and freedom are a fragile and recent thing in many parts of the world.
We teach them – just as my parents taught me – that rights and values should never be taken for granted, and if you believe in them, you should stand up for them.
And that is the United Kingdom that I want my children – all children – to grow up in: a United Kingdom that defends and promotes its values – our liberal values – at home and abroad.
It is now a year to the day until the Scottish people decide whether or not to leave the UK. The independence referendum. I unambiguously, unequivocally want Scotland to remain in the United Kingdom. The nationalists don’t have a monopoly on passion in this debate. I love the way the UK is made up of different peoples, different traditions, different histories.
I’ve sat in rugby grounds shouting my head off for England while the Scottish fans have shouted back just as loud – and it is a very special thing when good natured rivalry can flourish side by side with a feeling of affinity and closeness that comes from being a family of nations. And on every single level we are stronger together than we are apart.
We live in uncertain times, in an uncertain world – these are not days to build walls. They are days to bring them down. The decision in a year’s time does not need to be between breaking the bond or keeping the status quo – that’s a false choice.
‘No’ does not mean no change.
A Scottish decision to remain within the UK family can and must give way to a new settlement for this nation. The Liberal Democrats have always fought for more powers for Scotland – and Wales and Northern Ireland too. In Coalition we have overseen the biggest transfer of financial freedoms in 300 years. And, from Gladstone to Grimond to today, we continue to believe in home rule.
Ming Campbell has recently produced a superb report setting out how we think home rule will work in the future. Our vision is of a proud and strong Scotland, within the United Kingdom, in charge of its own fate but part of a family of nations too. This is a vision shared by many Scots and, increasingly, the other major political parties.
That is why – once the issue of Scotland’s continued participation in the United Kingdom is hopefully settled next year – I want to see a new cross party approach to the next advance in Scottish devolution.
Willie Rennie has signalled his willingness to work with the Scottish Labour and Conservative leaders ahead of next year’s vote – and I support him.
Delivering Home Rule is a tantalising prospect that is now closer than it has been for a generation.
So let’s get out there to win the referendum in favour of keeping our nations together – and then work with others to deliver the future Scotland wants.
I had the pleasure of meeting one of Scotland’s finest this summer – Andy Murray. It was at a reception in the Downing Street garden the day after his stunning Wimbledon victory. David Cameron, Ed Miliband and I were all kind of fluttering around him, trying to ask clever questions about the Djokovic match, when Andy Murray suddenly interrupted with: ‘you all seem to get along now, why can’t you always be like this?’
A good question that was met with an awkward silence and the three of us shuffling our feet. He was right, it’s true: we can get on. We’re never going to be mates, but I’ve got nothing against them personally – politically, yes, personally, no.
That’s why the constant, breathless speculation about how different party leaders get on kind of misses the point. I’m endlessly asked who I feel more ‘comfortable’ with – David Cameron or Ed Miliband? Wouldn’t our party be more comfortable with Labour? Aren’t we more comfortable with our present coalition partners? But I don’t look at Ed Miliband and David Cameron and ask myself who I’d be most comfortable with, as if I was buying a new sofa.
In an ideal world, I wouldn’t have to work with either of them because I’d be Prime Minister on my own thank you very much – and I’d like to think I’d do a better job too. So the best thing would be to put all of the predictions and personalities to one side. Whether or not we have another coalition is determined by the British people – not me, not you, the people.
And if that happens, only their votes can tell us what combination of parties carries the greatest legitimacy. Our job is plain and simple: to get more Lib Dem MPs elected.
A liberal commitment to genuine pluralism – genuine democratic choice – starts and finishes with the wishes of the public, not the preferences of the political classes.
That’s one of the reasons why I’ve never shared the view that the aim of our party should be to realign British politics by joining up with one of the other parties.
Roy Jenkins – someone I admired very much – believed that if we aligned with a modernising Labour party we could heal the divisions of the centre left. But, for me, joining forces for good with another party simply reduces democratic choice. The Liberal Democrats are not just some subset of the Labour or Tory parties – we’re no one’s little brother. We have our own values, our own liberal beliefs.
We’re not trying to get back into Government to fold into one of the other parties – we want to be there to anchor them to the liberal centre ground, right in the centre, bang in the middle. We’re not here to prop up the two party system: we’re here to bring it down.
My upbringing was privileged: home counties; private school; Cambridge University. I had a lot of opportunities. But I also had two parents who were determined that my brothers, my sister and I knew how lucky we were. On both sides, their families had experienced huge upheavals.
My Dutch mother had spent much of her childhood in a prisoner of war camp. My dad’s Russian mother had come to England after her family lost everything in the Russian Revolution. So our home was full of different languages, relatives with different backgrounds, people with different views, music and books from different places.
And my mother and father always told us that people’s fortunes can turn quickly – that good fortune should never be assumed and misfortune can occur suddenly, without warning.
I think because of the traumas their parents had been through, while they wanted to give us everything, it was so important to them that we didn’t take things for granted.
My brothers and sister and I were always taught to treat everyone the same, not to judge people by their background. We were raised to believe that everyone deserves a chance because everyone’s fortunes can change, often through no fault of their own.
And now, as a father with three children at school, I have come to understand even more clearly than before that if we want to live in a society where everyone has a fair chance to live the life they want – and to bounce back from misfortune too – then education is the key.
The gifts we give our children – self-confidence, an enthusiasm to learn, an ability to empathise with others, a joy in forging new friendships – these are instilled at an extraordinarily young age.
That’s why I made social mobility the social policy objective of this Government – and I will want it to be the same for any Government I’m in. It’s why so much of my efforts over the last three years, and so much of the money available to us, has been invested in those crucial formative years:
The £2.5bn Pupil Premium that I first wrote about 10 years ago. The 15 hours of free pre-school help for all three and four year olds, and now two year olds from the homes who need it most. Shared parental leave; new rights to flexible working; tax free childcare. These are the measures I’ve spent more time on than anything else in this Coalition.
If you want to know what I really believe in you will find it in these policies. Using the muscle of the state to create a level playing field when it counts most – when boys and girls are still forming their views, their characters, their hopes and their fears.
That’s why I’m delighted to tell you that we are now also going to provide free school meals for all children of infant school age.
From next September we’ll give every child in Reception, and Years 1 and 2 a healthy lunch every day – saving families more than £400 per year, per child.
And, for the Liberal Democrats, this is a first step: my ambition is to provide free school meals for all primary school children. Another reason we want to get into Government again next time round.
The Conservatives, on the other hand, have made it clear that their priority is to help some families over others, with a tax break for married couples. A tax break for some, funded through the taxes of everybody else – that tells you everything you need to know about their values.
We, however, will help all families in these tough times, not just the kind we like best, by helping their young children get the best possible start in life – and that tells you everything about our values. Providing this kind of help, Liberal Democrats, is now, the most important thing we can do.
Aside from anything else, that is how we restore people’s faith in our politics: by delivering for them in ways that are relevant and real. By talking to people about the things they care about, not what the political classes are talking about.
It’s so easy to lose sight of those things when you’re stuck in the Westminster bubble. And I want to be honest with you: keeping a balance between politics and normal life isn’t straightforward.
Politics these days is a roller-coaster ride of 24 hour news, breathless headlines, lurid tweets, endless polls, constant gossip about who’s up and who’s down. And you have to be really disciplined with yourself about keeping one foot in the real world to keep things in balance.
Miriam and I chose not to live behind the Government battlements in Whitehall, so we live in the same home we’ve been in for some years. We try very hard to keep our family life normal and private – we keep our children away from the cameras. We don’t pretend we’re a model family – we are who we are. We try to make sure that Westminster doesn’t take over our lives.
I know I won’t be in politics forever. What I will be is a father, a husband, a son, an uncle to all those I love in my family for good – just like anyone else. So, the longer I spend in this job, the more and more I cherish the human, direct and unstuffy way we Liberal Democrats do politics.
Our zeal for knocking on doors, making ourselves available, speaking like human beings – we must never lose that. And, as much as I’m always telling you all to embrace Government, I’m forever looking for ways to try and get out of Whitehall myself.
Taking answers on the radio; fielding questions in village halls; trying to help my constituents out when they come to see me in my Sheffield surgery; going out on regional tours; or, when I can’t get away, answering your questions online.
Doing things differently must always be part of our identity. I want us to stay in Government – but I also want us to show that it is possible to be a party of Government without behaving like an establishment party.
There was this wonderful moment on the day of the last vote on Equal Marriage. Some of us put pink carnations in our button holes and Alistair Carmichael and I were invited to go outside to meet some of the campaigners. Little did we know that they had set up an impromptu wedding ceremony – cake and dancing ‘n’ all – outside the Palace of Westminster.
And we found ourselves standing side by side – if not quite hand in hand – in front of the exuberant London Gay Men’s Chorus, singing Abba’s Dancing Queen for us at the top of their voices.
Meanwhile, inside the House of Lords, dinosaur opponents of the Bill were having a final go at killing it – declaring that gay marriage would be the end of civilisation as we know it. And, awkward though I think Alistair and I must have appeared as we lamely clapped along to Abba, at that moment we were exactly where we belonged: on the outside, welcoming in reform.
Liberal Democrats, three years ago I told you that we had an opportunity our predecessors would have given anything for. To govern. To turn our liberal principles into practice. Today I tell you that an even bigger opportunity awaits. The cycle of red, blue, blue, red has been interrupted.
Our place in this Government has prevented the pendulum swinging back from left to right. We are now where we always should have been: in power; in the liberal centre; in tune with the British people. And every day we are showing that we can govern and govern well. That pluralism works. And if we can do this again – in Government again in 2015 – we are a step closer to breaking the two party mould for good.
In the past, there were people who would only support us when the future of the country was not at stake. Now there are people who will support us precisely because the future of the country will be at stake.
In the past the Liberal Democrats would eke out an existence on the margins of British politics. Now we hold the liberal centre while our opponents head left and right. I have spent my entire life watching the other two mess it up.
We cannot stand idly by and let them do it all over again. We are the only party that can finish the job of economic recovery, but finish it fairly.
The only party able to build a stronger economy and a fairer society too.
Liberal Democrats take that message out to the country. Our mission is anchoring Britain to the centre ground. Our place is in Government again.
Well, here we are. After twenty years. What an audience. Look at you. All that work. All those leaflets. Up at dawn. I know well those streets you have trodden. But you have done magnificently. And how it’s paid off.
We are changing the face of British politics.
Jane Collins second in Rotherham parliamentary by-election last year. 16 per cent up, second place, you have no idea what that did to them in Westminster! And in Downing Street it was even worse. Even better, I mean.
Richard Elvin, in the North East came second in Middlesbrough’s parliamentary by-election and second in South Shields. They weigh the Labour vote in South Shields but they obviously use Imperial measures because Richard took UKIP from 0 to 25 per cent in three weeks.
Diane James, second in Eastleigh’s parliamentary by-election. Over 11,000 votes – 24 per cent up. Close, so close. Next time, Diane.
That’s the change.
I said then we were overtaking the Lib Dems to become the third party in British politics.
We’ve thirty thousand members and growing fast.
Certainly by the time of the general election we’ll be the third highest-membership party in Britain.
Every other party is fighting their decline.
We’re delighted, they’re appalled; the commentators are amazed.
In eight months’ time there are the European elections and the Council elections.
UKIP will be standing in both sets, fielding thousands of candidates.
I’m taking nothing for granted but I think we’re going to do well in the European elections. My ambition, my conviction is that we can come first and cause an earthquake.
But I also believe that the Council elections may turn out to be more important.
We made a breakthrough this year and we now have 227 council seats.
I wouldn’t presume to make predictions about what May will bring. But we do want more – hundreds more.
It’s possible. I think we can all feel it.
On the doorstep we tell voters that UKIP councillors aren’t constrained by Labour or Conservative affiliations. They are un-whipped. Free to represent the interests of the community. To fight for the right for local people to have referendums on key local issues such as fracking and the building of wind farms.
And what support we find out there. What eclectic support. Look at you!
You did it. We did it. Everyone in this hall.
When I heard MPs had voted against a strike on Syria. When I heard the Tories were voting for a referendum, I thought it again – we may not have MPs but we’re changing the face of British politics.
Politicians in Parliament are listening not to their party whips but to their voters.
It’s a change that’s been gathering force for twenty years.
Part hope, part fear, part disillusionment, part engagement.
When we launched our party just 17 per cent of British people agreed we should withdraw from the European Union.
Today, that figure is 67 per cent.
The British Social Attitudes Survey shows how much Britain has been moving UKIP’s way.
On many different areas of our national life.
On welfare – that benefits should be there for need, not as a lifestyle choice.
On education – that grammar schools are a great engine of social mobility.
And yes, on the European Union.
Yes, on immigration.
It’s the biggest single issue facing this country. It affects the economy. The NHS. Schools. Public services. The deficit.
But the establishment has been closing down the immigration debate for 20 years.
UKIP has opened it up. We need to. From the 1st of January next year the stakes are rising dramatically.
Let’s have that debate! Openly. We need to talk about it!
We are a nation that has always been open minded about immigration. But more people came to this country in one year, 2010 than came in the thousand years before it.
I’m not against immigration. Far from it. Migrants have qualities we all admire. Looking for a better life. They want to get on. I like that. We admire that.
So I’m speaking here as much as for the settled ethnic minorities as for those who have been here forever.
Half a million new arrivals a year!
It’s just not sustainable.
Anyone who looks at it honestly knows it’s not sustainable.
UKIP talks about it honestly. Directly. We’ve had a lot of stick for it. Normal, decent people have been bullied out of the debate.
Maybe that’s why none of the London commentariat has noticed what’s going on out there in Telford, and Aylesbury, and Kettering, and Buxton and Harrogate. It’s a long way from London. But all over the country, I’m getting audiences of five hundred or six hundred a night to talk about this.
This debate has been filling theatres. And not with party members. On a show of hands 80 per cent are non-members.
But they’re interested. They’re engaged. They’re concerned.
These people aren’t disconnected from politics. They’re disconnected from politicians.
And UKIP is the only party that isn’t afraid to talk to them about it.
So who are we? Who is the typical UKIP voter? I’ll tell you something about the typical UKIP voter – the typical UKIP voter doesn’t exist.
When I look at the audiences in those theatres there is a range of British society from all parts of the spectrum. Workers, employers, self-employed. Big businessmen, corner shop owners. Well off, comfortably off, struggling. Young as well as old. Not ideologues. Some left, some right, mostly in the middle. Some activists, some haven’t voted for twenty years.
One thing many have in common: they are fed up to the back teeth with the cardboard cut-out careerists in Westminster.
The spot-the-difference politicians.
Desperate to fight the middle ground, but can’t even find it.
The dog whistlers.
The politicians who daren’t say what they really mean.
And that’s why UKIP attracts this eclectic support.
Because when we believe something – we don’t go “are you thinking what we’re thinking”. We say it out loud.
That’s why UKIP is the most independent-minded body of men and women who have ever come together in the name of British politics.
Which presents occasional difficulties.
We have some people with overactive Facebook accounts. And we have some who make public pronouncements that I would not always choose myself.
Indeed I had the most blistering row with Godfrey Bloom in a Strasbourg restaurant the other day. He wants to fight for his beliefs and I was saying that we need to stick to the big messages. I don’t always agree on policy with Stuart Wheeler either.
But, the essence of our recent success is our ability to push the boundaries of debate and with that, the national debate on many issues.
If the choice is between our being browbeaten through political correctness to stay within the current received wisdoms or to be a party of free debate then be in no doubt we must be the party of radical alternatives and free speech.
There is however one important qualification…
We oppose racism. We oppose extremism. We oppose sectarianism of the left or right.
We are the only party that bans the BNP from membership.
I’ve got a card here which says what UKIP is, and in the first line, it says as strongly and clearly as it can be said, UKIP opposes racism.
UKIP is a free-thinking, egalitarian party opposed to racism, sectarianism and extremism.
UKIP is dedicated to liberty, opportunity, equality under the law and the aspirations of the British people.
We will always act in the interests of Britain. Especially on immigration, employment, energy supply and fisheries.
We know that only by leaving the union can we regain control of our borders, our parliament, democracy and our ability to trade freely with the fastest-growing economies in the world.
And £55 million a day, incidentally, we get that back as well.
A referendum to allow the country to decide this matter will create the greatest opportunity for national renewal in our lifetime.
Optimistic. Open to the world. The opposite of insular. Out there trading with countries that have growth rates of six, seven, ten per cent a year. Not hemmed in by the European Union – but open to the Commonwealth. Not headed by my old pal Herman Achille van Rompuy but by the Queen. Our real friends in the Commonwealth.
Because the fact is we just don’t belong in the European Union.
Britain is different.
Our geography puts us apart. Our history puts us apart. Our institutions produced by that history put us apart. We think differently. We behave differently.
I’m not giving you the Love, Actually version of what makes Britain different.
The roots go back seven, eight, nine hundred years with the Common Law. Civil rights. Habeas corpus. The presumption of innocence. The right to a trial by jury. On the continent – confession is the mother of all evidence.
Four years ago, Andrew Symeou was charged with manslaughter on statements extracted by the police and later withdrawn – taken on the European Arrest Warrant, held for 10 months in the most appalling conditions, detained in Greece for four years and then walked free when the prosecutor pulled the case. The European Arrest Warrant is an abomination to those of us who care about freedom and justice.
And in some sense it was ever thus.
The idea of free speech was a reality in England when Europe was run by princes with tyrannical powers.
Throughout Europe, England was known as the land of liberty.
Here you had the possibility of dissent. Of free thinking. Independent minds and actions. That’s us. UKIP belongs in the mainstream of British political life throughout the centuries.
I always believed since 1999 that Britain was a square peg in the round hole I’ve come to realize something bigger than that. The union is not just contrary to our interests but contrary to the interests of Europe itself.
The Commission has hijacked the institutions of Europe by adopting a flag, an anthem, a president, and through their mad euro project they have driven tens of millions into poverty.
Their climate change obsession has destroyed industry across Europe, and their refusal to listen to the people will lead to the very extreme nationalisms the project was supposed to stop.
We are the true Europeans. We want to live and work and breathe and trade in a Europe of democratic nations.
But in the last ten or fifteen years this country has seen astonishing change. There has been a phenomenal collapse in national self-confidence.
When we signed up to government from the Continent, most Britons didn’t know what they were letting themselves in for.
Our laws have come from Brussels – and what laws. What directives. What a list of instructions. How this shall be done. How that shall be regulated. Process and compliance and inspection and regulation are taking over from production and leadership and enterprise.
Financial services make up 10 per cent of the economy. It’s not just the City of London; it’s Southampton as well. Cardiff. Birmingham. Newcastle. And it’s insurance. Reinsurance. Stocks and shares. Futures. Commodities. Pension funds.
It is totally irrelevant to this industry whether we have a Labour or a Tory government because their livelihoods are now regulated by a Frenchman who is no friend of ours.
Parliament is reduced to the level of a large council. No one knows for sure exactly how much of our law comes from Brussels. Could be 70 or 80 per cent.
We have given up our concept of civil rights. Magna Carta, 800th anniversary the year after next, at the general election.
Habeas corpus. Rights of inheritance. And not just for the aristocracy, as time went by.
Our civil rights grew and kept pace with the times and expanded through the Common Law into the modern world – Europe has supplanted it with their Human Rights charter. While they can hold Andrew Symeou in Greece on trumped-up charges for four years – we can’t deport a rapist and murderer because he has a right to a family life.
How did they do that to us?
They lied to us. They had to. We’d never have agreed to it if they told us the truth and asked for our agreement.
And it’s created a complete charade in our national life.
All the parties now talk tough on immigration.
David Cameron said he would bring it down to the tens of thousands.
There are still half a million people a year coming in.
Do you know, I really think they haven’t made the connection.
I was in an immigration debate chaired by Nick Robinson. I started to talk about Europe, the rights of entry and residence that EU citizens have. He stopped me. No, he said, this debate is about immigration it’s not about Europe.
That’s how deep the disconnect goes.
Ten thousand a week. Half a million a year. Five million economic migrants in ten years coming to this country.
Unprecedented. Never happened before.
The effects are obvious. In every part of our national life.
The strain these numbers are putting on public services.
Schools. The shortage of school places in primaries and secondary schools.
The NHS. The sheer weight of numbers that adds to the other problems of that
Housing. Demand pushes up prices.
Wages are driven down by the massive over-supply of unskilled labour.
And from the 1st of January next year, the risks increase massively.
The seven year period is up and nearly 30 million of the good people of Bulgaria and Romania have open access to our country, our welfare system our jobs market.
How many will take advantage of that no one knows.
The Home Office don’t have any idea at all. The previous estimate was 13,000 in total. Migration Watch thinks 50,000 a year. It could be many times that.
No one knows. It’s no way to run a policy.
And you can’t blame people wanting to come here.
I don’t blame them.
I’d come here myself if I was in their position.
So would you. Anyone would be tempted.
In Bulgaria and Romania, average earnings are a fifth of ours.
The purchasing power of £20 of child benefit a week is five times over there what it is here.
So consider a family of mum, dad and three children. They’re going to think, let’s send Dad over to get work in Britain. That enterprising and industrious fellow can come here, find a job, and be eligible for child benefit for his three children – even though they aren’t living here.
£60 a week – with the purchasing power of five times that. Sent back to Romania or Bulgaria. What an incentive. What a draw. What a pull factor, as they call it in immigration circles.
And while you can’t blame them – is it fair? Is it fair for the people who are already here in this country. Who’ve paid in to the system?
That migrants can come and immediately start drawing benefits?
When we, the host country, is strapped for cash, when youth unemployment is at a million, when the NHS is groaning and the deficit is a burden on every family?
I know it isn’t fair. I know it isn’t right. And I know there isn’t a thing the Government can do about it.
There is an even darker side to the opening of the door in January. London is already experiencing a Romanian crime wave. There have been an astounding 27,500 arrests in the Metropolitan Police area in the last five years. 92 per cent of ATM crime is committed by Romanians. This gets to the heart of the immigration policy that UKIP wants, we should not welcome foreign criminal gangs and we must deport those who have committed offences. Mr. Cameron, Clegg and Milliband are you listening?
If they are listening there’s not a thing they can do. They are tied up in the cat’s cradle of EU laws, regulations, directives and treaties.
The only way this can be dealt with is by leaving the EU.
Not prolong the agony. But leave, and leave soon. That’s what UKIP has been arguing for twenty years and what an increasing majority of the British people are – with very good reason – coming to believe as well.
Sixty seven per cent. Research suggests that 67 per cent of Britons now support leaving the Union.
I’m not sure how carefully everyone has thought this through, so let me say a little about what life outside the Union looks like to me.
I believe that leaving the Union and reclaiming our destiny will create the most exciting opportunity for national renewal in our lifetime.
At the most basic level we get back £55 million a day. It adds up. It’s £20 billion a year. We could reduce the deficit. We could reduce corporation tax to 10 per cent. Give us the most competitive and attractive business taxes in the western world.
We get our money back.
We get our borders back.
We get our Parliament back.
We get our fisheries back.
We get our own seat in on the bodies that actually run the world.
We get back the ability to strike free trade deals. We can abolish tariffs on African produce and do more to raise living standards there than any amount of aid.
There are those who say we can’t go it alone. That our global influence will decline because we are small.
Those are the true voices of Little England. We speak for Great Britain.
No longer bound into an ageing and increasingly arthritic trade bloc where growth of 2 and 3 per cent is an ambition.
Instead, the world. The Commonwealth. Trading with Brazil, Asia, the Commonwealth where growth rates in double figures will bring wealth back to this country.
No more relying on debt-fuelled booms to get things going. No more growth through credit card excesses. We earn our way to national prosperity by free trade with the world.
And just to counter the scare stories the status quo put up to frighten people back into line, I’ll tell you what won’t happen.
Those ten thousand trucks a day coming in from the continent bringing goods into this country. They won’t stop coming.
The £25 to £35 billion trade surplus the rest of Europe runs with us. That’s not going to stop.
The idea that the EU will start a trade war with Britain is simply not credible.
The real reason the EU won’t be able or willing to stop trading with us is that the German car industry won’t allow it. I just can’t see Mrs Merkel explaining to Mercedes that they’re not going to be selling into Britain any more.
It’s not going to happen.
Leaving the Union will give us our country back and open a door to the world.
We are changing the face of British politics and all our arguments are gaining traction. In rhetoric the other parties are attempting to move in to our territory but without the slightest intention of delivering.
So Mr. Cameron wants a referendum … well we’ve heard it all before with his “cast iron guarantee” and we don’t believe that he is sincere. The use of the word renegotiation is no more than a cynical tactic to kick the issue into the long grass after the next election. I have no doubt that Labour and the Lib Dems will do exactly the same thing. They all promise a referendum at every General Election and renege on their promises.
But the next election is not, as you would believe reading the newspapers, in 2015. The next election is on May 22nd 2014, the European Elections.
They offer voters a chance to really express their view without worrying which lot get in to Downing Street.
The campaign will be dominated by open door immigration to Eastern Europe. If the coalition wants to save their electoral skins they must, before January 1st, tell Brussels that we will not unconditionally open our door to Bulgaria and Romania.
That is my challenge to them. If they ignore it then we must turn the Euro Elections into the referendum that we have not been given.
Let’s make May 22nd as our referendum on EU membership, let us send an earthquake through Westminster. Let us stand up and say: Give us our country back!
In the red corner Ed Miliband begins with:
Thank you friends, thank you
It’s great to be in Brighton and I want to start by thanking somebody from the bottom of my heart for the kindest of words, not Justine I would like to thank her – round of applause for Justine please ladies and gentlemen.
Not my mum, not my mum, but a woman called Ella Phillips – it was local election day, Ella rode past me on my bike, she fell off – it’s not funny, I helped her up and afterwards she called me something I’d never been called before, she said I was an action hero.
Why are you laughing?
She said I was an action hero who mysteriously appeared out of nowhere and she said ‘what added to all the confusion was that Ed was actually attractive and not geeky at all’ – I promise you she did say that. She said even the way he appeared was suave.. I don’t know why you find this so funny,. He was dressed casually, but he had style. sounds like me, doesn’t it?
Now, I was pretty pleased with this, as you can tell, until something dawned on me. Ella was concussed. She was badly concussed, in fact she herself said ‘I was seeing things because I was still in quite a daze’ – well, Ella, you’re not kidding, but et me say, Ella, if you’re watching today, thank you, you’ve made my year.
I want to start today with the simplest of thoughts, an idea that has inspired change for generations, the belief that helped drive us out of the Second World War and into that great reforming government of 1945, an ambition that is more important now than it’s been for decades, an emotion that is felt across our country, our kitchen tables, every night, a feeling that is so threatening to those who want to keep things as they are, words that are so basic and yet so powerful, so modest and yet so hard to believe. Six simple words that say Britain can do better than this. Britain can do better than this. We’re Britain, we’re better than this.
Are you satisfied with a country where people are working harder for longer for less, year after year after year? Are you satisfied with a country divided, losing touch with the things we value the most? Are you satisfied with a country that shuts out the voices of millions of ordinary people and listens only to the powerful? Are you satisfied with a country standing apart as two nations? Well, I’m not satisfied, we’re Britain, we’re better than this. And we have to rebuild anew. One Nation. An economy built on your success, a society based on your values, a politics that hears your voice, rich and poor alike accepting their responsibilities to each other – one nation, we’re going to make it happen and today I’m going to tell you how.
I want to start with leadership, leadership is about risks and difficult decisions, it’s about those lonely moments when you have to peer deep into your soul. I ran for the leadership of this party, it was really hard for my family but I believed that Labour needed to turn the page and I was the best person to do it and when I became leader I faced a decision about whether we should stand up to Rupert Murdoch. It wasn’t the way things had been done in the past, but it was the right thing to do, so I did and together we faced him down.
Then the other way I face an even bigger decision about whether the country should go to war. The biggest decision any leader faces, the biggest decision any Parliament faces, the biggest decision any party faces. All of us were horrified by the appalling chemical weapons attacks in Syria but when I stood on the stage three years ago when I became your leader I said we would learn the lessons of Iraq. It would have been a rush to war, it wouldn’t have been the right thing for our country, so I said no, it was the right thing to do.
You see, the real test of leadership is not whether you stand up to the weak, that’s easy, it’s whether you stand up for the strong and know who to fight for. And, you know, I’m reminded of a story when I was starting out, standing to be an MP in Doncaster, with a woman called Molly Roberts and there I was candidly trying to get her vote, sitting in her front room sipping a mug of tea and she said to me ‘how can you who weren’t brought up in this area possibly understand the lives of people her, their hopes and their struggles’.
It was the right question and here’s the answer – for me it lies with the values I was brought up with. In my house it was my mum that taught me these values, about the importance of reaching out and listening to people, of understanding their hopes and their struggles, She is the most patient, generous person I’ve met in my whole live and she taught me never to be contemptuous of others, never to be dismissive of their troubles. Now, she was teaching me a lesson in life. And some people will say ‘ah yeah, but you’ve got to leave decency behind in politics’.
But I say that they’re wrong, because only if you reach out and listen can you do the most important thing a leader can do the most important qualification in my view for being Prime Minister, only then will you have the ability to walk in the shoes of others and know who to fight for, whoever your opponent, however powerful they are, guided by the only thing that matters, your sense of what is right. This is what I believe, this is where I stand, this is the leadership Britain needs.
And when I think about who we need to fight for, I think about all the people I’ve met over the last year, I think of the people of Britain and their enormous and extraordinary spirit, I think of our troops, serving so bravely around the world, let us pay tribute to them.
I’ve seen in Afghanistan those young men and women, young men and women who are young enough to be my son or daughter serving our country and it is a truly humbling experience and don’t the events of the last few days in Kenya remind us of the importance of being ever vigilant against terrorism at home and around the world?
I think of the brave men and women of our police force who serve with so little credit each and every day for our country, let us thank them for what they do.
Then I think of all the people I’ve met over the last year. During the local election campaign I did something unusual, I went to town centres and market squares and high streets and I stood on a pallet, not a soapbox, but a pallet – and I talked to people about their lives. And I remember this town meeting I had in Clevleys, I was coming to the end of the meeting and this bloke wondered up and he was incredibly angry. It’s a family show so I won’t exactly repeat what he said. He was so angry he wouldn’t give me his name, but he did tell me his story about how he’d spent the last ten years looking after his disabled wife and then another four years looking for a job and not finding one, he was angry about immigration, some people in the crowd booed him, but actually he wasn’t prejudiced he just felt the economy didn’t work for him.
I think of the two market traders I met in Chesterfield, standing by their stalls, out in all weathers, working all hours and they said ‘look, this country doesn’t seem to be rewarding our hard work and effort, there seem to be some people getting something for nothing. This society is losing touch with our values.
Then I think about this beautiful sunny spring day I spent in Lincoln and the face in the crowd, this young woman who said she was an ambulance controller, so proud to be working for our National Health Service and so proud, too, of her young son, and she was 19 years old. And she said ‘why does everyone portray me as a burden on the system? I’m doing the right thing, I’m going out there. Why doesn’t anyone listen to my voice?’.
Then I think about the scaffolder I met, just round the corner from where I live, I was just coming back from a local cafe I’d been at. He said to me ‘where’s your bodyguard?’ I said ‘I don’t have one’ – but that’s a different story. He told me his story and what he said to me was ‘I go out, I do the work, I go round the country, out in all weathers, I earn a decent wage but I still can’t make ends meet and he said ‘is anyone going to do anything about those gas and electric bills that just go up and up and up, faster than I can earn a living’. He wanted someone to fight for him.
Now if you listen to these stories, four of just millions of the stories of our country – and you have your own of your friends and family. All of these people love Britain, they embody its great spirit, but they all believe Britain can do better than this.
Today I say to them and millions of others – you’re right, Britain can do better than this, Britain must do better than this, Britain will do better than this, with a government that fights for you.
But for Britain to do better than this we’ve got to understand why we got here, why things are so tough at the moment, even while they tell you there’s a recovery and why unless we put things right, it will only be a recovery for the few. Now what I’m about to tell you is the most important thing I’m going to say today about what needs to change in our country.
For generation in Britain when the economy grew, the majority got better off and then somewhere along the way, that vital link between the growing wealth of the country and your family finances was broken, this goes beyond one party and one government, it’s more important to you than which party is in power, even more important than that.
You see when I was growing up in the 1980s I saw the benefits of growing prosperity, people able to buy a house, a car, even a second car, go on a foreign holiday their grandparents would never have dreamed of, not spent all their hours at work, able to spend time with their kids, not working all the hours that God sends, have a secure pension in retirement and also believe their kids would have a better life than them. That seems a long way away from where Britain is at the moment. That’s because it is, you see somewhere along the way that link got broken.
They used to say a rising tide lifts all boats, now the rising tide just seems to lift the yachts. Now i say this to the people of Britain, if I were you I wouldn’t even take a second look at a political party unless they make this their central, defining purpose, because your future depend on it, your children’s future depends on it, Britain’s future depends on it. I say, we’re Britain, we can do better than this.
Do the Tories get it? Oh come on I didn’t hear you! Do the Tories get it? [No] OK, that’s better. They don’t get it, do they?
I understand why three and a half years ago some people might have thought David Cameron did get it and that’s why people voted for him at the last general election, but they voted for change and I don’t think they got the change they were voting for – and let me just explain it this way.
Next week you’re going to see David Cameron resuming his lap of honour for how brilliantly he’s done as Prime Minister, claiming credit for his enormous achievements, how he’s saved the economy, as they put it, I’m in no doubt, he’ll even be taking his shirt and flinging it into the crowd, expecting adoration from the British people, like he did recently on holiday. Maybe I should make this problem, if I’m Prime Minister I won’t take my shirt off in public – I mean, it’s just not necessary is it. Anyway, I’ll try and keep the promise. Back to David Cameron, so he’s going on this lap of honour, everything’s brilliant, he’s saved the economy, George Osborne he deserves the garlands as well, you know, aren’t they brilliant?
Come on! The slowest recovery in 100 years, one million young people looking for work, more people on record working part-time who want full-time work, more people for a generation our of work for longer, the longest fall in living standards since 1870, that’s not worthy a lap of honour that is worth a lap of shame and that is the record of this government.
He does have on record though, but I don’t think it credits a lap of honour – he’s been Prime Minister for 39 months and in 38 of those months wages have risen more slowly than prices, that means your living standards falling year after year after year. So in 2015 you’ll be asking ; Am I better off now than five years ago?’ And we already know the answer for millions of families will be ‘no’.
You’ve made the sacrifices but you haven’t got the rewards. You’re the first into the recession, but you’re the last one out. Now, of course it would have taken time to recover from the global financial crisis whoever was in power, but when these Tories tell you the pain will be worth the gain, don’t believe them, they can’t solve the cost of living crisis and here’s why – the cost of living crisis isn’t an accident of David Cameron’s economic policy – it is his economic policy and let me explain why.
You see, he believes in this thing called the global race, but what he doesn’t tell you is he thinks for Britain to win the global race, you have to lose. Lower wages, worse terms and conditions, fewer rights at work, but Britain can’t win a race for the lowest wages against countries where wage rates are pennies an hour, and the more we try the worse things will get for you.
Britain can’t win a race for the fewest rights at work against the sweatshops of the world and the more we try, the worse things will get for you and Britain can’t win a race for the lowest skilled jobs against countries where kids leave school at the age of 11 and the more we try the worse things will get for you. It’s a race to the bottom, Britain cannot and should not win that race.
It’s not the low achievements of these Tories, that really gets me, that’s bad enough. It’s their low aspirations, it’s their low aspirations for you, their low aspirations for Britain, but their high hopes for those at the top. The city bonuses are back, up 82% in April alone thanks to the millionaires’ tax cut. So when they tell you the economy’s healing, that everything’s fixed, just remember, they’re not talking about your life, they’re talking about their friends at the top, that’s who they’re talking about, it’s high hopes for them.
And every so often, you know, the mask slips, doesn’t it. The other day the man they call Lord Howell, he was I think their adviser on fracking at one point – nothing funny about that – now he said it was wrong to frack in some areas but it was OK in others, it was OK in the north-east of England because he said and I quote it was full of “desolate and uninhabited” areas. In one casual aside dismissing a whole region of the country.
Let’s tell these Tories about north-east of England and every other part of Britain. People go out to work, they love their kids, they bring up their families, they care for their neighbours, they look out for each other, they’re proud of their communities. They hope for the future, the Tories call them inhabitants of desolate areas, we call them our friends, our neighbours, the heroes of our country.
They’re fed up of a government that doesn’t understand their lives and a Prime Minister who cannot walk in their shoes. We’re Britain, we’re better than this!
Now to make Britain better we’ve got to win a race to the top, not a race to the bottom, a race to the top which means other countries will buy our goods, companies will come and invest here and we’ll create the wealth and jobs we need for the future. But we’re not going to be able to do it easily, it’s going to be tough. Well, let me just say this, friends – you think Opposition is tough, you should try government, because it’s going to be tough, it’s not going to be easy and I’m not going to stand here today and pretend to you it is.
We’re going to have to stick to strict spending limits to get the deficit down, we’re not going to be able to spend money we don’t have and, frankly, if I told you we were going to you wouldn’t believe me, the country wouldn’t believe me and they’d be right not to believe me.
But we can make a difference; we can win the race to the top and let me tell you how. It’s about the jobs we create, it’s about the businesses we support, it’s about the talents we nurture, it’s about the wages we earn and it’s about the vested interests that we take on…
Let me start with the jobs of the future – the environment is a passion of mine, because when I think about my two kids who are two and four at the moment and not talking that much about the environment, more interested in the Octonauts – there’s a plug – in 20 years’ time they’ll say to me ‘were you the last generation not to get climate change or the first generation to get it?’. That’s the question they’ll be asking, but it’s not just about environmental care, it’s also about the jobs we create in the future. You see some people say, including George Osborne that we can’t afford to have an environmental commitment at a time like this. He’s wrong, we can’t afford not to have an environmental commitment at a time like this…
To win that race to the top we’ve also got to do something else, we’ve got to support the businesses of the future, now many of the jobs in the future will come from a large number of small businesses not a small number of large businesses.
That changes the priorities for government, when this government came to office, they’ve cut taxes for large businesses by 6bn but raised taxes on small businesses, now I don’t think that’s the right priority.
Yes, we need a competitive tax regime for large businesses, but frankly they’ve short-changed small businesses and I’m going to put it right. If the next Labour government takes power in 2015, we would use the money that this government used to cut taxes for large businesses to cut business rates for 1.5m businesses across our country. That’s the way we win the race to the top.
One Nation Labour – the party of small business, cutting small business rates when we come to office in 2015 and freezing them the next year, benefiting businesses by £450 a year – that’s how we win the race to the top, friends. We’ve also got to nurture the talents of the next generation, the skills of people. There are so many brilliant businesses in our country who provide amazing training for the workforce, but we’ve got to face facts, and leading businesses say this to me too, which is there aren’t enough of them, and we’ve got to work to change that. So we’ll say if you want a major government contract you might provide apprenticeships to the next generation.
We’ll say if you want to bring in a skilled worker from outside the EU then you’ll also have a legal duty to provide an apprenticeship to the next generation. I’ll also say to companie s doing the right thing, training their workforce, that they will have power to call time on free-riding by competitors who refuse to do the same. That’s where how we win the race to the top, friends.
It’s not just businesses who have to accept responsibility, it’s young people too. We have a tragedy in this country: hundreds of thousands of young people who leave school and end up on the dole. We’ve got this word for it don’t we: NEETs: Behind that short word is a tragedy of wasted lives. If the schools system fails our young people they shouldn’t be ending up on benefits, they should be ending up in education or training so they can get back on the road to a proper career. That requires them to accept responsibility but it requires government too to accept our responsibilities for the next generation in Britain, and that’s what we’ll do
To win the race to the top we’ve got to take advantage of the talents of Britain’s 12m parents. Justine and I had the great privilege in every parent’s life this year of taking our son Daniel to his first day at school. He was nervous at first, but he pretty soon started having fun; a bit like being leader of the Labour party really… Well it’s not exactly like being the leader of the Labour party.
For so many parents in this country, the demands of the daily school run combined with their job are like their very own daily assault course. We’ve got to understand that, because we can’t win a race to the top with stressed out parents and family life under strain.
“In the last century, school stayed open till mid-afternoon and that was okay back then because one parent usually stayed at home. But it’s not okay now: that’s why we want every school in Britain to have the breakfast clubs and after school care that parents need and that’s what the next Labour government will do.
“To win the race to the top we’ve also got to deal with the issue of low pay: the National Minimum Wage, one of the last Labour government’s proudest achievements, friends. But we have to face facts: there are millions of people in this country going out to work, coming home at night, unable to afford to bring up their families. I just think that’s wrong in one of the richest countries in the world. The next Labour govt must write the next chapter of defeating low pay in this country: we’ve got to learn lessons from the National Minimum Wage, because it was about business and working people, business and unions working together to set the minimum wage at the right level, and we’ve got to do the same again. We’ve got to do something about it.
“There are some sectors – and I don’t often say anything nice about the banks – who actually can afford to pay higher wages, and some of them are, al living wage in some of the banks. So we’ve got to look at what we can do: the next Labour government will strengthen the minimum wage to make work pay for millions in our country – that’s how we in the race to the top.
I’m the son of two immigrant parents and I’m proud of the welcome Britain gave me and my family, and we’ve always welcomed people who work, contribute and are part of our communities. If people want a party that will cut itself off from the rest of the world, then let me say squarely: Labour is not your party.
But if people want a party that will set the right rules for working people then Labour is your party – the only party that will do it. employers not paying the minimum wage and government turning a blind eye – it’s a race to the bottom – not under my government. Recruitment agencies hiring only from overseas – it’s a race to the bottom. Not under my government. Shady gangmasters exploiting people in industries from construction to food processing. It’s a race to the bottom: not under my government.
Rogue landlords, putting 15 people in tied housing, it’s a race to the bottom, not under my government, and our country sending out a message to the world that if you want to engage in shady employment practices, then Britain is open for businesses? It’s a race to the bottom, not under my government
And in case anyone asks whether this is pandering to prejudice: Let’s tell them it isn’t. Wherever people come from, we’ve never believed in a race to the bottom, we’ve always believed in a race to the top, that is our party.
And to win the race to the top we’ve got to take on the vested interests. In the 1990s we committed to a dynamic market economy: look at those words: dynamic market economy. Think about this: what happens when competition fails? What happens when it fails again, and again, and again? When government has to act. Train companies who put the daily commute out of reach, payday loan companies, who force people into unpayable debt. Energy companies who put prices up and up and up. That’s not good for the economy when one section of society does so well at the expense of others: that’s bad for families, bad for businesses and bad for the consumer.
Some people will blame the companies, but actually, I don’t think that’s where the blame lies – it lies with government for not having had the strength to stand up for the strong, to powerful interest.
Take the gas and electricity companies: we need successful energy companies, to invest in the future in Britain, but there will never be public consent for that investment unless you get a fair deal. The system is broken and we need to fix it.
If we in the election 2015 the next Labour government will freeze gas and electricity prices until the start of 2017.
You bills will not rise: it will benefit millions of families and millions of businesses
That’s what I mean when I say a government that fights for you and that’s what I mean when I say Britain can do better than this.
The companies aren’t going to like this, because it will cost them more but they’ve been overcharging people for too long in a market that doesn’t work: we need to reset that market and have a regulator on the customer side that also enables the investment we need. That’s how Britain can be better than this.
Making Britain better than this starts with our economy, but it doesn’t just stop there. It goes to our society as well. I told you earlier on about those market traders in Chesterfield and how they felt that society had lost touch with their values. I think what they were really saying is this: that they put in huge hard work and effort, they bring up their kids in the right way, and they just feel that their kids are going to have a worse life than them. Nowhere is that more true than when it comes to renting or buying your home.
There are 9m people in this country renting a home, many of whom who would rent to buy. 9m people – we don’t just have a cost of living crisis, we have a housing crisis too. In 2010 when we left office there was a problem, there were 1m too few homes in Britain. If we carry on as we are, by 2020, there’ll be 2m too few homes in Britain. That’s the equivalent of five cities the size of Birmingham. We’ve got to do something about it and the next Labour government will.
We’ll say to private developers we can’t just sit on land and refuse to build: we’ll give them a very clear message, either use the land or lose the land, that is what the next Labour government will do.
We’ll say to local authorities that they have a right to grow, and neighbouring local authorities can’t just stop them, we’ll identify new towns and garden cities and we’ll have an aim that at the end of the parliament Britain will be building 200,000 homes a year, more than at any time in a generation. That’s how we make Britain better than this.
Nowhere do we need to put the values of the British people back at the heart of our country than in the National Health Service, the greatest institution of our country. I had a letter from a 17 year old girl suffering from depression and anxiety. She told me a heart-breaking story of how she ended up in hospital for 10 weeks: mental health is a truly one nation problem, it affects rich and poor, , north and south, young and old alike. And let’s be frank: in the privacy of this room; we’ve swept it under the carpet for too long. It’s a very British thing, we don’t like to talk about it: if you’ve got a bad back of you’re suffering from cancer you talk about it, but if you’ve got a depression or anxiety you don’t talk about it because somehow it doesn’t seem right. We’ve got to change that. It’s an afterthought in our National Health Service
You might say, in tough times, how are you going to make it work? Here’s the thing, the 17-year-old said in that letter, if someone had actually identified the problem when it started 3 years earlier I wouldn’t have ended up in hospital and costing the state. It’s about the early identification. And if it’s true of mental health, it’s true in an even bigger way of care for the elderly.
There’s so much more our countries could be doing for our grandmas and granddads. Just putting a £50 grab rail in the home stops somebody falling over, prevents them ending up in hospital with the needless agony, and all of the money that it costs
The 1945 Labour government raised its sights, even in tough times. I want the next Labour government to do the same: to raise our health in the NHS. Bringing together physical health, mental health, and all the care for the needs of the elderly: a true integrated national health service.
But we don’t just need to improve the health service, friends; we’ve got to rescue it from these Tories. And the Liberals too…
Before the election I remember the speeches by David Cameron; one where he said the three most important letters to him were NHS he’s got a funny way of showing it hasn’t he? When they came to office they were still saying how brilliant everything was in the National Health Service. Have you noticed they’ve changed their tune recently? Suddenly they’re saying how bad everything is in the National Health Service.
Now, doctors and nurses do a fantastic job. Sometimes they go wrong, and when they do we should be the first people to say so. But hear me on this: the reason David Cameron is running down the NHS is not because the doctors and nurses aren’t doing as good a job as they were before, it’s because they’ve come to a realisation, the health service is getting worse on their watch, and they’re desperately thrashing around finding someone to blame: doctor, nurses, the last Labour government – that’s what they’re doing!
Let me tell you about the record of the last Labour government: when we came to office there were waiting time targets of 18 months that were not being met. When we left office, there were targets of 18 weeks that were being met. When we came to office, there was an A&E crisis, when we left there was a A&E service we could rely on. When we came to office there were fewer doctors and nurses, when we left office, more than ever before.
When we came to office people said the NHS was a good idea when it was set up, but they didn’t believe it would be there for the next. When we left we left with the highest public satisfaction it has ever seen – yes friends, we did rescue the National Health Service.
When you heard David Cameron casting around for someone to blame for the NHS, it’s as simple as ABC – Anyone But Cameron.
We know who’s responsible for the needless top-down reorganisation that no one voted for or ever wanted, for the abolition of NHS Direct, we know who’s responsible for not just an annual A&E crisis but for an A&E crisis for all seasons: this Prime Minister. It’s the same old story; we rescue the NHS, they wreck the NHS, and we’ll have to rescue it all over again – that is what the next Labour government will do.
I’ve explained how we can make Britain better by changing our economy and our society. Here’s the bit you’ve all been looking forward to – party reform. Now let me say to you – change is difficult and uncomfortable. Let me explain to you why it’s so important: with all the forces ranged against us, we can’t just be a party of 200,000 people. We’ve got to be a party of 500,000, 600,000 or more, and I’m optimistic enough, some might say idealistic enough, to believe that’s possible. And I believe that because of the unique link we have with the trade unions. I don’t want to end that link, I want to mend that link, and hear the voices of individual working people louder than ever before. Think about our history:
it’s you that’s been telling me that we haven’t been rooted in the workplaces of this country, and that’s what I want to change. It’s about hearing the voices of people: call centre workers, construction workers, people who work in supermarkets, putting them at the heart of our party.
It’s about my view of politics; Leaders matter, of course they do, but in the end political change happens because people make it happen, and you can’t be a party that fights for working people unless you have working people at the core of your party up and down this country. I want to work with you on my reforms so we can have a mass membership party. Friends, let’s make ourselves truly the People’s Party once again.
To change our politics we’ve got to do more than that, we’ve got to hear the voices of people whose voices haven’t been heard in a young time. The voices of young people, their talent, their energy. The voices of young people who haven’t got a job. The voices of young people who demand that we don’t shirk our responsibilities to the environment. The voices of gay and lesbian young people, who led the fight and won the battle for equal marriage in Britain.
And the voices of young people, particularly women, who say in 2013 the battle for equality is not won. You see, they’re not happy that 33% of Labour MPs are women, they want it to be 50%, and they. Are. Right.
They are not satisfied that 40 years after the Equal Pay Act we still don’t have equal pay for work of equal value in this country, and they are right. They are not satisfied that in Britain of 2013 women are still subject to violence, harassment, and every day sexism. They are not satisfied and they are right. Let’s give a voice to these young people in our party and democracy. Let’s give the vote to 16 and 17 year olds and make them part of our democracy.
We’ve got to win the battle for perhaps the most important institution of all. Our United Kingdom. Friends: devolution works. Carwyn Jones, our brilliant First Minister of Wales, he’s showing devolution works. And let’s praise the leadership of our Scottish leader Johann Lamont for the brilliant job she’s doing against Alex Salmond
That referendum on September 8th 2014, it’s going to be conducted on the basis of facts, figures and arguments. But I’ve got a story to tell you that says even more: It’s the story of Cathy Murphy. Cathy Murphy lives in Glasgow, she works in the local supermarket. In 2010, Cathy was diagnosed with a serious heart problem, but she came to Labour conference nonetheless in 2011 as a delegate. She fell seriously ill, her family were called down from Glasgow, the doctors said to her that to save her life they’d have to give her a very long and very risky operation.
She had that operation a few weeks later at the world-leading Liverpool Broad Green hospital. Cathy pulled through, she went back to Glasgow some weeks later and she comes back down to Liverpool every six months for her check-up. She said to me the nurses and doctors don’t ask whether she’s English or Scotish, the hospital doesn’t care where she lives. They care about her because she’s Scottish and British, a citizen of our United Kingdom. Friends, Cathy is with us today, back again. Where is she? Cathy’s here. Friends: I don’t want Cathy to become a foreigner, let’s win the battle for the United Kingdom.
I’ve talked to you today about policy, what a Labour government would do, how we’d make Britain better, and win the race to the top in our economy. But the next election isn’t just going to be about policy, it’s going to be about how we lead and the judgement that w show. I’ve got a message for the Tories today: if you want to have a debate about leadership and character? Be my guest
If you want to know the difference between me and David Cameron, here’s an easy way to remember it: when it was Murdoch vs the McCanns, he took the side of Murdoch, when it was the cancer charities versus the tobacco lobby, he took the side of the tobacco lobby, when it was the millionaires wanting a tax cut versus the families hit by the bedroom tax – he took the side of the millionaires. Come to think of it, here’s an easier way to remember it : David Cameron was the Prime Minister who introduced the bedroom tax, I’ll be the Prime Minister who repeals the bedroom tax
Here’s the thing about David Cameron: he may be strong at standing up to the weak, but he’s always weak when it comes to standing up to the strong. That’s the difference between me and David Cameron so let’s have that debate about leadership and character, and I relish that debate.
We know what we’re going to see from these Tories till the general election: the lowest form of politics, divide and rule. People on benefits against those in work, people inside and outside unions, private sector versus public sector, the north against the south. It’s the lowest form of politics.
Like sending vans into areas of Britain where people’s mums and grandmas have lived for generations and telling them to go home: I say, we’re Britain, we’re better than this! Telling anyone who’s looking for a job that they’re a scrounger, however hard they’re looking, even when they’re looking for work: I say we’re Britain, we’re better than this! I say to David Cameron: you can tell your Lynton Crosby. It might work elsewhere, but it won’t work here. We’re Britain, we’re better than this!
That’s the easy path for politics, dividing. You need to know this about me, I believe in seeing the best in people, not the worst. That’s what I’m about. That’s how we create One Nation, that’s how we make Britain better than this, that’s how we make a government that fights for working people.There’s going to be a big fight before the general election, but when you prepare yourself for that fight, don’t think about our party, think about our country. I don’t want to win this fight for Labour, I want to win it for Britain.
Just remember this: thorough our history, when the voices of hope have been arranged against the voices of fear, the voices of hope have won through. Those that said at the dawn of the industrial revoltion that working people needed the vote, and they wouldn’t wait – they knew Britain could be better than this, and we were. Those that said at the birth of a new century, that working people needed a party to fight for them, and the old order wouldn’t do – they knew Britain could do better than this, and they were.
Those that said at our darkest hour in the Second World War, that Britain needed to rebuild after the war and said never again, they knew Britain could do better than this, and we did, and as the 20th century grew old, those who knew that the battle for equality was still young, they knew that Britain could do better than this. And now it falls to us to build One Nation a country for all – a Britain we rebuild together. Britain’s best days lie ahead, Britain can do better than this: we’re Britain, we’re better than this. I’ll lead a Government that fights for you. Thank you!
In the blue corner David Cameron begins with the Land of Opportunity:
This week in Manchester we’ve shown this Party is on the side of hardworking people.
Helping young people buy their own home.
Getting the long-term unemployed back to work.
Freezing fuel duty.
Cutting the deficit.
And I want to thank everyone here for the great week we’ve had.
When we came to office, we faced a clear and daunting task: to turn our country around.
In May 2010, the needle on the gauge was at crisis point.
People were talking about this country in a way they had not done for decades.
But three and a half years later, we are beginning to turn the corner.
Our economy is growing.
The numbers of our fellow countrymen and women in work are rising.
We are not there yet, not by a long way.
But, my friends, we are on our way.
I want to thank the people who have done the most to get us this far.
You. The British people.
Never giving up. Working those extra hours. Coping with those necessary cuts.
You. British business. You kept people on in the hard times. Invested before you knew for certain that things were getting better.
Together – we are clearing up the mess that Labour left.
But I have a simple question, to the people in this hall and beyond it.
Is that enough?
Is it enough that we just clear up Labour’s mess and think ‘job done’?
Is it enough to just fix what went wrong?
I say – no. Not for me.
This isn’t job done; it is job begun.
I didn’t come into politics just to fix what went wrong, but to build something right.
We in this party – we don’t dream of deficits and decimal points and dry fiscal plans.
Our dreams are about helping people get on in life.
Aspiration, opportunity: these are our words, our dreams.
So today I want to talk about our one, abiding mission.
I believe it is the great Conservative mission.
That as our economy starts to recover, we build a land of opportunity in our country today.
Now, I know, it’ll be tough.
But I know we’ve got what it takes in this Party.
Some people say “can’t be done” – Conservatives say “what’s to stop us?”
They said we couldn’t get terrorists out of our own country.
Well – Theresa knew otherwise…
…and that’s why Abu Qatada had his very own May Day this year…
Didn’t it feel good seeing him get on that plane?
Some people said the NHS wasn’t safe in our hands.
Well – we knew otherwise.
Who protected spending on the NHS? Not Labour – us.
Who started the Cancer Drugs Fund? Not Labour – us.
And by the way – who presided over Mid Staffs?
Patients left for so long without water, they were drinking out of dirty vases…
…people’s grandparents lying filthy and unwashed for days.
Who allowed that to happen? Yes, it was Labour…
…and don’t you dare lecture anyone on the NHS again.
And some people say a lot of things on Europe.
You’ll never be able to veto an EU treaty.
You’ll never cut the Budget.
And if you did these things – you’d have no allies in Europe.
Well we’ve proved them wrong.
I vetoed that treaty.
I got Britain out of the EU bail-out scheme.
And yes – I cut that budget.
And in doing all this, we haven’t lost respect – we’ve won allies to get powers back from Europe.
That is what we will do…
…and at the end of it – yes – we will give the British people their say in a referendum.
That is our pledge. It will be your choice: in or out.
BRITAIN IN THE WORLD
And friends, you know what someone said about us recently?
Apparently some Russian official said: Britain is “just a small island that no-one pays any attention to.”
Let me just get this off my chest.
When the world wanted rights, who wrote Magna Carta?
When they wanted representation, who built the first Parliament?
When they looked for compassion, who led the abolition of slavery?
When they searched for equality, who gave women the vote?
When their freedom was in peril, who offered blood, toil, tears and sweat?
And today – whose music do they dance to?
Whose universities do they flock to?
Whose football league do they watch?
Whose example of tolerance of people living together from every nation, every religion, young and old, straight and gay?
Whose example do they aspire to?
I haven’t even got on to the fact that this small island beat Russia in the Olympics last year, or that the biggest-selling vodka brand in the world isn’t Russian, it’s British – Smirnoff – made in Fife.
…so yes, we may be a small island
but I tell you what, we’re a great country.
But I want to make a serious point about our place in the world.
Following that vote on Syria in the House of Commons, some people said it was time for Britain to re-think our role.
I’m sorry – but I don’t agree.
If we shrunk from the world we would be less safe and less prosperous.
The role we play, the organisations we belong to…
… and yes – the fact our defence budget remains the 4th largest in the world…
…all this is not about national vanity – it’s about our national interest.
When British citizens -our fathers, mothers, daughters- are in danger…
…whether that’s in the deserts of Algeria or the city of Nairobi
then combatting international terrorism – it matters to us.
When five of the world’s fastest growing economies are African,
then trading with Africa – and yes helping Africa to develop with aid – that matters to us.
And at the heart of all this work – the finest Foreign Secretary I could ask for: William Hague.
Around the world, we really do matter as a United Kingdom:
England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
The date of the referendum has been set. The decision is for Scotland to make.
All the arguments about our economy, jobs, currency – I believe they make an unanswerable case for the UK.
But today I want a more simple message to go out to all the people of Scotland.
From us here in this hall, from me, from this party, from this country, from England, Wales, Northern Ireland
and it’s this:
We want you to stay.
We want to stick together.
Think of all we’ve achieved together – the things we can do together.
The nations – as one.
Our Kingdom – United.
For 12 years now, men and women from all parts of these islands have been serving their country in Afghanistan.
Next year, the last of our combat troops will be coming home…
…having trained up the Afghans to look after their own country.
More than a decade of war.
Sacrifice beyond measure – from the finest and bravest armed forces in the world.
And I want us to stand, to raise the roof in here, to show just how proud of those men and women we are.
We in this room are a team.
And this year, we said goodbye to one of our team.
Margaret Thatcher made our country stand tall again, at home and abroad.
Rescuing our economy. Giving power to our people. Spreading home ownership. Creating work. Winning the Cold War. Saving the Falklands.
I asked her about her record once.
I was sitting next to her at a dinner – and I was really nervous.
As ever she was totally charming, she put me at ease…
…but after a while I said: “Margaret, if you had your time in Government again, is there anything you’d do differently?”
And she turned to me and said: “You know, I think I did pretty well the first time around.”
Well we can all agree with that – and we can all agree on this…
…she was the greatest peace-time Prime Minister our country has ever had.
Margaret Thatcher had an almighty mess to clear up when she came to office
and so did we.
We will never forget what we found.
The biggest Budget deficit in our peace-time history.
The deepest recession since the Second World War.
But it wasn’t just the debt and deficit Labour left,
it was who got hurt.
Millions coming here from overseas while millions of British people were left on welfare.
The richest paying lower tax rates than their cleaners.
Unsustainable, debt-fuelled banks booming – while manufacturing withered away.
The North falling further behind.
Towns where a quarter of people lived on benefits.
Schools where 8 out of 10 children didn’t get five decent GCSEs.
Yes, they were famously “intensely relaxed” about people getting filthy rich.
…but tragically, they were also “intensely relaxed” about people staying stuck on welfare year after year…
“intensely relaxed” about children leaving school without proper qualifications so they couldn’t hope to get a job at the end of it.
That was it.
That was what they left.
The casino economy meets the welfare society meets the broken education system…
a country for the few built by the so-called party of the many.
and Labour: we will never let you forget it.
These past few years have been a real struggle.
But what people want to know now is: was the struggle worth it?
And here’s the honest answer.
The struggle will only be worth it if we as a country finish the job we’ve started.
Finishing the job means understanding this.
Our economy may be turning the corner – and of course that’s great.
But we still haven’t finished paying for Labour’s Debt Crisis.
If anyone thinks that’s over, done, dealt with – they’re living in a fantasy land.
This country’s debt crisis, created by Labour, is not over.
After three years of cuts, we still have one of the biggest deficits in the world.
We are still spending more than we earn.
We still need to earn more and yes, our Government still needs to spend less.
I see that Labour have stopped talking about the debt crisis and now they talk about the cost of living crisis.
As if one wasn’t directly related to the other.
If you want to know what happens if you don’t deal with a debt crisis..
…and how it affects the cost of living…
…just go and ask the Greeks.
So finishing the job means sticking to our course until we’ve paid off all of Labour’s deficit, not just some of it.
And yes – let’s run a surplus so that this time we fix the roof when the sun is shining…
…as George said in that brilliant speech on Monday.
To abandon deficit reduction now would throw away all the progress we’ve made.
It would put us back to square one.
Unbelievably, that’s exactly what Labour now want to do.
How did they get us into this mess?
Too much spending, too much borrowing, too much debt.
And what did they propose last week?
More spending, more borrowing, more debt.
They have learned nothing – literally nothing – from the crisis they created.
But finishing the job is about more than clearing up the mess we were left.
It means building something better in its place.
In place of the casino economy, one where people who work hard can actually get on.
In place of the welfare society, one where no individual is written off.
In place of the broken education system, one that gives every child the chance to rise up and succeed.
Our economy, our society, welfare, schools.
…all reformed, all rebuilt – with one aim, one mission in mind:
To make this country, at long last and for the first time ever, a land of opportunity for all.
So it makes no difference whether you live in the North or in the South, whether you’re black or you’re white, a man or a woman, the school you went to, the background you have, who your parents were.
…what matters is the effort you put in, and if you put the effort in you’ll have the chance to make it.
That’s what the land of opportunity means.
That’s what finishing the job means.
Of course I know that others in politics may talk about these things.
But wishing for something, caring about something – that’s not enough.
You can’t conjure up a dynamic economy, a strong society, fantastic schools all with the stroke of a minister’s pen.
It takes a mixture of hard work, common sense and – above all – the right values.
When the left say: you can’t expect too much from the poorest kids; don’t ask too much from people on welfare; business is the problem, not the solution.
Here in this party we say: that’s just wrong.
If you expect nothing of people that does nothing for them.
Yes, you must help people – but you help people by putting up ladders that they can climb through their own efforts.
You don’t help children succeed by dumbing down education.
…you help them by pushing them hard.
Good education is not about equality of outcomes but bringing the best out of every single child.
You don’t help people by leaving them stuck on welfare.
…but by helping them stand on their own two feet.
Why? Because the best way out of poverty is work – and the dignity that brings
We know that profit, wealth creation, tax cuts, enterprise…
…these are not dirty, elitist words – they’re not the problem…
…they really are the solution because it’s not government that creates jobs, it’s businesses.
it’s businesses that get wages in people’s pockets, food on their tables, hope for their families and success for our country.
There is no shortcut to a land of opportunity. No quick fix. No easy way to do it.
You build it business by business, school by school, person by person.
…patiently, practically, painstakingly.
And underpinning it all is that deep, instinctive belief that if you trust people and give them the tools, they will succeed.
This party at its heart is about big people, strong communities, responsible businesses, a bigger society – not a bigger state.
It’s how we’ve been clearing up the mess.
And it’s how we’re going to build something better in its place.
So let’s stick with it and finish the job we’ve started.
A land of opportunity starts in our economy.
The chance to get a decent job. To start a business. To own a home.
And at the end of it all – more money in your pocket.
To get decent jobs for people, you’ve got to recognise some fundamental economic facts.
We are in a global race today. No one owes us a living.
Last week, our ambition to compete in the global race was airily dismissed as a race to the bottom…
…that it means competing with China on sweatshops and India on low wages.
No – those countries are becoming our customers.
and we’ve got to compete with California on innovation; Germany on high-end manufacturing; Asia on finance and technology.
And here’s something else you need to recognise about this race.
The plain fact is this.
All those global companies that employ lots of people – they can set up anywhere in the world.
They could go to Silicon Valley. To Berlin.
And yes, here in Manchester.
And these companies base their decisions on some simple things: like the tax rates in each country.
So if those taxes are higher here than elsewhere, they don’t come here.
And if they don’t come here, we don’t get those jobs.
Do you get that, Labour?
British people don’t get those jobs.
Last week Labour proposed to put up corporation tax on our biggest and most successful employers.
That is just about the most damaging, nonsensical, twisted economic policy you could possibly come up with.
I get to visit some amazing factories in my job.
One of my favourites is Jaguar Land Rover…
…not just because they actually let me get in a car and drive it around on my own…
…but really because I get to meet people there who are incredibly proud of their work and their craftsmanship…
…the fact that what they’re making sells around the world – the best of British design and engineering.
So when Ed Miliband talks about the face of big business, I think about the faces of these hardworking people.
Labour is saying to their employers: “we want to put up your taxes. don’t come here – stick your jobs and take them elsewhere”.
I know that bashing business might play to a Labour audience.
But it’s crazy for our country.
So if Labour’s plan for jobs is to attack business – ours is to back business.
Regulation – down. Taxes – cut for businesses large and small. A new industrial policy that looks to the future – green jobs, aerospace jobs, life science jobs.
We’ve made a good start: 1.4 million new jobs created in our private sector since we came to office…
…and that is 1.4 million reasons to finish the job we’ve started.
In a land of opportunity, it’s easier to start your own business.
To all those people who strike out on their own, who sit there night after night…
…checking and double checking whether the numbers stack up…
…I say I have so much respect for you – you are national heroes.
I’ll never forget watching Samantha do just that – winning her first customer, sorting out the cash flow, that magic moment when she got her first business cards printed.
I was incredibly proud of her then – and I am incredibly proud of her now.
People setting up new businesses need finance – that’s why we’ve brought in Start-up Loans.
They need their taxes cut – and we’re doing it – up to £2000 off your National Insurance bill for every small business
And it’s working.
Let me tell you how many businesses have started up in Britain since the election: over 300,000.
That is 300,000 more reasons to finish the job we’ve started.
In a land of opportunity, more people must be able to own a home of their own.
You know that old saying, your home is your castle?
Well for most young people today, their home is their landlord’s.
Generation Y is starting to become Generation Why Do We Bother?
Millions of them stuck renting when they’re desperate to buy.
I met a couple on Sunday – Emily and James.
They’d both had decent jobs, but because they didn’t have rich parents, they couldn’t get a big enough deposit to buy a house.
And let me tell you where I met them.
In their new home, bought with our Help to Buy mortgage scheme.
It was still half built. but they showed me where the kitchen would be.
Outside there was rubble all over the ground, but they’d already bought a lawn-mower.
And they talked about how excited they were to be spending a first Christmas in a home of their own.
That is what we’re about.
And this, the party of aspiration is going to finish the job we’ve started.
In a land of opportunity there’s another thing people need.
the most important thing of all.
more money in their pockets.
These have been difficult years.
People have found it hard to make ends meet.
That’s why we’ve frozen council tax.
and why we are freezing fuel duty.
But we need to do more. I know that.
We’ve heard Labour’s ideas to help with the cost of living.
Taxes on banks they want to spend ten times over.
Promising free childcare – then saying that actually, you’ve got to pay for it.
An energy promise they admitted 24 hours later they might not be able to keep.
It’s all sticking plasters and quick fixes… cobbled together for the TV cameras.
Red Ed and his Blue Peter economy.
To raise living standards in the long-term, you need to do some major things:…
…you need to cut the deficit to keep mortgage rates low…
…you need to grow your economy, get people jobs…
…and yes – cut people’s taxes.
I want people to keep more of their money.
We’ve already cut the taxes of 25 million hardworking people…
…and yes – that is 25 million more reasons to finish the job we’ve started.
We’re Tories. We believe in low taxes. And believe me – we will keep on cutting the taxes of hardworking people.
And here in Manchester let me say this: when I say a land of opportunity for all I mean everyone – North and South.
This country has been too London-centric for far too long.
That’s why we need a new North-South railway line.
The fact is this.
The West Coast mainline is almost full.
We have to build a new railway.
and the choice is between another old-style Victorian one – or a high speed one.
Just imagine if someone had said, no, we can’t build the M1, or the Severn Bridge, imagine how that would be hobbling our economy today.
HS2 is about bringing North and South together in our national endeavour.
Because think of what more we could do with the pistons firing in all parts of our country.
With its wind and wave power, let’s make the Humber the centre of clean energy.
With its resources under the ground, let’s make Blackpool the centre of Europe for the shale gas industry.
With its brains and research centres, let’s make Manchester the world leader in advanced materials.
We’re building an economy for the North and South, embracing new technologies, producing things and selling them to the world.
So make no mistake who’s looking forward in British politics…
…we’ll leave the 1970s-style socialism to others…
…we are the party of the future.
We’re making progress.
You know how I know that?
It’s every week, at Prime Minister’s Questions.
There was a time when I’d look across to Ed Balls, and there he was, shouting his head off, and doing this with his hands – screaming out the economy was flat-lining.
.and all with such glee.
But recently, it’s gone a bit quiet.
Could it be because there was no double dip and the economy’s now growing?
Well, I’ve got a gesture of my own for Ed Balls.
…and don’t worry – it’s not a rude one…
.jobs are up.
.construction is up.
…manufacturing is up…
.consumer confidence – all these things are up.
And to anyone who wants to talk our economy down, let me tell you this.
Since this conference began, over 100,000 jet planes have soared into the sky on wings made in Britain.
Every single day in this country, over 4,000 cars are coming off the production line – ready to be exported around the globe.
Last year, Britain overtook France as Germany’s top trading partner…
…not bad for a nation of shop-keepers.
And that’s the point.
Exports to China are up.
Exports to Brazil are up.
.exports to India, Russia, Thailand, South Korea, Australia – all up.
So let us never forget the cast-iron law of British politics…
Yes – the oceans can rise.
.and empires can fall.
.but one thing will never, ever change.
.it’s Labour who wreck our economy and it’s we Conservatives who clear it up.
A land of opportunity means educating our children – and I mean all our children.
It’s OK for the children who have parents reading them stories every night – and that’s great.
.but what about the ones at the back of the class, in the chaotic home, in the home of the drug addict or alcoholic?
We need these children – and frankly they need us.
That’s why three and a half years ago, one man came into the Department of Education.
…Michael Gove, there he is…
…with a belief in excellence and massive energy…
…like a cross between Mr Chips and the Duracell bunny.
Let’s look at the results.
More students studying proper science.
More children learning a foreign language.
We’ve ended the dumbing down in exams.
For the first time – children in our schools will learn the new language of computer coding.
And we’re sending a clear message to children: if you fail English and maths GCSE, you’re going to have to take and re-take them again until you pass.
Because as I tell my own children – there’s not a job in the world where you don’t need to spell and add up properly.
But ultimately – really raising standards means innovation, choice.
.it means giving passionate people the freedom to run our schools.
That’s what Free Schools are all about.
I’ll never forget sitting in the classroom at Perry Beeches III in Birmingham, on the first day of term this year.
I met a mum there who said to me – this is what I’ve dreamed of for my child…
…proper uniforms, high standards…
…this is going to give my child a good start in life.
When Michael Howard asked me what job I wanted in the Shadow cabinet I said education…
…because this is the kind of thing I came into politics to bring about.
You want to know something totally extraordinary about free schools?
Labour’s official policy is to be against them…
…but – get this – Labour MPs are backing them in their local area.
And not just any Labour MPs.
I promise I’m not making this up..
…the Shadow Education Secretary – Stephen Twigg – has backed one in his own city.
And isn’t that always the way with the Left?
They don’t like privilege – unless of course it’s for their own children.
Well we in this Party are ambitious for all our children…
…and we’ve got to finish the job we started.
We’ve already got technical colleges run by great companies like JCB…
…I say: let’s have one of those colleges in every single major town.
We’ve had a million apprenticeships start with this Government…
…now we want a new expectation: as you leave school you have a choice – go to university or do an apprenticeship.
And while we’ve still got children leaving primary school not reading, writing and adding up properly…
…let us set this ambition for our country: let’s eliminate illiteracy and give every one of those children a chance.
And friends as we do all this, we’re remembering the most vulnerable children of all.
There are thousands of children every year who grow up in homes where nappies – and bedclothes – go unchanged…
…and where their cries of pain go unheard.
These children just need the most basic opportunity of all: a loving family.
Two years ago I told you about our determination to speed up adoption…
…and this past year, we saw record numbers finding permanent, loving homes.
4000 children adopted…
…that is 4000 more reasons to finish the job we’ve started.
And as we keep on with this, we remember who is on the front line.
I have to make some tough decisions in my job…
…but none as tough as whether to break up a family and rescue a child… or try and stitch that family back together.
Social work is a noble and vital calling.
I’ll never forget how after my son Ivan was born, a social worker sat patiently in our kitchen and told us about the sort of help we might need.
This Government has helped get some of the brightest graduates into teaching…
…and we have pledged to do the same for social work…
…now let us, in this hall, hear it for Britain’s social workers who are doing such an important job in our country today.
The land of opportunity needs one final thing: welfare that works.
We know how badly things went wrong.
Our fellow citizens working every hour of every day to put food on the table ask this: why should my taxes go to people who could work but don’t?
Or to those who live in homes that hardworking people could never afford?
Or to people who have no right to be here in the first place?
I say this to the British people: you have every right to be angry about a system that is unfair and unjust – and that’s why we are sorting it out.
We’ve capped welfare. We’ve capped housing benefit. We’ve insisted on new rules so that if you reject work, you lose benefits.
And let’s be absolutely clear.
As Boris said in that great speech yesterday, the problems in our welfare system and the problems in our immigration system are inextricably linked.
If we don’t get our people back to work – we shouldn’t be surprised if millions want to come here to work.
But we must act on immigration directly too – and we are.
Capping immigration. Clamping down on the bogus colleges.
And when the Immigration Bill comes before Parliament, we will make sure some simple and fair things, that should have always been the case, are now set in stone.
If you are not entitled to our free National Health Service, you should pay for it.
If you have no right to be here, you cannot rent a flat or a house. Not off the council, not off anyone else.
When you are a foreign prisoner fighting deportation, you should pay your own legal bills.
If you appeal – you must do it from your own country, after you’ve been deported, not from here.
And on these huge, national problems we are making progress.
Immigration has come down.
On welfare: not only are there more people in work than ever before.
.the number of households where no one works is at its lowest rate since records began.
.and I want to thank the most determined champion for social justice this Party has ever had: Iain Duncan Smith.
Iain understands that this isn’t about fixing systems, it’s about saving lives.
.and that’s why we’ve got to finish the job we’ve started.
There are still over a million young people not in education, employment, or training.
Today it is still possible to leave school, sign on, find a flat, start claiming housing benefit and opt for a life on benefits.
It’s time for bold action here.
We should ask, as we write our next manifesto, if that option should really exist at all.
Instead we should give young people a clear, positive choice:
Go to school. Go to college. Do an apprenticeship. Get a job.
But just choose the dole? We’ve got to offer them something better than that.
And let no one paint ideas like this as callous.
Think about it: with your children, would you dream of just leaving them to their own devices, not getting a job, not training, nothing?
No – you’d nag and push and guide and do anything to get them on their way. and so must we.
So this is what we want to see: everyone under 25 – earning or learning.
And you know – on this, as on everything else, Labour will fight us…
.but remember: we are giving people real opportunities.
I’ve had people say to me “I’m back on my feet”… “I feel worthwhile.”
One wrote to me saying: now I can tell my son his Dad really does something.
This is what our Party is all about.
We don’t patronise people, put a benefit cheque in their hand and pat them on the head.
We look people in the eye as equals and say: yes, you’ve been down – but you’re not out.
.you can do it, you have it in you, we will give you that chance.
And that’s why we can say today that it’s this Party that is fighting for all those who were written off by Labour…
.it’s this Party that’s for the many not the few.
.Yes – the land of despair was Labour…
.but the land of hope is Tory.
We have done some big things to transform Britain.
But we need to finish the job we’ve started.
We need to go further, do more for hardworking people…
…give more children a chance, back more businesses, help create more jobs.
And I’m clear about how that job will best get done.
It requires a strong Government, with a clear mandate, that is accountable for what it promises and yes, what it delivers.
And let me tell everyone here what that means.
When the election comes, we won’t be campaigning for a coalition…
…we will be fighting heart and soul for a majority Conservative Government – because that is what our country needs.
You don’t do this job to be popular.
You do it because you love your country.
I do the best I can. And for me, it comes back to some simple things.
Country first. Do what’s decent. Think long-term.
There’s an old story that’s told about a great hall in Oxford, near my constituency.
For hundreds of years it’s stood there – held up with vast oak beams.
In the 19th century, those beams needed replacing.
And you know what they found?
500 years before, someone had thought. those beams will need replacing one day.
.so they planted some oak trees.
Just think about that.
Centuries had passed. Columbus had reached America. Gravity had been discovered.
.and when those oaks were needed, they were ready.
Margaret Thatcher once said: “We are in the business of planting trees for our children and grandchildren or we have no business being in politics at all.”
That is what we are doing today.
Not just making do and mending.
.but making something better.
Since I got to my feet, almost a hundred children have been born across this country.
Children of wealth – and children of none.
Children of parents in work – and children of parents out of work.
For every single one of those new-born babies let us pledge today that we will build something better.
.a land of opportunity.
A country built on that enduring principle, seared in our hearts, that if you work hard, save, play by the rules and do your fair share – then nothing should stand in your way.
A new economy.
A new welfare system.
A new set of values in our schools.
Not just fixing the mess we inherited – but building something better.
We’ve got a year and a half ’til that election…
.a year and a half until Britain makes a choice: move forward to something better or go back to something worse.
.but I believe that if this party fights with all we have, then this country will make the right choice.
Because we always have before.
Whenever we’ve had the choice of giving in to some shabby compromise or pushing forward to something better we’ve said: this is Great Britain.
.the improbable hero of history.
.the country that doesn’t give in, that doesn’t give up.
.that knows there’s no such thing as destiny – only our determination to succeed.
So I look to our future and I’m confident.
There are battles to fight but beyond this hall are the millions of hardworking people who renew the great in Great Britain every day.
.in the way they work and the way they give and raise their families.
These are the people we have alongside us.
…together we’ve made it this far…
…together we’ll finish the job we’ve started…
.together we’ll build that land of opportunity.
I listened with interest to all the debates let me start with:
1) Nick Clegg he want to continue with the role of deputy leader of any government he does not care who he goes into bed with be it Conservatives or Labour but fail to realize that his party has become unelectable and the public opinion states that LibDems broke their promise on tuition fees, and other policies over welfare and the sixteen Tory policies to no end and Vince Cable seemed to overshadowed their conference.
2) Many television viewers were taken by surprise of the facial expression of Nigel Farage when one of his lieutenants over shadowed UKIP conference by referring to females as sluts then hitting a member of a camera crew. How silly could the person in concern get this goes to show that UKIP are not seriously enough to win any elections. I’m sure many people who were watching news channels had a very good laugh and thought to themselves I won’t be voting UKIP. The impression now is that they seem to be targeting for the LibDems during the elections as they have had enough of taking some of the Tories rank and file which includes some of their rich donors in the process.
3) How funny that history has a way of repeating itself over and over again when the Rupert Murdoch press and other news agencies reporting news with its negativity of return of the bad old days of strike and power cuts of the 1970s and 1980s when it came to Ed Miliband speech. So who is having a laugh now could it be between David Cameron vs Ed Miliband over energy bills and cost of living. I’m sure that the Conservatives spin doctors have come out in full force with the Murdoch press and other agencies talking down Ed Milband (and to add insult to injury by printing in the press about Ed and David Miliband’s late father is such a disgrace to journalism) which caught out both the Murdoch press and David Cameron out which has caused a raw nerve by not expecting Ed Miliband to change the course of debate yet again from the mood of the general public twice in two months before and after the conference seasons such as against the troops entering Syria without a Mandate from United Nations and energy companies which has opened a can of worms to the coalition government.
I found myself and other members of Labour Party members and supporters repeating Britain can do better.
4) David Cameron still does not get it with many voters by dangling a few carrots that some voters will be that gullible to think he his thinking of the many in actual fact he has always been on the side of big businesses by offering a controversial scheme allowing people across the UK to take out 95% mortgages will be launched next week – three months earlier than planned. yet he failed to acknowledge that four in every five people taking out payday loans which they forced to do so to buy food.
So David Cameron and co don’t give us lessons on how to suck eggs but to help us all out of poverty which includes revisiting child poverty as the children are the future of tomorrow and stop thinking of your mates the fatcats. Now let’s see how the three main political parties are failing children. So much for the land of opportunity for the many but instead it is for the few in David Cameron’s case to sum it up in a nutshell if you are poor bugger off if you are rich welcome to the UK.