Labour is with you - Harriet Harman's speech to North Conference

Harriet speaking at regional conference 2012Harriet Harman MP speech to Labour North Regional Conference 2012

 

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Harriet Harman MP, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, speaking to Labour North Regional Conference in Sunderland today said:

It's a real privilege to be here at Labour North Conference

This region has a mighty Labour history and Labour tradition

You are a Labour heartland - and we are proud of that

Friends, we are no longer in government and we have a Tory led government which is determined to do its worst to hard-working families up and down this country.

But even though we were defeated at the last general election - we are not defeated in spirit and there has never been a more important time for the whole Labour team - to come together and fight to protect this region and this country from what the government is doing.

 

We will:

Stand up for Labour values

We will protect people from the Tories

and we will make the Lib Dems pay

And as we face important local elections, now, more than ever, people need the protection of strong Labour councillors and strong Labour councils.

 

And you made important progress last May

 

- here in Sunderland

- In North Tyneside

- In Redcar and Cleveland & Stockton

- and in Allerdale

and there were not just cheers in Newcastle - but all around the country - when Labour took back Newcastle City Council

And I know you're fighting hard for every seat. And I want to pay tribute to the dedicated and determined campaigning spirit of each and every one of you.

Last night at the packed out gala dinner - we honoured local campaigners - men women, young and old - all fighting street by street - taking the fight to the Lib Dems and the Tories

and it's that spirit that will see us win even more council seats in May and it's that spirit which will see Labour win the next General Election and kick the Tories out

I know you will make gains

*across Tyneside,

*in Gateshead

*In Hartlepool and Carlisle

and I look forward to celebrating your success.

 

But i also want to say something about those of you who stand as Labour candidates in areas where we don't expect to win. You are carrying the flag for Labour and its often a good campaign which sows the seeds to grow Labour's support and score a win in the future.

 

So to me - there's no such thing as a paper candidate. You are a pioneering candidate. Thank you for what you do.

 

And I want to see our team and our candidates reflecting the communities you serve - that means not just men - but women too.

 

People from different ethnic backgrounds

 

- that means people from professional backgrounds and people from manual backgrounds.

 

We are strongest as a team of men and women from all walks of life

.

And it is a heavy responsibility at this time to be a Labour councillor because you are on the front line as the Tory/LibDem government batters the North.

 

Though we can see around us the massive progress Labour made in the North

 

*new schools and hospitals,

 

*more jobs and better services.

 

- But we all know that there was still much further to go.

 

But instead there is a vicious turning of the clock back - and people are suffering

 

And David Cameron made it clear - this is someone who doesn't care about the north, doesn't understand the North.

 

A couple of weeks ago, Mary Glindon asked him about the North East at Prime Ministers Questions - and what did he reply? He blustered on about Aberdeen! That tells you everything about David Cameron and the North.

 

We are seeing what the Tories always do - reverting to type

 

Blighting the lives of men women and children people.

 

In what he does - Cameron is no different to Thatcher

 

We all know that he made promises before the election which he has now broken.

 

But there's one promise that he's faithfully kept.

 

And that was to take his revenge on the North and of all English regions - to make you suffer the most.

 

And it's particularly harsh for young people. Long term unemployment among young people up 143% in just 12 months.

 

As a parent you encourage your child through school, see them off to college and see them go after their first job and be told, over and over again - "you're not wanted" It is a terrible thing for a young person to feel that they have been thrown on the scrapheap before they've even begun.

 

That is why for Labour, at our very core, we say unemployment is never a price worth paying.

 

We strongly oppose the savage cuts in public spending which have devastated jobs in the north, in the private as well as the public sector.

.

And that is why we are determined - so determined - to make this just a one term coalition.

 

We're all working as a team.

 

Your team of Labour North MPs - those with long experience in the House of Commons - - and the new team of men and women who you send from the North to fight for our principles and fight for your region in the House of Commons.

 

They are a mighty force in the House of Commons and I want to personally thank my parliamentary aide Ian Lavery.

 

His wisdom and advice is invaluable - and he has to use all that negotiating experience from his time in the NUM. And just when I'm heading in to a big row with my colleagues in the PLP - Ian makes a humanitarian intervention - he's got more peacemaking skills than Kofi Annan! Thank you Ian.

 

Your MPs are holding the government

 

to account...

 

charting the impact of the government cuts...

 

and making sure that the truth is told.

 

Together with your trade unions - I want to particularly thank our trade union affiliates for the part you play in party - year in year out - in good times and bad. The Tories and the Lib Dems will try and sever the link between the trade unions and Labour - but we will not let them.

 

And at the heart of our team are our members and 3,400 have joined us since the general election.

 

So - on the doorsteps and on the phones - campaigning towards May we are saying to people Labour is with you...

 

*with you on jobs

*with you on the squeeze on living standards

*and with you in your concerns about the NHS

 

And as much as we see them wreaking havoc on the economy - there is another area of British life that they are taking a wrecking ball to our NHS

 

Just as they squeeze NHS finances, they are plunging it into a massive top down reorganisation - a shake up so big that the NHS chief executive said it could be seen from outer space.

 

This is the prime minister at his worst - arrogant, out of touch and a belief that he knows better than the doctors and nurses.

 

He has the cheek to denounce doctors, nurses and health workers as vested interests.

 

How dare he.

 

They dedicate their lives to caring for our sick. To him they a vested interest - To us they are the lifeblood of the NHS

 

They say that the NHS reorganisation is complex - and it is - but at the heart it's simple and devastating - it is privatisation.

 

And i want you to join me in paying tribute to Andy Burnham leading our fightback

 

Next week Labour peers in the House of Lords will try and stop the bill

 

And it will be to the eternal shame of the Libdems when they wring their hands and then siding with the Tories

 

This privatisation of the NHS is something no-one voted for and no-one wants and

as Ed Miliband says -

 

Wrecking the NHS will be David Cameron's poll tax

 

And what about the Libdems - Just like they've sided with the Tories on the NHS, they're doing the same on the economy

 

voting for the VAT increase

voting for the hike in tuition fees

voting for the cuts in police numbers

voting for all the cuts - that are too far, too fast and stifling economic growth

 

And because firms are shrinking and more people are being thrown out of work the deficit is not coming down - its going up.

 

The Tories are telling people they can't do anything else. But this is their choice - it's the wrong choice and there is an alternative.

 

This is what Ed Milliband and Ed Balls have been setting out.

 

When our economy is struggling to recover from a global recession then the government must step in.

 

We have set out our 5 point plan for jobs and growth and Ed Balls is challenging the Chancellor in next month's budget

 

*a temporary cut to VAT

*cutting VAT to on home improvements

*cut NI to small firms who take on new employees

*bring forward public infrastructure projects

And re-introduce our tax on bankers bonuses to help young people into work and build more homes

 

Ed Miliband is showing that there is a different way

That we don't have to put up with banks wrecking the economy and then paying themselves massive bonuses.

 

We can use the banks to help us cut tuition fees.

 

That we don't have to let the energy companies rip off elderly people.

 

That we must have a more responsible capitalism and a fair society.

 

So, we know times are tough - but I know that your spirit is strong and your determination is fierce and I know that each and every one of you will not rest until we've driven this wretched government out of office.

 

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