Ed Miliband’s Speech to Labour Conference 2013: “Britain can do better than this”

Gerry Jones, a member from New Malden, provides a summary of Ed Miliband’s speech

Once again Ed Miliband’s formidable hour long speech (without notes!) was the highlight of Labour’s Annual Conference in Brighton. He slammed the Tories and derided the triumphalist claims that Messrs Cameron and co would be making at their conference in Manchester.

The Tories Lap of Shame

Rather than a lap of honour there should be a Tory lap of shame because of:

  • prices rising faster than wages for all but one month of their period of office;
  • the longest fall in living standards since 1870; the slowest recovery in one hundred years;
  • one million young people looking for work;
  • more people working part-time who want full time work;
  • an expensive top-down reorganisation of the NHS;
  • thousands fewer nurses; cuts to social care;
  • the abolition of NHS Direct;
  • a crisis in A&E;tax handouts for millionaires;
  • the bedroom tax for the poor; and,
  • over a million too few homes.

Ed reserved particular scorn for the senior Tory who had written off the North East of England as ‘full of desolate and uninhabited areas’ and for the Cameron/Crosby stunt of sending vans into deprived areas of Britain telling people who have lived here for years “to go home”.

Britain Can Do Better Than This

Ed’s central theme was “Britain can do better than this.” He reminded Conference, “ I’m the son of two immigrant parents. 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 community.” He insisted that, “Labour needed to turn the page.” He had started by standing up to Rupert Murdoch and, learning the lessons of Iraq, he had opposed the rush to war in Syria. Ed Miliband said with the help of the trade unions he wanted Labour to become a mass membership party with at least 500,000 members, and with 50% of its MPs women.

The Fight for Ordinary People

The Labour leader pledged to fight for millions of ordinary people who were struggling to make ends meet, but admitted, “We are going to have to stick to strict spending limits to get the deficit down.” Nevertheless Labour would aim to:

  1. freeze gas and electricity prices until the start of 2017, while removing all the carbon from our energy by 2030;
  2. build 200,000 homes a year;
  3. strengthen the minimum wage.

Changes to Schools and the NHS

In addition he wanted every primary school in Britain to have breakfast clubs and after school care and for the NHS to bring together physical health, mental health, and the care needs of the elderly.

Ed Miliband added that Labour would:

  • cut business rates for 1.5 million small businesses;
  • repeal the bedroom tax; and
  • give the vote to 16 and 17 year olds.

He concluded by saying, “And so now it falls to us, to build One Nation, a country for all, We’re Britain, we’re better than this. I’ll lead a government that fights for you.”