Ed Miliband speech in Edinburgh: “A future we build together” – full text

7th November, 2013 12:57 pm

It is great to be with you here in the wonderful city of Edinburgh.

I want to thank Standard Life for hosting us today.

You are a great British company, headquartered here in Scotland.

It’s great to be here with Margaret Curran, our brilliant Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland.

And I am also delighted to be working alongside the determined and passionate leadership of Scottish Labour leader, Johann Lamont, fighting the good fight on independence and winning back the trust of the Scottish people for Labour.

The Cost of Living Crisis

I am glad to be here too because the people of Scotland face high stakes choices in the next eighteen months.

High stakes choices in the referendum.

High stakes choices in the general election.

And as the people of Scotland make those choices they know that things are tough right now.

The people of Scotland, like the people of the rest of the UK, are enduring the worst cost of living crisis for over a century.

People in Scotland are over £1,400 worse off now than they were at the last general election.

Prices rising faster that wages, month after month after month.

For 39 out of the 40 months that David Cameron has been Prime Minister.

There are still far too few jobs for our young people.

Wages are too low.

And some markets are broken and don’t serve people as they should.

Wherever we look, we see that the vital link that we used to be able to take for granted – between the growing wealth of the country as a whole and your family finances – has been broken.

That is the issue facing Scotland as it decides where its future lies.

Not just whether to stay in the United Kingdom or to go it alone.

But what kind of economy do we want to build for Scotland’s future?

Who do we want to recover to be?

What kind of society do we want to pass on to our children?

Labour’s Case

Let me start by saying something about Labour’s case.

Our case is that together we can earn and grow our way out of the cost of living crisis.

Mending our economy.

And building a better future together.

It is a future built on better quality jobs.

That means supporting high-quality manufacturing jobs like those in shipbuilding on the Clyde.

All the job losses across Britain announced yesterday are a tragedy.

We must help all of those who have lost their jobs.

And it is good that action has been taken to preserve jobs in Scotland and England.

We also need jobs that come from supporting enterprising small businesses with a new network of banks, lending to every single part of the country.

Banks that have a legal duty to lend to their own region or nation and not to look for quick money in the City of London.

Because we know that the jobs of tomorrow will come from a large number of small businesses and not just a small number of large ones.

It is a future built on fairer wages.

Wages that come from strengthening the laws on the minimum wage and extending the living wage with “make work pay” contracts that will help thousands of businesses make the move to paying the living wage.

We will say to every private sector company in the country, move to pay the living wage and we will help you in the first year by giving you a tax break of 32p for every extra pound you spend.

It is a future too that will come from taking bold action to fix markets when they are broken and not stand by at the side.

Only Labour will take the kind of action.

Take gas and electricity.

If Labour win the election, we will freeze prices until 2017.

A freeze that would save Scottish businesses £200 million.

And Scottish families £300 million.

A freeze will happen under the next Labour Government.

A freeze that will give us time to reset the broken market.

And just as we will fix the broken energy market, so too the scandal of payday lending, capping the cost of credit.

A Labour Party willing to take on powerful vested interests to build social justice.

And it is a future built on fairer choices too.

Abolishing the bedroom tax, paid for by ending tax loopholes for the privileged few.

So this is where One Nation Labour stands:

A reformed banking system

A strengthened  minimum wage and promoting a living wage

Freezing energy prices

Taking on payday lenders

Abolishing the bedroom tax

And tackling the cost of living crisis is where the new wave of politics is, not just in Scotland, not just in the UK, but right across the world.

We saw in New York City on Tuesday night the beginnings of this new wave, with the election of a new Democrat mayor, Bill De Blasio, campaigning for “one city” and to put an end to the “affordability crisis” afflicting ordinary families.

Those who will win in the future are those who can address these issues.

The SNP do not have the answer

What a contrast with our opponents.

Look at the prospectus he offers.

His priority for business is a 3p cut in corporation tax.

We need a competitive tax regime for large businesses, but all Alex Salmond offers is an unfunded cut in corporation tax.

His decisions on social justice:

Doing nothing to protect the most vulnerable: standing aside, refusing to act, putting it off, when they have the powers to stop the Tories’ terrible bedroom tax right now.

And on broken markets, only this week, we’ve seen the Conservatives and the SNP refusing to back our energy price freeze.

The Tories voted against it.

And while we are trying to help Scottish families and businesses, there is one man who we learn today is helping himself.

David Cameron has cut the amount he spends on is own energy bills in Downing Street while refusing a freeze for everyone else.

He will save almost £400 a year on his Downing Street bill for energy utilities, thanks to his own millionaire’s tax cut.

It is the definition of double standards.

And the SNP?

They went into hiding. They decided not to decide yesterday.

Unwilling to stand up against the energy companies.

Alex Salmond is fond of claiming he offers a “progressive beacon”.

He is trying to paint himself as progressive but it is a poor imitation.

He is trying to play catch up with Labour on the cost of living crisis and failing.

He and David Cameron are standing side by side with the big energy companies.

The Prime Minister, the First Minister and the Big Six energy companies making a new Big Eight squeezing the living standards of the Scottish people.

So the SNP offer:

Lower taxes for the largest businesses at the expense of everyone else.

Failure on the bedroom tax

No energy price freeze

And the threat to social justice from separation:

Economic uncertainty over the currency

An end to the union of the United Kingdom, where we support each other, wherever we are from.

I relish the debate with Alex Salmond about who can really make the UK a progressive beacon.

Because I know the answer.

It is One Nation Labour.

And One Nation Labour is determined to be a party rooted in every workplace and community of our country.

Where working people make a real individual choice to be part of our party, so they can have an active voice within it.

That’s what the Labour Party exists to do.

That’s what One Nation Labour is all about.


There will be high stakes choices in Scotland over the next 18 months.

The referendum.

And the general election.

High stakes choices where the people are the boss and where nobody can take anything for granted.

In the referendum and the general election, whatever the polls say, we will fight until every mind is made up and every vote is cast.

At each of those times, others will try to divide us.

The SNP seeking to separate Scotland from its shared history, its shared culture, its shared future with the rest of the UK.

The Conservatives seeking to separate rich from poor, those in work from those out work, those in the public sector from those in the private sector.

Labour offers a different future.

Founded on what we share in common.

Alex Salmond wants people to believe that the United Kingdom will not vote for the progressive future that Labour offers.

That there is a Conservative England and  a progressive Scotland.

I want to tell the people of Scotland today: he is wrong.

From Southampton to Stirling, people  are worried about the bedroom tax.

From Gloucester to Glasgow, they are struggling with low wages.

And from Eastbourne to Edinburgh, about higher and higher energy bills.

It’s not Conservative England against progressive Scotland.

When it comes to these issues, we are one United Kingdom.

We are not divided by politics, and so we should not be divided by borders.

Instead let’s build a future where we work together to overcome the challenges we face.

Tackling the cost of living crisis.

With new and better jobs.

Wages that are fair.

And a markets that truly work for people.

Proud of the nations within the United Kingdom.

And determined to build an economy that works for working people.

A fairer future.

A more prosperous future.

A future we build together.

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