Full Text: Miliband’s speech to Labour’s Spring Event


It is great to be in Birmingham.

And I want to thank our amazing speakers for their introductions:

Jermain Jackman, David and Carrie Grant and Shaun Dooley.

And let’s hear it for Elaine Hook, Norman Pickavance, Simon Franks, Wendy Grace and Leaf Petrides.

And, of course, it is great to be here with the most fantastic campaigner for justice, for fairness, for equality and for our NHS:

Harry Lesley Smith.

And I would like to thank all of you too for being with us here today.

We’re almost at the general election.

54 days until we sweep away this rotten government and elect a Labour government.

Today we launch our pledge card for the general election.

Today we set out how we can replace a failing, tired, government for the few.

With a government that is truly for all the working people of Britain.

I want to tell you today the different way our country will be run if I am Prime Minister.

Because the choice at this election is not simply between parties and leaders.

But different visions of our country.

Different visions of how we succeed.

Different visions of how we live together.

Different visions of the kind of country we can be.

We say that a country where only the rich and powerful are better off is a country that is failing.

We say: Britain only succeeds when working people succeed.

We say: Britain can do better than this.

So what kind of country do I want us to build together?

Let me spell it out to you today.

We will never put up with a country where people find themselves working all the hours God sends and still can’t afford to pay the bills.

The Britain I believe in is one where hard work is rewarded whoever you are, whatever job you do.

We will never put up with a country built on insecurity, where the text message at 6 a.m. is when you find out if you have work that day.

Because the Britain I believe in is one where security for working people is the bedrock of a successful economy and a decent society.

We will never put up with a country not fit for the young, built on rising debt and falling opportunity.

Because the Britain I believe in is one where we restore the promise of Britain and the next generation does better than the last.

We will never put up with a country where public services disintegrate on a failed ideology that says we should cut government back to the bone.

Because the Britain I believe in has decent public services as the rock on which we all stand.

We will never put up with a country where we cut ourselves off from the rest of the world.

Because the Britain I believe in is outward looking, engaged in Europe, and doing our duty to the world.

We will never put up with a country where power is hoarded in Westminster, with people deprived of the chance to shape their own lives.

Because the Britain I believe in is one where we seek power, in order to give it away.

And most of all, we will never put up with a country founded on rising inequality: the richest pulling away and working people worse off year after year.

Because the Britain I believe in is one where we prosper together and are not driven apart.

This is my mission.

This is the Britain I believe in.

This is the country we must build together.

So I believe that it is only when working people succeed that Britain’s succeeds.

Let me explain what I mean.

Because it is an idea that goes to the heart of the country I want us to build.

We’re different from the Tories.

Not just because we offer different management or different faces.

But because we believe in something different.

We believe our fates are intertwined as a nation.

The success of all of us is built on the success of each of us.

This is so far from where we are as a country right now.

A low wage, low skill economy means there are so many families who work hard but can’t make ends meet.

That’s not just bad for them.

It is bad for all of us.

It means we are all spending more subsidising low pay.

It means we’re less productive as a nation and all of us lose out.

So turning that round isn’t just right for those workers, it is right for all of us.

In the same way, young people being left without opportunity is a tragedy for them but it is also a disaster for our country.

Think of the engineers not trained, the entrepreneurs not nurtured, the nurses and teachers not there to heal the sick and teach the young.

We have to turn this round and give opportunity to all of our young people.

It is right for them and it is right for all of us.

And just as important, when small and medium sized businesses are stifled by banks that don’t serve them and business rates that hold them back, it doesn’t just harm those businesses, it hurts us all.

We have to turn this round and give the best chance to all our businesses.

It’s right for them, and right for all of us.

It’s not just that we judge Britain’s success by the success of working people.

It is that we understand that it is only by working people succeeding that can we succeed as a country.

A plan for working families not just to make us more fair, but more prosperous too.

This is an idea embodied in each of our pledges.

Written through each like a stick of rock.

On the deficit.

On living standards.

On the NHS.

On immigration.

On the future of young people.

It starts with the economy.

Our first pledge is to build a strong economic foundation.

We will cut the deficit every year.

Balancing the books as soon as possible in the next Parliament.

And the insight at the heart of our plan is that we can’t succeed in cutting the deficit if working people don’t succeed.

That is the lesson of the last five years.

That is the lesson of a government that has broken its promises on the deficit.

They’ve made the cuts but they haven’t cut the deficit as they promised.

And why?

Because an economy with falling living standards, people working harder for longer for less, is an economy where the tax revenue isn’t coming in and the deficit isn’t going away.

That’s why our deficit plan is built on the foundation of an economy that works for working people.

We will make common sense spending reductions, with departmental budgets falling outside protected areas.

But we will protect key areas like education and health.

And we will have tax changes based on the principle that those with the broadest shoulders bear the greatest burden.

Reversing David Cameron’s millionaires’ tax cut because we will never let working people pay the price of hard times.

Our second pledge is higher living standards for working families.

For my government, there is no more important test for whether our country works for working people than the living standards of working people.

Our economy is at last growing again.

But that vital link between the wealth of our nation as a whole and working people has been broken.

For me, that is the test of economic success.

This government really thinks that economic growth is generated somewhere else, at the top, and that all we have to do is wait for it to trickle down to everyday families.

We have a different view.

So we will write the next chapter in the fight to abolish poverty pay.

The minimum wage has gone up by just 70 pence in the last five years.

With a Labour government, it will increase by at least twice as much.

To over £8 an hour.

We will put an end to the exploitation of zero hours contracts.

Legislating for a new principle: if you work regular hours you get a regular contract.

That should be a basic principle of a modern, decent economy.

We will help Mums and Dads balance work and family life with 25 hours free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds.

And we will stand up to the big energy companies.

The costs of energy have come tumbling down by 20 per cent because of global changes in oil and gas supply.

But the sky-high prices that families pay have only fallen by a fraction of that.

What better evidence do we need of the chronic over-charging, the broken market and the rip-offs being faced by millions of families and businesses across Britain?

Even David Cameron and George Osborne admit this is a problem.

But they won’t act and the whole country knows why.

It’s because they will never stand up to powerful interests and they never stand up for you.

My government will be different.

We will go ahead with our price freeze so prices can only fall and cannot rise.

We will reset this broken energy market.

And we will go still further.

We will pass a law giving the regulator a legal duty to ensure fair prices.

We will pass a law to ensure that falling costs are passed on to the consumer in lower energy prices this winter.

Our third pledge is focused on the bedrock of security for working families, our National Health Service.

We all remember the promises David Cameron made on the NHS.

The airbrushed posters.

No top down reorganisation.

No going back to the days where you had to wait hours in A&E.

Promises made.

Promises broken.

We will hold him to account for his broken promises on the National Health Service.

We need to rescue the NHS from this Government and we will.

With 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more doctors, 5,000 more care workers, and 3,000 more midwives.

Paid for by a mansion tax on properties worth over £2 million to support our time to care fund.

And by closing tax loopholes exploited by hedge funds that this Tory government will never stand up to.

That’s the way to ensure that those who look after us have time to care and aren’t rushed off their feet.

We will make sure people can see a GP within 48 hours.

That cancer test results come back within a week.

And we will build a world leading physical health, mental health and social care service.

Joining up services from home to hospital.

The creation of the NHS is the proudest achievement of this party.

The rescue of the NHS will be the proudest achievement of the next Labour government.

Our fourth pledge is on immigration.

Our guiding mission is the interests of working people.

Which is why we need controls on immigration.

Rules in place so that entitlements are earned and wages are not undercut.

People will have to wait for at least two years until they can claim benefits.

And we will call time on employers who don’t pay the minimum wage, gangmasters that exploit migrant labour, recruitment agencies that only advertise abroad.

With a Labour government no dodgy firm, no shady loopholes, no sharp practices will be allowed to exploit migrant labour and undercut the wages and conditions of working people.

The next Labour government will put in place the right rules on immigration.

But this Labour Party, the next Labour government, will never cut ourselves off from the rest of the world.

And we will never sacrifice our tolerance, our openness, who we are as a country.

Our fifth and final pledge is to be a country where the next generation does better than the last.

You judge the dignity of a country by how it treats the old.

And you judge the future of a country by how it treats the young.

At every stage of life we will improve chances for the young.

Smaller class sizes for 5, 6, and 7 year olds.

An apprenticeship for every school leaver who gets the grades.

And tuition fees reduced to £6,000.

Investing in our future, investing in the next generation.

Giving hope back to young people and restoring the Promise of Britain.

So these are our pledges.

This is our plan.

Five years of a Labour government: we will have balanced the books.

Five years of a Labour government: we will have raised living standards for working families.

Five years of a Labour government: we will have rescued the NHS and given it time to care.

Five years of a Labour government: we will have built an immigration system with the right controls.

Five years of a Labour government: we will have restored the hope of the next generation.

Five years of a Labour government: we will have built a country fit for the hopes and aspirations of the working people of Britain.

But this is not the only future on offer in 54 days time.

There’s a Tory future.

But we’ve tried their experiment for the last five years and it has failed.

Working people £1,600 a year worse off.

The first government since the 1920s to leave people worse off at the end of 5 years than at the start.

And just imagine what the future looks like under them.

They won’t deal with the problem of low pay, because they think it is the only way we succeed in the world.

They won’t deal with zero hours contracts because they think insecurity for working people is necessary for Britain’s success.

They will carry on making the young pay the burden of hard times because they think there’s no alternative.

And they will strip public services back to the very bone.

Their current plan is to cut public spending back to the levels of the 1930s, before there was an NHS.

This week in the Budget they will put some window dressing on it.

But we know what their plans mean.

It means education cut.

The NHS undermined.

It means social care devastated.

Our infrastructure crumbling.

Working families cannot afford to take that risk.

Britain cannot afford to take that risk.

This is not the future that our great country deserves.

Instead working people deserve a future based on their values, based on our values.

And they deserve leadership that will stand up for them.

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