“The power is in our hands” – Anneliese Dodds’ full conference speeches

Anneliese Dodds

Below is the full text of the speech delivered by Anneliese Dodds as party chair this afternoon.

It’s such a pleasure and a privilege to be with you all today as chair of our party. Our Labour Party – founded over 100 years ago in the shadow of dark, satanic mills – and today fighting harder than ever for decent jobs, proper pay and dignity at work. The party of our NHS, the party that set up the first national parks and green space for people to enjoy and the only party that can protect our planet while protecting jobs.

Now, more than ever, Britain needs a Labour government. The last 18 months have exposed just how unequal and unfair our country has become under the Conservatives. But the crisis also showed what the British people achieve when we come together. Across our country, people united to look after their neighbours. Trade unions and businesses worked with the Welsh Labour government to build ventilators in record time and our NHS worked with thousands of volunteers, Oxford University and business to create a vaccine in months when that would normally take years. We’ve shown that we are stronger together – and that’s the title of our policy roadmap. Today I’m proud to present to conference its first two reports.

Britain in 2030 shows how Labour would start to meet the biggest challenges of our age. From an electric car revolution, to catch-up for every child, to a new Race Equality Act to a trade policy that protects jobs at home while securing human rights abroad and much, much more – the report shows how much better our country will be under Labour. I’m so grateful to all the Labour members, trade unions, shadow Labour teams, members of the NPF and socialist societies who’ve contributed to it. As we continue to develop together the key new policies to win the next general election, the stakes have rarely been higher.

These callous, chaotic, crony Conservatives plunge new depths every day. This Conservative Party shovels money to its chums and acts like there’s one rule for senior Tories and another rule for everyone else. This Conservative Party likes to consider itself the party of opportunity and to be fair – if, like my opposite number Ben Elliot, you are a nephew to a royal, were educated at Eton and can fly teabags to Madonna, you too could go far in the Conservative Party. You know, recently Ben Elliott has been joined as Conservative Party co-chair by Oliver Dowden, confirming what many in this hall have always known: that it takes two Tory men to do the job of one Labour woman.

Conference, we know Britain deserves better than this Conservative government – and we’re proving it in communities up and down the country, where Labour is transforming lives right now. As our second report says: Labour Works. In local government, in Wales, in Scotland, with our metro mayors and our police and crime commissioners-Labour is delivering, right now, for communities, jobs and our environment.

There’s so much to fight for. The power is in our hands – in the miles we walk on the streets to knock on doors and the tonnes of leaflets we all deliver and it’s also in the choices we make about who we are and what we do as a party. At this conference, we must have the confidence to set things right – once and for all. With a new, independent complaints process – so there is never, ever any place for antisemitism, Islamophobia, anti-Black racism or discrimination or prejudice of any kind. Where we root out sexual harassment wherever it rears its ugly head and where we are a constant, uncompromised, clarion voice for equality, respect and social justice.

Britain can’t take another five years of these job-destroying, climate-wrecking, poverty-growing, division-sowing, sleaze-ridden Tories. Let’s get serious. Let’s take the energy, commitment and passion that’s in this hall and let’s use it to boot them out, get into government and pull our country up – for a stronger future together.

Below is the full text of the speech delivered by Anneliese Dodds as Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary this afternoon.

Conference, I’m honoured to have been appointed by Keir Starmer to serve as Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities.

I must first pay warm tribute to my predecessor, Marsha de Cordova – a fearless and formidable advocate for equality all her life. Let me also say an enormous thank you to Charlotte Gerada, our national women’s officer, and all our sisters who made this summer’s women’s conference such a success.

Conference, equality is the core commitment of our party. It runs through us like the writing in a stick of Brighton rock as we fight for a world free from all forms of bigotry and discrimination. The Covid-19 crisis brutally exposed how unequal and unfair our country has become under the Conservatives. Disabled people have been 11 times more likely to die of Covid-19 and many have suffered as the Tories shamefully refused to uprate legacy benefits. Black, Asian and ethnic minority people were left overexposed, under-protected and overlooked throughout the pandemic – as Baroness Doreen Lawrence powerfully argued in her report ‘An Avoidable Crisis’.

This situation is shocking, but sadly not surprising. Even before the pandemic hit, Britain under the Tories was already horribly unequal. Ethnic minority people are twice as likely to be unemployed as white people. Women in the UK are still earning 18% less than men: a gender pay gap that would take 60 years to eradicate on current trends. Too many people feel unsafe, simply because of who they are. One in five LGBT+ workers are the target of negative comments or conduct from colleagues at work; and one in three trans people face the same.

Every single person in this country should know that their government always has their back. But instead, the Conservatives are letting them down.

Conference, we need a more equal society. We need it now and the people of Britain know that. We saw that in the public outcry over Sarah Everard, Nicole Smallman, Bibaa Henry, Sabina Nessa and so, so many women. When people came together to say: enough is enough. We saw it this summer when our brilliant England football team took the knee together to say: enough is enough.

And what did the Tories do? They brought in a police and crime bill that doesn’t even mention the word “woman”. That issues longer sentences for attacking statues than for raping women. They published a report that denied structural racism even exists. They dragged their feet again and again on outlawing the abhorrent practice of conversion therapy. They failed to condemn those who booed the England players for taking a stand – showing themselves to be utterly out of touch with the people of this country.

The Tories say they want a war on woke. You know what I want, Conference? I want a war on inequality. I want a war on poverty. I want a war on this callous and cronyist Conservative excuse for a government that seeks political gain from pitting community against community, neighbour against neighbour.

What the past 18 months showed time and time again was that division is not what defines this country. When times were hard we pulled together. We looked out for one another. In all its great diversity this country united in the face of a common challenge and said: we’ll come through this together. We’re stronger, together.

That spirit is central to us as a Labour Party. It is who we are and it will be central to the next Labour government and its defining mission to create a more equal society. A Labour government committed to an equal recovery from the Covid-19 crisis. A Labour government that would introduce a Race Equality Act to tackle structural racial inequality at source. A Labour government that would make tackling violence against women and girls a priority. A Labour government that acknowledges that trans rights are human rights and that would reform the Gender Recognition Act to enable a process for self-identification while continuing to support the 2010 Equalities Act.

Conference, we know that a Labour government would make good on these commitments. Because every day, where we are in power, Labour works to tackle unfairness and inequality. Every day there are people in this country whose lives are better – who feel safer and more supported – because of their Labour council, their Labour mayor, their Labour government in Wales. We need to make that a reality for everyone in this country, no matter who they are and no matter where they live.

And that means a Labour government in Westminster – the only route to the better, more equal society we all want to see. Thank you.

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