“A United Kingdom that looks outwards instead of inwards” – Lammy’s speech

David Lammy

Below is the full text of the speech delivered to the Labour Party conference by Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy in Liverpool today.

What an honour it was to listen to Lesia Vasylenko from Ukraine’s Parliament. Please stand up. Let’s show our support for Ukraine one more time. As the motion before us from Holborn and St Pancras, Derby South, Streatham, the GMB and NUM says, the Labour Party will stand side by side with you, providing the military, economic, diplomatic and humanitarian support Ukraine needs.

Conference, my parents would never have believed that their skinny son in NHS prescription glasses who got stopped and searched on the streets of Tottenham would have ended up as Shadow Foreign Secretary. Surprised not only because MPs at that time didn’t look like me. Surprised not only because I had barely travelled beyond London’s Zone 3. They would have been surprised because our ancestors knew what it was like to have their freedom taken away. They heard the twisted lies of imperialism as they were stolen from their homes in shackles and turned into slaves.

No act of imperialism is ever the same. But Vladimir Putin’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine this year was just the latest front in an age-old war between democracy and dictatorship. Freedom and subjugation. Empire and independence. As Vladimir Putin continues to wage his barbaric war, let us send a message directly to him: We will create a special tribunal to prosecute you for your crime of aggression. And whether it takes six months, three years or ten, Ukraine will win.

Conference, the world faces more challenges today than at any other time in my 22 years in parliament. The rise of China. Conflicts in Yemen, Syria, Ethiopia and South Sudan. A global food crisis. And a climate crisis.

12 years of Tory government means we face this world with a weak economy, damaged relationships with our allies and our reputation for the rule of law in tatters. Every time the Conservatives come to office, they take our foreign policy backwards. They were wrong in the 1980s to support Apartheid in South Africa. They were wrong in the 1990s with their endless damaging quarrels about Europe. They were wrong in the 2010s when they created a hostile environment for the Windrush generation.

And today they are wrong once again. Cutting aid as millions face starvation across the globe, they are wrong. Attacking the European Convention on Human Rights, they are wrong Undermining the Good Friday agreement, they are wrong.

The climate crisis is the biggest challenge the world faces. Devastating millions of lives. Just as Robin Cook introduced an ‘ethical dimension’ to our foreign policy in the 1990s the next Labour government will introduce a ‘green dimension’.

While Liz Truss tries to row back on our net-zero commitments, Labour’s foreign policy will be green. Never again will we be dependent on fossil fuel dictators. We will push for climate action to become a fourth pillar of the United Nations as recommended by my colleague Lord Collins’ review. And we will seek to work with allies and partners to create a new international law of ecocide to criminalise the wanton and widespread destruction of the environment.

Conference, we are outside of the European Union, but we are still a part of Europe. And unlike Liz Truss, who could not say if France is a friend or a foe, we know that European nations are among our closest allies. Liz Truss’ protocol bill is a shameless breach of international law. Labour will ditch it get round the negotiating table and fix the Tories’ damaging deal. And we will strengthen cooperation with the European Union with a new security pact to complement NATO’s role. Strengthening our defence and security and keeping people safe.

Conference, a Labour government will restore the moral compass to Britain’s foreign policy. British shelves will never be stocked with the products of modern slavery. We will end cotton imports from Xinjiang. After 12 years of the Tories polluting our society with dirty Russian money, Labour will finally implement the Russia report.

Conference, I met Palestinians and Israelis working for justice and peace in the West Bank this summer. After seeing their resilience, my conviction is clearer than ever. Even though it may seem distant today, we must stand for international law, human rights and a negotiated peace based on a two-state solution with a safe and secure Israel alongside a sovereign and prosperous Palestinian state.

International development is one of the proudest achievements of the last Labour government. Lifting three million out of poverty each year. Last week at the United Nations in New York, I heard first-hand the implications of Britain’s aid cuts. A Labour government will restore our 0.7% aid target. And we will fix the problems of the government’s badly mismanaged merger with a new model to deliver development.

Labour is clear. No more cuts to international aid. No more cuts to the British Council. No more cuts to the BBC World Service. Soft power is how we defend our values in a divided world.

And conference, there remain too many Britons detained unjustly abroad too often let down by Tory ministers. It is wonderful that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was finally released. But it is shameful she was detained for nearly six years, and it is totally wrong that British nationals Morad Tahbaz, Alaa Abd el-Fattah and Jagtar Singh Johal are still denied their freedom. Their families continue to fight tirelessly on their behalf. Labour will end the notion that help from the British state is a privilege from Tory ministers not a right of citizens. We will legislate for a new legal right to consular assistance.

Conference, I’m proud that my parents arrived in the UK as part of the Windrush generation. They taught me that Britain at its best is an outward looking nation. We are all here today because we share in that belief.

So when the Conservatives say they want to trash our human rights we say: “No, we won’t do it.” When the Conservatives say they want to start rows with Europe for the sake of it we say: “No, we won’t do it.” When the Conservatives say they want to slash international aid we say: “No, we won’t do it.” When the Conservatives say they want to sell weapons to dictators and despots we say: “No, we won’t do it.” When they Conservatives say they want to deport refugees to Rwanda we say: “No, we won’t do it.”

The Conservatives’ ideology does not represent our country. Their time is up. A Labour government will forge a different path for our foreign policy. A United Kingdom that looks outwards instead of inwards. A voice for peace, development and freedom across the globe. Thank you very much.

Everything Labour.
Every weekday morning.

By clicking ‘subscribe’ you confirm you have read and agree to our privacy policy

More from LabourList

Donate to fund our journalism

or

Subscribe to our Daily Email