Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Gordon Brown's speech

Fighting for your future - Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown, Prime Minister and Leader of the Labour Party said:

"You know, it’s been pretty relentless. Non-stop, on the go, never a moment’s let up, working round the clock.

I don’t mean the last four weeks…. I mean the last 13 years. Because we’ve been busy.

Busy changing lives. Busy changing communities. Busy changing this country for the better and forever.

On May the 2nd 1997 we set to work – and we’ve been working ever since. And just think the battles we have fought and won.

The minimum wage first enacted in 1997.

First £3.60 an hour, now £5.80 an hour and now, in Labour’s manifesto, a minimum wage set to rise in the coming parliament not to £6 an hour – but to £7 an hour.

Britain’s minimum wage is one of New Labour’s proudest achievements. But it’s not my achievement or Tony’s achievement – great as Tony was.

No – it is not our achievement – it is your achievement.

And it’s the achievement of the people of Britain.

And it shows what good men and women of conviction can achieve when they work together for the common good.

And I’ll tell you what else we’ve done together. On the first day of this campaign, I met a teacher. This isn’t one of those David Cameron type stories – I really did meet her, and she really was a teacher…

And do you know what she said to me about the difference we had made? That back under the Tories she used to teach with a bucket beside her desk because she never knew when the classroom would leak and the kids would have to learn in their coats.

But now – after 3,700 schools have been rebuilt or refurbished with Labour – teachers know that we not only fixed the roof when the sun was shining but built hundreds of wholly new schools – and now it’s not old buckets in the classroom but new laptops, new whiteboards and new teaching assistants.

That’s not my achievement or Tony’s achievement.

That’s your achievement and the achievement of every single person who has voted Labour and joined our fight for fairness.

And do you know what else we’ve achieved by fighting?

- the shortest NHS waiting times in history

- three million more operations a year

- over 44,000 more doctors

- 90,000 more nurses

- GPs open into the evenings and at weekends

- free cancer prescriptions

- a two-week maximum wait to see a cancer specialist

- over 100 new hospitals

- the Winter Fuel Allowance

- free TV licences and free bus passes for pensioners

- the Pension Credit

- the New Deal for the Unemployed

- full-time rights for part-time workers

- the Social Chapter

- record maternity pay

- for the first time in history the right to paternity leave

- the biggest programme of council house building for 20 years

- the Disability Discrimination Act

- the Racial and Religious Hatred act

- the Equalities Act

- the first black cabinet minister

- the first Muslim minister

- the first black woman minister to speak at the Commons despatch box

- civil partnerships, gay adoption, the repeal of Section 28 and yes the right to book into a bed and breakfast

- devolution: a Scottish Parliament, a Welsh Assembly and, yes, even a Mayor for London

- the transformation of our great cities with bright new dawns for Leeds, Sheffield, Birmingham, Newcastle, Bristol, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Manchester

- the Human Rights Act

- crime down by a third

- the hand gun ban

- domestic violence cut by two thirds and rape convictions up by half

- more police than ever on our streets

- the world’s first ever Climate Change Act

- beating the Kyoto emissions targets

- the tripling of overseas aid

- the cancelling of debt of the poorest countries

- the ban on cluster bombs

- peace in Northern Ireland

- a Britain in Europe’s mainstream not in Europe’s slipstream

- free swimming for kids

- free museum entry

- the right to roam

- banning fox hunting

- the Olympics for London

- half a million children out of poverty

- extended schools

- 42,000 more teachers

- the best ever exam results in schools

- Education Maintenance Allowances

- record numbers of students – and for the first time the majority of students are women

- a doubling of apprenticeships

- a Child Trust Fund for every newborn child

- Sure Start children’s centres

- free nursery places

- and Child Tax Credits that this Labour government brought in and which a Tory government would cut because they just do not get it, never have, never will.

So when people say that politics can’t change anything – we reply it can – it has – and it will.

And let us never forget that for the advancement of so many of these great causes we had to fight not just the Tories – but the Liberal Democrats too. And let’s never forget the most important lesson of these days – a lesson that is today more relevant than ever. And what is it?

It’s simple; when we fight, when we never give up on the fight, when we fight and fight and fight – we win.

And that’s why we can say today that our Labour Party – our movement of fighters and believers - is the greatest fighting force for fairness our country has ever known.

And why? Because we are men and women who know that we cannot be wholly comfortable while others go without comfort. Who cannot be fully at ease while millions are ill at ease? Who cannot be totally secure, when others are insecure.

These are not for us matters of calculation, but commands of conscience. For whenever we see injustice, we want to end it. Whenever we see suffering, we want to relieve it. Whenever we see unfairness, we want to rectify it.

These are Britain’s values and these are Labour values – not the values that spring from markets, but the values that spring from our hearts.

So it is no condemnation of wealth to say that our first duty is to help the not so wealthy. It is no criticism of success to say we must reach out not just to those who succeed but to those who have never had a chance of success. It is no criticism of those of aspiration to say we must celebrate not only those who aspire but also lift up those who have never been able to reach higher. And I say to you today it is no attack on good private services to say a good society depends on good public services universal to all.

Because whether the adjective the Tories apply is big or small there is still no such thing as society if it leaves too many services cut, too many people on their own, isolated, defenceless, and vulnerable without a guarantee that if they strive to move forward they will not be condemned to be left behind.

And in this election we are fighting for causes every bit as big as any in 1997.

Because we are in a new world now, and while the yearning for fairness is the enduring rock of ages, its application must change with every age.

And that is why today, in this first election of a post crisis world, we are fighting for what we will be able to look back on, list, and commend in five years time. Because even as we act to cut the deficit, if we make the right decisions now, it will mean by 2015;

- cancer tests within not two weeks but one week

- free health check ups for the over 40s

- a restored link between pensions and earnings

- one million new skilled jobs

- broadband access for all

- a national care service

- a Post Office people’s bank

- more free nursery places

- a father’s month of leave for new dads

- a new toddler tax credit

- 10 thousand new council homes a year

- protection of local pubs and post offices

- an independent and thriving BBC

- low carbon energy and thousands of new green jobs

- a referendum on electing the Lords and changing the voting system

- and yes I can say today for more than a minimum wage – a rising minimum wage – every year a rising minimum wage

That is the offer of a Labour government – that’s the change we choose.

And you know everywhere I’ve gone in the last four weeks people say to me you look better than on TV.

Thank goodness.

But let me be blunt: if you want the guy whose hair is always perfect, whose tie is always straight, whose slogan is always snappy, you have a choice … the other two.

And my case against them isn’t their youth, inexperience or background. It’s their poor judgement and as with Child Tax Credits, their shared policies which are so unfair.

So if you want someone with judgement, and the right values, then I ask you to stick with me. Because the real X factor is putting an X on the ballot paper beside the person who will secure your future.

And how can you put a cross against a question mark? Because at the heart of this election is a fundamental question about values that Mr Cameron cannot resolve.

How can it be fair, at one and the same time, to cut the Child Tax Credit and the Child Trust Fund, while offering an Inheritance Tax Cut worth on average £200,000 for each of the 3,000 wealthiest estates in the country? How can it be fair when times are tough, not to protect you – but to protect the few?

In last week’s debate five times I asked Mr Cameron this question. Five times he did not answer.

I suppose he could have phoned a friend. He could have asked the audience. He could even have gone 50/50 with Nick Clegg.

But nothing.

And why? Because he’s ok at question time. Not so good at answer time.

And why? Because he’s defending the indefensible – an unfairness that would give the most to those who have the most, and not provide the greatest help to those who are the most in need.

And everybody knows that when the Conservatives were faced with the economic call of the century – they called it wrong.

Wrong on Northern Rock.

Wrong on help for homeowners, wrong on help for businesses, wrong on help for the unemployed.

And wrong today on the need to maintain support to the economy now.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

And now that Kenneth Clarke has admitted that they got it wrong on Northern Rock, and tonight has been slapped down for his pains, it’s clear that there are only two people left in Britain who think they were right – one is hoping to be your Chancellor by Friday, and the other your Prime Minister.

Those who don’t learn from their mistakes are bound to repeat them – and that’s why I say, Cameron-Osborne economics is a risk too far.

Their approach to the crisis and the recession has mixed the worst of the 1930’s, with the worst of the 1980’s, and it has exposed a difference between the parties that is as clear as it is fundamental.

We have helped the unemployed, they believe unemployment is a price worth paying.

We have stopped small businesses going to the wall, they said just let the recession run its course.

We have supported people to stay in their family homes, they said just let you sink or swim.

We are on your side, they are passing by on the other side – and so we can never allow them to risk our country’s future, or yours.

And so never let anybody tell you there are no real differences between the parties any more, that it doesn’t matter who you vote for, the outcome will be the same.

And I speak to you tonight about the economy because I have some understanding of the risks. Asian banks are vulnerable. The whole banking system is yet to complete its restructuring. Some European economies are facing market pressure. Europe itself is barely growing. Unless we can persuade the rest of the world to grow faster then Britain’s new growth will be affected too.

To shrink the economy by six billion now, as the Tories propose in the name of a right-wing ideology, simply means lost jobs, lost homes, lost businesses and lost growth and would threaten every family on a middle or modest income in this country.

So we need a Government that understands the importance of European cooperation, international action, and policies for growth. Never so clearly have two economic philosophies confronted each other so directly.

And ours says we will support you to achieve jobs – and the other says we will leave you isolated and on your own.

And it’s not just your family finances David Cameron has in his sights – but the public services your family rely on too.

The public services we rely on are more than the hospital, the school, the police station, the Sure Start – they are our hospitals, our schools, our police stations, our Sure Starts – because they are woven through the fabric of our lives.

And they are not just places in our communities; they are places in our hearts - places where life begins and lives are saved; where our children learn and grow; where we gather to sustain each other and give of ourselves; where help comes to us when hopes are dark and homes or neighbourhoods are in danger.

Public services – these are services we cannot provide on our own, magicked up by some big society, these public services are what we choose to provide together, and not just for ourselves, for some, but for all.

Again and again I ask myself why the Conservatives are so against the guarantees we give to patients and parents and citizens about the availability and quality of their personal and public services.

And I am finally working it out.

In their minds, and for their money, there is always an escape route.

So what does it matter to them whether or not there’s a one-to-one tuition guarantee so all children can find their potential and expand their world. But I tell you – it matters to me, and it matters to the British people.

And if some can afford a gated community with 24 hour security, what does it matter to them whether or not there’s a policing guarantee to make the streets safer for everyone else, every hour of the day. But I tell you – it matters to me, and it matters to the British people.

And if some can afford private healthcare and to see a doctor any time you want for any reason that you want, what does it matter to them whether or not there’s a cancer guarantee on the NHS when someone else needs to see a doctor for the gravest of reasons. But I tell you – it matters to me, and it matters to the British people.

Because for most people the NHS has not been, as the Conservative MEP called it, a sixty year mistake, but a sixty year liberation.

So in this election, for all the millions of pounds they have spent, the Conservative Party have not proved to anyone’s satisfaction that they can ever be trusted with our NHS, our schools, and even with the law and order of our country.

So this is the fundamental difference between our parties; we want public services that serve the whole public for the public good. And if the Conservatives really understood the lives and the aspirations of middle and modest income Britain, they would stop living a lie.

Stop living the lie that you won’t hurt middle class Child Tax Credits when you’ve already banked the money from axing them.

Stop living the lie that nursery education will be free when your secret documents show you’ve already planned the top up fee for toddlers.

Stop living the lie that your billions of cuts will make no difference to the jobs of teachers and teaching assistants - and tell us the full truth that within weeks the public services will be hit.

Stop living the lie that you’re all for maintaining our police numbers when you know within months you’ll be sending PCs their P45s.

Stop living the lie that the NHS is safe in your hands when your first act will be to remove people’s right to see a cancer specialist within two weeks.

Let me say people remember what happened the last time – the poll tax, the mass unemployment, the record interest rates, the porta-cabin classrooms, and the NHS on its knees. And despite the warm words scratch the surface – the Tories might have changed their tune, but they haven’t changed their minds…

I have never known so many undecided voters as we have seen in this election. Because most people do not live inside the political bubble. You are getting on with your lives, trying to balance work and family, saving for a holiday or a car, dealing with the everyday realities of the life you live.

You think about politics when you have to. And what is clear to me as I go around the country is that you really are thinking this election through.

I know what it is like to make a big decision. You think about it. You worry about it. You weigh up the pros and the cons. You consult your friends, family and colleagues. You take the time you need. But then you decide.

Tonight, tomorrow, and Thursday, millions of our fellow citizens are making a big decision, thinking about it, talking about it, worrying about whether you are doing the right thing.

In its own way, it is as big a decision as any because the future direction of the country we all love depends upon it.

The stakes are that high.

Not for us the arrogance of those already taking victory for granted. For us the humility of knowing there are many who have doubts.

I say this to the many undecided voters - you are right to reflect.

Our challenge is to meet you, see you, talk to you, not take you for granted but assure you we have a record to be proud of. And we will protect it.

We have a plan for the future. And we will implement it fairly if you give us your support.

And know that when an opposition party says it is time for a change, you deserve to know what that change would mean.

If its style before substance, they win. If it’s recovery or risk, we win.

A thought through plan for the future, or sums that don't add up. We win with the plan.

A team or a one man band. We win.

Above all - fairness in our DNA. Or privilege. We win again.

So I want to say to those who have decided to support us. Thank you. Now persuade the undecided among your family, your friends, your colleagues.

And I want to say to those who have yet to decide - listen to what we have to say. When the last 48 hours of this campaign has passed, in that one minute in the polling place, vote for the kind of country you believe in and come home to Labour.

Because I want what you want - a country where those in the middle can reach higher, where those left behind are never written off, where we all move forward together - a land of progress not privilege, not austerity, but prosperity for all.

And so what is this election about?

A record to be proud of. We fight to protect it.

The Tory risk. We fight to prevent it.

Our plan for the future. We fight for the right to make it happen. Because I say to the British people - it is a fight not for me, it is a fight for you - for your jobs, your living standards, your tax credits, your schools and your hospitals.

That is our fight, and it’s a fight we have to win."

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