Harriet Harman closes Labour Party Conference

Harriet HarmanHARRIET HARMAN MP, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE LABOUR PARTY - SPEECH TO THE 2008 LABOUR PARTY CONFERENCE

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Although we face tough times, this has been a great conference.

People said this conference would be a scene of division and disunity.

But you have proved them wrong.

Your warmth and loyalty has shown the country the very best of team Labour.....

You have shown our unity in the cause of building a fairer and better Britain.

Conference, there's been a lot of applause and support for great speeches from this platform.

But I want to begin by applauding you.

And yesterday our Prime Minister Gordon Brown showed why we were right to choose him as our leader and he showed the critics they were wrong.

He has shown that he is the right person to lead the party and the right person to lead the country.

His unrivalled experience as the most successful chancellor of recent times, was built on the foundation of his values.

His strength and his resilience will steer us through these difficult times.

His commitment to fairness and to equality will ensure that when we have come though these difficult times everyone will have a stake in our future prosperity.

Conference, even when we face difficult times and there are problems to be solved, we should not lose sight of what we have achieved.

We have a record to be proud of;

New hospitals, new schools you can see them in every part of this country.

New childcare, new jobs.

Britain is a stronger, fairer, better place because of our Labour Government.

But we want to do more.

We have important plans for the future.

* Free nursery places for two year olds;
* free prescription charges for people with cancer;
* new plans to help older people stay in their own homes,
* protection against the costs of care for older people;
* free health checks when you're over 40.


We've talked this week about all the things that we will do.

Now let's talk about the one thing we will not do -
We will not be taking advice from the Tories

Have you heard the one about the Tories and the economy.

"How many Tories does it take to manage a global economic crisis? - none! Why would they! Leave it to the market of course ."

The Tories write the British Economy off. But they are wrong. Britain is made of sterner stuff.

The Tories write the Labour Party off. But they are wrong. This Labour Party is made of sterner stuff.
The Tories are breathtaking in their arrogance. They smirk in photoshoots of what they describe as the cabinet in waiting.

We know that because they put the photos in the Tories house magazine - none other than the Tatler.

Conference - no part y should take the voters for granted like that.

And their leader, David Cameron, says one thing when he means another.

* David Cameron says the Tories are now concerned to tackle poverty - yet Tory policy would give £1b inheritance cuts to the richest 3,000 millionaires.

* He says the Tories would back up families with young children - yet Tory tax policy on marriage would penalise children whose parents had split up.
* He says the Tories now respect women's rights - yet sends out lap-dancing leaflets in the Tory conference pack
* He pledges support to lesbian and gay groups - but he voted to keep s28- and it was on a free vote.
* He posed for photos on a beach in Cornwall - but then we find his real holiday was on a yacht. Which cost £21,000 a week.


There is something not quite right about him.

He's the kind of man your mother used to warn you about.

You know the kind of man I'm talking about.

He'll promise you the world. Promise to make all your dreams come true.

But if he got his wicked way with - you in the ballot box - you'd never hear from him again.

I know that in every constituency and in every part of the this country you are fighting the fight for Labour

Some of you are fighting the Lib Dems in your local area.

We know what the Lib Dems are like at local level. They are like Tories where Tories are in control. They try and be like Labour where we lead the council.

And the Lib Dems have always had a problem with numbers. Nick Clegg has particular problems with numbers. But clearly his lucky number is 30. I am of course referring to his gaff e about the basic state pension.

He didn't fool anyone when he pretended to speak without notes at his conference last week when really fact he was reading off a giant autocue at the back of the conference hall.

Clearly that's his idea of political vision.

I know in Wales we are fighting against Plaid and in Scotland we are fighting the Scots Nats.

Ian Gray, our new leader of Labour in the Scottish Parliament has an important task on behalf of all of us - to hold Alex Salmond to account and expose his broken promises.

And in all areas we have to fight against the menace of the BNP all areas. We will never allow their poisonous racism to divide communities. The BNP is a stain on British Society.

As a Labour Party that understands the worries of people who are feeling the pinch and that hears peoples hopes and understands their fears - we will rise to the challenge - focussed and single minded.

We wi ll stand firm. We will work together. We are a team

Conference, as I've been up and down the country it's been great to work with party members and party staff in all regions of England, in Scotland and in Wales.

And I meet people who because they face problems, look to Labour for help.

It's because of them that we all work together.

And you have made it clear beyond any doubt at this conference that you expect the whole team to be strong, to be loyal - and that includes our Labour MPs..
But Labour Party conference is not just about what happens in this hall - it's the whole conference experience.

Most telling report I've heard of Tory local council priorities comes from Coventry City Council. Councillor Ann Lucas told us that they cut the budget for domestic violence to increase the budget for flower tubs.

Best campaign slogan I heard this conference....
Comes from Labour's Stevenage Council. They've got a climate change campaign with posters all around Stevenage saying

"Take this seriously or the polar bear gets it"

I'd like to say some thank yous

Thanks to all our councillors and candidates - in communities and on doorsteps, day in, day out.

Thank to the unions - for standing by the party through thick and thin - for fighting alongside us for fairness and equality at work. And for giving us something you can't put a price on

Our new general secretary - Ray Collins who used to work for Unite.

Thanks to all our hard-working party staff
Thanks in particular to Chris Lennie who was acting General Secretary for many months.
Thanks to our stewards.

And thanks to you too, Ruth Kelly, for all you've done. You've been a breath of fresh air in the cabinet. Not just in transport but in education too.

Our loss will be your family's gain and I wish you all the best.

And as we finish this conference lets remember what Philip Gould said right at the beginning.

You never win if you don't fight.

And that's why after this great conference we will campaign even harder.

Talking to people on the doorstep
Delivering leaflets,
Phoning
The hard slog for our cause.

There are elections ahead of us

Next year the council elections and the European elections.

We will fight hard for our candidates.

And there will be a further election in due course.
.
That is the election that will shape the future of this country

The General Election.

We are confident in our values

We are proud of our record

Ambitious for the future

Labour's fightback has begun.