How Britain needs to change - and how Labour can be the people who bring that change - speech by Ed Miliband12 April 2012
Ed Miliband MP, Leader of the Labour Party, speech today in Derby
**Check against delivery**
Today I want to talk to you about how Britain needs to change—and how Labour can be the people who bring that change.
Nobody will be in any doubt that change is necessary for our country.
1 million young people out of work.
Living standards squeezed for all but a few at the top.
Irresponsibility still being rewarded in huge pay rises and bank bonuses.
And there are problems that go beyond one government.
Wages not going up.
Strains on families.
Worries about the future.
An economy not working for working people.
But at the same time, we have a political system that too many people believe can’t change it.
It makes people believe that things can’t be any better than they are.
That it doesn’t matter who is in charge.
The most depressing thing I hear on the doorstep is not when people say they’re going to support the Tories or the Liberal Democrats.
It’s when they say that we’re all the same, all as bad as each other, and that they’re not going to vote at all.
You’ve all heard it.
And many people believe it.
And we have a government making that cynicism worse.
It’s now nearly two years since David Cameron promised change for Britain.
He promised a better economy.
But growth has stalled, unemployment is still rising and living standards are constantly squeezed.
He promised he was a different kind of Conservative, a Conservative that cared about the NHS.
But he has broken all his promises to our NHS.
And he promised that we are all in this together.
But he has cut taxes for millionaires while making millions of families pay more.
At the same time he is ma king it harder for people to give big donations to charity.
Only this government could be so out of touch as to cut taxes for the richest people in our society but at the same time single out those who are trying to do the right thing for a tax rise.
So many people voted for change and it hasn’t happened.
They feel let down.
The reason is that David Cameron's change project for his party was skin deep.
It was a change of tactics, not a change of heart.
When I say same old Tories, it’s not just a slogan, it’s a reality.
They still believe the economy will succeed if government just gets out of the way.
They still think free market principles can work anywhere, including in our NHS.
And they really do think the biggest problem in our economy is that we need to give a tax cut to the top one per cent in our society.
Only this government could believe that the way you make the rich work harder is to make them richer but with their changes to tax credits, the way to make everyone else work harder is by making them poorer.
David Cameron is failing to deliver the change he promised because the Tories haven’t really changed.
But I want to talk today not just about his failure but also the lessons it offers for the Labour party.
You might think the Government’s failure to bring about change will be good for Labour.
It certainly didn't turn out that way in Bradford West two weeks ago.
The uncomfortable truth for Labour is that people turned to a protest party rather than to us.
We are determined to learn the lessons from Bradford, some of them local to that constituency.
But for me it’s a reminder of the scale of our task.
People turning away from an unpopular government doesn’t automatically mean they turn to Labour.
People are increasingly recognising that the Tories promised change but that they turned out to be the sa me.
But they also want to know about us.
The British people rejected us in 2010.
We had great achievements.
We saved the NHS.
We rebuilt schools.
We cut crime.
We took half a million children out of poverty.
I am proud of our record.
But it was also clear that after thirteen years in government, we had become too disconnected from too many people in this country.
We didn’t seem to understand the real struggle of so many people’s lives.
For too many people, we weren’t listening.
To be trusted to deliver change, we will not make the same mistake as David Cameron.
Our party is recognising the real changes we need to make.
Not hugging a huskie then betraying the environment.
Or hugging a hoodie and then cutting youth services.
Real, deep, genuine change.
Infusing our party, our ideas and our organisation.
In particular, to change our economy so that i t works for working people.
To show we can deliver even when there is less money around.
And change the Labour party so that it is rooted more in people’s lives and experiences.
Over the last eighteen months, I have set out to change our approach.
For too many years, those at the top have been getting unjustified rewards.
I have changed where we stand.
Equality of sacrifice and fairness of reward matter.
For too many years, some of the most powerful in society thought no-one could stand up to them even if they were ripping people off.
Energy companies. Train companies. Banks. Even media companies.
I have changed where we stand.
No company is too powerful to challenge.
Standing with people in tough times is what counts.
For too many years, some people's perception of us was that our only solutio n to making Britain a fairer place was spending more money.
Investment in public services, in tax credits will always matter.
But when there is less money around, we must show there are different ways to make our country fairer.
That we are the party for the tougher times not just the easier times.
I have changed where we stand.
Changing our economy with:
Better quality jobs.
A living wage.
Making sure that businesses can get the money they need to grow.
So we are changing.
Some party members say 'why don’t you just attack the Tories?'
Of course we have to point out our opponents’ failure.
But that’s not good enough.
But the next election will be about us as much as them.
It is a changed Labour Party that is standing in these local elections and we will continue to change.
Showing we can change our economy and it will make a difference to peoples’ lives.
Showing we can deliver even in tough times.
And that we can change our party.
We’ve seen the consequences of a government which is out of touch.
How do political parties stay in touch?
So that the conversation in your house, in your street, your neighbourhood is a conversation that the Labour Party is having too.
That’s why I am proud of our tens of thousands of new members.
Of opening up our party to our registered supporters who may not be members of the party but support it.
And I am proud to lead a party affiliated to three million working people through our link to the trade unions:
The nurses who look after the sick.
The teaching assistants who teach our kids.
The shop workers, the engineers, the bus drivers.
But I know we can do more.
Not just campaigning at these elections for your vote.
But also campaigning year rou nd for change on your street, in your neighbourhood.
That’s why these local council elections matter so much.
And in these local elections, we are campaigning on issues rooted in real lives, in everyday experience, everyday problems.
Jobs, the NHS, living standards, crime.
And in all these areas, we are showing the down payment on the change we need
A plan to protect family budgets and make people’s lives better without spending more.
A plan for jobs to put our young people back to work by taxing bankers’ bonuses.
A plan to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour by making offenders make amends to their victims.
A plan to improve our NHS by ending the Tories’ privatisation and for local councils to be the last line of defence.
Not promising the earth and failing to deliver, but practical changes that could happen now.
I know this:
We can only restore trust in Labour if we restore trust in politics.
We do it by making promises we know we can keep.
Not image over substance.
Not fake change.
But by offering a different direction for the country.
That is where I stand.
That is where Labour stands.
With you, on your side in these tough times.
That’s what we’re fighting for in these local elections.