Liam Byrne's speech to Labour Party Annual Conference 2012

1 October 2012

Liam ByrneCHECK AGAINST DELIVERY

Liam Byrne MP, Labour's Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said today at Labour Party Annual Conference 2012, delivered live via Skype from a Jobs Summit at Manchester College:

Conference, let me apologise for not being with you in the hall right now.

But sometimes you have to strike a balance between argument and action – and when it comes to youth unemployment what we need right now is action.

So I'm here with Tony Lloyd at the fantastic Manchester College.

Where we've brought employers, colleges, business with apprenticeships, and hundreds of young people to see what we can do to get young people in this city into jobs.

And what I've heard this morning is just wrong.

It’s wrong that young women like Nazish have been out of work six months, desperate for a job or apprenticeship.

It’s wrong that young men like Colm who's 23 have been out of work since July.

This is the economics of the madhouse.

You know our welfare is rising by £29 billion

And yet people like Colm and Nazish and a million others just like them and hungry to work and are forced to stand idle.

Now as some of you know, I represent the constituency in Britain where youth unemployment is highest.

What I’ve realised is that the anger we feel about youth unemployment is the anger we feel when we see our values under attack.

We believe in the pride and dignity of work. That's why we're called the Labour Party.

We believe that we’re stronger when we pull together as a country. We don’t believe in the economics of you are on your own.

We believe in an economy that works for working people.

And we believe that when you see an injustice, you don’t just walk past it.

You roll up your sleeves and you do something about it.

Today every single one of those values is under attack and it’s our young people paying the price.

So we have to take a stand.

That's why Labour are calling for a real jobs guarantee - paid for by sensible tax on bankers bonuses.

And, we have to organise the fightback.

We can’t and won’t stand on the sidelines and watch our young people take a kicking.

So today I’m very proud to launch our Youth Jobs Taskforce.

Just because we’re not in government doesn’t mean we can’t make a difference.

We run Wales, and London’s big boroughs and Britain’s big cities.

Right now it’s our councillors and local leaders who leading the charge for youth jobs: thinking, organising, making a difference to get young people work.

Today, these local leaders are coming together in a new coalition to galvanise action.

They are going to join forces with good people from our trade unions, from business, from enterprise, from civil society, and from our youth movement.

We want to make sure that the best ideas anywhere, become the way we do things everywhere.

We know how high the stakes have become.

The young people we serve are good people.

They don't dress up in white tie and smash up restaurants.

And they don't swear at policemen.

They are people who want to work hard and get on in life if only someone will let them.

And today we send an emphatic message: that we are on their side.

Let me just finish with a story.

You know Iain Duncan Smith likes to boast that he was once inspired in his reforming zeal to smash up the welfare state by what he saw in Easterhouse in Glasgow’s East End.

Well last week I too went to Easterhouse, together with the great Margaret Curran.

To meet a group of young people to talk about the future.

What they say inspires them, isn’t yet another Tory attack.

It’s investment in skills. In jobs. In chances.

Those young people are just like people we’re here with today.

They're people who want to rebuild Britain.

And Labour is going to help them.

Because we're the party that knows how futures are really built.

It’s built by people like those behind me here in Manchester today – and a million more like them all over the United Kingdom.

They might have a do-nothing Government.

But they’re going to have a do-what-it-takes Labour Party.

So thanks for listening.

I’ll let you know how we get on a bit later.

If you’d like to get involved in the taskforce, drop me a line: we’d love to have your help.

And I’ll catch up with you later this afternoon.